NEODYMIUM | Acoustic pickups used for electric guitars and stringed instruments
could have greater sound quality and be much easier to manufacture than conventional
ones, thanks to a flexible printed circuit developed at Purdue.
Existing pickup design dates to the 1930s and uses very fine copper wire wound around
a bobbin to detect a moving magnetic field. The wires are delicate and easy to break, and
the manufacturing process is time-consuming. It is also easy for upper turns of wire to
compromise the insulation on the lower winds, which makes for quality problems and
lots of build variation.
A novel pickup that replaces the wound wire with flexible printed circuits has been
developed by Richard Mark French, associate professor of mechanical engineering
technology and director of Purdue’s Engineering Technology Acoustics Lab, and Davin
Huston, a clinical assistant professor in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “The pickups,
which use neodymium magnets, are smaller than conventional ones, so they are easier
to package. There is also less variation in sound,” French says. The team has filed a patent
for the pickup. | L. T.
Engineering a Better Pickup
DAVIN HUSTON | RICHARD MARK FRENCH