Building your own Piezo-Preamp


I have just bought the EXC!TE SNARE DRUM PRO and almost have made the DIY Piezo-Preamp. But I have few questions since I haven’t done stuff like this before. My question is in the form of a picture, see the picture below.

Which one of these is going to the tip (T) and which to the ground (GND)? In other words, which one is ‘the signal connection’ and which one is ‘the ground connection’? The WHITE goes to where and the RED goes to where?

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Hello there!

The white wire is the signal and should go to the tip. The red wire is the copper shielding and should go to the ground.

I haven’t fully tested this on a Mac. There you have to trick the mic input to think it is original apple hardware. You can do so by additionally plugging an apple headset via a splitter. That’s what other people reported. On other systems it should work right away.

All the best,


Hmm, ok… the weird thing is that I already got the whole thing working, even though I tried the wires attached both ways… I didn’t solder the wires to the jack yet, I used alligator clips. Is it somehow normal that it can work both ways? I mean… I switched the place of the wires and tried a recording and it worked both times. How could that be so?

Should those two wires (the white and the red) be somehow physically different? I mean, I only bought three meters of audio cable and cut it in half and used it as both wires.

(I have a laptop with Windows 10)

Thank you very much for your answer and all the best!

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Do you notice a difference in signal quality? You pick up the signal with high impedance and high gain on the brass disk (directly to the internal mic input). But you probably loose all the bass response like that. So picking up the signal after the transistor lowers impedance and gives you more bass response. At least that’s what is to be expected.


Ground is connecting the brass base of the piezo disk with the shield/ground of the TR(R)S jack. TRS stands for Tip, Ring, Sleeve. Sleeve is the ground on TRS plugs/jacks. On TRRS plugs/jacks (the headset type) sleeve is the mic and ring 2 is the ground.

Extensive information: Phone connector (audio) - Wikipedia

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Well, yesterday when I was doing some test recordings, one of the solders came off (off the piezo disc). Today I tried to fix it, but I didn’t succeed and I also got another solder to come off. That is, now the two solders on the outer periphery of the piezo disc are not attached to the piezo disc. I tried many times to get both solders back on the piezo disc, but they no longer seem to “stick” at all.

Would you happen to have some good tips for a situation like this? How do I get the solders to stick to the piezo disc again?

The store where I bought these components for this project, there also seems to be a solder paste, flux gel, soldering acid, soldering flux and liquid medium-active flux…

Solder paste:

Flux gel:

Soldering acid:

Soldering flux:

Liquid, medium-active flux:

Am I on the right track? Could you say which of these best suits the purpose? That I get the solders to work again. Or/and any other advice?

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow to ask for some advice.

Thanks a lot for the info so far, for both of you!

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The piezoelectric effect is achieved by crystals which are polarized by structural alignment under heat using an electromagnetic field. Heat allows these crystals to polarize under the effect of the electromagnetic field, but if only heat is applied the crystals will depolarize. This means the piezoelectric effect of a piezo speaker/mic will be weakened or gone when too much heat is applied to it.

Source: PI Piezo Tutorial: Temperature Effects

Therefore the goal, when soldering the wires, is to apply as little as possible heat for the shortest amount of time to the piezo, but still sufficient heat for the solder alloy to form a bond with the brass disk and the silver coating of the ceramic disk. While the silver coating of the ceramic disk is quite easy to solder to, the brass material of the base is difficult to bond to for the solder alloy. Exposure temperature and time form a trade-off (low temperatures force you to heat longer until the solder becomes liquid and can bond). I tend to work with a bit higher temperatures but then can let the finished joint cool off earlier.

The technique I find most effective is to take a cutter knife and scratch a pattern in the brass plate on the very edge. I then use a flux pen or syringe to add some flux to that pattern. Then I add a good amount of solder to the wire and then heat the scratched and fluxed spot of the piezo. I am using a soldering tip that lets me maximize the contact area for a rapid heat transfer.


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Aha, now I understand.

Tomorrow I’m going to the store and buy a new (and bigger) piezo disk(s) and a larger soldering tip. I hope then I will succeed.

Thanks a lot for the thorough and good advices!