Piezo Help!

iKlompy

Member
Messages
9
I apologise in advance if this is in the wrong section.

I am a VIOLIN player (acoustic with a piezo pick-up) and have a question. I am posting it here because its application applies to all acoustic instruments that use piezo technology.

If Piezoelectric technology picks up the vibrations of my instrument and turns it into an electrical signal which is converted into sound, HOW does the 'quality' of the tone of my acoustic instrument get translated by the piezo?

As to say, if the piezo is just picking up vibrations, how does it know what "tone" even is? My question is basically saying, Why spend thousands on an instrument (in my case a stunning acoustic violin) then put a piezo pickup on it only to have its tone completely destroyed by a piezo?
 

Pietro

2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Messages
16,443
If Piezoelectric technology picks up the vibrations of my instrument and turns it into an electrical signal which is converted into sound, HOW does the 'quality' of the tone of my acoustic instrument get translated by the piezo?
for the most part... it doesn't...

Only as far as the instrument supports the steady and sure vibration of the string does it make much difference.
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,949
I agree with Pietro, mostly.
There are pickup builders that continue to advance piezo technology with softer elements that can translate more variations.
The history of guitar piezo amplification travels through Takamine that was to known for building robust and sturdy stage guitars because the amplified voice was what mattered... Those guitars are fine players, but not the most exciting sounding guitars unplugged.

I notice many stage electric violins are tending towards solid body designs.

If you have a fine instrument that deserves to be amplified for its tonal qualities, perhaps a small diaphragm condenser on a mountable mini gooseneck pointed to the space between the bridge and the treble f hole would be better. The rest of the stage volume would be a consideration.
Violin, IME is a very loud instrument because of where it sits in the frequency spectrum. I have seen many talented players be successful with a stationary mic and step to and from that mic for volume control. Something like an SM81 seems best in that application.
 

iKlompy

Member
Messages
9
for the most part... it doesn't...

Only as far as the instrument supports the steady and sure vibration of the string does it make much difference.
This was my concern - I am in the market for a 5-8 thousand (AU$) violin but then wondered how much it would make a difference when I put a pickup on it. Money better spent on a top of the range electric violin I'm thinking..
 

iKlompy

Member
Messages
9
There are pickup builders that continue to advance piezo technology with softer elements that can translate more variations.
The history of guitar piezo amplification travels through Takamine that was to known for building robust and sturdy stage guitars because the amplified voice was what mattered... Those guitars are fine players, but not the most exciting sounding guitars unplugged.

I notice many stage electric violins are tending towards solid body designs.

If you have a fine instrument that deserves to be amplified for its tonal qualities, perhaps a small diaphragm condenser on a mountable mini gooseneck pointed to the space between the bridge and the treble f hole would be better. The rest of the stage volume would be a consideration.
Violin, IME is a very loud instrument because of where it sits in the frequency spectrum. I have seen many talented players be successful with a stationary mic and step to and from that mic for volume control. Something like an SM81 seems best in that application.
Would softer elements translate into better tone? At the moment my piezo pickup is built directly into the bridge, it's an LR Baggs pickup. It is nice, but it's not outstanding. I run it through my pedalboard which goes Tonebone Pz-Pre > Strymon Timeline > Strymon Bigsky at the moment.

Interesting you mention about the stationary mics - we've used that several times before on stage, using vintage neumann mics (KM84's I think) and they're absolutely divine - but travelling with them is impractical, and also means I can't use my pedalboard.
 

tech21nyc

Member
Messages
1,741
Over the years I've done quite a number of musical theater gigs in NYC and on the road. For the most part they always use expensive microphones. Unfortunately in your position a microphone is probably not always practical.

A really cool acoustic pickup I have heard is made by Barbera Transducer Systems. They were making pickups for http://www.barberatransducers.com/violinpickups.html

What's unique about this system is that it's not microphonic in the way most piezos are. They just translate the vibration of the strings vs turning the top of your instrument into in essence a vibrating drum head. They're not cheap but they really impressed me on acoustic guitar. Very even sounding.

You are correct though in that a microphone will probably yield the most realistic sound but if you're running effects a microphone may not interface well with a pedal board. Actually running a piezo in conjunction with a mic is pretty cool and very flexible.

The other thing to consider is that no matter how great your pickup or microphone your sound will only be as good as your monitoring system. In NYC musicals they use sound systems that can cost thousands and thousands of dollars but usually we get to monitor with Avioms and a set of Sony 7506 headphones. Even with a great PA system if they give you a cheesy wedge you may sound great in FOH but your onstage sound will be lacking.
 
Messages
6,279
I recommend a dual pick up system with a peizo and mic.

I’m a sound engineer, and I have a few Audio Technica Pro 35 mics that I use for strings.
They are pretty cheap and sound great. If you ran that alongside a piezo, you have the best of both worlds - nice mic tone and a dry, feedback resistant piezo.
You can add your FX to the piezo side and still run FX that way.

I play cello occasionally and this is how I setup.
 

buddaman71

Student of Life
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,913
FWIW: these ladies play constantly in New Orleans and I was amazed at the sound quality of the electric violin through even extremely modest, small amplification on the street. http://tanyandorise.com
 






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