How to Make a Simple Diddley Bow Pickup


This is probably the easiest electric diddley bow pickup/bridge combo I've ever seen. It is based on a one-string "diddley bow" guitar by W. D. Daily of West Virginia.

Dailey's instrument features a solid oak plank that is strung up with a solitary guitar string. The bridge is an old Altoids mints tin that is placed under the string at an angle. The tin serves as both a bridge and a pickup.


The secret is the bridge has a piezo disk inside. A 1/4" jack pokes out of the side of the tin.


In order to make this pickup, you'll need:

  • An Altoids tin

  • A 1/4" guitar jack

  • A piezo pickup disc with pre-wired leads

1. Solder the piezo disk leads to the guitar jack, making sure to connect the ground wire (black) to the jack lead connected to the sleeve.

2. Drill a hole in the side of the Altoids tin to fit for a 1/4" guitar jack (top photo)


3. Install the piezo disk pickup & jack to the inside of the tin. Using superglue, attach the piezo disk to the inside of the tin. (Note: In the photos above, the piezo is glued to the bottom of the tin. I suggest gluing it to the underside of the lid.


4. Turn the tin over and glue a 1/4" strip of wood on one side, creating a perfect angle for the string to go across.

5. Slip the tin under the string of the diddley bow (above) and you're done. You'll be able to plug a guitar cable right into the bridge/pickup combo and rock out. The bridge/pickup is held in place by string tension.


Other notes about the W. D. Dailey one-string diddley bow: One brass rod serves as a nut and another is placed behind the bridge/pickup, allowing you to remove the Altoids tin to make it a 100% acoustic instrument. The overall length of the instrument is 30" and the scale length is 22".


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