Cover band guitars: bring both/Acoustasonic/Variax/Piezo?

burningyen

Member
Messages
15,151
@burningyen - while it is possible that it was that machine, that’s the same Mac, I used to use for my old 69S. Part of me says - “just get another Variax since you used to like it and that one was just a dud - the next will be fine”.
It’s a tough decision.
Sure, but I think something may have happened with either a MacOS update, a GarageBand update, an HX Edit update, or a Helix FW update, because the same Macbook I’ve been using for the past year and a half or so stopped working with all my Variaxes at the same time back in March. L6 Support clued me in to the MIDI issue, and that led me to the fix. Looking back at my support ticket history, I see that they suggested I check the MIDI settings in my Helix. You need to make sure MIDI Over USB is turned on in Global Settings in your Helix.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
Darn fiddle things. When I had my Variax in the past, I tweaked the heck out of it in Workbench. I don’t think I’d do that again as I now know what I really liked were the single coil mags and the modeled acoustics. I don’t really need more.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
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31,197
I've installed several Brenner piezos, two Strats, a Tele and an FMT HH Tele, and I think the Brenner piezo makes them all into great "cover band" guitars. ...

I've emailed the creator several times about his piezos and he's been very communicative, although he never took me up on my suggestions, such as offering a rounder radius version to work with 7.5". The Brenner piezos are rather "flat radius", I don't recommend them for 7.5" radii, the neck has to be 9.25", or flatter, or as you'd expect the high and low E are a noticeably higher off the neck.
...

I hope more people buy his piezos so that hopefully he will expand his product line.
Excuse me quoting the same post twice but I just thought of something - did you happen to check with the maker whether there is enough thickness to allow you to deepen the outer four saddle slots? That might be a way to get uniform string height over a rounder fingerboard.

The piezo crystals aren't directly under the strings, so deepening the slots shouldn't cut into them. They are crimped in the tube that is sandwiched between the two machined metal sections.
 

BadAssBill

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,698
I used to play acoustic on about 40% of our songs. I had a splitter at the end of my signal that went to may amp for electric and a DI for acoustic. The DI then went to the board. It's easy in that I only have one cable to plug into for my guitar and can use the delay. It works great.
I also have my wireless at the beginning of the pedal, mostly unplugged, but if i want to use it I just plug it into my first pedal and I'm wireless.
 

rawkguitarist

Member
Messages
11,580
I searched around for those options and don't think I'd go that way on a Core PRS. I might consider that for a partscaster but I only have a part-tele at the moment and I'd need to do some serious woodworking to get the goodies inside.
Do you plan on keeping the guitar? Or is in the back of your mind sell/trade guitar? If you plan on keeping the guitar, what's truly wrong with modding it?

I'm about to put a Lr Baggs T-Bridge in a one of a kind Koll RE6. To avoid compromising with a Variax or bring another guitar for 10% of the gig I'm willing to add to the capabilities of one of my guitars. I plan to simply add a volume pot and wire it all to a TRS jack and use a pedal preamp.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
Do you plan on keeping the guitar? Or is in the back of your mind sell/trade guitar? If you plan on keeping the guitar, what's truly wrong with modding it?

It's not that I plan on selling them....just my philosophy. I'd rather buy a guitar with the capabilities that I need.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,909
Excuse me quoting the same post twice but I just thought of something - did you happen to check with the maker whether there is enough thickness to allow you to deepen the outer four saddle slots? That might be a way to get uniform string height over a rounder fingerboard.

The piezo crystals aren't directly under the strings, so deepening the slots shouldn't cut into them. They are crimped in the tube that is sandwiched between the two machined metal sections.

Yeah you can cut the grooves depper, or do what I did, stick a metal shim underneath the middle two.

1652320069541.png
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
Update. I realized that my Suhr S4 is a compound radius and a candidate for the Brenner piezo bridge. I looked at the saddles and they have very little radius.

As it's possible to install that system and reverse the mod, I didn't see much risk in devaluing the guitar. I ordered a 500k push-pull pot and plan on running the piezo straight to the jack...and a pack of 500ohm ohm resistors as suggested above (double those for 1M). So, for < $100, I'll give a piezo system a try. Coupled with the 3Sigma acoustic IR in the FM3, hopefully, this gets the job done.
 

Strat_lover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,031
You've mentioned the band leader a couple times here, wanting you to "get closer."

It might be uncomfortable, but if I were you, I would offer them three options:

-If he would prefer you play the real acoustic, you'd be happy to, with an appropriate pay increase.
-You would be happy to look into a new axe that offers piezo/13 pin/whatever you decide would work best for you, if they help offset the upfront costs.
-You would also be happy to get a Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator on your own dime and call it done.

There are many ways to do what you're looking to do to a satisfactory live setting. I use a 13 Pin equipped parts Strat into a Boss GP-10. Haven't had the opportunity to try it live, but it sounds very usable in my home studio. That said, no one other than the people on stage would care whether you're playing the real deal, or a $70 pedal designed to do the job. And honestly, the labor and learning curve of the more advanced approaches are probably not worth it, unless you are personally invested in putting the work in.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
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3,112
@Strat_lover .... some answers:

-If he would prefer you play the real acoustic, you'd be happy to, with an appropriate pay increase.
-You would be happy to look into a new axe that offers piezo/13 pin/whatever you decide would work best for you, if they help offset the upfront costs.
-You would also be happy to get a Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator on your own dime and call it done.

The question about playing the acoustic is really about me. I'm the one that doesn't want to bother with carrying my expensive Taylor for a couple of tunes. I'm fine with the band leader's opinions that we try to sound the way he prefers. We have a great relationship and he has a better ear and sense of what we need to do as a band; thus, I defer to his recommendations. It's also not about money. As a new band, there isn't much to talk about there anyway.....and, I have a well-paying job whereas music is my outlet/hobby. My FM3 actually does a reasonable acoustic simulation with an IR. But, it's not great (probably passable for the audience). However, I'm not thrilled with the tone.
 

Strat_lover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,031
@Strat_lover .... some answers:



The question about playing the acoustic is really about me. I'm the one that doesn't want to bother with carrying my expensive Taylor for a couple of tunes. I'm fine with the band leader's opinions that we try to sound the way he prefers. We have a great relationship and he has a better ear and sense of what we need to do as a band; thus, I defer to his recommendations. It's also not about money. As a new band, there isn't much to talk about there anyway.....and, I have a well-paying job whereas music is my outlet/hobby. My FM3 actually does a reasonable acoustic simulation with an IR. But, it's not great (probably passable for the audience). However, I'm not thrilled with the tone.

Gotcha, that makes sense. When I hear "bandleader" my mind automatically goes to hired gun scenarios, sounds like you have more of a partnership going. Which is good!

Since the Fractal emulations aren't doing it for you, I do think you'd be hard pressed to find anything that will, other than the real deal. All the emulations out there are built for convenience first and tone second.

Oh, another thing on the Acoustasonics that I noticed. I only have experience with the original models, the USA Tele and Strat, but the electric sounds are designed to be run into an acoustic amp or similar, they have amp emulation on them. It's an easy thing to overlook, but they definitely do not sound their best into an electric guitar amplifier.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
Oh, another thing on the Acoustasonics that I noticed. I only have experience with the original models, the USA Tele and Strat, but the electric sounds are designed to be run into an acoustic amp or similar, they have amp emulation on them. It's an easy thing to overlook, but they definitely do not sound their best into an electric guitar amplifier.

Interesting! I wasn't aware of that. I've seen them demoed into Fender amps like a deluxe reverb and they sounded like an electric.

Can anyone confirm??
 

mystixboi

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,365
I'm a little late to the party, but I play in a tribute band and I'm also part of an acoustic duo. The music of the tribute band requires me to go from acoustic to electric in the same song and sometimes at the same time. I bought a PRS SE Hollowbody ii with piezo a month or so ago. It absolutely kills in both settings. It's all I bring. I have a PRS CU22 Core that I bring for the band shows in case I want to mix it up, but I have no problem playing a gig with the Hollowbody only. It's perfect. I run the piezo to a DI and the magnetic pickups into my amp.

I can't recommend this setup enough for guitarists that are in a similar situation that I'm in.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
@mystixboi - my friend has a HB2 Piezo and loves it. It may be an option in the future (although expense one). If the HB2 is anything like my HB Spruce, it's a great guitar.
 

ljholland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,112
Double update on this thread. A mint PRS Hollowbody Piezo SE arrived last night. It's awesome and other than not having a bar, will cover just about all of our songs nicely. The parts also arrived on the Brenner bridge and I've done the install using the push-pull switch on the Suhr S4. I've omitted the 1M resistor but will likely add it later as there is a pop when switching to the piezo. Between these two guitars, I'm good!
 

doninoakland

Member
Messages
386
I play in a cover band and we play a mix of acoustic and electric tunes. I’ve been bringing an acoustic and an electric (+backup electric) for gigs but it’s a lot. 90% of the material is electric.

I used to own a Variax JTV-69S which I sold when I wasn’t gigging. It was a great guitar plus did all the Variax tricks and never gave me trouble. I recently bought a secondhand Variax as a replacement but it turned out to have issues and went back. In my troubleshooting, I was reminded how these guitars work well when they work and are a serious problem when they don't. That... the tech is old...the support dwindling...and hopes that they'll continue the product line are dwindling.

Acoustasonics sound great in the videos but I'm not so thrilled with what I'm hearing on the electric side. Most of our material is electric and the Acoustasonics are primarily an acoustic instrument first. The Godin A6s sound great on the acoustic side but tend toward dark on the electric side. (also more geared toward acoustic)

Or maybe a piezo-equipped guitar? I own a PRS Hollowbody Spruce, alas, not the piezo version. I guess I could trade down?

Or just shut up and bring multiple guitars?....or play those acoustic tunes electric?

I've tried a few approaches to this.

I have a Gretsch Falcon with a Fishman piezo bridge. It's an approximation with a strong piezo tone, but in a mix it's good enough.

SIM1 XT1 pedal: This is like have a Kemper profiler but for guitars instead of amps. For what you want to do, this is the ideal solution - the sound totally nails whatever guitar you're going for. It's a little pricey, and it really deserves a dedicated signal path for the acoustic guitar sounds. I've been too lazy to get that set up.

Hotone Omni AC: I have one of these in a box, not sure if I've ever plugged it in. As with the Fishman bridge on the Gretsch, this would be a "good enough" approximation. But if I was in your shoes, this is probably the way I would go. I would just insert it into my existing signal path and not worry about the compromises involved - and I wouldn't be tied to just one specific guitar (as with the Gretsch). But if I wanted to split the signal path, it has an XLR I could use for the acoustic, and a Thru 1/4" for the base electric tone.
 




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