SoundBank is our central audio download area. Here we amass the example audio files that accompany some of the monthly Sound On Sound product tests. Most audio examples come in MP3 file format and might need to be saved to your computer's hard disk before they can be auditioned (using your browser or an MP3 player of your choice).
Takamine CTP-1 Cool Tube
Tube-based on-board pre-amp for electro-acoustic guitars
For years now acoustic guitarists have been choosing tube-based outboard pre-amps to warm up the signals from piezo under-saddle pickups. The piezo's over-fast attack and non-linear output can be partially mitigated by the tubes' tendency to gently compress (within a suitably designed circuit). Now Japanese electro-acoustic specialists Takamine have designed a tube pre-amp that mounts within the guitar itself!
Recorded via DI-box with on-board tone controls flat and no external EQ or dynamics in all examples. This is a 60 percent Cool Tube setting, with a bright room reverb and a hint of stereo trailing-delay to push the sound back a little and give it a sense of three dimensional space.
Fingerpicked part using just the Takamine's 'Palethetic' multi-element, built-in pickup system — actually one of the better piezo-based solutions. The sound is articulate, but there is little sense of body resonance.
Similar fingerpicked part with Cool Tube dialed-in to 60 percent and volume reduced to match level to Example 2. To my ears, the sound is much more complete and microphone-like. There's more depth, but still plenty of detail and clarity.
Strummed part using just the built-in pickup. I've deliberately used a fairly hard, loose strum as this tends to bring out the worst in piezos. Typically, the sound is slightly harsh, but EQing for warmth only tends to accentuate 'thump' and cloud the midrange.
Similar strummed part with Cool Tube dialed-in to 60 percent and volume reduced to match Example 4. The Cool Tube seems to add the body resonance that is missing from the pickup signal alone and tames the top end harshness. I would certainly consider this a viable recorded signal if I couldn't use a microphone for some reason.
Reviewed January 2006