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Author Topic: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....  (Read 9452 times)

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Offline Mike Brosnan

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Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« on: May 10, 2009, 10:36:41 AM »
So I've done a fair amount of research into this, but I'm just seeking current opinions/experience from anyone who wants to share.
The two guitars I'm lookin' to amplify are: my '36 Trojan and my Blueridge BR-163 (both can be seen/heard at the link below).
I like the hotplate idea, cuz I don't wanna mess with the Trojan too much... But I've heard some varying opinions about the tone these things produce...
I've heard a lot about Fishmans for flat tops... I'd like to spend less than $300 on the Blueridge, but I guess I'd spend more for better tone.
I'm a total novice in this area, so any input is much appreciated. Thanks.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2009, 11:24:20 AM »
I don't know if its just me but I've never heard a pickup that i thought didn't seriously compromise a good guitar's sound and homogenize it into something totally different sounding than its acoustic incarnation. A decent mic seems to do less sonic harm than pickups do and having a mic stand and external mic isn't THAT much of an inconvenience. Thats how I'd go if capturing the sound of the guitar is important.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2009, 12:38:09 PM »
I hear ya Mr. O...  One guitar mic and one vocal mic definitely does all I need, but sometimes it might not be practical.  I'd like to start busking at a lot more of the street fairs that happen in the summer here in Portland.  The streets get flooded with people.  Vendors and musicians all over the place (Including loud drum circles and some techno shite that made me wish I had an ax handy).  Dogs, kids, drunks and stoners stumblin' around every which way you look...  And last time we were precariously balanced on a hillside where mic stands would've presented quite a challenge. 
Pick ups are a compromise.  No doubt about it.  That's why I'm willing to shell out more cash to get a better sound.  But no matter what...  Bare fingers on a totally acoustic guitar in a perfectly quiet wooden room will always be my ideal. 

Offline waxwing

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2009, 11:59:06 AM »
Hey Mike, I've gone back and forth on this issue a lot. Right now I'm in the mic only frame of mind. But you might be interested in this link:

http://www.fingerpick.com/pickups.htm

If you want to spend a lot of money you can even send your guitar off to Fishman and they will model a setting on the Aura to produce a sound that seems like your guitar. Sorta.

I also thought the Shertler DYN-G might be interesting, but I haven't tried one. Pricey also, but you can move the one pickup from guitar to guitar in seconds while chatting up the fans.

All of the reasonably priced options pretty much seem to rob the guitar of its true tone. Also, any top percussion, on purpose or inadvertent, can become a problem, depending on what kind of pup you get.

My feeling is, if you're gonna blow off the acoustic tone, why not get a cheap electric guitar and amp. That way you can actually play around with quite a range of tone. And, to tell you the truth, I don't think 99 percent of your audience will care if you play MJH on an electric. Sure, you'll have to learn to play a new instrument, right hand wise, but I think you'll end up with fewer issues. And they're a hell of a lot more durable for those raucous situations where you feel you need the pup 'cause of all the drunk rowdies who aren't listening anyway.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2009, 12:10:24 PM »
That sounds like good advice to me.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2009, 09:00:36 PM »
And if you're going to buy an electric guitar, you could buy some kinda old beaten jazz box, satisfying not only amplification requirements but GAS as well. I like this line of thought.  :D

Sorry, can't offer any actual pick-up advice.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009, 09:47:58 PM »
What are you plugging in to? The house PA, or an onstage amp? That's important to know.

Sure you can get good tone out of an under saddle transducer pickup like a Fishman or Martin Gold Plus, but probably not if you're going direct-in to a 'dry' board, unless the sound person is au fait with the issues and knows how to deal with the 'rubber band' effect with EQ and reverb, it isn't that hard.

I'm completely unimpressed by the Aura system, apologies to wax, just my impressions, sounded like total new-age crap to me but that might have been the demo setup I was playing through. A lot of good people swear by them, but from what I've heard to date I would swear at them.

A single mic, condenser, is wonderful if that's all you need, and you're a pretty loud, upfront player and could probably make it work really well. If you at some point need more than two open mics on stage for an ensemble setup you (or the house) are going to have to manage feedback and generally will end up having to turn everything down; max gain before feedback is reduced significantly every time you add one more mic. So installing a pickup, magnetic or transducer, in the guitar might be a good 'swiss army' option if you can get it sounding right. Plugging that into a good 'acoustic' amp (nice oxymoron that) on stage as a monitor, with a feed from the amp to the house board, either pre- or post-EQ, is a really good flexible way to go, IMO
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 09:58:07 PM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2009, 12:40:23 AM »
Hey, I was just parroting the promo, "sorta", Riv. But did you check out that link. There are probably a couple hours of video reviews of quite a variety of pups on that fingerpick.com site. A pretty good education in the full range of options (but only reviewing the top contenders) and some good info on EQing.

But thanks for the experiential info. I'm continuing to assess this myself.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline GhostRider

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2009, 08:58:27 AM »
Greetings:

The best sounding amplified acoustic instrument I ever heard was Mary Flower's L-00. It really has a good acoustic sound amplified. She uses (used?) a Highlander undersaddle pickup.

Alex
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 09:00:20 AM by GhostRider »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009, 04:31:16 PM »
That is interesting, Ghostperson of the Apocalypse.

Yeah Wax I checked that page and what a great job, though I get the impression there's some kool-aid drinking going on re the Aura. I love Fishman products, and as I said maybe my demo setup was flawed. I understand it's designed for going direct to the board and I never do that.

I think actually trying to get an amped acoustic guitar to sound like a giant acoustic guitar is doomed to failure. I gave up on that mission years ago when I realized there's a different dynamic in play, what with psycho-acoustics and all that jazz. Experimenting with it and dialling-in what actually sounds good, rather than 'realistic', is more fun and rewarding.

Another mistake people make I think is discounting reverb from some kind of purist impulse. Everything has reverb, we need it to hear things properly. All you're doing is increasing that natural reverb to remain in proportion to the primary source. A lot of people trash transducers because they run them too dry, of course you can hear the granularity! A touch more reverb and judicious EQ-ing would probably fix it.

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2009, 12:15:49 AM »
thanks folks.  i'm just beginning to realize how ignorant i really am about all this stuff.
i've thought about the fully electric option, but i'm not ready to go there yet.  i live in a one room shack and i really need to get rid of some guitars, not acquire another one... 
ghostrider... thanks for the tip about mary's guitar.  i agree that it does sound excellent.  i'm pretty sure she uses the same luthier i do (kerry char), so i'll talk with him some more about all this when i get the time...
been workin' too much... still haven't had the time to absorb all the replies here, but tomorrow's my friday, so....
thanks again!
mike

Offline TX_Songster

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2009, 05:05:58 PM »
Brosna,
I, for one, am interested to find out what you learn from your luthier about Mary Flower's p/u system.  Please keep us posted.

I've been thinking about this myself for open mics.  Seems it would take some of the pressure off just to plug in and go.

I've got to ask though, do you really need a pickup on the Trojan for busking?  It seems these guitars already have great volume for that application.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2009, 07:15:13 PM »
Thats what resonators are for. Besides you don't want to have to shlep an amp around when you're busking.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2009, 04:29:29 AM »
I'm probably not going to help much... but the best sounding amplified acoustic I've heard by some distance, was that played by Homesick mac.  He told me what the set up was, but I'm afraid I dont recall.  He put a huge amount of faith in his pre amp and the overall sound he got was fantastic.  You might do worse than check his website / drop him a line.

I'm interested in this stuff because I was always frustrated during my relatively short time in a band, that even with an expensive pickup, my Martin just sounded like another twangy takamine...  Also because I kind of agreed to take part in a busking day in a local town in 10 days time, and have spent the last week trying to learn to play with picks so i can be heard!

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2009, 05:03:02 PM »
well, i finally got a hold of my luthier.  he said mary flower has been using a highlander for a long while, but just recently started trying out a k & k pure western.  i was amazed to hear this since the k & k is so much cheaper.  i decided to give the k & k a try.  i'll let y'all know how it works out...

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