Ukulele with Optical Pickup

Difficulty:  Advanced

Cost:  $$

The heart of this instrument is a normal cigar box ukulele.  I opted to go with untraditional tuner placement to go along with the overall funky stylings of this ukulele.

One 9 volt battery supplies the power for the green power indicator LED, as well as the 4 infrared emitter and 4 infrared collector diodes.  The output jack at the back is also a combination strap peg.

The genesis of this idea came from MAKE Magazine.  Their Infrared String Bass is a rudimentary four string bass with optical pickups.  Look at their project for resources and links, if you want to try something like this.

In the end, this is an overly complicated alternative to using a basic piezoelectric element. I think that I will stick with piezos and traditional wound electric pickup for future projects.

See it in action!

4 thoughts on “Ukulele with Optical Pickup

  1. King Uke

    At least you tried it Daniel. It sounds a lot better than I was expecting it to. I’ve already said this before, but I’ll say it again… I love the tuner placement in the head – like a hillbilly’s teeth! And that knot in the neck is great. That’s is some great grain in the wood.

  2. tom karches

    The Mattel Starmaker has one string and an optical pickup. The speaker is under the bridge which causes feedback which is controllable since the 2 systems are decoupled.


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