Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Canjo Upgrade

I decided to replace the disc piezo pickup on the inside of my Kodakaster 3 Canjo with a Flatpup4 U hand-made by Elmar Zeilhofer in Vienna, Austria, and specifically designed for the bridge position. This is my third flatpup from Elmar and each one is a vast improvement over a piezo electric pickup with warmer tones, more punch, and, since piezo pickups work by picking up vibrations (sound waves), no annoying handling sounds from touching the metal surface of the old film cans I use to make canjos as they are played.

The Flatpup 4 (meaning flat pick up) is that copper-colored rectangle glued to the top of my canjo. Most conventional humbuckers are much thicker and require a hole cut into the instrument's surface to mount under the strings, while Elmar's flatpups are only 4mm thick and are easy to attach using glue, or a few small screws if you purchase one in a frame. Humbuckers are a type of electric guitar pickup that use two copper coils to cancel out the electrical interference commonly picked up by single coil pickups, Being magnetic, they capture mechanical vibrations of steel strings through the magnetic field produced by the humbucker, and convert them to electrical signals that are then amplified or recorded.
The Flatpup4 U design is a new configuration of Elmar's flatpups that, while more difficult for him to make, take advantage of its position near the bridge on the face of the canjo. If you want an explanation of the physics behind why this happens, please contact Elmar. He builds them and I merely use them because they sound so great on my canjos.

For more about Elmar and his flatpups, go to his page on Cigar Box Nation at: