I wish to attach a rare earth magnet to pieces of wood and to acoustic guitars and drive the magnet with a signal generator through an amplifier to a coil. In essence, turning the wood into a loudspeaker. The purpose is to find the resonant properties of wood used to make guitars prior to manufacture and then again at different stages of manufacture.

I've come across a method in principle but with no specific details. I have very poor knowledge about electronics and circuitry. If any one can tell me what kind of amplifier specifications I need, what kind of coil specifications, how to wire everything and what things to pay attention to ensure that everything I source is compatible then I would be very grateful for the help.

The signal generator will sweep over a range to cover 50Hz to 2500Hz in about 2 minutes. The computer audio output goes to the amplifier, which needs to boost the signal enough to drive the wood to audible levels.

The sound can be recorded and analysed and modes of vibration can be discovered. All of this helps to make a better grade and quality of guitar with greater consistency of final performance properties.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't these exist already? I am sure I saw a documentary where they were tuning large church bells with a signal generator and looking at the resonance on the laptop screen. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 13, 2017 at 6:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why not use a speaker and microphone? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Aug 13, 2017 at 9:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ What prevents you from attaching a speaker cone to the wood itself? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13, 2017 at 15:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThreePhaseEel has the better idea, but you should consider going even further: any mass you add to the wood changes its acoustic properties. Perhaps a tiny accelerometer chip would be a good audio transducer? Can you whack the wood with an impulse to see its transient response? \$\endgroup\$
    – glen_geek
    Aug 13, 2017 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Use a solenoid to tap the wood, and then listen to the impulse response. Don't attach anything to the wood. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14, 2017 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


What you propose is unlikely to yield good results.

First, the wood used to make a guitar doesn't have resonance by itself. A final piece of wood of the right thickness, moisture content, finish, and other factors, has the relevant acoustic properties. Every time you work the wood, these will change. Measuring a hunk of wood before working it will tell you very little.

Even the finished piece of wood alone will have very different properties than the same piece after it is part of the guitar. Being glued to something else along its edge is going to significantly change the acoustic properties.

Second, adding a magnet to the wood is adding mass. That will change the resonant properties.

You can still do take some measurements that might be relevant to building a guitar. One way would be to measure the impulse response at different places. This is basically giving it as short of a "tap" as possible, then recording the resulting sound. The Fourier transform of that is a spectrum that should tell you something relevant.

You should probably sample at around 100 kHz. If you care about frequencies up to 20 kHz, then the absolute minimum sample rate is 40 kHz. However, if the wood can produce sounds higher than what you care about, then those frequencies would cause aliasing. To avoid that, sample high enough so that you can use a analog filter that doesn't attenuate the frequency you care about, but does attenuate a reasonable amount at half the sample rate.

For example, let's say you care about frequencies up to 20 kHz. If you sample at 100 kHz, then your analog filter has room between 20 kHz and 50 kHz (half the sample rate) to kick in.

There is a lot more to this method than can be reasonably described here.


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