Proper placement of any pickup is crucial, as they act as electronic ‘ears’. Since the goal of piezo setup is to capture both wood and string vibrations, the ideal area is around the bridge area where strings and body meet. Depending on the type of piezo used, the most popular installation is directly under the bridge section, or surface mounted under the bridge on the inside of the guitar. Alternatively, the piezo pickup can be mounted directly on the outside of the instrument, but this will capture more vibration from the wood, rather than strings. The key to proper placement is to experiment in different places and decide what works best for you during enhanced performance.
The lower saddle piezos work with pressure vibrations and are installed under the bridge saddle. Used mainly for high quality aftermarket and original equipment installations requiring minor but permanent modifications to the guitar, which are best left to professional repairers.
Surface-mounted piezo pickups are designed to work only on surface vibrations. Easily used by end users with double-sided tape or hot glue, these pickups are generally cheaper than under-saddle patterns and can be easily removed or repositioned. Amplifier Piezo pickups can be plugged in directly with no desired or possible guitar changes, or if the installation is temporary. an amplifier, but for optimal sound and equalization control, preamps are often used. Preamps amplify the sound level and let the guitarist change the tone. Many factory-installed piezo pickups use battery-powered internally mounted preamps, with volume and equalization controls accessed by a control panel cut into the side of the instrument. Aftermarket units are sometimes available with internal amplifiers, but since additional guitar modification is needed, many players choose external floor- or rack-mounted units. If you use an external preamp, in-store experimentation can help you choose the right device for your download.
Which is best?
The best piezo pickup is the one that sounds best for you and fits your budget and individual reinforcement needs. Each type of piezo pickup will work differently depending on the instrument, preamp and amplifier, so research and experiments are the best strategy for selecting, configuring and installing your pickup. Piezo pickups work by sensing vibrations of strings and wood, converting them into electrical signals to be reproduced by an amplifier. While acoustic guitars that are amplified via a microphone produce the true sound reproduction, the guitarist is limited in movement. Magnetic pickups allow for freedom of movement and a distinct sound of their own, but since they only reproduce string vibrations, they will not capture the ‘woody’ tone of acoustic instruments. Carefully placed piezo pickups offer the best of all worlds.