Help on acoustic pickups/preamps

TJT79

Member
Messages
660
Hi

I know nothing about this so if my questions don't make sense I apologize in advance!

With the help of a local luthier I will be building an acoustic for playing live.

I repeat: this guitar is for the specific purpose of playing live with a band.

I play mostly rhythm; strumming chords with a pick. It's a rock band: 2 guitars, bass, drums, singer and we all do some backing vocals.

I don't really like electric guitar for clean sounds so the idea is to use this acoustic for the clean songs. I will be plugging into the PA, not using a separate acoustic amp.

I want something reliable, no feedback, something gig-worthy. I understand that the best sound will be with an external microphone but that's not practical in a band situation.

What would you recommend? Under saddle? Soundhole? Onboard preamp? A separate pedal? Passive/active?

Without knowing much about all this I'm leaning towards an onboard preamp and just a cable to the PA, just for simplicity's sake.

Thanks
 

sjaustin

Member
Messages
160
I'd get an under saddle pickup with an internal preamp (usually in the endpin). Plug and play. Of course it will never sound as good as a mic, but it's simple, reliable, and you probably won't have too much of a problem with feedback. The Fishman Matrix series is good for this kind of thing, but there are a million options at every price point.
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,825
Fishman Matrix or LR Baggs Element will do well IMHO. There are myriad other options at various price points.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
660
Thanks for your replies. I will look into those suggestions. Forgot to mention I'm hoping to spend an absolute max of about $150 - 200.
 

bignote

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
145
I highly reccomend the MISI under saddle pickup. it does not have an internal battery it is a re-chargeable capacitor based system. You can use the included power supply that is included. It takes a minute to charge and that yields 16 hours of use. You can also use a trs cable and a nine volt to charge it. As found as sound goes. It is the most transparent under saddle pickup I have ever heard.
 

Lewguitar

Member
Messages
5,665
Thanks for your replies. I will look into those suggestions. Forgot to mention I'm hoping to spend an absolute max of about $150 - 200.
No acoustic guitar pickup system will be feedback free. None.

You always have to be careful where you stand onstage and careful with the stage and monitor volume.

I'd go with K&K Pure Minis and a RedEye preamp.

I would never go with an under saddle pickup because putting the pickup strip between the bone saddle and the wooden bridge compromises the acoustic tone.

I remove under saddle pickups and replace them K&K Pure Minis which are extremely light, paper thin and mount inside the guitar directly under the saddle.
 
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hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,912
While all systems in acoustics can feed back, I have read/heard far more from folks having feedback issues with the K&K's than any other setup. They can be picky about being paired with the right preamp too. On a guitar "for the specific purpose of playing live with a band" and "a rock band: 2 guitars, bass, drums, singer", I believe you are far more likely to wind up fighting feedback with K&K. And on a guitar for "playing live with a band" the, at most, minute difference in acoustic response resulting from an undersaddle pickup will make no difference. So undersaddle and/or soundhole.

Given the application, it begs the question, why go with a luthier build. There are factory builds designed to be effective in these applications for relatively short $$. Takamine comes to mind. While not my favorite unamplified acoustic guitar by a margin, they make a very good guitar for stage use. More coin, try the Martin GPCs. Less coin, try Yamaha. Unconventional try Godin. Etc. However there are other reasons to go to a builder so that is what it is.

hunter
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
810
Thanks for your replies. I will look into those suggestions. Forgot to mention I'm hoping to spend an absolute max of about $150 - 200.
On the pickup system or the guitar? I assume the former, since local luthiers would charge more like $4000 for a custom guitar.

The ticket here is to get an off-the-shelf instrument with a pickup already built in. You want something overbuilt and rather dead--this lessens the chance of feedback. Resonant, light-built guitars with good tone do not amplify well. Often, they don't even really record that well. Having a pickup with EQ, notch, volume, phase, etc on-board really helps. Sometimes you just want to adjust these things and don't want to run over to the mixer, and having a preamp on your belt is the biggest PITA.

This kind of guitar doesn't have to be expensive. Just make sure you test it out and think of it as a kind of a electric guitar--the acoustic characteristics are not important.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
660
OP here. Lots of replies and suggestions- thanks!

The local luthier is a friend so ot won't cost too much more than the material costs. I will actually be building myself but in his workshop with guidance.

The budget I mentioned was for pickup system only. I could stretch that a bit but there would need to be a real benefit.

If a basic soundhole pickup sounds ok and is practical then that would probably be fine. I was just reading about the Baggs M1 and M80 which look pretty good. Will look into more options...
 

royd

Member
Messages
2,037
OP here. Lots of replies and suggestions- thanks!

If a basic soundhole pickup sounds ok and is practical then that would probably be fine. I was just reading about the Baggs M1 and M80 which look pretty good.
I like soundhole pickups - actually prefer them in a single source rig over all of the other options. Of them, IMHO, the Sunrise is by far the best and the Dimarzio Angels are second. Personally I'm not crazy about the sound of the Baggs M1 or M80 but more than that, they will be more feedback prone because of the floating second coil. For that reason alone, I'd recommend you stay away from them. Check out the Sunrise and the Angel.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
660
The Sunrise is beyond my budget I'm afraid. The Angel seems to get good reviews.

There are three magnetic-only versions...
- original passive (tortoiseshell)
- active version of the above
- newer Black Angel passive version

The Black Angel seems to add a phase switch which sounds useful. Has anyone had the chance to compare these?

I assume that the two passive models would benefit from a preamp? Any recommendations for a simple good quality preamp at a reasonable price?

Thanks
 

mcdonaldkd

Member
Messages
1,937
In a band setting, the Sunrise is really hard to beat. There are plenty of good acoustics pickups, but in a BAND setting, the Sunrise is something special. I have not personally used any of the Angels, but they are really getting high praise as a Sunrise rival at a much reduced price.

If I couldn't have a Sunrise, I would be giving one of the Angels a try paired with a Redeye or Radial.
 

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,061
I put a K&K Ultra Pure Mini in my Stonebridge and it's incredible. The onboard preamp has everything you need, and the transducers sound incredibly natural.
 

mannish

Member
Messages
9,495
in the past I have been well pleased with the Fishman rare earth - the ones I have are old and I think they may have changed some. I do not play it in a 'band' context though
 

erniecaster

Member
Messages
651
Hi,

make things easy: Go and buy a used Yamaha CPX 700 and you´re done.

Life will be easier in a rock band with such an instrument than with a good and sensitive acoustic. Been there, done that.

cu

e.
 

lschwart

Member
Messages
663
I agree with the recommendations of a good soundhole pickup. I use and M1 passive with my band (not rock and roll, but still a band setting), and I've been very happy with it. Sunrise, Fishman Blackstack or Rare Earth, Dimarzio Angel are all good options. Look for a preamp that has a low cut option--or at least make sure one is engaged at the mixer. This is key for helping an acoustic guitar stand in a band mix. Something with semi-parametric mid EQ and a feedback notch filter will also be useful.

Another way to skin this is to get an undersaddle transducer like the Fishman Matrix and use an Aura preamp with it.

A K&K mini will sound more naturally acoustic (although the Aura used properly can also get you close), but as others have mentioned it will be harder to manage for feedback and possibly for the mix as well where the bite of an undersaddle mixed in or alone can help as can the "electric" sound of a soundhole pickup. Mixing these with a K&K or with an internal mic is another option, allowing you to alter the mix one way or the other as your stage needs dictate/allow.

Louis
 

royd

Member
Messages
2,037
The Sunrise is beyond my budget I'm afraid. The Angel seems to get good reviews.

There are three magnetic-only versions...
- original passive (tortoiseshell)
- active version of the above
- newer Black Angel passive version

The Black Angel seems to add a phase switch which sounds useful. Has anyone had the chance to compare these?

I assume that the two passive models would benefit from a preamp? Any recommendations for a simple good quality preamp at a reasonable price?

Thanks
A preamp is usually helpful but not necessary. If you went with a passive one, you could always add a preamp later if that feels helpful.

I haven't used the Black Angel but my understanding is that the only difference is the phase switch. I could be wrong there though. If that is so, it is most useful when you're using a dual source system and less important when you're not. If the price difference is significant and you don't mind the tortoise shell finish on the Angel, I'd certainly go that way. I would only choose the Black Angel above the Angel for the color... FWIW, I've been using Sunrise pups since the 80's and the Angel is the only other magnetic I've tried that I would buy.
 

TJT79

Member
Messages
660
Ok, thanks everyone.

Re: buying a Yamaha/Tak, that is certainly a good option I've considered. If I get a new guitar I'd rather make the most pf having a luthier friend and making my own!

The K&K is probably the best sounding option but I would rather lose a bit of accuracy but gain feedback resistance. Once mixed with another guitar, bass, drums and the screeching of our singer I think most subtle nuances will be lost!

Which brings me to soundhole magnetics. I will probably get a Dimarzio Angel or Black Angel. I HATE the tortoiseshell look but could always fix that with a sharpie!

Thanks for all your help.

TJT
 




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