So I got this shamisen which is great but I hardly played so far since I could not manage to restore it to a seriously playable condition.
Over a cup of coffee though I thought I could give the idea of electrifying it another shot and this is an overview of what I did :)
(as an addon to a post on the bachido forum I am elaborating on the process in this post and do so from the perspective of someone without a background in craftsmanship which of course is also my own perspective)
Marshall mini amp is I think looking cool and sounding good enough for its size and price.
Common Piezo discs generating electricity from vibration are commonly used for various stuff including acoustic instrument pickups. (Magnetic pickups like on an electric guitar only work when placed exactly under METAL strings whereas piezo pickups can be placed so to speak anywhere) A common acoustic guitar pickup only contains one disc but I bought 6 discs of various sizes (2 small 2 medium 2 big ones) and paid a total of about 4 euros for those.
Although I did some basic soldering before (8 euros machine) I had some trouble this time and was soon fed up with this sh!te so I asked at the electronics parts store and a friendly employee then did all the soldering for free (a total of 15 euros in tips for 2 sessions of about 20 minutes each).
I had bought a small hot glue pistol for 4 euros a while ago and used it for the first time ever in order to secure those precious soldering connections … with the dried glue consistency somewhere in between rubber and plastic this seems to be worth doing and working out fine.
I tested each disc individually with open wires against guitar cable and attached them with pads of double sided tape. After joining the cables (simply all those coming from the white disc parts together and the same for those of golden origin) I had two wires to connect to a jack for the guitar cable.
VOILA this already resulted in a working pickup that sufficiently amplified my otherwise very silent (currently cloth skinned) axe (sound sample for relative volume comparision of unamplified 0-10 regular full volume 10-30 and overdrive full volume 30-60 seconds on that mini amp).
Of course or rather after inspiration from Darren on the Bachido forum AND finding a general preamp (module) for a surprisingly cheap 9 euros I didn’t stop there but got a 9 volt battery clip and (intending to make it truly sophisticated) an on/off switch too.
I think I could have figured out how this preamp including a battery and a switch should be wired in between the discs and the guitar cable jack but conveniently this was taken care of in the course of a second soldering session by the store employee too.
So I installed everything around the inside of the dou :)
And tried it out and nothing happened :( or rather there was faint amplification that was less than through the earlier passive system as if the preamp acted like some deadweight electric resistance so I thought okay I tried oh actually I was careful keeping amp volume low at first only to eventually be greeted late by an ear shattering feedback volume of an obviously working preamp when I pulled out the guitar cable . . . actually that store employee had been surprisingly unsure about only one seemingly simple thing how to solder 2 wires (as the sound feed is the usual mono style) onto a 3 point stereo jack which is what I happen to have there and did it wrong so the contact is made when the guitar cable is halfway out or at least NOT completely plugged in . . . anyway I will keep that as it is so far since the cable plug is nevertheless held firmly by the jack . . . and what can I say about this 6 disc active pickup system that I at least layouted and installed myself?
IT IS A MONSTER . . . :)
(at about quarter volume turned up on my amp I can share my passion for shamisen with everyone in the house)
(so this is done except for a battery case and securing that and the preamp a bit more than by simple strips of double sided tape)
Although this was some work (of course mainly cause I had no clue what or how to do things) I like the result a lot and after all it strikes me as quite simple and cheap stuff that I guess anyone could do too . . .
On the short 1 or one and a half meter guitar cable I currently only have I get feedback before a chance to try out crazy volume options . . . :)
On more than loud enough for a room volume I can say no obvious unwanted noises and good sound definitely everything is better than what I would have expected from such a selfmade system . . .
(a worthless sound sample via a crappy and overloaded tablet mic is below)
Surely I will play more in the future since this is fun.