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Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please

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GUEST,Stower 17 Jul 11 - 08:35 AM
Big Mick 17 Jul 11 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Stower 17 Jul 11 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,999 17 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,Johnmc 17 Jul 11 - 01:39 PM
s&r 17 Jul 11 - 03:44 PM
Zen 17 Jul 11 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 17 Jul 11 - 04:28 PM
JHW 17 Jul 11 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Stower 17 Jul 11 - 06:11 PM
s&r 17 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM
michaelr 17 Jul 11 - 06:27 PM
Phil Cooper 17 Jul 11 - 08:48 PM
Bobert 17 Jul 11 - 10:15 PM
Backwoodsman 18 Jul 11 - 04:27 AM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 18 Jul 11 - 05:17 AM
Peter C 18 Jul 11 - 06:01 AM
Uncle Phil 19 Jul 11 - 11:48 PM
Darowyn 20 Jul 11 - 03:53 AM
Stower 21 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 22 Jul 11 - 11:06 AM
DonMeixner 22 Jul 11 - 11:49 AM
Willie-O 23 Jul 11 - 08:27 AM
Stower 25 Jul 11 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,Peadar (formerly) of Portsmouth 25 Jul 11 - 02:14 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,Seaking 25 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
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Subject: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Stower
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 08:35 AM

I play acoustic guitar, mainly solo, and have disliked the sound of every guitar pickup I have tried. I have always prefered sitting with a decent mic in front of the guitar, and that has always worked well with a good sound man.

Now I need to fit a pickup as I have joined a band to complement the solo work. Until now I have used an actual mic in the band (inexpensive from Maplins, would you believe), just inside the soundhole. It sounds great, just the really natural sound I am looking for. When the band really get going, though, it is difficult to get the volume out of the mic without feedback (try competing with two amplified saxes!). This is the same problem I had with Microvox when I used it some years ago.

In the past I have tried the bar across the soundhole pickups - sounds like a cheap electric guitar - and Fishman under saddle - doesn't sound like any real instrument I've ever heard, and certainly not like an acoustic guitar.

Some people swear by Highlander, but I've also heard the size of it has an effect on the acoustic sound. Any experience of this, anyone?

All you techies out there may tell me it's as much to do with other things than the pickup. Please do tell me more and assume I know nothing, as that is 99% true!

So, my wants are:
* a reliable acoustic guitar pickup that gets volume without feedback
* as natural sounding as possible
* with some kind of foot operated device where I can boost or reduce the volume in an instant (which I can preset in soundcheck) for those moments when I go from chordal rhythm guitar to leading the band fingerstyle.

There have been threads on this before, but they're quite old now, so I've started this to get the latest. If it matters, I am in England. I'd be grateful for any advice or tips. Please remember: I am a technical dunce, so please speak clearly when getting technical!

Stower


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Big Mick
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 12:24 PM

C'mon folks. Let's have this discussion.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Stower
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 01:11 PM

Thanks, Big Mick.

There must be 'catters out there who have stories to tell of what has worked and what to avoid?

Please?

Stower (member unable to log in)


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM

Google the following. It's worth the read.

Guitar Pickup Reviews - K&K Sound


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Johnmc
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 01:39 PM

I have found a Gigpro preamp makes for a softer sound with a magnetic , but playing in a band and the volume issues may make a true acoustic sound hard to achieve, IMOP.
And remember, think of the old Ovation sound - I liked it but was it anything like an
acoustic ?


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: s&r
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 03:44 PM

Stower

there is a need to compromise in my experience.A good acoustic guitar is sensitive to feedback by design - resonant sensitive and loud. to minimise feedback you need a less sensitive guitar, which won't sound as good as your favourite. I have used a takamine as a stage guitar for years fitted with an undersaddle pickup, and I like the results.

I prefer to play my Fylde in an acoustic environment.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Zen
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:07 PM

K&K pickups are good. I've personally had the best results with, and have fitted many, Pick Up the World, pickups internally to the bridge plate... usually the PUTW No. 27. Very natural sound (but needs a preamp).


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:28 PM

Well, all my instruments (Fylde Guitar, and Bouzouki, and Stefan Sobell Cittern) are fitted with the Fishman Dual system. Bar oickup across the soundhole and an integral High quality mic inside the body. Needs a Stereo Jack lead, and mine is fed into a "Raven" master blender pre amp. It basically splits the 2 signal paths so that you can sort out your own mix. Outpt in mono to feed to a PA desk/recording device. Total control for any situation. As reccomended by Martin Simpson (and he should know!) Shedloads of money though! The Raven on its own was £350 quid, and, the Fishmans were something like £200 each. Seriously good though. Recorded Mr Simpson for the radio a few years ago...My mics of choice were Schoepps, But had a listen to his Raven set up, and added them to the mix...Bloody marvellous. (Mind you he had a seriously wonderful guitar, and he can play a bit!)


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: JHW
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:35 PM

I'd like the 'pedal' advice too please though mainly for EQ.
I much prefer the guitar miked (or indeed playing with no PA, thankfully don't do it often) but do have a Fishman PU under the bridge though no onboard EQ as I was scared of having a hole cut in the body. The Fishman has its own battery and a fixed high output so I'm relying on the desk.
s&r point about feeding back from the guitar's own sensitivity is good. Mine set away recently on its stand while I was singing without it - but a less sensitive guitar would restrict what I play.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Stower
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:11 PM

That's great - thanks all, just the sort of advice I'm looking for. Any advice on some kind of foot operated device where I can boost or reduce the volume in an instant (which I can preset in soundcheck) for those moments when I go from chordal rhythm guitar to leading the band fingerstyle?


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: s&r
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM

There are many pedals which have a bypass sitch. There is perhaps one (I think there must be) that is an equaliser which might be right for 'lead' and a bypass for rhythm.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: michaelr
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:27 PM

Clean Boost pedal. There are many makes out there. Here is an example.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 08:48 PM

I like my highlanders, but they can feedback sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Bobert
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 10:15 PM

I mean, this discussion is about the equivalent of "best beer"... Lots of good un's out there with preamps...

I like my Fishman... But others do just about the same thing... I mean, if you can hear the difference then I'd be really surprised....

K&K are good... Gigpro are good...

Plus, ain't as much about the pickup but what it is picking up... Think about it...

B~


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 04:27 AM

K&K Pure Mini (passive). Pure, natural sound (sounds like an acoustic guitar, not a bad Telecaster), no quack, no effin' battery to fart around with. As it's an under-bridgeplate pickup there's nothing goes under the saddle to interfere with the unplugged acoustic sound. I took the USTs (Fishman) out of all my guitars and replaced them with K&Ks.

You can add an outboard pre-amp if you wish (make sure the input impedance is a match - 1 megohm, not the 10 megohm required by, for instance, the Baggs Para-DI), K&K do a very good one to match the pickup.

K&K Pickups

Some will tell you they're prone to feedback - it's nonsense, all acoustic guitars are prone to feedback because they have sensitive, freely-vibrating bodies. Any decent sound-man can EQ it out. If you use a dedicated acoustic amp (mine's a Roland AC60) it should have a notch-filter to take out frequencies which are feeding back.

IMHO, YMMV, etc.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 05:17 AM

Pick-ups - try the I-beam, and yes K & K are indeed good (not got one myself) - but I like the Fishman Blender system best - you have a good transducer and also an onboard mic (it's fitted within the preamp assembly, so no problem locating it) and best of all a sliding fader so you can have all transducer, all mic or any shade between. I use mine (Martin GT16E) on 90% mic / 10% transducer and always get sighs of relief from sound guys cos it's so bomb-proof and sweet - and if I have to work at a louder volume on a big stage or in a band I can slide to say 75% transducer but still with 25% mic - or whatever I can get away with. They make a mic/magnetic sound-hole pick-up system too, I think.

As for the pedal, forget a booster. What you need is a variable CUT switch.

I have a number of diecast boxes I've made. Jack plug in routes to a foot-switch which goes to a) jack out (straight through), or b) a volume pot and thence to jack out. (The other pole of the footwitch goes to an LED and battery, so I can see which way I'm switched).

Straight through is for quiet picking/lead work, switched via the pot for strumming - and I can adjust the differential with the volume pot. Very simple - I don't think I've ever changed the battery in one, and the oldest must be 15 years now!

I had one for a while with TWO foot switches, via two volume pots, which gave me four volume states - 1) full volume (e2e), 2) small cut (pot 1 only), 3) bigger cut (pot two only), and 4) quietest (both pots).

Simple solderin' fun for a rainy day, very cheap (all the parts from Maplin), and no danger of overload or feedback.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Peter C
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 06:01 AM

I use a Dean Markley humbucker pickup across the sound hole of my flat top tenor, gives a really nice clean sound, with really great sustain. Feed it into a tuner pedal with footswitch, and you can have it on or off


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 11:48 PM

I like the sound I get with the Baggs I-Beam bridge plate pickup in my guitar. I also like the on-board preamp – one less thing to carry around and keep up with compared to external preamp. A pain to change the battery, though.

If I had unlimited budget and needed an amplified acoustic I'd first buy the best acoustic I could find and then fit it with a Baggs two-input preamp and two pickups. The first pickup would be an I-beam and the second a soundhole electromagnetic pickup to get a different sound, although I'd also be tempted to use a microphone for the second pickup. With that setup I could blend the output with the I-Beam and the mic to adjust the sound.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Darowyn
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:53 AM

I don't suppose you'll like the idea, but in a band context I take a different route. I play a copy Telecaster through a Korg Pandora acoustic effects unit.
It sounds enough like an acoustic (I can even choose which brand!) that in the contect of playing against keyboards, bass, another guitar and drums it can hold it's own. There is never any feedback except at Jimi Hendrix levels, and a volume change is as easy as flicking a switch on the guitar.
It also stays in tune, having a Floyd-Rose locking trem, and allows much more sustain for single string soloing. That means I can play fewer notes- definitely a good thing!
Of course, it doesn't look very folky, but who cares?
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Stower
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM

Thanks, everyone, lots of really useful tips there, and lots of leads I can follow.

Since I am an ignoramus where electronics are concerned, is there a foot operated box I can boost or reduce the volume in an instant, which I can preset to appropriate loud and quieter volumes in soundcheck, for those moments when I go from chordal rhythm guitar to leading the band fingerstyle? If so, what is it?


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 11:06 AM

Well, Stower, if my cut-box is too fiddly for you, I'd suggest buying a pedal graphic.

Danelectro is cheap (if you can still find one), or the Boss is bombproof (though a bit more expensive).

They both have a master volume, so you can leave the rest of the faders at unity, and set the master to cut or boost when you stomp on the switch.

I use one alongside the box I described above to pre-eq some of my instruments, and have used it on its own in the manner I'm suggesting on occasions too.

The advantage of the graphic over the cut-box is that when you're doing lead lines, you can boost the middle a bit, or if you're using the graphic to cut the signal (safer), you can have your lead volume eq'd flat, and put a bit of a smile on your rhythm setting instead.

I've been using this system for decades - right back to when I used to play acoustic guitar lead parts over the (very loud) Pearl Divers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: DonMeixner
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 11:49 AM

I am firmly in the Pick Up The World camp for my banjo. My guitars are all Fishman but one which has a Baggs. Fishman yes, Baggs no.

The Baggs is not a good pick up in the guitar it is in. Even with equalization it sounds dreadful. I think it is the pick up and not the brand however.

The Baggs Para DI is the gold standard as far as I am concerned with preamps. $ 200.00 or less US. Adjust ability you will never use. The cases are indestructible and a battery lasts for months.

About preamps, If have a guitar with anything but a magnetic pick up you need a preamp. You have to boost the signal to the board or all you get is thin high end and quack.

Danelectro Vs Boss: I have Boss and my son has Danelectro pedals. I would use either one. And I prefer Dano's dealy.   Dano's have plastic cases but good electrics.
Don't stomp on the pedals and they will last.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Willie-O
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 08:27 AM

This is a variation on Tom Bliss's suggestions, I'll try to keep it simple:
Another way to approach the foot-pedal system is: rather than looking for a pedal that will actually create your two separate sound requirements, get an A-B switch box--inexpensive and simple, and use it with a two-channel amp, or into two separate channels on the PA. The A-B can be used in either signal direction, all it does is provide (in this usage) a single 1/4' input and your choice of two different 1/4' outputs--the simple footswitch toggles the sginal between the two outputs. So, using my example of a two-channel amp, I'd run one patch cord (the A switch output) to channel A on the amp, which is set for the lower-volume, clean sound, and the B switch output to channel B on the amp, which has increased volume and way more mids (my Peavey Ecoustic 112 has a full EQ setting for each channel, nice option) for that big fat solo sound. Once you get the sounds set on the separate amp channels, (the advantage of using your own amp is that you don't have to explain every facet of your sound requirement to the tech, just set up your amp the way you like it and jack the amp into the PA if required.)

I use a B-Band combination pickup, but really only use the piezo portion of it.

The whole other route you should look into is CONDENSER MIKES. I have a Shure SM-137, which is always on (because its the sole amplification for my mandolin), so the final guitar sound is a blend of the pickup sound and the mike. (No feedback issues with the mike, which is one major reason why condenser mikes have become so popular with performing instrumentalists.)

Hope this helps--lots of ways to wound your wallet but the A-B switch is the cheapest if you already have an amp...mine cost about $30 Cdn. The SM-137 is about $200 Cdn and it was money well spent.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Stower
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 01:04 PM

Thank you all, thank you so much.

I have decided on the K and K Trinity Mini pick-up and now have a date for fitting, I just have to decide on an instant volume-changer. Willy-O, I think I see what you're saying, and I'll investigate. Thank you, too.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Peadar (formerly) of Portsmouth
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 02:14 PM

I will forever swear by the B-Band that I've put into my Martin. Unlike magnetic options, it SOUNDS like an acoustic, and you don't have the feedback issues of a miked option.

Just worth a thought.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM

I agree with Willie-O. I was going to suggest an A to B switch - and to sound like the guitar I find the B-bands pretty good (indeed very like the guitar) although I don't find they always sound like I want. I happened to have every guitar in the house (er 14 - blush - addict, moi?) plugged in the other night for comparison and what sounded best to me were

Shadow powerbridge into Fishman pre-amp (on a Sigma D4)

Headway snake series 1 - Headway preamp (on a Mugen THE 78)

Another Shadow (a straight undersaddle) into some Korean preamp, probably one of the usual suspects (on an old Morris dreadnaught.

The B-band stuff in my Martin OM1 sounded very like the guitar, but not the sound I was looking for. Ditto the B-bands in my FG360. Blending the AST in with the UST on the B-bands is good for the sound but not good for the feedback.

I would however say that I would not expect a sound man or gadgets to kill feedback equally on any pickup. All of the stick-ons from Ashworth to I-beam see to me to feed MUCH earlier than undersaddles (which in turn feed earlier than magnetics, but magnetics sound nothing like a guitar at all). Stick-ons react to vibration, but undersaddles to compression.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar pickup - advice, please
From: GUEST,Seaking
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

I've just had B-Bands fitted to my HD-28 and 000-15M on advice from a Martin dealer. Haven't had them through a PA yet so nervously awaiting the verdict. First outing will be at Moira Furnace FF, sound man was brilliant last year so hopefully he'll do his magic again this time.


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