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getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby DoeZer » Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:49 am

hi folks..
i recorded a gig i did last nite. straight out from the mixer.
overall sounds ok but! man that guitar sounded ragged..
really scratchy and tinny.

to be honest i dont think it sounded that bad in the gig i would have noticed.. some of it may be the recording..

but definitely there is an issue there too...

i would really like NOT to go the mic'ed instrument route. because then you cant really use a monitor right?? feedback etc makes it a big issue right?

I know some folks rave about AER amplifiers.. but thats not gonna get rid of the piezo scrtachy effect is it...

what other options are there???

any help much appreciated...

D
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Dave B » Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:52 pm

There are Boss pedals dedicated to this. I've used the AC3 live and it helps as you can take some of the top of and give it more 'body'. But it's not a panacea and you still will sound like a piezo - just a nicer sounding one. The higher up pedals (AD3/8) have more features such as feedback suppressors and chorus, but AFAIK the basic sim part is just the same.

Dan has used the Magic Stomp acoustic sim patches and found them useful too..
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby artzmusic » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:38 pm

Hey D, You may very well be right about the mix sounding good live. A stage guitar may not sound great solo because it's more harsh due to the piezo, but it will sure stand out in the mix.

After trying to tame the piezo sound (eq,string dynamics etc), I discovered totally by accident that when I run the guitar through the Lexicon mx300, the circuitry takes the edge off. So, you might try various processing as mentioned.

Best

Rick
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby DoeZer » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:43 pm

thanks alot..

but this is a solo gig. so just acoustic guitar + voice.
so the guitar just doesnt cut it and theres no hiding in a mix im afraid.

i am pretty sure the sound isnt as bad as the recording makes it out to be... but it still isnt great.

and im also preetty sure from reading around that im not going to be able to process that out..
from what i gather i need a better pickup..

but maybe im wrong thats why im posting here! so thanks for the tips i will check em out.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:00 pm

You could use a magnetic pickup, which gets rid of the crappy piezo sound at the cost of introducing a whole other set of compromises. I usually use a Sunrise magnetic pickup and although it's not especially faithful to the sound of the guitar, it doesn't have that horrible plasticky 'quack' you get from a piezo.

As an alternative, I've also heard good results from the Fishman Aura pedals, which use DSP to process the signal and make it more palatable.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Freuman » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:23 pm

The Sansamp Para-Driver DI does this very well.

:angel:
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Frisonic » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:29 pm

D, I use These

They are not a main stream product. They are hand built in California (cost about £150 sterling for a pair). The guy who makes them (Teddy RanDazzo) was a workshop junior building the legendary Frap pick ups as used by Neil Young and Johnny Cash. Those pick ups were noted for their big, non boxy sound but the marketing and production around the technology never matched the quality of the product. Certainly it was never picked up by the mainstream industry. Teddy recently started taking the technology forward again.

Like any acoustic pick up they require a pre (I have chosen to go outboard for mine, with a modified Boss GE7 Equalizer - this gives me a 7 band graphic equalizer en route to the amp/PA - very useful). But there are lots of acoustic pres out there to chose from, to suit taste and budget. Originally I had an LR Baggs inboard pre left over from the 'Element' system I had in my Martin OM21C. The Dazzos left that system in the shade but having heard other pres using this system I felt it was a bit crude, so I upgraded. Personally I much prefer the natural sound I get from my current arrangement. Its probably a quieter signal but boxy it is not, and its plenty loud enough!

I don't know if there is a provider in Ireland. I got mine through Chandler Guitars at the suggestion of Jessie Hoff of Lazy J Projects . He uses them (long time Frap fan) and incidentally it was he who modified my Boss GE7. If you take a look at his client list you'll get an idea of the kind of talent who trust his judgement (I'm just tagging along).

There's some YouTube footage of Teddy doing his somewhat eclectic funk folk around the bars and clubs of north California. This will give you an idea of what these pick ups can offer that other acoustic choices can't. Note all the neck tapping etc. What they are is basically six small microphones inside the guitar, placed beneath the bridge, so the idea is that they pick up more of the richness and complexity of an acoustic instrument (they will work in basses, double basses, violins, you name it).
I reckon I can DI my acoustic into my DAW and the results are not much worse than if I mic it up properly using my best condenser in a good room.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby uphillbothways » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:14 pm

Piezos just sound like that. You can fiddle about with EQ, but it'll still sound fundamentally unlike an acoustic guitar - they're picking up the string vibrations at the saddle, not the sound projected by the guitar. It's not pleasant in isolation although it can work pretty well live if there's a lot going on in the midrange - the thinness of the piezo sound equates to clarity in a muddy mix.

The best live sound generally comes from a mix of good-quality piezo and an in-body microphone, although inevitably that does come at the cost of some potential gain. Most folkies use the Highlander iP-2 system, which sounds excellent and is very neat. Installing the Highlander piezo transducer is a big job, but worth it IMO. Careful EQ can make a great deal of difference in preventing feedback, as the resonances of an acoustic guitar are very uneven.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby valves4ever » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:34 pm

I use a Takamine TAN 30 Natural acoustic with the Cool Tube Preamp...also have the additional magnetic pickup which blends in with the preamp circuit....tend to keep everything pretty flat EQ wise and go straight into the PA...also use a Mic on the sound hole into the PA at the same time and blend that in as well....overall sound is fine....
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby DoeZer » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:29 pm

hi folks

and thank to all..
whilst i would agree with those who said "piezo is piezo" so your stuck with it.

i dont think i can afford to go the whole "double pickup acoustic system route" right now, with a mic in the hole and a piezo underneath and a blender to mix them etc,, not mention still needing a DI box after that..

i might try check some of the DIs mentioned first? Para Driver from Sansamp, LR Baggs Venue also looks very tasty with tuner and everything on board... ;)

One last thing!! I have a piece of studio gear. The tfpro P3 optical compressor/preamp.
i ran the guitar thru it with the compressor off. just the EQ on, and even the EQ was set almost flat.... were my ears deceiving my or could i be right in that it improved the sound a lot?? i mean i had the compressor off and the EQ on but it was set to flat... but there seemed to be more clarity... could be just the preamp working..

anyway i might just use that live instead and save a few $$$!!

thanks
d
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby icu81b4 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:07 pm

Hi,

I'd recommend the Fishman Aura, I have an old one which I've used for some time and you can tailor it to match your acoustic guitar to emulate using different mic setups, it works very well with piezo.

Al.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby VOLOVIA » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:03 pm

My experience with the Aura box, which now you can personalise and load different models through its (very well) hidden USB port, is not very positive. In short, I don't like it. Same problem of all, I find the piezo sound revolting, especially when you 'dig in' and strum hard.. it produces a thin, squashed sound that is, to date, impossible to tame. That is, apart from the plasticky sound, the main problem is the lack of dynamics!

The Aura box, which I experimented greatly with using Cubase and recording sound 1, 2 etc. and then comparing, offers a superficial improvement on the sound. In the cold monitoring environment, the sound is just the piezo, with a steep 'smile' EQ setting, maybe a touch of harmonic enhancement, a smattering of compression... and that's it! More pleasant at gentle fingering, but again, at plectrum strumming force.. it just gives up to a toppy mess. Maybe you can polish the proverbial, but creating dynamic range, you can't.

My solution? I succeeded in purchasing those SE Electronics GM10 when discontinued (only £100!), a high quality small condenser mic with a boom stand that attaches itself onto the guitar body, and it sounds.. like the guitar. Perfect in the studio.. live I haven't given it a try yet, but, I suppose in a solo acoustic environment, the feedback should not be impossible to control.. but the sound...

(it's become personal now.. ;) ) Let's burn all the piezos on the stake, now!

P.S. Incidently, as I am listening to an internet radio station, a song from the BeeGees has come on, a live version of one of their hits: wonderful sounds, pristine keys, sharp drums, Celine Dion as guest vocalist (no jokes ;) ), and then... the revolting piezo-plastic sound of the brothers' acoustics, noooooooo...
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:36 pm

The Aura seems quite hit-or-miss. I never found it made more than a modest improvement with any of my own guitars, but when we did a PA setup workshop at the LIMS show a few years back I played a borrowed Avalon acoustic through one, and the effect was incredibly natural, through the monitors at least. It was quite odd if you're used to hearing different sounds from the monitors and from the guitar itself -- suddenly that difference wasn't there, and it was just like playing a louder acoustic guitar!
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:38 pm

DoeZer wrote:
One last thing!! I have a piece of studio gear. The tfpro P3 optical compressor/preamp.
i ran the guitar thru it with the compressor off. just the EQ on, and even the EQ was set almost flat.... were my ears deceiving my or could i be right in that it improved the sound a lot?? i mean i had the compressor off and the EQ on but it was set to flat... but there seemed to be more clarity... could be just the preamp working..

anyway i might just use that live instead and save a few $$$!!

thanks
d

If it's a passive piezo pickup then yes it's very likely you'll hear a difference depending on the input impedance of whatever you plug it into.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby buggymusic » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:02 pm

+1 Fishman Aura

A bit emporer's new clothes - although I have used one for over 5 years and overall I like it

It's a good DI box, mic pre, and tuner, and the modelling gets rid of a number of nasty DI artefacts.

YMMV
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby DoeZer » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:07 pm

hi there...

no its an active pickup.

into the line in of the tfpro p3 compressor..
like i say the compressor is kept OFF and EQ ON (but flat).
but i think there is some pre-amp stage at the front which it sees no matter what and that that is helping things alittle..
or maybe im just gone mad! :headbang: :headbang:
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby IvanSC » Fri Dec 02, 2011 6:24 pm

recently got a 00016 martin and fitted an old fishman rare earth Mk1 pickup, using it with an external fishman pre and it sounds way too much like an electric guitar for me.

Maybe I need to consider either an additional peizo bridge element or an internal mic, but I really dont fancy hacking the guitar around any more than I have to.

Anyone have any thoughts on this side of things?
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:06 pm

+1 for the Aura but I'd be inclined to look for the old one (soundonsound.com/SOS/nov04/articles/fishmanaura.htm). It's not a magic box and will take some time to set up but it'll be time well spent.

It won't turn a sow's ear into a Lowden but it so definitely sort out the piezo quack if you spend the time.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby Frisonic » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:22 pm

Like I keep saying, I gave away the LR Baggs and Fishman systems once I got plugged into Dazzos, and I had both. Just didn't have any further use for them. Dazzos are very easy to fit, no hacking involved, and if you use an outboard pre there is nothing much inside your guitar that isn't supposed to be inside an acoustic guitar. They make my Martin sound like, well, an acoustic guitar (I see they are even putting them in pianos now)! And when it's not plugged in you wouldn't know it had anything in it Martin hadn't intended. They weigh nothing. But you know guitarists, most won't try anything new unless the industry tells them its OK...

I've recently acquired a new Breedlove which as yet has no pick up in it at all. I'll let the guitar settle before changing anything about it. But if I decide I need to plug it into a PA or my acoustic amp I'll fit Dazzos. And that's another useful thing about outboard pres. Personally I can only play one guitar at a time so I don't need buy a new pre for each acoustic instrument I put a pick up in. One does them all.

BTW I second Bugiolacchi regarding the SE GM10. I have one and it's very useful for recording. Wouldn't want to gig it though. That boom is a bit unwieldy and I suspect it would feedback something awful.
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Re: getting rid of that crappy piezo acoustic live sound..

Postby matt keen » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:18 am

I went for the dual set up (bug and internal mic) and have Highlanders http://highlanderpickups.com/catalog/ip2.htm
Its good but not perfect
The Rare Earth set up that Ivan mentions is the most cost effective way to a more natural sound IMO
They are quite an improvement on piezo's

The monitor problem you talked is much more likely when micing up in a band situation, though admittedly you would still have to be careful
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