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Hall Effect Pickup for Stringed Musical Instruments

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In the Fall of 1976 I postulated the feasibility of using the Hall Effect to sense the vibrations of a single tensioned ferromagnetic string in the presence of a magnetic field. The application I had in mind was a polyphonic pickup designed to complement the guitar synthesizer circuitry I was designing. The original design was worked out using the available research data on the Hall Effect phenomenon, commercially available data sheets describing the Hall sensor devices and the well known theories concerning permanent magnets and magnetism in general. Much of the design refinements were a matter of experimentation. The Hall Effect pickup is the first radically different pickup design for stringed musical instruments that is easy to manufacture and presents simplifications and improvements to both monophonic and polyphonic designs not previously obtainable with coil type pickups. The significance of this paper lies in the fact that it is the only one of its kind to describe such a device and at a time when the polyphonic pickup design can find immediate application with rapidly emerging guitar synthesizer designs. Furthermore, the Hall Effect pickup design is not limited to guitars, it can be applied to any stringed instrument, including bass guitar, violin and piano providing that they are equiped with ferromagnetic strings.

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