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acoustic pickup help

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Ace_F4i, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. Ace_F4i

    Ace_F4i Member

    Dec 9, 2007
    I'm in the market for an acoustic pickup setup but I'm confused. I've only ever plugged in solid-bodies. What is the difference between single coil, humbucker, sound hole, or stop piece style pickups? also do you need to have a pre-amp or some sort of pedal to make it sound right through the PA? my budget is +/-$350. what can I do with this?
  2. VintageToneGuy

    VintageToneGuy Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    South of the Mason-Dixon Line
    I think it would help to know what you are planning on putting the pickup set in. Is it a straight acoustic dreadnaught that currently doesn't have any pickup system?

  3. Ace_F4i

    Ace_F4i Member

    Dec 9, 2007
    i dunno what size. it's average acoustic sized so i guess dreadnaught with no cutaways and it has no electronics whatsoever. It's a Samick but don't knock it, i played every single acoustic in that store and that was the one i thought sounded best at the time.
  4. David Collins

    David Collins Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Ann Arbor, MI
    If you want to keep it simple and easy, Get a Baggs M1 Active soundhole pickup. For under saddle pickups the Baggs Element or DTAR's Wave-length are good, or even a Fishman combined with an Aura. Of course those require more in depth installations, and would benefit from a new saddle as I'm sure the Samick just has a cheap plastic one. I wouldn't bother much with mics or top transducers on that.

    I would just go with the M1A. Good built in preamp, easy installation, performs well on just about any instrument. Plus you won't be committing a big labor/installation investment on that guitar should you ever decide to pull it out and move it to another.
  5. msgdsrf

    msgdsrf Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    White Salmon, WA
    2nd the soundhole pickup idea. You'll also be moe familiar with it's tone as it shares the solid body pickup technology. If it's too warm for you, as I found them to be, then go undersaddle. I'd go with Highlander though. Either way no Preamp needed. Both have ample juice to go direct to board with DI or amp .
  6. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

    Jun 22, 2006
    I use old DeArmond 210 single coils. When I started I think the only acoustic pickups you could get were the DeArmonds and maybe Barcus Berry so I just got used to them.

    The single coil slapped across a soundhole will not give you the most acoustic tone. They are, however, warm and well balanced. Plus, you can plug them into any old amp. Surprisingly, feedback has not been a big issue.

  7. coldfingaz

    coldfingaz Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    K&K Pure Western Mini + LR Baggs Para D/I...

    What you'll get is a very natural acoustic sound (no quack) & a non-invasive installation (no cutting into your guitar) that will be fine through most PA's. You can dial it in from the floor with the LR Baggs Para D/I. For the pup, installation & LR Baggs unit, you should be out the door for less than $350.
  8. Cybercat

    Cybercat Member

    Oct 11, 2003
    Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
    HI Ace_F41,

    Very hard to really recommend anything specific unless you can tell us what you are planning on using it for -
    ...playing solo acoustic, or with another acoustic - would benefit from a totally different pickup system than playing in a loud band with bass, drums etc.

    I've done both over several years, but originally had massive feedback problems when trying to use the wrong system for the job.
    I have found that what sounds good & like a 'real' un-amplified acoustic for lower-volume acoustic duo etc. gigs, where the audience can really hear the tone of the acoustic guitar in great detail, does not work well at all when used in a setup with a loud band & the high Sound Pressure Levels that involves - I had a real night mare with feedback.

    The K&K Pure & Baggs Para D. I. recommended by coldfingaz above is excellent for simple acoustic gigs - it really sounds like an acoustic guitar (unlike the magnetic sound-hole pickups I have heard, which sound very 'un-acoustic' to my ears) and has none of the 'quack' associated with traditional under-saddle piezo-type pickups.

    In a setting with just one or two acoustic guitars and voices, where the tone of the guitar is very important, it is extremely hard to beat.
    (Though I recently replaced my Baggs Para D.I. with a Raven Labs PMB II and I'm now seriously considering having a Trance Audio Amulet/acoustic lens system fitted to my new Smeck).

    The K&K Pure Western is quite "hot" for a passive pickup and can be used straight into a desk or acoustic amp. Not requiring internal batteries or having to cut a "barn door" hole in the side of the guitar to accommodate a pre-amp & controls is a big plus in my opinion. Although it can be used without any outboard gear, I do prefer having the PMB-II (or Baggs Para-Acoustic D.I.) pre-amp within easy reach, so I can hit the mute button, or make volume, tonal and phase adjustments on the fly.

    For playing with a full band I've found it's best to go with something totally different. The priority here it is to be heard and cut through the mix, avoiding feedback problems as opposed to getting the best possible acoustic tone. In the setting of a full band the audience have more than just the acoustic guitar to listen to & are unlikely to be so critical of quite how 'real' the acoustic sounds as they would be of the guitar being inaudible when the other instruments are playing, or of it constantly howling with feedback due to interaction with the other amplified instruments, or high SPLs from the on-stage monitors.

    In live full band situations I use the DTAR Wavelength which Dave Collins recommended above. Running at 18 Volts it has more headroom than the typical 9 Volt under saddle pickup, and therefore almost none of the dreadful piezo "quack" sound, even when played hard. It is extremely resilient to feedback, and so perfect for when stage volumes are high.

    True, it is not as realistic sounding as the K&K Pure Western, but when I'm feeling fussy I have found that by going straight into a DTAR "Mama Bear" digital pre-amp, it sounds damn good - even in a solo acoustic situation.
    ... and I have the choice of 16 different classic guitar sounds to play with ( - slightly outside your budget though!).

    I hope some of this has been useful -- and good luck!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2006
    +1 on the baggs M1 active or element active. good sounding, feedback-resistant, easy to dial in, no outboard boxes needed. plug it into the PA, start playing.

    "vintage" soundhole pickups will sound pretty "un-acoustic", and contact transducers/mics are finicky and feedback-prone without lots of careful eq-ing and extra outboard gear. i would wait on more complex stuff until you get a better feel for what's out there (and maybe a higher-end guitar to do it justice).
  10. flantrax

    flantrax Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2007
    Southbay in Los Angeles, CA
    I just put the Baggs M1(passive) in my Guild D25 and I run it into the Baggs Para DI...great set up...easy to install...only cost me about $250 total...having the Para DI(or some other external preamp) is very handy for going direct into the PA...I also run a volume pedal(w/ tuner mute) and Barber Tone Press Compressor into the FX loop of the Para DI...the FX loop is Pre XLR Output(which goes to the PA)
  11. kmcmichael

    kmcmichael Member

    Nov 30, 2006
    Irving, Tx
    In the right situation you can mike it instead. There are some pretty good large diaphram condenser microhones available for not too much money.

    I have never liked the acoustic pickups sound.

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