Frequently Asked Questions


Question
Why do I only see the PiezoBarrel 'Sol' - what about other models such as the PiezoBarrel 'Green' or 'Ebon'

Answer
The PiezoBarrel 'Sol' is the best pickup I make and as a result of high demand, I am just making the 'Sol'. The 'Neo' has limits in the design as a result of the lower output and the smaller size - I just can't fit enough inside, and the shape makes shielding harder. The 'Neo' is made of brass and high notes sound a little brassy - this is OK for a brass instrument but not ideal for woodwind. The 'Neo' is difficult to make and takes more labour time than I can justify. The built-in pickups like the 'Ebon' or 'Green' have the lowest output of all, and the sound has too much bass. These pickups are also limited by the fact they only work for a clarinet.


Question
Do I need a PreAmp?

Answer
PiezoBarrel pickups do not require a PreAmp. The output is similar to an Accoustic Guitar pickup (Which is also a Piezo pickup).


Question
Do I need to drill a hole in my instrument? Surely it can be just attached to the outside?

Answer
Sorry, you will need a hole (generally 2 - 2.5mm diameter) to allow the air into the pickup. Piezo pickups are often used as contact mics that pick up vibration - my pickups do not do this - they work off fluctuations in air pressure created by the standing wave inside the instrument. I try to minimise the mechanical noises while getting a strong signal from the air pressure. The hole you drill into the instrument does not affect the sound as the air does not leak from the hole when the pickup is attached and the hole can be plugged with a thumb screw and O ring (supplied) when the pickup is not being used.


Question
Should I replace the cable supplied? What about if I use a stereo cable?

Answer
The cable I supply is a mono shielded cable. The socket is the 'Sol' is generally a stereo socket but the middle ring is wired to earth so the earth connection is very stable (the earth is connected to the case of the pickup). The Shielded cable also ensures that noise in the line is eliminated. For long cable runs, I would use a DI box and a balanced line. You can replace the cable with another but many cables are not shielded and stereo will have no signal on one channel. This is no problem connected to a mono input like a guitar amp but some equipment may expect a stereo signal.


Question
How do I fit the brass insert to a clarinet?

Answer
I provide 2 types of inserts that can be used with a clarinet barrel. The easiest to fit is the simple cylendrical insert with the flange at the top. To fit this, you drill a 8mm hole through the barrel mid way along the barrel, then glue the insert into the hole making sure it seals well. Super glue can be used and a M6 bolt screwed into the insert to hold it while it is inserted in the barrel. The other type of insert is designed to be glued to the bottom of a flat bottomed hole (I use a 3/8 or 9.5mm Counterbore to make the hole), the hole filled with resin around the insert, then, when the resin has set, a small hole (2.5mm) drilled through into the bore. Note: When drilling clarinet barrels, it is advisable to use a drill press rather than a hand-held drill. If drilling wooden barrels, you have to be very careful as wood can crack and splinter. You can get an instrument repairer to fit the insert if you are concerned. The best approach is to use a plastic barrel that can be replaced cheaply, or buy one from me with the insert already fitted.