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Purdue Researchers Reinvent the Guitar Pickup

Researchers at Purdue University have created a printed circuit board that acts as an electric guitar pickup.

A Purdue team created a flexible, printed circuit board that imitates the conventional wire configurations inside an electric guitar. (Stock image)
A Purdue team created a flexible, printed circuit board that imitates the conventional wire configurations inside an electric guitar. Getty Images/iStockphoto

West Lafayette, IN (September 3, 2020)—Researchers at Purdue University have created a flexible, printed circuit board that imitates the wiring of an electric guitar pickup. The three-person research team envisions a new form of pickup that could be mass produced more quickly and consistently than existing products and used in a variety of new or retrofitted stringed instruments.

“We came up with a new approach to the electric guitar pickup—the magnetic transducer that helps create the musical sound,” said Davin Huston, an assistant professor of practice in engineering technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “Our circuit boards can be printed in large quantities and fit inside just about any electric guitar, which simplifies the manufacturing process but keeps the sound quality and reliability.”

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Huston developed the Purdue guitar pickup with Mark French, a professor of mechanical engineering technology in Purdue Polytechnic, and Kathryn Smith, a former graduate student in Huston’s lab.

The circuit board works in the same general way as a conventional electric guitar pickup—string vibrations cause an electromagnetic field to oscillate and induce a voltage in the stationary coil. The electric signal generated is then carried to a power amplifier and speaker.

“With typical pickups, the wire coils often produce undesired feedback and need to be potted with wax or a polymer,” French said. “Our circuit board provides an alternative that is easier to produce with manufactured consistency.”

The team worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to attain a U.S. patent that has now been granted on the technology.

Purdue University • www.purdue.edu

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