|Fig. 1. Yamaha FG700S|
I have an inexpensive Yamaha FG700S, which is a $200 guitar new, but I got mine used for $140. For a solid top guitar, it's hard to beat for the price, and I like this one a lot. However, shortly after buying it, I wished I had bought an acoustic electric. I put it on craigslist so I could upgrade to an acoustic electric, but got no bites. So I bought a $13 piezo pickup, and a $22 preamp and input on ebay. I didn't want to spend too much, because I felt there was a decent chance that I would destroy the guitar while trying to install the pickup, since I had never done this before. And I figured if I liked it, I could always upgrade to a better preamp and pickup.
The part I feared most, obviously, was cutting two holes in the guitar. Measuring and cutting a hole in a flat plane is easy, but the preamp goes on a curved section of the guitar. I measured the preamp housing several times, placed it along the edge of the curve in the guitar body to see where it would fit best. After finding a sweet spot, I used a razor blade to make little nicks in the finish marking the border of the section to be cut out. I then marked the border with masking tape (Fig. 2).
I drilled the corners with a 1/2" bit. I started to use a jigsaw to cut the hole, but the wood was too fragile. It made a sloppy cut. I tried a utility knife to score the border of the hole, and I kept scoring until it poked through. This didn't take as long as expected, and the cuts were pretty clean. I sanded the hole and inserted the preamp. It was a little tight here and there so I sanded it again and it fit. I didn't get photos of the preamp installation, so here is the during and after shots of the input and the after shot of the preamp:
|Fig. 2. Cutting the hole for the input. Installed input and preamp.|
|Fig. 3. About to place the pickup under the bridge.|
I should note that the preamp came with as under-the-saddle pickup (Fig. 4). I preferred the kind that mounts inside the guitar under the bridge (Fig. 3, above), so I snipped the input off the former and and soldered it to the latter and used that.
|Fig. 4. Cheap under-the-saddle pickup|