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Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Davedave93 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:46 pm

Hello

Just recently been thinking about fitting my Seagull Coastline Parlour acoustic guitar with a permanent pickup system. I've been advised by my local(ish) music shop that they'll install the system I choose for about £40, but currently I'm clueless as to what I should be looking for.

I'll stress that I'm looking for a good quality pickup with a preamp, preferably with EQ settings. I apologise for being vague but can anyone steer me in the right direction?


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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Davedave93 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:50 pm

I'll also just point out that I've noticed Les's similar thread but wanted to ask this slightly different question separately. I'm happy to throw a good £100-200 at this to do a good job as it'll be a permanent solution. I've tried the soundhole clip-in jobbies etc but I'm looking to effectively 'convert' my acoustic to an electro-acoustic.

Thanks
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby mr_moo » Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:21 pm

Hi Dave,

I'm sure you'll see lots of options present themselves here, but I use a Headway Snake (much like this one) on my big ol' Tanglewood, as well as in my mandolin - and both do the job very nicely.

Your fitting quote sounds about right, and you should be able to just forget about it after that - just plug & play.

I like the snake cos it doesn't have too much of that nasty quacking sound that piezos can often produce, and the pickup records nicely *enough* in the absence of a nice studio mic.

Just my 2p'th - but I've not felt a need to investigate alternatives for either instrument for the past seven years or so

Good luck with the hunt!
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Davedave93 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:26 pm

Thanks mr moo!

It looks pretty good... Do you find you miss having EQ controls etc?


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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:22 pm

That ^^^ would be my choice as well. The snake has a preamp as part of the system which will respond well to an external EQ which will usually be much better than anything (cheap) built in.
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Davedave93 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:42 pm

shufflebeat wrote:That ^^^ would be my choice as well. The snake has a preamp as part of the system which will respond well to an external EQ which will usually be much better than anything (cheap) built in.

Thanks for the plus one! Yeah I was thinking that although a nice little control board on the guitar would be awesome, it's not entirely necessary. Cheers for your comment.
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby zenguitar » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:06 pm

OK, I know I sound like a broken record saying this every time, but I find little if anything to recommend any onboard pre-amp with tone controls. I'm happy to concede the benefits of an onboard buffer pre-amp, but no further.

An acoustic amp will have far better built in EQ than any guitar mounted pre-amp. If you are plugging into a mixing desk, even a budget one, the EQ will be even better than that. If you do need better EQ (for tone shaping or problem solving) then your money will get far more buying rack/pedal EQ than spending it on an onboard solution.

And even if you do find an onboard solution that suits you, you'll probably still need some more specialist EQ from a desk or outboard for problem solving.

And never forget that an electro-acoustic is by definition, and from first principles, a compromise instrument. The better a guitar is acoustically, the more problems it will have amplified; the easier it is to amplify, the more the acoustic performance is compromised.

There are some excellent pick-up systems out there, but it is very hard to predict in advance how they will sound on YOUR guitar. I will always recommend trying a few soundhole mounted pickups first. If you are definitely going to walk out of the shop with something, most shops should be happy to drop them into your guitar to try. It takes minutes to swap them over and leave the cable training out of the soundhole. You won't get a perfect rendition of your guitar's sound, but if you get a good working sound then I would stick with that.

If you go for the more advanced saddle pickups you might end on an endless quest for 'your' sound, happy for a while, then seeing something newer that is endorsed by some players you admire and deciding you have to upgrade. It never ends, and it gets very expensive over the years.

And if you really need a guitar for gigging, there's a lot to be said for buying something like a Yamaha APX, which is designed to be plugged in, and less of a compromise.

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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby DAGGILARR » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:27 pm

+1 for no control board, I use an active LR Baggs ibeam and I am very happy with it, any EQ I have ever needed has been got from amps or indeed my DAW. Acoustic guitar magazine have been running an interesting series on acoustic players stage rigs (a series of short vids called 'real world rigs' posted on face book HAVE A LOOK ) and it seems most have dual systems that include an under saddle PU and an inboard mic going out as a split signal and then blended, this seems to be the deal for stage work.
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Davedave93 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:02 pm

Thanks for those replies guys. For acoustic gigs I use a lovely Marshall Acoustic amp, beautiful sound - I'm confident that I can do all my EQing here and you're right, the quality of the EQ will be dramatically better on the amp! When playing with a band into a mixer, again, you guys are right that I'll get better changes with the EQ on the mixer.

As for the slide-in pickups, I've given some of them a good go and while some are reasonable, seeing as I've got a budget that allows for something alot better and more long-term, I think I'll have a serious look at that snake pickup!

Just had a look on the website of my local and they have it, will be taking a trip there soon Thanks again.


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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:21 am

zenguitar wrote:OK, I know I sound like a broken record saying this every time...


This is certainly a topic that gives rise to the same, sometimes conflicting arguments being rehearsed repeatedly. There seems to be two broad camps:

Decent piezo/preamp combination (I.e. Headway Snake) coupled with Fishman Aura, LR Baggs box or similar and

Magnetic soundhole pickup (i.e. Fishman Rare Earth) with or without supplementary microphone.

All are agreed that a piezo without a preamp sounds like a duck in a vice and feedback can be an issue with mics (I think I've covered everything we agree on). Might it be an idea to hunt out one of those discussions and make it sticky?
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby RitchieM » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:09 am

The other guitarist in out band uses an LR Bagga, so +1 for that!
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby Gary_W » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:38 am

I got one of these recently http://www.lrbaggs.com/m1a/#details

Basically a magnetic BUT it also gets some of its sound from the resonance of the top. I got it because of a personal recommendation from a mate of mine who only plays acoustic live and he seems to have been through loads of different pickups..... This one is his 'keeper'. It's obviously not as good as a decently mic'd up acoustic but it does a great job of being resistant to feedback and still sounding more or less like the guitar you're actually playing. I mainly play electric live so perhaps I'm easily pleased but from my perspective his recommendation was a good one.

If you do check these out it's worth noting that they come in active and passive versions (m1a is the active and m1 passive).
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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:10 am

Peizos have the advantage that they are immune to magnetic hum pickup (and you need the LF more for an acoustic than a rock stick!).

I am also a great believer in PUP, buffer and leave all the other machinations to outside forces.

Must plug the A&H ZED 10. The guitar inputs are unusually a very high 10 meg Ohms and thus well suited to a passive peizo. The EQ is limited to LF and HF but there is an FX send/return so you could plug in anything else.

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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby zenguitar » Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:37 pm

shufflebeat wrote:
zenguitar wrote:OK, I know I sound like a broken record saying this every time...


This is certainly a topic that gives rise to the same, sometimes conflicting arguments being rehearsed repeatedly. There seems to be two broad camps:

Decent piezo/preamp combination (I.e. Headway Snake) coupled with Fishman Aura, LR Baggs box or similar and

Magnetic soundhole pickup (i.e. Fishman Rare Earth) with or without supplementary microphone.


Actually, I am very open minded about the choice between saddle transducers, bugs, and magnetics. There are great examples of each, and my own acoustic has a 20 year old EMG piezo saddle strip and buffer pre-amp that gives excellent results. At open mic nights people have been amazed at how good it sounds and it blows away every other electro that has been used in the pub. But that's because I designed and built the guitar to be at it's best plugged in.

My broken record comment was about on-board EQ/facilites on guitars. For decades high end acoustic pre-amps have been getting better and better. But if you take the best examples of any generation of on board pre-amps you generally find that they are cut down versions of an even better outboard box from the same manufacturer.

And I have been to too many small gigs and open mics plagued with poor sound and feedback problems, and 9 times out of 10 the source of those problems is putting coarse, powerful tone controls within the guitarists reach while he is playing.

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Re: Pickup/preamp for acoustic guitar

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:42 pm

And AFAIK Andy, all these in the body systems are seriously hampered by the slavish adherence to a 9 volt supply! Buggerall EQ headroom.

You would think a guitarist who can splash two or more grand on an acoustic could afford TWO PP3s? But the makers do not seem to think so?

Same applies to electrics and foot pedals of course tho' at least there is some excuse for the natural limiting that the low supply affords (indeed "flat battery" emulators are a feature!).

Just my 2penn'oth
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