turn piezo into dual source or rip it out?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by feet, Dec 19, 2017.


  1. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    so i have an lr baggs element v/t in my m20. it's a quirky, middy instrument, so the piezo plays into that a little. and with a recording preamp and a healthy amount of massaging, it sounds alright. otherwise, it's just trash. i keep whiffing on the baggs stuff. maybe its serviceable in a full band mix, i don't know.

    but being an m20, the soundhole is kinda small, so a few soundhole pickups wouldn't fit. like the schertler, which sounds amazing in my other guitar.

    so should i:

    -trash the piezo and start over, or
    -keep the piezo and add a soundhole and maybe combine them somehow?

    i like to idea of a soundhole to keep the feedback at bay, and they seem to work well with my current gear- i don't need to mess with the ohms or whatever to get it to sound good. the fishman rare earth blend is interesting (and fits), but i read that certain frequencies only go to one source or another, which i don't exactly like the sound of. thoughts, por favor.
     
  2. Justin Hitchborn

    Justin Hitchborn Silver Supporting Member

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    If you want dual source, you'll want controls...more to fuss with, if that bothers you.

    What kind of playing do you do with it? You mentioned feedback, so I assume live. But some clarity there would help in making a suggestion.
     
  3. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    it does, actually. i don't want to throw the thing in the trash, but i don't want to throw away good money after bad. i'm just a strum champ, mostly. singer/songwriter type stuff. live, but wouldn't mind a viable di solution for recording as well (not that i wouldn't also use a mic, too).

    using eqs, different picks, wacky tone/eq/amp settings (and weirdly, a fairly cranked ep booster) all help somewhat and you can get an ok sound out of it, but those are a fair amount of hoops to jump through. it still sounds better than the lyric in my other guitar, though :facepalm
     
  4. Justin Hitchborn

    Justin Hitchborn Silver Supporting Member

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    The most surefire way is to disconnect the UST, and toss in something proven like the K&K Pure Mini. Can be feedback prone in loud gigs, but a feedback buster solves that.
     
  5. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    I used a magnetic and piezo combined in an external preamp-mixer, latterly a Baggs Mixpro, before that a "Resonance" from local luthier Gary Brown. However, I've now gone to magnetic only. If you do mix magnetic and piezo, I would think about disconnecting the onboard preamp, and running the piezo direct to an external preamp mixer. I used a figure-8 coax cable to avoid cross-talk and signal loss.
     
  6. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    i did consider this, but:

    -tiny soundhole, so maybe not on the feedback buster
    -don't find the pure mini all that impressive. i don't really want to be tied to their preamp (or a boss pedal i don't need) to make it sound its best, and mine is merely fine. and feedback prone, evidently.

    the onboard volume and tone, though a little odd, are about the only things it has going for it. and i'm looking to minimize the amount of stuff i tote along because this is for something i want to busk with, and take on planes and trains and such. so i don't want to be tied to extra gear, especially super specific stuff that i can't find out and about. seems like you decided to simplify, too.

    so maybe it has to go, then? i've tried some experiments where i combine the ust with whatever i can wedge in the soundhole and it does sound marginally better but it is super awkward.
     
  7. GtrGeorge!

    GtrGeorge! Member

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    1) Piezos suck.
    2) Fund out how many controls do you REALLY wanna fuss with
    3) Find that product that meets your needs that is NOT a Piezo.
    If you can possibly do it, stop at Gruhn's Guitars in Nashville. It is worth your time and trouble if you are serious. Hear for your self what is available all at one time and in one place and in one day.
    4) Decide and go forth... Then be happy.
     
  8. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    1- yes. the element is probably one of the better piezos out there, but that's like being the best smelling poop

    2- little to none. I can deal with the odd switch or dial if I need to, but I'm not looking to fiddle with it much

    3- the small body and little sound hole is a weird constraint- the Fishman is the first I've seen that fits, of the few that even list specs

    4- the Fishman rare earth blend seems like a good option. free high pass filter, I can blend out the mic to further combat feedback, it's active so no pre amp, i can back the mic away so it doesn't get to much pick noise... I'll keep looking in the hopes something cheaper arises but doesn't seem like a bad one stop solution.

    though now I am a little curious to see if I can combine the element vtc I don't like with the lyric I can't stand and somehow two wrongs make a right?

    edit- i got a response from lr baggs (very quickly, i might add). in their standard form, both the element vtc and lyric require their own separate preamps, so i'd have to have two separate endpin jacks and all that to combine them. the various anthem models have them combined already. so yeah, those are both getting torn out, then.

    although, as a dumb, low cost hail mary, i think i have a contact pickup of some sort lying around. i wonder how that'll sound paired up with the element. be annoying to have twice the cable laying around, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    you might like the Anthem; it combines the two in a way that plays to the strengths of both.

    it takes the lows out of the mic so it doesn't howl and it takes the highs out of the piezo so it doesn't have that nasty peaky thing when you hit it hard. you get a nice blend that sounds like a real guitar but is decently feedback-resistant.
    what's an M20?

    also, weren't you running this through like a fender twin or some other non-full range guitar amp?
     
  10. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    i got the thumbs down from lr baggs on combining the two, so i don't know anymore. i suppose it is still an option, given the limitations i have to work with. the m20 being my guild m20, with the stupid baby soundhole. my beloved, amazing schertler doesn't fit. fishman lists their specs as exactly the same diameter as the sound hole, so that probably isn't an option. i'm just not feeling the baggs soundhole options and am pretty dubious of most of their products now after whiffing so hard twice.

    that leaves dimarzio (which only sound good when dudes use like three sources and slap the fretboard all day) and seymour duncan, whose mag mic sounds pleasantly electric- a lot like my archtop floater, strangely, but also seems to do a decent "natural" sound.

    once all my new gear arrives, i'll reassess the k&k i have and see how viable that option is, but i'm looking for feedback resistance too, as i'll be standing right near the amp.

    in addition to which ever tube amp i have lying around, i have been known to plug into my old roland jc77, which sounds awesome with acoustics, dammit. but i also have a carvin line array/pa thing and a roland ac33 on the way. and they all agree, the lyric is ass.

    in a final bit of due dilligence, i just started recording everything direct. unsurprisingly, the schertler/smic combo can be made to sound like a studio recording, basically. and after a couple instances of eq to remove problem frequencies, and all kinds of plug ins to massage the sound further, the element and the lyric have been upgraded to hot garbage. the element is a live pickup and can sound alright through a pa, so i get it. but the lyric- it simply isn't a love connection in that guitar (larivee om).
     
  11. quilsaw

    quilsaw Member

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    With a smaller sound hole, I'd guess that you'd have trouble with most magnetics.

    The biggest problem with "under-saddle" piezo's (UST) is the direct attack and corresponding high pressure from the saddle. The quack (or as someone above referred to as "peaky") is actually the signal being overdriven. Other piezo's (the K&K included) have more body mass and/or less direct pressure and are less prone to this. But, they are still piezo's.

    The only solution for UST pickups is softer attack. If you want to hit the guitar harder, you need a less direct mounting....i.e. something like the K&K "sound board transducer (SBT) or other less direct pickups.

    If you like Schertler, you can try their Dyn G transducer (piezo) which you can place externally on the instrument (using putty) and can which can also be plugged into their AG6 magnetic to run as a dual source. The AG6, which I own, is not particularly body sensitive and, therefore less bassy than other magnetics like the Baggs M1. It can, as you may know, also take input from a small microphone. But it may have sound hole fitting issues for you.

    The Dyn G can be run separately, even fitted externally, as noted above, but that leaves exposed wires and would benefit from a decent preamp. Of course, virtually all acoustic pickups, IMHO, are helped with good preamps, except good active systems.
     
  12. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    I used combined soundhole and piezo when gigging, using a stereo out to an external mixer, latterly a Baggs Mixpro. I used a figure-8 stereo cable to minimise cross-talk and signal loss.

    I also experimented with a Maton AP5 preamp system recently, and found that I could put the magnetic pickup in series with the output of the AP5, and that I could mix them in any proportion with a passive blend control on the magnetic. Even with the battery pulled on the AP5, the magnetic still worked, so it not only provided a good signal blend, it also provided a backup sytem in the event of a flat battery.
     
  13. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    My guy (Fred Morrota) recommended the Anthem SL and it's fine...if fine is enough for you. I don't record, but live, it's as good as anything and you're subject to the sound guy. I don't know, but you may be able to get Baggs to supply the supplemental parts if you already have their UST.

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AnthemSL
     
  14. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    but now, a wrinkle:

    my new di box arrived. sounds OK with the piezo. didn't solve it, but it does help some. step in the right direction. when my Fishman gets here, I'll see if it can be saved.

    but for funsies, I plugged in my lyric and... yeah, it's still garbage. same boxy honk as ever. but I hit the 15 db pad on the box and it magically sounds like a guitar. like the demos, even! so now I'm confused. going to keep experimenting, take a step back and see whats really happening. but this is an interesting development.

    though I use a fairly smooth and dark pick, I'm just a strum champ. my attack can only be so soft; picks, fingers or otherwise.

    the dyn g is interesting, as I can stick it on any thing I own, including my 12 string, archtop and cajon, but the external-ness does concern me a little. and though I haven't seen many, I wasnt really impressed by the demos, especially for the price.


    that's a bit much for me to tote around and deal with while busking and traveling abroad. though I've done similar setups here. it's messy, but it does work.

    can't expand the element into an anthem. you'd need two output jacks and two preamps to do it. no thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  15. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    There should be a $10,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment for makers selling piezo's without strict instructions to add a proper pre-amp, lol. Contrary to claims, using a piezo without a pre-amp is like driving a new truck with no tires. Under saddle piezo's have their limitations, but when you need gain before feedback such as with a band or loud bar, they are hard to beat. I've got an older Taylor with the first generation "Expression" pickup system, which is just an active under saddle piezo. Its very decent. I've got a 00-17 with a Thinline, and with the Baggs Para DI it sounds decent too. I use a Para DI or Radial Pre-Z preamp with all my other piezo pickups which are no-name disc types, either bonded to the bridge plate, or a stick-on with sonic putty.
     
  16. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    feedback resistance was the reason I was slow to tear it out, and looking toward sound hole pickups for the answer. my schertler is the best I've heard by far, and if things get noisy, I can roll back the mic and still sound OK.

    and I had recorded the lyric with a di/preamp before. still sounded awful. I don't want to be tied to certain workarounds and band aids to salvage a lame pickup, but the di box is good for everyone. hoping that with the di, light compression and two levels of eq, I'm left with something decent.
     
  17. royd

    royd Member

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    a couple of thoughts...

    summing active sources without using separate jacks is tricky to impossible. You really do want either an internal preamp that sums them inside the guitar or passive sources out via a TRS cable to a dual channel preamp outside of the guitar.

    I often found that by putting a wooden shim - spruce or ebon - between the saddle and the UST helps to soften the harsh attack and makes the UST sound better. Back in the day there were also some folk who coated the UST with some sort of putty to get a similar result. I never tried that.

    For a magnetic pup, Lace used to sell a very very thin one that was held onto the top of the guitar next to the fingerboard via two sided tape. I don't know whether it is still available and never heard one. Pickup-the-World likewise had a product that was attached like that. Never heard it either and don't know whether it is still available. For some of the others you might find that you can get one into the sound hole if you first remove the clamping parts, put the pickup in place, and then reach inside to re-attach the clamp parts... I always use a dual source with a McIntyre SBT paired with a magnetic. My preference is the Sunrise but to my ear, the Dimarzio Angel or Black Angel is a very close second that costs a lot less and is readily available.
     
  18. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

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    I have the same problem with the Baggs stuff, and I've have pretty much tried every type and brand of pickup for acoustics out there.
    I have four main gigging guitars, an 50's reissue J45, Martin HD28, a 70's Gibson Gospel, and a Parkwood LE061 and all of them have B-Band XOM 2.2 systems in them. I think they sound the least like piezos, and the soundboard transducer part of the dual source adds wood back into the tone.
     

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