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Best pickup for Hummingbird in small to medium venues?

Messages
581
Looking to add an aftermarket pickup to my Gibson Hummingbird so that I can use it at some shows.

Style of music: Singer songwriter varying between fingerpicking and harder strumming... similar style to Ryan Adams, with a hint of John Mayer thrown in for good measure.

Venues: Mainly smaller 100-300 capacity venues/theatres. Occasionally 1000 capacity bigger theatres.

Line up on stage: Myself (vocals and acoustic guitar), Second Acoustic Guitarist, Pedal Steel, Cajon, Cello, Violin.

I'm looking for a pickup that will give the best possible sound without any feedback. I use in-ears, but there will be other monitors on the stage.

Interested to know your thoughts.......
 

RustyAxe

Member
Messages
3,012
The most feedback resistant pickups will be either magnetic soundhole, or piezo undersaddle. Neither are the ultimate in acoustic tone, but will sound fine in a band. Both can be optionally combined with a mini internal condenser mic (requiring a preamp that supports two channels) to get better acoustic tone should you play solo on a quiet stage. The size of the audience makes no difference ... the biggest factors in reducing feedback is monitor placement and stage volume.

My go-to soundhole pickup is a Baggs M1A. The newer Baggs M80 is a great choice, as is the Sunrise. Takamine makes the Tri-Ax (just like the M1A, but can be active or passive, like the M80).

Undersaddles I use a Baggs Element VTC, and have used the Fishman Matrix Infinity, too. I use K&K mini's in most of my guitars because I play solo or duo/trio and both stage volume and monitor placement are under my control.
 
Last edited:

royd

Member
Messages
2,039
RustyAxe gave some good advice.

I think a dual source is almost always a good choice. Two different pickups gives you a fuller image of the sound coming from the guitar since you're getting two different images, plus the strengths and weaknesses usually work out in a positive way.

I prefer a magnetic pup and a soundboard transducer. A good magnetic pup has good feedback rejection, a strong bass response, and a slower attack (which I like a lot). The soundboard transducer is less good at feedback rejection but has a fast response and picks up the artifacts - top noise, string sounds etc. that help define an acoustic guitar vs. an electric. If you are using both you can change the balance between the two to get your optimum sound or to solve problems, like feedback.

My main rig is a Sunrise magnetic and a McIntyre SBT into a Dtar blending preamp. I like the way it sounds as well or better than any other rig I've heard and it is very flexible allowing me to play in a wide array of settings. If I was choosing a single source, I would still go with a mag. Even though I would lose some of the artifacts etc, I really prefer the slower attack of a mag to the fast attack of anything piezo. My favorite mags are the Sunrise and the Dimarzio Angel.
 

rmconner80

Cantankerous Luddite
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,067
USTs are good for feedback resistance. IMHO, they sound terrible.

I have a K&K pure mini in my Hummingbird and it's better than a UST, but it still sounds pretty bad compared to what the guitar actually sounds like. I may add the trinity mic to dual source, but also considering an external mic. I do agree that dual source is very nice for the flexibility and tone.

The K&K pure mini has less feedback resistance than the UST. Any microphone will compromise you even further from the K&K. Basically, the closer you get to a natural acoustic tone, the less feedback resistance you get, in general.

A good preamp is definitely a mitigating factor for transducer type pickups, but still... always sounds not so great to my ears, compared to the 'real thing'. It's definitely about balancing compromises, and also about how well other players on stage are at balancing and listening.
 




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