Polyphonic Guitar: The Break Out Box


The diagram above breaks down the pin assignments of the 13 pin DIN connection.  The break out box would allow me to access individual audio for each string on my electric guitar. In researching the construction of this box, I found two excellent sources of information.The first was Jeff Berg’s website, Unfretted.com, and the second was Dublin based Electroacoustic Composer, Enda Bates. Pins 1 – 6 correspond typically to strings 1 – 6, the 7th pin corresponds to the sum of all 6 strings, and pin 12 is where power is sent via a 9v battery. In my case, the 7th pin will correspond to the 7th string of my electric guitar. Jeff Berg’s excellent guide to building your own break out box is available here. It is very important that you read Jeff Berg’s instruction and that you ground the box properly. Do not construct this in the bath etc.


I required a female 13 pin DIN connection, 7 female jacks, and some heat shrink tubing so that I could make the connections more robust. Thanks to Taku for the recommendation of heat shrinking.


I soldered pins 1 – 7 to the tip contact of each female jack socket.  It is important that you ground the sleeve of each jack along with the shield of the 13 pin DIN connection.


Once the connections began to take shape, I then built it into a cable. I used a little bit of PCB for all my grounding.


And then into a box. I managed to fit the cable into a box the size of a D.I. box. One thing I would suggest is that you use a box with a little more weight if you plan to use a loom cable so that the box does not become damaged due to the weight of the cable.


Thanks to Enda Bates, Takuro Lippit, and Jeff Berg for their direction with this project.

10 thoughts on “Polyphonic Guitar: The Break Out Box”

  1. Nice work. I’m planning on building a similar breakout box myself, but I’m having trouble finding a DIN-13 socket in mainland Europe. May I ask where you got yours?Thanks,Johan

  2. <a href="#comment-927" rel="nofollow">@Ricky </a> Thanks for the answer. I already found out about reichelt, but their minimum order is 150 euro for deliveries outside Germany and that is a lot of connectors ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll try Ebay next, there’s one seller from London (probably the same as yours).Thanks for your help,Johan

  3. Hi Ricky,I’ve got DIN-13 sockets ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I have two more questions. I was told that using an aluminium enclosure would be better for shielding, but I see you used a plastic box. How noisy are the separate signals compared to the direct guitar output? Do you notice deterioration? Secondly, you only mention one battery connected to pin 12. What do you do for applying the negative voltage? Another battery to pin 13 or did you make a voltage converter circuit?Thanks,Johan

  4. The aluminium enclosure is better for shielding. Ground it to a bit of PCB with the grounds of the jack sockets. I have no noticeable noise on the separate signals. The piezoelectric P/Us are very clean. Only thing is the signal is a little on the low side, which is to be expected, but this is easily fixed post break out box.RE: Power. Yes, one battery (+) to pin 12. (-) to shield. This process was aided by Jeff Berg’s guide at http://www.unfretted.com.

  5. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-931"><strong><a href="#comment-931" rel="nofollow">Ricky</a> :</strong>RE: Power. Yes, one battery (+) to pin 12. (-) to shield. This process was aided by Jeff Bergโ€™s guide at <a href="http://www.unfretted.com&quot; rel="nofollow">http://www.unfretted.com</a&gt;.</blockquote>I found Jeff Berg’s guide before which actually was the cause of my confusion, but now I’ve figured it out. He uses a Roland GK-compatible pickup which needs a symmetric power supply, while I saw in another post that you use Graph Tech pickups which only need one battery.Thanks for the answers,Johan

  6. Yes, that’s correct. I’m glad it worked out for you. If I can help any further, don’t hesitate to ask.Best,Ricky

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.