Best way to improve my acoustic sound?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by carljoensson, Jan 28, 2008.


  1. carljoensson

    carljoensson Member

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    Hi,

    I play a Martin D-15 equipped with a B-Band UST-pickup (Under saddle transducer) and the built in B-band A1 preamp. When playing live I simply plug it into a DI-box and let the sound engineer handle the rest.

    I suppose the sound I get is not really all that bad, but it still leaves some to be desired - not the least concerning what I hear in my monitor on stage. The sound I get now is simply a bit too bright, hard - well, it sounds like what it is - an amplified acoustic guitar.

    So I'm wondering what would be the most reasonable investment to improve my sound. Most bang for the buck.

    My B-band system includes no EQ in my guitar etc.

    1. Change of pickupsystem
    2. Getting an external preamp, like the LR Baggs etc?
    3. Getting a small acoustic amp, like Ultrasound AG-30 or AER Alpha


    I'd be most thankful for any suggestions!

    Carl
     
  2. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    IMO
    I'd recommend a lr baggs or k&k pickup system.
    Those ust pickups aren't always celebrated for their sound quality.
     
  3. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    Well, a LOT depends on how the sound man is EQing your guitar. Normally I leave the bass neutral, and scoop out the mids, and maybe the treble, too. No reverb on the acoustic, either ... it just sounds muddy.

    Nothing you do on the stage is the way of EQ will help much if the sound man is working against you ... :bkw ... but if that's not the case, you might think about a preamp with EQ. UST's aren't the best sounding, but short of a magnetic soundhole pickup (I use a Baggs M1A in one of my guitars, btw) they are the most feedback resistant, which may be a consideration for you.
     
  4. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    The previous posters pretty much covered what i'd have said (K&K, Baggs M1a combo is what i use)...preamps are a big help, powered DIs, and the like...acoustic amps have never worked well enough for me to suggest as a first option

    If your martin is like mine, its loud and easily feeds back at any kind of volume...i go M1a only to the monitors, K&K and M1a to the mains...the crowd gets the better sound, you have to have faith...

    You have to decide based on the size of the gigs youre playing, and yes, sound guys generally arent concerned with your tone...with a band is a different animal than you solo---if your dealing with medium to high stage volume, your options are extremely limited...id say go with the M1a

    Ive simply never liked thee sound of B-band products...if you happen to decide keeping with a UST is best for you, id ditch the b-band, consider a baggs or fishman matrix UST, get a new saddle made for it...then add a preamp/EQ




    j
     
  5. carljoensson

    carljoensson Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the suggestions. It's funny, I did a lot of research when I chose my pick-up system and B-band seemed the way to go back then (2003).

    B-band also has a pick-up/preamp-system where you blend the UST with an AST (acoustic soundboard transducer).

    I've never had any feedback problem with my D-15, on the other hand the only pick-up I've ever used is a UST which is very good in THIS sense, right?

    K&K and Baggs?

    Thanks,

    Carl
     
  6. VintageToneGuy

    VintageToneGuy Member

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    During the sound check ask the tech to do some cutting of the mid's and treble and even 'presence' (if there is one) and see what happens. If you can't get a decent sound then I'd go with a LR Baggs Para DI or similar so that you can control your tone from where you are on stage. Finally, you might consider an acoustic amp like the one below, or similar, and run a line out to the mixer and leave the soundboard controls 'flat' and shape it from the amp.


    http://stores.ebay.com/Oklahoma-Vin...QcolZ2QQdirZQ2d1QQfsubZ16444479QQftidZ2QQtZkm

    (Scroll down and look at the Shenandoah Series for Acoustic's; you won't find better prices anywhere)! I have the Shen100
     
  7. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    +1 on the K&K Baggs M1 active combo. Use it in my Collings and Composite Acoustic dread and it's stellar for not a lot of money. Extremely versatile - use the K&K alone for quieter situations, the pair when you have the sound system to support it, and the Baggs alone when it's really loud (and nobody can hear the difference) or you don't trust the sound system. The K&K sounds better with a pre but it's not necessary.
     
  8. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    if starting from scratch i'd say go for K&K as well, but your pickups are not shabby either. i'd say pick up the Para DI (or similar offerings), and as someone else mentioned make sure the sound guy is working with, not against you.
     
  9. konavet

    konavet Member

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    You might want to try out a BBE Acoustimax as well as the Para DI. I use one and I like it a lot. Lots of tweak room.
     
  10. royd

    royd Member

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    a couple of thoughts...

    monitors rarely sound good to my ears and seldom reflect what the audience is hearing.

    the soundperson really does have the final say in your sound so get together with that person. Tell tem what you're hearing and not. Cutting the mids usually helps as does cutting the trebles and adding a bit more bottom but if your source is still too harsh, you just end up with a dull harsh sound rather than a warm round one.

    more "round" sound = a magnetic pup in the mix. The Baggs is very good... but I prefer the Sunrise. By itself, the Baggs is better but in a mix, the Sunrise is a purer source. If you go with a Sunrise, the Sunrise buffer is amazing. Have two sources come out of the guitar to a Sunrise stereo buffer to some kind of blender or two channels in the board. Sweet.

    Another option if you keep an under-the-saddle pickup is to add a very thin wooden shim - either spruce or cedar - between the saddle and the pickup. I generally don't care for uts pups but when I've had them, that shim made a huge difference in warming up the sound and making it sound bit more woody. That might be your first try... it is cheap ad easily reversible.

    I like just a touch of reverb and a touch of chorus added to an amplified acoustic. It just fattens everything up... but just a touch, not so much of it that it sounds chorusy or reverby.
     
  11. guitardr

    guitardr Silver Supporting Member

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    99% of the transducer systems are inherently bright by virtue of their design, et al.

    Baggs, Fishman, Shertler and others have systems that combine a small mike inside the sound hole with a transducer/ribbon/piezo. Fishman's new Aura system is also pretty nice, so check that one out as well (a few variations/models are available).

    Dobro monster Jerry Douglas always sounds bright yet full live, as well as Willy Porter (tasty acoustic player from Milwaukee). I'd investigate whatever gear they currently use.

    Finally: many fine players augment their PU's on the instrument with a quality condenser off the soundhole live.
     
  12. jbryant3

    jbryant3 Member

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    Carl...one piece of equipment I have been using for a couple of years is the Aphex Acoustic Exciter. It's a stomp box format that has optical "Big Bottom" and "Aural Exciter" technology. i.e. Bass and Treble. But it really does a lot more than just EQ. It opens up the sound of the guitar. Try one out at Guitar Center and see what you think. I won't play without one. I use a Baggs LB6 passive pickup and a Fishman Pocket Blender pre-amp with the Aphex going through the effects loop on the pre. Very fat and full sound. The BBE Acoustamax is nice too. I tried both and I prefer the Aphex. A lot cheaper also. Hope this helps.

    Jim
     
  13. carljoensson

    carljoensson Member

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    Hi again,

    Thanks everybody for chiming in. Lots of good advice here, I'll have to go back and reread it again. Many seem to suggest a change of pick-up. Fine, though I guess I'll have to be the last thing I try since buying/mounting etc ... well I won't know how much improvement I get before I've changed, whereas a preamp/EQ or an amp can always be listened to - even recorded for evaluation.

    Good thing - turns out a friend have just bought a Baggs Para DI preamp so I can probably try it out and see if it makes any difference. At least now after all your advice I've gotten some idea of how to tweak the knobs...
    The AER and Ultrasound amps seems to be available at different local shops.

    But I'll keep K&K in mind - you never know if you buy another guitar along the road.

    Thanks,

    Carl
     

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