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Acoustic Electric Gain staging / tone help

#1 User is offline   ThemisSal 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 06:24 AM

Hey fellas,

I want to gig with my new Bird ten days from now, and I want to get the settings right before I go on vaca away starting this Saturday.

Chain:

Hummingbird with Baggs VTC UST pickup ==> Baggs Venue DI ==> Fishman SA330.

I tried this out last night briefly. The low E is powerful and quacky. I have the VTC set up to a volume level of about 6, the tone wheel bang in the middle, and then on the VenueDI, bass and lower mid at 11:00 (just shy of flat) and the high mid/presence/and treble at 1:00 (just above flat). The gain on the DI is about a 5. The fishman's gain is also about a 5.

Any thoughts or ideas? Is it better to have the guitar volume/gain higher, and the Baggs DI and Fishman gain lower? vice versa?

In general, if you have any ideas on EQ-ing an under saddle transducer in my case, I welcome your help.
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#2 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 06:37 AM

I have a fishman matrix which has a tone wheel
I tend to roll it almost off and then just a touch. I don't think it adds much tone at all , is linda like turning the gain up instead of volume , makes it a bit 'electrical' and lively
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#3 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:20 AM

View PostThemisSal, on 02 August 2017 - 06:24 AM, said:

The low E is powerful and quacky.


My limited knowledge of gain staging tells me this: a high input impedance is more easily driven by a low output impedance. Impedance matching is important in passing a signal, unaltered, from one stage of the signal chain to the next. General speaking, a low output impedance should be pushed into a higher impedance input for best results. Your signal chain looks like this:

VTC: 800 ohm output (low)
VENUE: 10meg ohm input (high; 1/4" input jack)/200 ohm output (low; 1/4" output jack)
SA330: 5M ohm input (high; 1/4" input jack)/3K ohm input (low; XLR input)

So..........your low impedance guitar pickup output is feeding a high impedance input on the pedal (good), and the low impedance output of the pedal is feeding the high impedance input of the amp (good as well). But just for test purposes I would try the low impedance DI output of the Venue into the SA amp, if you haven't already. This output is independent of the volume control on the pedal, providing a consistent, controlled signal........this is the output you would use if you were sending the signal to a PA mixer without using an amp. This might go a long way toward fixing gain stage problems. This will also help minimize cable capacitance effects by letting you use an XLR mic cable from the pedal to the amp. Use as short a guitar cord as possible from guitar-to-pedal...........standard 1/4" guitar cables often have high capacitance which is bad for maintaining the quality of your pickup's signal. (I use a 6ft cable from guitar-to-Red Eye.....very short.......and leave any distance to the mixer to be covered by an XLR mic cable.)

Since the guitar output is low it will easily push the signal through the high impedance input of the Venue, meaning you shouldn't need much volume at the guitar. If you do not use the Venue's DI output to the SA, I'd turn the guitar down to half of the 6 you say it's at now and adjust the input gain of the Venue up to compensate. My thinking is keep successive stages as low as possible and let the amplifier (as it's name implies) be the source of volume.

You might also, in the name of experimentation, try the guitar straight into the SA amp.....no Venue.....to see how that might alter what you're hearing. And try your Red Eye the same way.

(I think this is correct stuff, but do your own checking and experimenting!)

ps.......I tried the VTC that came in the J45 12 fret and dislike it......a lot. Woofy, boomy.......bad. K&K going in today!)
J45 Vintage - J45 12 fret
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ATLANTA: Bitter Tears An original account of Gen'l Sherman's march through Georgia in the winter of 1864
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#4 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:32 AM

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#5 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:45 AM

The low E on the Hummigbird is a world of its own. Its so strong and pronounced that its a nightmare to reign it, when electrified.

I took the Bird' for a run last week, and good lord, i had to use every feedback tool available to keep that low E calm, its like a pitbull. So may wolf notes when capoed.

Honestly, my response was to basically retire the Bird from gigging duties as its just too much work, unless it a pretty low volume affair.

So, to answer you question .... take the J-50 or anything maple you got.
___________________________

The Big Fat Lady 02' Gibson J-150
The Squares 11' Hummingbird TV, 08' Dove
The Slopeys 11' Gibson SJ (Aaron Lewis), 02' AJ
The Pickers 43' Gibson LG-2, 09' Furch OM 32SM (custom) , 02' Martin J-40
The Beater 99' Cort Earth 100
The Lonely Electric: 95' Les Paul

What we do on weekends:
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#6 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 08:05 AM

I would have the guitar on about 9 out of 10, then the Venue has a clip meter that needs to be occasionally flashing red with your hardest playing. Then your amp volume to suit.... setting like this gets the best tone without hiss. See your Venue manual, but most gadgets are similar setups.



BluesKing777.
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#7 User is offline   ThemisSal 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 08:06 AM

View PostEuroAussie, on 02 August 2017 - 07:45 AM, said:

The low E on the Hummigbird is a world of its own. Its so strong and pronounced that its a nightmare to reign it, when electrified.

I took the Bird' for a run last week, and good lord, i had to use every feedback tool available to keep that low E calm, its like a pitbull. So may wolf notes when capoed.

Honestly, my response was to basically retire the Bird from gigging duties as its just too much work, unless it a pretty low volume affair.

So, to answer you question .... take the J-50 or anything maple you got.


Gibby... U really hear a difference or think there is a difference between a hog vs maple square electrified? My gut says that stuff doesnt matter one your are plugging in - but I am willing to learn./ Teach me.

I look at any gig I do... as getting the right tone from the pickup/amp ie Baggs M80 vs K&K being the variables, versus the actual guitar. We play fairly loud.

Regardless I am determined to try out the Bird....
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#8 User is offline   ThemisSal 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 08:07 AM

View PostBluesKing777, on 02 August 2017 - 08:05 AM, said:

I would have the guitar on about 9 out of 10, then the Venue has a clip meter that needs to be occasionally flashing red with your hardest playing. Then your amp volume to suit.... setting like this gets the best tone without hiss. See your Venue manual, but most gadgets are similar setups.



BluesKing777.


The amp has GAIN and it has MAster Volume. sigh.
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#9 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 08:14 AM

View PostThemisSal, on 02 August 2017 - 08:07 AM, said:

The amp has GAIN and it has MAster Volume. sigh.


Same applies!


It should also have a clip meter...once the guitar to Venue is set, do the same hard playing til the meter flashes red or in the red, adjust the volume to suit after.


BluesKing777.
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#10 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:32 AM

I'm a little baffled about a guitar that has one string pronounced above the others. Surely that's not to be expected on a top line guitar ?

Gotta be a pickup issue that ??

I.e. Nothing to do with hummingbird /j45/j200 maple or laminate ..:
How can a hummingbird have a E that doesn't pay along with the other strings ?
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#11 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:50 AM

View PostThemisSal, on 02 August 2017 - 08:06 AM, said:

Gibby... U really hear a difference or think there is a difference between a hog vs maple square electrified? My gut says that stuff doesnt matter one your are plugging in - but I am willing to learn./ Teach me.



Absofrigginlootly.
___________________________

The Big Fat Lady 02' Gibson J-150
The Squares 11' Hummingbird TV, 08' Dove
The Slopeys 11' Gibson SJ (Aaron Lewis), 02' AJ
The Pickers 43' Gibson LG-2, 09' Furch OM 32SM (custom) , 02' Martin J-40
The Beater 99' Cort Earth 100
The Lonely Electric: 95' Les Paul

What we do on weekends:
http://www.reverbnat...oubleshotprague
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#12 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:01 AM

View Postblindboygrunt, on 02 August 2017 - 09:32 AM, said:

Gotta be a pickup issue that ??

Likely so, Grunt........one reason I don't care for active, UST electronics. Yes, they can be made to sound wonderful and many people have good success with them, but they can be persnickety about down pressure on the saddle (i.e. the pickup strip beneath it). With varying break angles over the saddle there can be trouble there. Another thing that makes them disagreeable to me is the fact that they are active, a preamp in the guitar pushing another preamp in a pedal or the front end of an amp........gain stage issues.

The VTC in my new J45 12-fret just plain ol' sucked. Tried it out Sunday at the OM and it was quite boomy, low-end heavy and prone to howl without provocation.......boo! hiss! Battled through it but resolved to install the tried and true K&K Pure, which I did this morning. Went perfectly, plugged it in and voila! Great natural tone with the EQ nearly flat and excellent volume......no battery, no preamp, no sweat. As I said, UST systems can be good, even great, but there are variables inherent in these systems that passive systems don't have. There's a reason the K&K Pure is perhaps the most popular aftermarket SBT out there - they work and sound great without much fussing around.

Sal I hope you get the Hummingbird dialed in with the rest of your rig.......I know you wanna take it out live! Experiment......try every combination of settings/gear you can imagine and you'll likely find what works. [thumbup]
J45 Vintage - J45 12 fret
Knowin' where you're goin' is mostly knowin' where you have been. Buc, from Me & Eddie
ATLANTA: Bitter Tears An original account of Gen'l Sherman's march through Georgia in the winter of 1864
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#13 User is offline   ThemisSal 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:22 AM

I'll play with it tonight.... If i cant get it dialed now, I'll just take my Martin D15...
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#14 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:26 AM

Aussie , forgive me for being odd
But why don't we hear of more pros using maple for live shows ?
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#15 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:44 AM

View PostThemisSal, on 02 August 2017 - 06:24 AM, said:

Hey fellas,

I want to gig with my new Bird ten days from now, and I want to get the settings right before I go on vaca away starting this Saturday.

Chain:

Hummingbird with Baggs VTC UST pickup ==> Baggs Venue DI ==> Fishman SA330.

I tried this out last night briefly. The low E is powerful and quacky. I have the VTC set up to a volume level of about 6, the tone wheel bang in the middle, and then on the VenueDI, bass and lower mid at 11:00 (just shy of flat) and the high mid/presence/and treble at 1:00 (just above flat). The gain on the DI is about a 5. The fishman's gain is also about a 5.

Any thoughts or ideas? Is it better to have the guitar volume/gain higher, and the Baggs DI and Fishman gain lower? vice versa?

In general, if you have any ideas on EQ-ing an under saddle transducer in my case, I welcome your help.


My first port of call as a tech would be to whip out the saddle and get it on a glass plate to make sure the bottom is dead flat and it's seated nicely in the slot. As the low E is dominant, I'd bet anything that there's a discrepancy in the saddle base flatness.

The Baggs pickups have a sweet spot on the volume dial at 90%, unless you plan to attenuate on the hoof with the dial I'd just set it at 90% and forget it.

The Baggs element pre has an unusual bass hype at around 60hz which gives it a "thump" when played percussively or hit hard. The unfortunate side effect of this is that it REALLY exacerbates the effect of any excess saddle material or detritus in the slot around the bottom E area, and makes it boomy and prone to low end feedback.

When set up right, I've had some really lovely plugged in tone from a Bird with a Baggs. I played my old '06 Bird everywhere from a cafe to an arena, and through every PA it sounded fabulous and drew tons of compliments from sound engineers, so yours will be great-it just needs tweaking!

I wouldn't worry about gain staging, as Buc pointed out, the low>high>low>high impedance chain is in the correct order and there is nothing technical standing in the way of great tone here.

Final destination front end level is what I focus on-I would hit the boost on your Venue and play hard, turn up the gain on your SA330 until the clip light comes on, then dial it back a smidgen. These Fishman rigs (I use the Loudbox Performer and have used the Loudbox artist and SA220 in the past) like a big, strong signal to give the tone stack as much information as possible to send to the power amp...at least that's the tone that I like from my Fishman gear.

I'd experiment with EQ changes-try leaving the Venue flat and tweaking on the SA330, then the other way around...work out which tone stack gives you the filtering that suits your guitar best. Combine the two if necessary, but I'd avoid it if at all possible. Two EQ stages working against each other often take away rather than add.

I would definitely make your saddle base your first port of call. If it's not 100% flat when put on a straight edge/glass table with a light shining against the back of it, tape some 1200 grit emery paper to the table (VERY flat and tight!) and gently take down the base until it's 100% flat and even. If the saddle is at all tight in the bridge slot, VERY gently to the same thing with the back edge of the saddle until it just snugs in with minimal effort. Don't let it be loose, just snug and not needing any substantial force to insert it.

Once this is done, put it all back together and string it up, then once tuned, tap the top of the saddle fairly hard along the length of it and retune, then you should be ready to go!

I'm sure you know this stuff anyway ☺️

And yes, to these ears Maple, Mahogany and Rosewood all sound and respond distinctly differently when plugged in (to these ears).
#######
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2014 Epiphone IB '64 Texan
2001 Epiphone EL-00 (early L1 shape model)
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1978 Hohner Leyanda 12 String
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#16 User is offline   Versatile 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 11:00 AM

Last ditch potential solution......:blink:

A many banded EQ to snick out an offending frequency....

A Line 6 wireless rig.....works well for acoustics, fiddle, mandolin, accordion etc......[thumbup]

V

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I dig most stuff....
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#17 User is offline   EuroAussie 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 04:49 PM

View Postblindboygrunt, on 02 August 2017 - 10:26 AM, said:

Aussie , forgive me for being odd
But why don't we hear of more pros using maple for live shows ?


Good question mate, and one which I really dont know the answer. I find it suprising also as I find it a nobrainer to plug in with maple. Its by far the cleanest tone you can get with the best note seperation.
___________________________

The Big Fat Lady 02' Gibson J-150
The Squares 11' Hummingbird TV, 08' Dove
The Slopeys 11' Gibson SJ (Aaron Lewis), 02' AJ
The Pickers 43' Gibson LG-2, 09' Furch OM 32SM (custom) , 02' Martin J-40
The Beater 99' Cort Earth 100
The Lonely Electric: 95' Les Paul

What we do on weekends:
http://www.reverbnat...oubleshotprague
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#18 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 05:11 PM

View PostEuroAussie, on 02 August 2017 - 04:49 PM, said:

Good question mate, and one which I really dont know the answer. I find it suprising also as I find it a nobrainer to plug in with maple. Its by far the cleanest tone you can get with the best note seperation.


I totally agree, although for solo performance I enjoy swapping between super clean and crisp Maple and the warmth and boom of Mahogany...a luxury choice to make!
#######
2015 SJ200 Standard
2011 Dove
1990 Hummingbird
1967 J45
2014 SJ100 1941 Reissue
2014 Epiphone IB '64 Texan
2001 Epiphone EL-00 (early L1 shape model)
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1978 Hohner Leyanda 12 String
1998 Fender Classic Series '60s RI Telecaster

#######
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www.facebook.com/jindermusic
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#19 User is offline   ThemisSal 

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 06:13 PM

I think I need to see you guys perform with a few gits. I am respectfully and humbly skeptical on the difference between say... a D18 and a D28 - through a Baggs M80 or UST...
I'm not saying I doubt you... I just need to hear and see it.
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#20 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 02:14 AM

View PostThemisSal, on 02 August 2017 - 06:13 PM, said:

I think I need to see you guys perform with a few gits. I am respectfully and humbly skeptical on the difference between say... a D18 and a D28 - through a Baggs M80 or UST...
I'm not saying I doubt you... I just need to hear and see it.


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