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Modding a Hummingbird


JETEXAS
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I recently acquired a 2004 Gibson Hummingbird without the onboard pickup. I grabbed a Dean Markley soundhole humbucker to be able to play a show last week, but I'm not thrilled with it.

 

Is the LR Baggs pickup that Gibson is currently using the best pickup solution or is there another internal pickup I should look at?

 

Also, there's no strap button on the guitar, and I'm having to tie my strap at the neck, which is driving me crazy. Where is the best spot to but a strap button on the hummingbird?

 

Thanks in advance.

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Here's a pic of strap button locations - many opt for position #5. Is your Hummingbird already drilled at the endpin for a pickup? 1/2 inch hole? I don't own a bird, but if I did I'd give serious consideration to the Trance Mono. http://tranceaudio.com/amuletm.html

StrapPositions_zps89b9122a.jpg

 

Nothing is drilled yet. It just has the little plastic strap button right now.

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I like position #2 for a strap button the best. Five is ok, but not as good. Just my 2 cents worth. There is also a product(made by several different brands) that is basically a piece of leather that goes under the strings at the nut that has a strap button on it. Try a search for Headstock tie and the Martin one will pop up. They are easy to use if you don't want to drill and don't want to keep tying it. I always end up drilling anyway because I don't like the angle of the strap going to the headstock as much as going to the heel.

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I like position #2 for a strap button the best. Five is ok, but not as good. Just my 2 cents worth. There is also a product(made by several different brands) that is basically a piece of leather that goes under the strings at the nut that has a strap button on it. Try a search for Headstock tie and the Martin one will pop up. They are easy to use if you don't want to drill and don't want to keep tying it. I always end up drilling anyway because I don't like the angle of the strap going to the headstock as much as going to the heel.

 

I'm going to have to drill one. My strap slides around too much when it's tied to the neck.

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Assuming you are going to attempt this by yourself? Get the strap button first - Bob Collosi sells some nice ones - so you get the correct bit size. I HAVE ONLY DONE THIS ONCE. Bit size selection will depend on the size of the screw. Put a piece of masking tape on the drill bit - to match the depth you need to drill. Put masking tape on the selected site. Locations 1 and 3 are not recommended at all - there may or may not be anything solid to drill into beyond the thin depth of the body. Pittgibson like s #2 - I like #5, and I'll tell you why. On the one guitar I have at number 2, it tends to sway a bit away from my body, #5 doesn't. I made a slight indentation at the mark with a small nail set punch, so the bit would not wander AT ALL - don't let that sucker get away on ya.

 

Drilling the endpin for a 1/2 inch pickup jak is something I have never attempted, and likely never will. For that I suppose cruising YoiuTube might be your best bet, or perhaps others will chime in here.

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Everything you are attempting to do is simple and painless. Go to any guitar store, buy a strap lug and install it in position 4 or 5 in the diagram. Then order a K&K Pure Mini pickup and install it per the included instructions. None of this is dangerous. If you are unsure simply drive over to your guitar-dude or dudette's shop and have them do it in about 5 minutes. And, remember to breathe.

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I put the strap button in position number 5, or Hillman as E-Minor7 likes to call it.

 

It went ok.

 

Playing tomorrow night's open mic with the mediocre Dean Markley humbucker while I continue to investigate other pickup options. Looking at the LR Baggs instructions, I don't think I want to attempt to drill a bridge pinhole. I'll probably take it to a tech for the pickup install.

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Position 3 only works with a reinforcing block on the inside. Position 1 should be ok as the neck block will support the screw... as long as you don't manage to hit a void between the neck block and the dovetail tenon. I like position 2, although it's possible to crack the heel cap if you go in with too small a pilot hole.

 

When I fit an endpin I drill through so that the hole is large enough to get a reamer in there, then use the reamer to widen it. Once the outside is the right diameter I go to the right size drill and finish off to full depth. It takes a little longer than drilling straight through but I'd rather a slow safe method than risk tear out or lacquer chipping from the drill bit.

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I drilled out an endpin on a guitar one time myself. One time. Never again. I did use the right tools, and it went ok, but it took forever because I was very careful with the reamer. I finished the project just way too stressed.

Another pickup option for you is the K&K mini. Costs about $85 bucks with maybe another like amount for a good place to do it for you so you are not so stressed.

The K&K is Not a UST... It is three discs that pretty much get crazy glued to the underside of the bridge. It sounds great through an acoustic amp like a Loudbox or Loudbox mini. If you are playing out and plugging into a PA system, you will also want the K&K XLR preamp.

What is nice about the K&K is that it sounds nice, and is passive. No battery.

Yet another option for you is the Baggs M1A or M80 sound hole pickup. They sound great. You can leave it attached to the sound hole or remove it when you like. Many don't like that look though- But for a workhorse guitar it is a great solution. I just wouldn't keep it attached to a Legend or Bird TV.

Anyhow these are my two favorite acoustic amplifying solutions.

Edited to say sorry about the punctuation and errors... My iPad is capitalizing and making changes to my post at will and I don't have the gut to correct tonight!

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Ok, I'm attempting to find sound samples of the K&K Pure Mini, The Trance Mono and the LR Baggs M1A.

 

I'll be playing through a PA system.

Here's my Trance Mono thru a Fishman Solo Amp. Don't listen to the sloppy playing - listen to the texture and articulation coming thru. Big proponent of the Trance system.

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Played the first open mic with the Hummingbird last night. The Dean Markley Humbucker didn't sound bad at all when pushing it through the bar's PA, but being a passive pickup, they had to turn me up much further than my lead guitarist's active Washburn acoustic. However, I'm not a fan of having that cable hanging down right at my feet. I saw that someone with a similar pickup had their cable taped up to the end of the guitar, but I don't think I want to stick tape on my finish.

 

My wife and I ordered the Fender Passport Venue PA System, so we can play some local coffee shops and restaurants (she plays cajon and other percussion). It's got a nifty USB recorder built into it. Hopefully we'll have some recordings soon.

 

Thanks for the link to the Trance Mono recordings. I think I'm leaning towards ordering that system.

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  • 3 months later...

Well, after indecisively dragging my feet for months, my wife bought me an LR Baggs Element for Christmas. I'd gotten so fed up with the Dean Markley pick-up that I'd gone back to playing my Takamine at the bar, so it will be nice to finally hear the bird sing as she was intended this week.

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There are no perfect pickups, that's for sure, and even with a K&K or something, you are hearing the pickup, not the guitar. But that's reality, because microphones are tough to use in many situations. Luckily, no one is going to care as much as we do! And it'll still sound amazing unplugged.

 

Funny thing about the L.R. Baggs Element is that it sort of sounds like a Hummingbird, very vaguely, just by chance. So it has the illusion of sounding "better" in a Hummingbird than other pickups.

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1420576499[/url]' post='1611556']

There are no perfect pickups, that's for sure, and even with a K&K or something, you are hearing the pickup, not the guitar. But that's reality, because microphones are tough to use in many situations. Luckily, no one is going to care as much as we do! And it'll still sound amazing unplugged.

 

Funny thing about the L.R. Baggs Element is that it sort of sounds like a Hummingbird, very vaguely, just by chance. So it has the illusion of sounding "better" in a Hummingbird than other pickups.

 

 

Amusing reading all these posts....I just removed the LR Baags pickup in my Hummingbird I never plug in but at church and classroom there is no need to. I would have sent you that pickup if I would have known ahead of time.

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