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Taylor ES-T pickup sound solution

se7ent77

Member
Messages
8
I was having problems with the overly bright, thin and ugly sounding Taylor ES-T pickup on my Taylor 110e and 214ce.

I found the best way to run it was with the bass and treble way down And even better: A good acoustic amp. It sounds great through my Ibanez Troubadour TA25. However, the Troubadour series' nice DI-out or micing-it-up doesn't give satisfactory live sound through the PA.

So, here's the best results without changing the ES-T pickup: Get a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI or the D-Tar Mama Bear.
(And probably the best results with any undersaddle-only system.)

They're currently the world's best pre-amps for eleminating the piezo sound somewhat and adding a Mic'd acoustic sound. I went with the Mama Bear, which works with more types of pickups.

The Fishman is also very good, but the learning curve is steeper, it's made for use with Fishman Matrix undersaddles, and finding a perfect mathing image is tricky. The best results are replacing your current UST with a Fishman Matrix and sending your axe to Fishman to create a custom image. Unless you have one of the exact guitars in the Aura library and also have Fishman undersaddle.

Also the Mama Bear gives more useable options like modelling small parlour guitars, jumbos, and the resonators especially are great for slide work. You can do the same to a degree with the Fishman, but it's designed to work best with a single image that's closest to your guitar (Mahogany / Spruce dread in my case). Different approaches, but for live work the Mama Bear gets the best acoustic sound. The Aura's no slouch either though ;) And the Aura Sixteen pedal would be a good price compromise - quite a bit cheaper than the Mama Bear or Aura Spectrum.

Lastly, even with the Mama Bear, a better source signal will improve things even more. So I'm planning on a Baggs Element or LB6 or D-Tar's 18volt high bandwidth Wavelength UST. Even a Fishman Matrix Infinity would probably be quite an improvement over the ceramic 6-element Taylor ES-T. In my opinion it's piezo technology that's a few generations old. Taylor just wanted to get their own cheap pickup in the 100/200 series.

So finally I do have a question too on the post.. :) Has anyone successfully retrofitted another undersaddle transducer into a 100/200 Taylor using the ES-T pre-amp and Vol/Tone knobs ? Please let me know. I know about the TruPlug system to elegantly fill the holes of the ES or ES-T systems, but I'd like to use the ES-T pre-amp, since it is a pre-amp for a fairly standard UST. How much can others really differ? Can I just for example replace and rewire the transducer part of a LR Baggs undersaddle system into the ES-T, using the ES-T pre-amp and tone system?

PS: I'm aware of MiSi's solution, but I'm not convinced by the charging scheme for the pickup, and it's pre-amp, although the same three knob design and size as Taylor's, needs to actually replace the ES-Ts one. I just want to replace the actual undersaddle transducer strip and not the ES-T pre-amp and controls.

thanks!
-7t77
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
:) Has anyone successfully retrofitted another undersaddle transducer into a 100/200 Taylor using the ES-T pre-amp and Vol/Tone knobs ? Please let me know. I know about the TruPlug system to elegantly fill the holes of the ES or ES-T systems, but I'd like to use the ES-T pre-amp, since it is a pre-amp for a fairly standard UST. How much can others really differ? Can I just for example replace and rewire the transducer part of a LR Baggs undersaddle system into the ES-T, using the ES-T pre-amp and tone system?
bad news...

in a desperate attempt to correct a string imbalance on an ES-T-equipped taylor, i tried this exact thing a few months ago with some random pickups i'd accumulated, after everything else i tried didn't work.

both the baggs Element and the fishman matrix UST piezos produced very little output into the taylor onboard preamp. apparently the continuous pezo film-type just won't create enough gain for it.

conversely, a dmarzio soundhole DP139 was way too hot, quickly clipping the preamp.

a baggs LB-6 might work, but would require tricky routing to widen the saddle slot in order to fit.

frankly, i wouldn't bother with the pickup itself if it's balanced; the aura stuff works just fine with it.

(oh, and a couple saddles later and some rather complicated shimming under there, i finally got the original to behave.)
 
Messages
15
I had the same problem - I actually broke my Taylor Piezo trying to fix the problem. I fould a good under saddle piezo on ebay for $7. Then
I also found that if you lower the stings too much or use too light of a string - you will get an imbalance - I like low action and found with a heavier string set the imballance will go away.
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
May I resurrect this thread?

I'm attempting to swap the UST piezo of the ES-T with the 3 SBT's of a K&K pure mini. Has anyone done this successfully before?

...
Joe
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
hmm; the K&K wants to see about a 1MΩ input impedance, while typical UST pres are more like 10MΩ; i suspect it'll probably have way too much low end.

try it though, i'm curious myself! :)
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
Thanks Walter, I'll be documenting my journey through this testing in this thread on the AGF:
http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=313265

I'll let you know how it goes, hopefully it works and I can attenuate the low end using the Taylor preamp boost dial. I'll also be running this through a 7-band EQ pedal so I have some options there before the mixer as well.

I've ordered the Pure Mini and the 2.5mm connector so I'll do this as soon as it arrives in the mail.

Cheers.

...
Joe
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
it occurs to me that you can lower the input impedance into the taylor pre with a resistor across hot and ground right at the input; depending on what that number is, a 2 or 3MΩ resistor in parallel with a typical 6 or 10MΩ piezo pre input might get you near the magic 1MΩ figure where the K&K sounds like it should.
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
I just spoke with Taylor again, and they said their ES-T preamp has a 50K Ohm input impedance - so this is not the 10M Ohm that everyone assumes it to be.

I'm not too familiar with input impedance mismatches, however, all K&K preamps are set to 1M Ohm input impedance. Could I infer that their pure mini transducers are also 1M Ohm input impedance? If so, now I need to figure out if a 1M Ohm transducer will work with a 50K Ohm preamp.

Can anyone validate this?

...
Joe
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
After reading a bit more of the K&K pure mini manual, the 50K Ohm Taylor claims doesn't make much sense. I guess I'm just going to have to wait until the pure mini arrives, install it and test it out to see.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
I just spoke with Taylor again, and they said their ES-T preamp has a 50K Ohm input impedance...
that cannot be right!

50kΩ is way too low for electric guitar pickups, much less saddle piezos.
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
After reading up significantly on this topic, I completely agree this cant be right. All my research corroborates to the fact that UST onboard preamps are high-impedance. The recommended impedance for the K&K pure mini SBT's are 1M Ohm, which is what all their preamps are dialed into. If this trend persists, I hope to be okay in my modification quest as technical articles also define that lower impedance feeds higher impedance without adverse effects. Of course the 1M to 10M Ohm isn't ideal, but it should work with some EQ adjustment - I'm hoping.

I'll actually be conducting this same test in two similar configurations:
1. Taylor 114 -> K&K Pure Mini SBT's -> Taylor ES-T onboard preamp
2. Custom Super Concert Ukulele -> K&K Aloha Twin SBT's > Fishman Matrix Infinity onboard preamp

My purpose for doing this is the same in both instruments: To move away from UST's and reuse the existing onboard volume/EQ controls to save on costs. Both instruments will be run through a pedalboard which has additional EQ options so I'm hopeful I can make this work. At the worst case scenario, I'll eliminate all onboard preamps in both instruments and run the passive K&K SBT's straight into a LR Baggs Venue DI preamp pedal, which has a 5-band EQ that can pretty much handle any attenuations or boosting required.

Instead of killing myself speculating, I think I'll just wait for the K&K SBT's to arrive and test it. I am enjoying the research of impedance and learning more along the way, I haven't touched this stuff since my electrical engineering courses in college.

Of course I'll document all my work and share it with everyone.

...
Joe
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
hmm; the K&K wants to see about a 1MΩ input impedance, while typical UST pres are more like 10MΩ; i suspect it'll probably have way too much low end.

try it though, i'm curious myself! :)
Walt, I was able to test it out and...IT WORKS! Here's the thread on AGF where I documented the steps with pictures:

SUCCESS: K&K Pure Mini SBT's with Taylor ES-T onboard preamp!

Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas. I think my next step in this testing is to solder a 1MOhm resistor between signal and ground of the SBT's in the 2.5mm jack to try and reduce the voltage and essentially the impedance (considering Z = R + X). I'm hoping that this helps to reduce the bass output of the SBT's a bit so I can control it better...we'll see.

I'll probably just update the AGF thread from this point, but thanks for your suggestions.

...
Joe
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
nice "testbed" with jumping off the other guitar's pickup!

you could scrounge a 5 or 10MΩ pot, wire two lugs of it as a simple rheostat across hot and ground, then start turning it down until the K&K is sufficiently "tamed"; measure the result, slap in a resistor of that value, and you're there! (linear taper would likely be easiest to dial in.)
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
Thanks Walt. I just performed the same test with a Fishman Matrix Infinity preamp w/ volume/tone controls - SOUNDS EVEN BETTER than the Taylor ES-T preamp! Check out the AGF thread link I posted for the pictures.

I have 2 1MOhm resistors laying around, so I'll solder them up together, then just one and see how that works. I don't have any pots and I'm not patient enough to wait and order some. Considering the level of signal produced by the SBT's, 2MOhms should be more than enough to attenuate the required amount.

I'll post my results...

...
Joe
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
Here's the latest:

I was very satisfied with the sound produced by the K&K SBT's through the Fishman Matrix Infinity preamp so no further tests will be required. If you have a Fishman Matrix infinity preamp and are thinking of swapping the UST for K&K Pure Mini SBT's, my official recommendation is to proceed as the sound is significantly better.

Now with the Taylor ES-T onboard preamp, there's still a bit of work needed before I can be comfortable with the sound produced when plugged in. I did a couple of tests tonight using the same setup with the 114ce, the splice cable and the GS Mini. Here are the results:

Signal Chain: GS Mini -> K&K Pure Mini -> BOSS TU2 -> Taylor ES-T Onboard Preamp -> Mixer/PA
Comments: I added the BOSS TU2 as some have claimed it has an impedance match to the K&K SBT's, however, I didn't notice one bit of difference with or without the BOSS TU2 pedal in the signal chain.

Signal Chain: GS Mini -> K&K Pure Mini -> Venue DI -> Mixer/PA
Comments: I did this preliminary step as the first part of an A/B test. I wanted to see how good I can get the sound with just a Venue DI. Surprisingly, I still had to cut the mids and lows a bit to get the natural sound I was after. The input impedance of the Venue DI is listed in the manual as 10MOhms, so this effect may be similar to what is happening with the Taylor ES-T.

SUCCESSFUL SOLUTION #1: Signal Chain: GS Mini -> K&K Pure Mini -> Taylor ES-T Onboard Preamp -> Venue DI -> Mixer/PA
Comments: There was no significant difference here when adding the Taylor ES-T preamp before the Venue DI into the signal chain. The signal was still very hot and I needed a lot of bass and mid cuts. The only added benefit here is that the Venue DI has a 5-band EQ and allowed me to attenuate the proper frequencies enough the achieve the natural sound I was after. At the very least, if I was playing a gig with only a guitar (my P&W gigs), this is a successful configuration.

SUCCESSFUL SOLUTION #2: Signal Chain: GS Mini -> K&K Pure Mini -> Resistor (1MOhm??) -> Taylor ES-T Onboard Preamp -> Mixer/PA
Comments: I added a resistor that I had laying around to the 2.5mm / 1/4" splice cable, which essentially reduces the impedance and voltage of the signal outputted by the K&K SBT's into the ES-T preamp. Here is a picture of the resistor, my only problem is that I'm not sure of the resistance measurement of this particular resistor because I can't make out the colors of the bands. It was taken from an input jack from an old pedal so I'm assuming its a 1MOhm resistor that was used as a pull-down resistor to rid of the pop. Please excuse the soldering job, this isn't my best work and is messy, but it's just the testing phase.



The result of this configuration is that the overall signal was attenuated noticeably. The mids and bass tamed down just a bit, but not quite enough. At the lowest bass knob setting, i still needed to boost the treble knob, to balance out lows and mids to a comfortable level - but it worked. It's not the ideal configuration, but it works. I did have to increase the volume knob to get the same level as before the resistor was added. Ultimately, if I had to do a guitar-only gig, this is a successful configuration.

But I don't want to stop until I get it perfect!

So, my next steps is to order a series of resistors - 1M, 2M, 5M, 10M, 20M - and test each one in the signal chain until I'm satisfied with the level of attenuation of the signal into the ES-T preamp. Once I get the correct level, I'll have the perfect blend of signal and can use the onboard bass/treble/volume knobs as it would normally be used to dial in to the natural sound of the K&K pure mini that I'm trying to achieve. One thing I do know for sure, I'm SUPER HAPPY that I will NEVER have to deal with the headaches of an under-saddle pickup every again!

Please share your comments, suggestions or thoughts, it's more than welcomed. I don't think I'll have another update for a week or 2 as I'll have to wait for the K&K SBT's to arrive in the mail, as well as the resistors. But I promise to post the final update of my testing in hopes that this will help someone who wishes to do something similar.

Cheers!

...
Joe
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
Here's the latest in this quest to rid of under-saddle transducers forever: I added potentiometers (pots) into the cable splice to attempt to reduce the input impedance and it worked beautifully. For those who are not familiar (like I was a day ago), a pot is essentially a resistor that allows you the ability to increase or decrease (variable) the amount of resistance in the circuit. The most common pot is the volume knob on your car stereo.

Here is a picture of the configuration, nothing's changed in the 2.5mm / 1/4" splice cable, only add 2 resistors in series (R = R1 + R2) from signal to ground. The pots are 250K and 500K Ohms, not quite 1M Ohms but significant enough.



The result of this test is a perfect configuration using the following signal chain:
GS Mini -> K&K Pure Mini -> 750K Ohm Resistor -> Taylor ES-T Onboard Preamp -> Mixer/PA

This time around I had to actually bring the bass EQ knob up to the center detent!!! For a song which I loop the bass line, I had to actually bring it past the center detent! I still think a 1M Ohm resistor would be better suited and allow a bit more control, however, at least I know that 750K Ohms works just fine. I tested a really hard strum and also increased the gain at the mixer to try and invoke distortion...NONE!

So my testing will end here with a huge grin on my face that I was successful in this modification and I'll never have to deal with under-saddle transducers ever again. Even more satisfying is that I can enjoy and use the K&K Pure Mini pickup - the sound I'm very pleased with - in gigs now. The next post will be when the K&K Pure Mini and the 1M Ohm resistors arrive in the mail and I have the final modification to my 114ce done - which may include upgrading the Taylor TUSQ saddle to a Bob Colosi bone saddle. :)

Cheers TGP!

...
Joe
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,356
awesome!

a 1MΩ resistor sounds like it'll be just right.

now the next hurdle is that while the K&K may sound better, will it behave live onstage without feedback? that's the usual tradeoff for a more realistic sound, and why the K&K probably isn't the right pickup if you're standing in front of a drummer. (even then, the venue downstream with its notch filter will cure a lot of feedback ills.)
 

joeguam

Member
Messages
214
Yeah, thankfully I either do solo gigs (loop guitar/bass line, play lead/solos on uke) or gig with my wife who's an amazing piano player. There's no drummer and we can normally control feedback. Either way, you're right, the Venue notch would be a life saver. The. again, sound hole covers could help, but I'm hoping I won't need it.

Now it's just a waiting game on the SBT's, the resistor and the 2.5mm TS jack.

...
Joe
 






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