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acoustic/electric vs. soundhole p/u

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,985
Here's the deal. I'm mostly an electric player, but do have a '43 Martin 0-18 which sounds so sweet. My bandmate runs an acoustic open mic locally, is getting me involved. Tough to be heard through microphone and PA, so has me thinking about the next step.

I could find a soundhole p/u and bring my tweed amp over. If that's an option, what are good choices for the p/u? What are the limitations here?

The other way to go is a good acoustic/electric, which I suppose I could run to my amp as well. I may have the opportunity to trade for a Martin 000c16 model of some sort, but truth is, I have no idea what's good and what isn't.

Basic question is, would a soundhole p/u be an adequate solution? If not, what are some really fine acoustic/electric guitar choices? Thanks for your help.

MD
 

RustyAxe

Member
Messages
3,012
Nothing sounds as good as mic'd acoustic guitar ... but as you now know, it ain't so easy to do in a live situation such as an open mic. I don't think I'd want to do anything invasive to your vintage 0-18 (please don't!).

There are a few good soundhole pickups out there ... LR Baggs makes the M1-Active (I'd recommend an active pick just for convenience) and the newer M-80. Both are magnetic, but are designed to pick up body resonance and sound quite good, and are VERY feedback resistant. Others include the Fishman Rare Earth, the Mi-Si, and the Sunrise. One mod you might do on the guitar is to have the end pin hole reamed to accommodate the end pin jack, so you don't have a cable extending out of the sound hole.

For an open mic, you don't need to bring such a fine guitar as the 0-18, tho, since it's true voice won't be heard in the PA or amp. Often a relatively inexpensive acoustic/electric can sound just as good when plugged in (although most don't shine when heard unamplified). If Martins float yer boat, take a look at the some of the low end offerings (the X series) with built-in electronics, such as the 000-XCE ... they show up used for ~$400. Made in Mexico, and laminate sides and back, solid top. Sound decent acoustically, and pretty good when plugged in.

Personally, I use K&K Pure Mini soundboard transducers with a K&K Pure preamp (external) in my acoustics. The require the transducer elements to be superglued to the bridge plate (easily removed, btw) and the obligatory reamed end pin for the jack. They do a GREAT job of reproducing acoustic tone, but are not nearly as feedback resistant. I have 'em in my D-18GE, OM-18 Special, Breedlove Roots OM, and an Eastman AC420Bluegrass.

I've not suggested any of the piezo undersaddle pickups, since you'd have to some minor mods to your guitar ... a small hole in the saddle slot, and of course, the end pin jack. But, of these, I like the Baggs Element VTC and the Fishman Matrix Infinity.

Beyond these there are the multi-element systems, incorporating soundboard transducers, undersaddle transducer, even soundhole pickups ... combined with internal or external mini condenser mics. These offer great sound but are more expensive.
 

tholmes

Member
Messages
1,275
I would not, under any circumstances, modify your old Martin in ANY way.

The Martin 000C-16 is a good guitar and, IMHO, a much better option. It will sound very good through an amp.

Tom
 

royd

Member
Messages
2,039
mad dog,

I would agree that you don't want to do anything that truly modifies your 0-18. I'm also assuming that the trade you mentioned does not involve that guitar. If it does, I have one word. PASS. You'll have great difficulty ever replacing that guitar and it sounds like you love it. If you don't love it, then I would search for a higher end guitar that you love and add a pup to it.

So, what can you do with the 0-18? 1st off, you don't have to ream out the endpin hole. There is a product called the Vintage Jack that is an endpin jack that fits in the stock hole. The downsides are that it is very expensive and that it requires a cable with an 1/8 inch plug on one end. They are very nicely made though and do allow you to mount a pup without drilling out the endpin. The 1/8 plug means you can't walk into a music store and buy a replacement cable and the plug is more fragile than a typical 1/4 plug. So, buy at least 2 spare cables to keep with your guitar always.

As for pre-amps. Some magnetic pickups come with them built in, some other style pickups include preamps that must be mounted inside the guitar while others yet are passive and can use external preamps. The external ones or the ones that are internal to some magnetic pups would allow you to mount less stuff in your guitar.

My recommendations would be a Duncan Mag Mic. It has a soundhole mag with a small mic on the bottom that you can blend via a pot on the pickup. The preamp is internal and you can choose two different ways to power it, with a small watch battery mounted on the pickup or a 9 volt mounted inside the guitar. Using that with the Vintage jack and the watch battery, you would have no permanent changes to the guitar at all. That would be my choice. Second would be a passive transducer like the K&K, JJB, Dazzo, Pickup the World, or McIntyre with an external preamp. The transducer would have to be glued to the inside of the guitar, usually on the bridge plate, but they are very small and lightweight and would not impact the sound at all. They could be removed relatively easily without making any permanent change to the guitar, again assuming the vintage jack. SBT's get lots of love as they sound pretty natural and are unobtrusive. They do feedback more than a magnetic or under-the-saddle. You would need an external preamp for the best sound. That is another thread. Third there are some external mics that attach to the guitar like the K&K Meridian. You would be much more feedback prone and there is the technique question of hitting the mic with your hand but there would be no permanent anything done to the guitar and you get the sound of an external mic. I would not put an under-the-saddle pickup in this guitar. The modifications are minimal but real. Most come with a preamp that must be mounted inside the guitar although there are a few that are passive and could use an external preamp. Using the vintage jack with a passive one would reduce the modifications to a hole drilled under the saddle and some saddle modifications, especially if that guitar includes one of the longer saddles. I'm not crazy about the sound of most of them so I would avoid that option.

As for purchasing or trading for an acoustic-electric... there may be good reasons to do that but you will not find one that even approaches the sound or the mojo of your old Martin so if you're talking about trading that guitar, I would not do it unless the other guitar is as good as the Martin before the pickup system. When a company puts a pickup system in a guitar, they are choosing what is easiest for them and fits their price point, not what is best for you in your setting or even what sounds best. For that reason I can't think of any high end guitars that come as electro-acoustics. Instead the high end builders will add what you want if you're ordering from them or the player adds a system afterwards. Even most Martins (which I would call mid level guitars or maybe high end factory guitars) come without pickups and the players add them afterwards. In mid level guitars, the Taylors with an ES system are what they are. Some folk love them and others hate them. They are very consistent and predictable and the sound cuts well in a band situation. Martin's performer series are a similar product with a very different pickup system. Yamaha makes a good pickup system that they include in their higher priced products. Takamine is known for making guitars that amplify well. Cole Clark has the reputation of having the best sounding and most innovative pickup system built into a factory guitar. As a guitar, none of these would approach your 0-18 and some sound like boards when played acoustically. The other option is to purchase a guitar you like and add an aftermarket system... but then you're back at your 0-18 so the only reason to do that would be that you don't want to take the 0-18 to coffeehouses, gigs, etc. or you don't like that guitar.
 

AcousticDude

Member
Messages
407
I cringe at the thought of modding that vintage instrument! Don't do it under any circumstance! There are any number of people on this site that would jump at the chance to buy a vintage 0-18, ever moreso if it is unmodified.
 

royd

Member
Messages
2,039
I forgot... the tweed amp will not sound good with an acoustic for all of the reasons it sounds great with your electric. It has its own voice. When amplifying an acoustic you want something that is transparent unless you're wanting that lo-fi old bluesy tone. Barring that, you'll want to plug your guitar through the PA with whatever pickup system you get. You may need (if your buddy doesn't already have one) a DI box, but the guitar will sound soooo much better through the PA than through an electric guitar amp.
 

BEACHBUM

Member
Messages
3,174
I forgot... the tweed amp will not sound good with an acoustic for all of the reasons it sounds great with your electric.

Very true. I'm a big fan of Fishman. I'm using the Rare Earth Humbucker sound hole pup and a Fishman amp which is one of the most transparent acoustic amps I've ever played. I'm not a big fan of running instruments and vocals through the same speaker so I use a small Kustom PA for singing.



 

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,985
Gentlemen:

I much appreciate all the advice. Still trying to sort through options. I have no intention of modding the old Martin in any way. This thing sounds way too good to mess up like that, value aside. A soundhole p/u could work, if I can find one that sounds good and fits in the somewhat smaller diameter soundhole of this model. As far as amping up, a blues tone could well work for me. That's what I'll be playing, slide guitar in open D. It could work. Or maybe not. I'm too experienced at acoustic setups to know, but trying a few different amps might uncover a sound I can work with.

Another option is an early 90s Martin acoustic electric model, mahogany body, cutaway, oval sound hole. Thinking of trading into one. Not sure on that yet. This would be a great solution in one way, except I'm not sure any modern Martin can compete tonally with this old 0-18. Really need to try it to know. Thanks again.
MD
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,556
I have used DeArmond 210 pickups since the 1960s and for alot of years plugged into a 1955 Fender Twin. Not the most "acoustic" sounding setup but a real Lightnin' Hopkins/Elmore James vibe. While I still use the DeArmonds these days I am plugging into a Supro Sportsman head hooked to a cab with two 1956 12" RCA speakers.
 




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