NGD (Eastman) and some pickup/DI questions...

goredho

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
174
I just bought an Eastman AC422CE. It looks beautiful, sounds better (acoustically) and is a joy to play. It is a keeper for those characteristics alone. But, it comes with an LR Baggs Element under saddle pickup, and the DI tone is... just not good to my ears. The DI signal from the Element does not sound like an acoustic guitar. It sounds like a solid-body electric with a weak single coil bridge pickup.

I'm a clueless newb in these acoustic parts, so a lot of this may be pure ignorance on my part. Is it realistic to expect a good acoustic with an under-saddle pickup to have a DI signal that sounds at least something like an acoustic guitar? Can this be overcome with EQ and/or other signal chain processing or are there going to always be severe limitations trying to reproduce the guitar's acoustic tone via DI with such a pickup? Do other pickup system types, maybe like an Anthem that incorporates a mic, wind up with a more realistic acoustic tone using direct input?

I am looking for reasonably authentic acoustic sound using DI in a home studio setting. Mics are an option, but I am lazy enough for that to be a last resort if I can get 90% close with a pickup and direct input.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Tweeker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,492
...The DI does not sound like an acoustic guitar...Is it realistic to expect...an under-saddle pickup...sound at least something like an acoustic guitar? Can this be overcome with EQ and/or other signal chain processing or are there going to always be severe limitations trying to reproduce the guitar's acoustic tone via DI with such a pickup?...other pickup system types...an Anthem...a more realistic acoustic tone?

I am looking for reasonably authentic acoustic sound using DI in a home studio setting. Mics are an option, but I am lazy enough for that to be a last resort if I can get 90% close with a pickup...

First, congrats on the Eastman, it looks like a beauty. This may seem obvious, but an instrument that is a joy to play and sounds good is a must if you are to achieve a "reasonably authentic acoustic sound" when recording at home. I am not an expert, nor do I have first hand experience with the latest & greatest stuff, but I've put pickups on my guitars since the first Barcus Berry in 1972. I've used all flavors of under-saddle, contact transducer and magnetic. I've never tried the hybrid pickup/mic systems (like the Anthem) but have mixed and matched to that effect.

Have you listened to the Element examples on the Baggs site?
The three videos and one audio file should tell you whether the Element can sound like the 90% you're looking for.

For recording an under saddle pickup as a DI, it does help enormously to use more stuff. I happen to love recording direct but have gone down a deep rabbit hole with EQ, compressors, preamps, multi processors, etc to try and achieve an acoustic sound. There's a jungle of choices for adding to your signal chain but before you start considering the advice that will be posted here, may I make a suggestion?
Try a mic. I know you said you're lazy, but starting there might be worth a little of your time. Find a sweet spot at home where you like the sound of your guitar and experiment with mic placement. If you can dial it in, you're golden.
 

goredho

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
174
First, congrats on the Eastman, it looks like a beauty. This may seem obvious, but an instrument that is a joy to play and sounds good is a must if you are to achieve a "reasonably authentic acoustic sound" when recording at home. I am not an expert, nor do I have first hand experience with the latest & greatest stuff, but I've put pickups on my guitars since the first Barcus Berry in 1972. I've used all flavors of under-saddle, contact transducer and magnetic. I've never tried the hybrid pickup/mic systems (like the Anthem) but have mixed and matched to that effect.

Have you listened to the Element examples on the Baggs site?
The three videos and one audio file should tell you whether the Element can sound like the 90% you're looking for.

For recording an under saddle pickup as a DI, it does help enormously to use more stuff. I happen to love recording direct but have gone down a deep rabbit hole with EQ, compressors, preamps, multi processors, etc to try and achieve an acoustic sound. There's a jungle of choices for adding to your signal chain but before you start considering the advice that will be posted here, may I make a suggestion?
Try a mic. I know you said you're lazy, but starting there might be worth a little of your time. Find a sweet spot at home where you like the sound of your guitar and experiment with mic placement. If you can dial it in, you're golden.

I really appreciate your thorough advice. I listened to those clips as you recommended and they certainly sound better than what I was getting earlier today. I’ll try again tomorrow and maybe swap out the battery to make sure that’s not the issue. Thanks again for some tips and ideas.
 

jklotz

Member
Messages
3,919
That may be where I end up.
I suspect you will. All acoustic guitar pickups are a compromise of some sort. If you are just looking to get an idea for a song down, sure, whatever is easiest, but if you intent to make a recording that others will want to listen to, you're probably going to need a mic or two.

Congrats on the new Eastman, it's a good looking guitar!
 

Funky Chicken

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,440
I use built-in pickups only for convenience. If I am trying to capture an authentic sound when recording, microphones are the only option for me.
 

derekd

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
46,172
I suspect you will. All acoustic guitar pickups are a compromise of some sort. If you are just looking to get an idea for a song down, sure, whatever is easiest, but if you intent to make a recording that others will want to listen to, you're probably going to need a mic or two.

Congrats on the new Eastman, it's a good looking guitar!
I agree, always a compromise.

If recording the true sound of an acoustic is the goal, then a mic is the way to go unless you have both and do a bit of blending at the board as a lot of players do.

Congrats, OP on a beautiful instrument.
 

csweldon

Member
Messages
900
An LR Baggs Anthem would be a serious upgrade and should be easy to install considering that the element is already there. It also sounds a lot more true to the tone of your guitar. If you intend to gig your (BEAUTIFUL) Eastman, I would definitely take a look.

It records well, and with EQ it’d be great for laying down quick tracks and demos. That might sound good enough for your uses (it really does sound great) but for in my experience the best results were when paired with another mic at the 12th fret; the Anthem gives a good base tone with some nice sparkle, and the other mic gives it more body and fullness.

Whatever you end up doing, congratulations on the beautiful guitar!
 

Tweeker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,492
I really appreciate your thorough advice. I listened to those clips as you recommended and they certainly sound better than what I was getting earlier today. I’ll try again tomorrow and maybe swap out the battery to make sure that’s not the issue. Thanks again for some tips and ideas.
You're welcome. The sounds in those Baggs website clips are probably not simply pickup to computer interface. I bet there is "stuff" added to the signal chain. You might even inquire from Baggs how they recorded the sounds you most like.
FWIW, I second Chic-Pop's suggestion for a Baggs Para DI - it's a very versatile tool for both live and recording. https://www.lrbaggs.com/preamps-di/para-di-acoustic-guitar-preamp

An LR Baggs Anthem would be a serious upgrade...sounds a lot more true to the tone of your guitar...but in my experience the best results were when paired with another mic at the 12th fret...
And again to goredho - a simple tried and true method when using a pickup/mic combo is to high pass the mic and low pass the under-saddle pickup. The under saddle is most natural in it's lower register and you avoid boomy mic sounds.
 

goredho

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
174
Thanks again for all the advice. In my uninformed naïveté, I guess I thought buying a great acoustic with electronics was an end for my needs, but it looks like it may be the start of a new tone-quest
 

dlxtele

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
152
K & K Mini is the best for getting the true un-colored sound of an acoustic out to a pre-amp or amp. That is IMHO.

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Bobbybigbucks

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,653
I can't give you any pick up advice but that back picture of the guitar is stunning! Wow! Look at that rosewood! :omg
 

goredho

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
174
I can't give you any pick up advice but that back picture of the guitar is stunning! Wow! Look at that rosewood! :omg


Thanks! It is gorgeous.

I was able to dial this tone in today after replacing the battery and running it through my helix with a mic preamp some slight EQ and a reverb, which I think doesn't sound too shabby. I need to continue to work with the EQ, it needs more lows to sound closer to how it does acoustically.

It is probably not as good as I could get with a good mic and dedicated preamp, but it is certainly better than the tone that the pickup had right out of the case. I think the biggest issue I was having was that the battery that was in it was dying.

 
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Johnny Rood

Member
Messages
2
K & K Mini is the best for getting the true un-colored sound of an acoustic out to a pre-amp or amp. That is IMHO.
...

I'm no expert, but indeed the K&K Pure Mini pickup is a remarkable little thing.

Among many good things, I can say it is flexible; I have one in an old classical guitar and/but I can plug it into the very same signal path that I use for a big dreadnought steel-string that employs a LR Baggs I-Beam Active pickup --- with no finessing needed! Dial adjustments: absolute none! Two very different sound situations, but both are a drop-fit into my current set-up, as-is. Might just be beginner's luck, but this happy fact sure makes my lil' weekly gig life a lot simpler.

Chain: Guitar to a tuner to a chorus to a delay/reverb/looper to a compressor to a LR Baggs Para DI to the mixing board and/or amplifier. Overall Goal: to eek out a wide range of tones from just two acoustic guitars and a small pedal suite.
 
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WesDocJimi

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,378
I just picked up an AC422CE today and my pickup sounds very good (Listed as a Fishman Matrix VT System).
 

mattthehoople

Member
Messages
777
Nothing betters a mic, SM81.

Even Greg Lake sounded better in the 70's with acoustic mic'd up, than his onstage rig using the latest greatest under saddle pickup.

The plugged in sound is terrible to me, and I tried the K&K line, yada, yada.

I think it totally depends on what you're after, say the Takamine sound we all know, or the old Martin sound with a mic. The two are miles apart, regardless of the marketing.
 




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