Electric Cup Guitar

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Make a one-string "guitar" by stringing a cup with some fishing line. You amplify the plucking of the string by placing a piezo contact microphone and mini battery powered amplifier inside the cup. Piezo contact microphones amplify physical vibration, unlike regular mics which pick up sound waves from the air. Stretching and plucking the string produces different notes. Attaching the string to different items can amplify the tapping on a wooden table, or the scratching on a piece of cardboard!

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • piezo microphone (sometimes called contact mic or transducer mic)
  • paper cups
  • mini battery powered amps with mic wires
  • string or fishing line
  • masking tape
  • sharp pencil


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Hearing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Circuits
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Electronics
  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0087813