Acoustic Pickups

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by fenderbender4, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    I am going to need to play acoustic guitar for awhile. I have one that I like the sound of but it is only an acoustic and does not have any electronics. I was wondering what people recommend for acoustic pickups that can be attached and removed, and what exactly I need to get it setup. I read somewhere about Sunrise pickups, but then I read something about an installation kit (is this permanent?). Thanks.
     
  2. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    With the sunrise, you have the option of getting the installation kit model, or a model that has a cord just dangling from the outside.

    All the 'installation' is, is just a removal of the endpin, replaced with a jack, and the cord goes from the mounted pickup (soundhole) through the inside of the guitar, to the jack.

    Not exactly 'damage' as you might think.

    The sunrise preamp box is highly recommended for the pickup.
     
  3. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks, I'm pretty new at how the gear works etc. What do I need the preamp for? Do I then need to buy a special amp or can just plug into any regular amp?
     
  4. Brett Valentine

    Brett Valentine Member

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    Okay, the acostic pickups tend to be very high impedence (meg ohms) and plugging into somethng that does not accommodate higher impedence is going to giver you a very thin sound, no bottom end, etc. The preamp takes care of this problem, allowing yu to plug into a wider range of things, taking care of the impedence problem. It also allows you to plug into stomp boxes or a volume pedal. You could go "passive" and ted something like the Baggs Para Acoustic DI which gives you eq, solves the impedence problem, and gives you an fx loop.

    Acoustic amps are different animals than electric amps. Acoustic amps will take passive pickups and take care of the impedence issue. THey are also more "full range" (more hi fi) frequency-wise, whereas the electric guitar amps have a more limited frequency range top and bottom. They are also voiced a bit differently than each other. AN acoustic guitar is going to sound covered and a bit middy through an electric amp (though some people make great music that way). If you're going to use an amp and play acoustic guitar in an "acoustic guitar" sort of way, a small dedicated amp would be a good idea.

    my $0.02 worth,

    Brett
     
  5. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    I got myself a pretty cheap soundhole pick up, a Fishman Rare earth and it is pretty decent.
     
  6. Alvis

    Alvis Member

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    I been using the Sunrise for about 10 years.I swear by it.I think they're only about 2k ohms.I fingerpick with bare fingers ,magnetic pickups seemed to be the only way to get any proper bottom.I had that conversation with the great Richard Thompson and he agrees.

    I send the guitar signal into the smallest Mackie mixer,which I basically use for an equalizer/preamp (I'll sometimes have 4 instruments going into the mixer so I can EQ them individually and just use one line out to the house) It's done the trick from the Fillmore to The Albert Hall

    I don't know anything about any installation kit ,but if you're gonna be constantly gigging with it I would suggest making it "permanent" ,using a guitar that you don't mind doing that with.I have visions of many years ago with that cable and the duct tape................ugh
     
  7. somecafone

    somecafone Member

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    Fishman Rare Earth humbucker w/ the mic and LR Baggs Paracoustic DI.
    Two sources blended into one output...no need for stereo cable and there is a blend knob on the pickup.
    DI into any PA.
    Don't use a traditional guitar or bass amp. Keyboard amp maybe, in a pinch.

    Great combination w/o big mods to the instrument.
    If you really wanna go lo-tech, you can just slacken a couple of strings and install it yourself. Of course, you will have a wire coming out of the soundhole that you will have to be very careful not to step on.
    I had mind pro-installed. The jack goes to the end strap pin which required one 1/4" hole...I think that was the size.

    Great sound, easy (read: cheap) to install, flexible w/o fuss.
     
  8. stratcat85

    stratcat85 Member

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    Check out K&K's product. They have a very very natural sound and probly the loudest passive system out there. Pure Western!!!!
     
  9. stephenT

    stephenT Silver Supporting Member

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    a magnetic PU is the only way to go if playing w/ a band and Sunrise is the best.
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Hey Alvis, I'm listening to the clips on your MySpace page. Lovely stuff!
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I use a Baggs Dual Source, I've had it about 5 years. It's permanent, though. Not real obtrusive and it made very little noticeable difference in the acoustic tone. I won't say none at all, but not much.

    For some reason that particular combination sounds very natural when it's balanced right. I have it set for about 65% transducer and 35% mic, I have the output set at about 80% and I leave it alone. The transducer gets the high mids and top end while the mic bring up the depth and roundness. The funny thing is, whenever I've really liked another player's live direct sound and looked into what they used, it's always been a Dual Source.
     
  12. 1964

    1964 Member

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    > "All the 'installation' is, is just a removal of the endpin, replaced with a jack"

    But they still have to drill out the hole. It's not something you'd do to a vintage Martin or such like.
     
  13. HHB

    HHB Member

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    welcome Alvis! dig your stuff, great to see you sharing your experience
     
  14. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    there are some good ones out there. i've tried a lot of them over the years (sunrise, baggs, fishman, pickup the world). i have found that the sunrise is by far the best magnetic soundhole pickup, although in my opinion it isn't the most authentic acoustic sound (although a good sound). i settled on the sunrise for about 10 years, until i stumbled onto the K & K pure western pickup. it is very unintrusive and uses three transducers attached to the soundboard. there is no onbaord pre, and i use a Siegmund missing link tube preamp to boost and shape the tone, although i have gone straight to di with great results. it is by far the most natural sounding pickup i have ever heard, and if you have a great sounding guitar, it will give you that out front. if you play with a band, it might be too sensitive and not have the necessary volume, but if you play solo or with acoustic ensembles (as i do) it is stunningly good. here are some links to check them out:
    http://www.kksound.com/purewestern.html
    http://www.siegmundguitars.com/ML.html
    best of luck - jv
     
  15. royd

    royd Member

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    Amplifying an acoustic is tricky business and it always involves compromises between cost, complexity, accuracy, and feedback rejection.

    There are a few different technologies each with its own strengths and weaknesses Here's my take with a few manufacturers listed

    under-the-saddle: Fishman, Baggs, etc. etc.; pro - they don't change the looks, are found everywhere, can sound reasonably accurate, relatively inexpensive, good feedback rejection. con - can have a funny attack and a quacky midrange, installation can involve some voodoo
    magnetic: Sunrise, Fishman, Baggs; pro - great bass response, easiest installation, best feedback rejection con - most have an "electric" like sound in the midrange and treble registers
    surface mount transducer: K&K, Pickup the world, McIntyre; pro - can sound very accurate, pick up the artifacts such as body slaps, string noise, etc. cons - placement is critical and can be difficult, sometimes the artifacts are too loud, can have low feedback resistance
    internal microphone: often included with a UTS in a dual source system. pro - brings in some of the sounds the uts (or mag) doesn't get, rarely found alone anymore. cons - can sound boxy, low feedback resistance
    external microphone: any microphone pros - can sound very accurate if you use a great mic, place it well, and don't move. cons- low feedback resistance, impacts movement and technique (don't hit the mic with your hand while playing.

    Then there are multi-source systems that use more than one type of pickup to make up for the weaknesses in one source (read more complexity and more cost). And then you add pre-amps etc...

    My rig goes like this - Lowden O25C with Sunrise magnetic and McIntyre surface mount through stereo output to Sunrise stereo buffer (fattens up everything and increases signal) to Raven PMB-1 blender/pre-amp that gives me control over the two sources and blends them to one with a touch of compression in each channel and some reverb and a touch of chorus added to fatten everything a bit more. When recording I add a touch of a condensor microphone but still use my live rig. It makes for a complex and expensive rig but I get a huge guitar sound live. You can hear a taste of it at http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=106838

    All of that said, for a single source system I would go with the Sunrise (add the buffer if you can afford it, it isn't needed if you can't) or for a little less money, the Baggs M1 (which has slightly less feedback resistance than the Sunrise)
     

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