I've been thinking about this a lot, since I saw this video link text in fact. As far as I can tell, there's nothing going on with the strings -- he's muting them with his left hand -- which means the rest of the guitar is just a large object getting in the way.

So I was thinking about taking a super hot pickup and wiring it up to a piece of wood just large enough to hold the pickup, a volume pot, and a jack, and attaching some sort of clamp to the wood to allow me to clamp it to a mic stand, and to make positioning easier. Also, where the guitar's bridge would normally be grounded, I'd connect it to an alligator clamp (this would allow me to use the pickup on a tension cable or cymbal as though the cable were a huge guitar string).

I was wondering if any of you have ever done something like this... used a pickup, sans guitar, as a microphone for sound design.

2 Answers 2


Hi Dave,

what you're seeing in that vid is the pickup used as an electrostatic conductor. Jean Eduard Miclot put up a cool blog post a little while back that inspired me to build one one myself.


you'll also see some examples of his rig in action in his videos


really the setup is much simpler than what you describe, and in my version I don't externally ground the pickup. I just run one side if the cable to pin 2 and the other to pin 3.

its important to pick a non-humbucker so that your magnets and coils are more sensitive to the magnetic fields around them. then put on your ears and start listening. I find lcd monitors, small motors, and electronic transmitters like remote controls and bluetooth devices to give me the craziest and coolest sounding stuff.

  • I hadn't thought about using a single coil simply to hear 60-cycle hum and other electromagnetic interference. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 19:33
  • Those videos are awesome. I hadn't thought about taping the pickups to metal as a contact mic. Now, thanks to ebay, I've got a single coil pickup, an XLR end, and a clip-on transducer coming to me for under $10! Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 22:48

+1. 27" Mac monitors make the most amazing sounds. Photocopiers are great for really subtle servo type stuff. Electric pencil sharpeners if you need an electronic punch in the face. In my excitement I almost tried to record the sound of my computer... which would have been a terrible idea.

I came across one really cool thing I while trying to record a fan, one of those desk-size ones with the metal grill around the blades. If you hold the pickup against, or just slightly away from, the grilles you can pluck them and it gives this really eerie reverb. I've been thinking about buying a bunch of coat hangers, straightening them out, and somehow attaching a speaker to them. Home made pseudo-spring reverb.

  • Let me know how that goes. I have an old piano that I will, hopefully, get a good reverb response from one of these days. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 19:34
  • @Dave, That I would love to hear.
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 19:56
  • @Dave, here's a wild idea, take a bunch of lengths of string and tie one end to your favorite notes on your piano. Attach the other ends to tin cans like kids used to do before we invented fun.
    – g.a.harry
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 20:02

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