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Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

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Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby ElGreco » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:25 am

Hello! :)

Any pickup system that you would recommend for a classical/flamenco guitar? I currently use the BBand A2.2 system, but to be frank, I am not happy with it. The sound I get from the UST (undersaddle pickup) is OK, but it gets total rubbish and harsh when I use flamenco techniques (rasgueados/strumming). The sound from the AST (soundboard pickup) is VERY "coloured" and needs a TON of EQing to be of any use - plus it feedbacks a lot in higher volumes.
...Another problem of the BBand UST undersaddle is that it is very delicate and difficult to achieve a good balance between strings.. a change in humidity that would result in the slightest bowing of the soundboard, and all the volumes of the strings are unbalanced to each other..

Is there any way to capture flamenco strumming, playing with a band at higher volumes, without sounding harsh and having "quack"/plastic sound? And all this with a system that is reliable and built for the professional guitarist?

Please share your ideas/opinions/experience! Thank you very much! :)
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:13 am

whats your budget?
Are you happy to do work yourself/do you know a good tech?

I have a couple of ideas as my techniques are similar(ish) though on steel strings - I have used nylon before.

A microphone *is* the answer because the style relies on the whole instruments sound. But ths can be a problem in a band situation, though it is workable.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Michael B » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:39 am

I have found that only a microphone can come anywhere near, and the kind of microphone as well matters a lot. I was in a studio last week and the engineer miked me using two mikes he sais he always uses for acoustics, but of course there were steel strung acoustics and to my ear were not as good as others I have heard - didn't seem to capture the warmth of the nylon strung guitar.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby ElGreco » Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:26 am

My budget is around 400 euros at the most..
A mic is out of the question, because the setting I play is too loud and my guitar is not a loud one.. So the mic gets mostly noise from around and less guitar signal..
Whatever new I buy, I ll get it fit by a guitar technician, I won't do it myself.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Steve Hill » Sun Mar 02, 2008 9:54 am

Have a chat with Headway . The guy to talk to is John Littler and he might knock something off if you mention my name (they are near neighbours of ours). They specialise in pickups for acoustic instruments and, as you can see from their website, they have a few serious users out there.

You probably want the HE1/NYL pickup which is £200, or £150 if you opt for the version with no controls.

Although I can't personally vouch for their pickups, I have one of their acoustic guitar amps which I am very happy with.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby matt keen » Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:13 am

Mini DPA OMNI mounted on the guitar? No proximity effect with the omni which is good and very natural sound - not cheap the 4060 is 311 euros at thomann

Very natural results
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:27 am

^^^^^^^ Just what I was about to suggest(ish)

You will probably find that just the mic by itself will not give you a great sound - Stick your head in a guitar then strum!!
But what I do is combine a mic with 1 or 2 other signals, this should give you the ability to create a good tone. And the mic should be a lot more sympathetic to Flamenco playing.

I would also invest in one of these

Feedback Buster

Which should give you plenty of headroom before feedback.

The mic mentioned above would work (very well i believe), be sure you get the correct adapter pack so you don't need to rely on phantom power in venues.

There are lots of other mics out there Crown spring to mind and sennheiser........



Just spotted that Matt suggest external mount - I was talking about internal, though I guess if it was that close to the body you could get away with it.........
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby matt keen » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:31 pm

I am suggesting mounting the mic on the top of the sound board NOT in the sound hole

Folk musician Chris Wood gets the best live guitar sound I have ever heard like this, but that is with a steel strung guitar


My own set up is a Highlander inside omni and undersaddle rig and its not as good as the DPA sound IMO. I don't actually like the Headway pickups myself.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:12 pm

matt keen wrote:I am suggesting mounting the mic on the top of the sound board NOT in the sound hole

I know only scanned your post when I posted though :lol:

If the 'OP' can borrow.... a small omni an experiment with some external and internal positions that would be best/if it will work for him. I would guess that almost any position will require some degree of eq (though combined with another pickup it may be ok).
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Pabs » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:19 pm

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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:01 pm

I'm just now experimenting with the old style fishman aura floor box I've picked up on Ebay. My initial impression is that this box does exactly what you, I and every other UST user needs. Try the new smaller versions reviewed in SOS recently or see the old review.

£130 well spent in my book.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby matt keen » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:16 pm

Got a Fishman Aura - ok but not the real thing
OMNI mic 100% better sound wise if not feedback wise
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby ElGreco » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:53 am

Thank you all for your responses! :)

I ll consider Headway.. but has anyone any experience with their pickups? are they good? any problems? are they too difficult to install and make them work good? (BBand UST is certainly difficult)

A mini DPA OMNI may sound natural if I played solo classical guitar, but I think it would not work when I play with a band (drums, el. bass).. I would get huge feedback..

I have a "Feedback Buster" made by Yamaha. It helps but it kills depth of tone and bass response.. Makes the guitar sound bodiless..

These Swedish pickups may be good, but it has no information in English, and probably only a few people have experience with them..Anybody tried them?.. I d prefer to avoid being a "beta tester", even of a potentially great product..

The Fishman Aura sounds quite good in some videos I saw on youtube.. I ll go and try it.. How are Fishman USTs nowadays? I remember them with a very pronounced piezo sound..
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:22 pm

Hey you will not get the sound you are after with any of these suggestions it appears. I would suggest a combination of a couple of the techniques - modeling via an fishman on decent pickup of some description mixed with an internal mic.

The feedback buster may not be ideal but I would have though it is a worthwhile compromise - you can sculpt your feedback free sound once you have it. A decent monitor mix will help as well.

This is for steel strings but gives you some idea maybe about different pickup types and their sounds - Pickup sound tests
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Steve Hill » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:24 pm

Dale Campbell wrote:Hey you will not get the sound you are after with any of these suggestions it appears.


Um... what qualifies you to make that statement?

One thing is certain (and I speak as someone who formally trained on classical guitar starting more than 40 years ago) - no comparative test of steel string pick-ups will be remotely useful in this context.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:51 pm

Might I suggest that you're (ALL actually) looking at this the wrong way .

there are a number of issues that should be borne in mind..

1) a great sounding classical, isn't always a great sounding flamenco , and vice versa

2) in either case, neither are usually suited for high volume use in a band scenario with PA and amps and monitors and drums etc.... feedback isn't just about a Mic, or Pickup, but also about the instrument itself resonating sympathetically and causing the feedback itself.... eg a great sounding acoustic of any type is usually a bit of a nightmare on a high volume stage...



the ONLY solution I've found to be 100% reliable is to have guitar specifically FOR that use... one that's designed to sound passable in that scenario , and be bullet proof on stage.

several manufacturers make Electro-classical instruments.... , some good, some not so great, but nearly all the decent ones are designed and built to reduce feedback at high volumes... this usually means thicker soundboards, and less resonant timbers... , and a specifically designed undersaddle Pick-up arrangement that's voiced to do the job as well as practicable.


really good ones, are lamentably, usually more than the 400 Euro budget thus far allowed.... but on the whole I feel your best bet is to investigate this scenario.... it's basic physics at the end of the day... and if you're playing professionally, then you're doing a job, and should get the right tool for that job.

as to what qualifies me to make that statement

... a long career as professional player and luthier, and some not insignificant experience as an engineer,.....

;)
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:09 pm

Steve - The original poster has noted several of the suggestions have draw backs for him -

Piezo type pickups
Feedback buster
Microphones
Using EQ to shape the sound

So It appears that none of the suggestions will give him the exact sound he is after. Please note *appears* from the information given.

In my experience a combination of approaches carefully balanced seems the best way to attack the problem.

The pickup test I linked to were a point of interest - if I had a link to nylon string pickups I would give it. As it is that is the most comprehensive test of acoustic type pickups I have found and is interesting listening. Please read what is written before making condescending comments, I have a lot of respect for your opinions having followed topics you have been in on this board so please have respect for other peoples opinions and intentions.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Dale Campbell » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:14 pm

but also about the instrument itself resonating sympathetically and causing the feedback itself.... eg a great sounding acoustic of any type is usually a bit of a nightmare on a high volume stage...


Tell me about it :D
I was using a takamine which was fairly 'tame' on stage, switched to an Avalon and had to change my approach to my sound at gigs as it is very much an 'acoustic instrument' rather than the 'quasi' acoustic takamine, (sounds great now though :D)
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Steve Hill » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:48 am

No offence Dale. It just seemed a bit dimissive to write of a dozen-odd contributions as all being useless!

I'm not sure they all are.

Picking up on Max's point though, I have a decent classical guitar, a very good flamenco guitar, and a Yamaha electro-acoustic which was a lot cheaper than the others, but plays nicely enough. Although it doesn't sound so good. The Yamaha is the only one which I can play live in a band context with the remotest hope of success.

Dominic Miller (Sting's guitarist) uses a Fernandes P-Project Nylon string which looks a lot like a Telecaster. The luthier at Fernadez who used to make these has since died and they are no longer produced. If you come across one, snap it up, at any price. Some info from Dominic here.
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Re: Best pickup device for a classical/flamenco guitar?

Postby Steve Hill » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:55 am

And a pic...


Image
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