How to Wire a Piezo Bridge

Written by matt gerrard
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How to Wire a Piezo Bridge
Piezo transducers do not affect an acoustic instrument's tone. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Piezo transducers use one or two ceramic plates to convert motion and vibration into an electrical signal. They are used for a variety of sensor and switch applications, but commonly appear as pickups for acoustic instruments. They are discreet and lightweight, but offer a high signal-to-noise ratio unaffected by ground loop hum.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Soldering iron, 10 to 15 watts
  • Solder
  • 22 Gauge insulated wire
  • 1/4-inch jack socket

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the strings and the existing bridge from the instrument and replace it with the piezo bridge. The bridge will have a red and a black wire leading from it. Many piezo bridges and transducers are sold with a preamplifier that converts the piezo signal to a line-level for output to an amplifier. This will appear as a small plastic box or circuit board. There will be two input contacts for attaching the wires, two output contacts and possibly some volume and tone controls.

  2. 2

    Heat up the soldering iron and melt one or two millimetres of solder onto the tip. Use it to coat the negative black wire leading from the pickup and hold it to the "GRND" or "-" contact on the preamplifier. Allow the solder to cool and form a solid joint. Repeat the process, soldering the positive red wire to the positive "+" contact.

  3. 3

    Solder a length of wire from the negative output contact to the negative ring on the 1/4-inch jack socket. Repeat with another length of wire, connecting the positive output contact to the positive tip connector on the socket.

  4. 4

    Mount the socket and the preamplifier on or in the instrument. Some units require holes to be cut and drilled to accommodate the equipment; others attach to the surface or interior using brackets or adhesives.

Tips and warnings

  • If your bridge includes a built-in preamplifier, simply solder the red wire to the positive jack contact and the black wire to the negative.
  • Measure the lengths of wire you will use to connect the preamplifier to the jack before soldering. Ensure you have adequate length to reach from the bridge to the pre-amplifer, and from there on to the jack socket.
  • Use hand and eye protection when working with a soldering iron. Hot solder can often spit small fragments of hot metal.
  • Use a low-wattage soldering iron to avoid damaging the piezo transducer or preamplifier.

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