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sbpark

Can't decide on a pickup...

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Yet again, here's another acoustic guitar pickup thread!

 

Looking for a pickup that sounds natural but also will be fairly easy to show up to an open mic, plug in and go (pretty much what everyone wants, right?!)

 

I'm trying to decide what pickup to install into my J45 Standard. I'm not a fan of any kind of UST, and have messed with them in various incarnations, tried Aura pre's with them and just never could like them.

 

I have an old passive LR Baggs M1 (not the active M1A). It's the least natural sounding, but most versatile, and easy to install/uninstall, but sounds like an electric guitar to my ear, not an acoustic.

 

I've had a K&K in a J45TV I used to own, and that pickup actually sounded great, but not the most flexible as far as its versatility (better suited for low volume, coffee shop stuff, duo situations, but wouldn't be my first choice for a loud band.

 

Considering a K&K Trinity that combines both the K&K SBT and an internal mic. This may be a good option as it allows for a more natural acoustic sound live, but have to be careful with adding in too much mic and getting feedback, plus you're adding in a dual source to the equation, and almost always wouldn't have the luxury of dialing in the sound, EQ, etc. But, with that said, I could just plug a 1/4" into the guitar and JUST use the Pure Mini SBT portion sans mic for these situations plugged into a Red Eye for a pretty decent sounding, portable, easy to use set-up (that is, if the open mic lets you use your own preamp!)

 

Other options would create my own dual source with the M1A and the K&K Pure Mini. Depending on the situation I could use both pickups (but would have to be able to blend them, and that ain't happening at an open mic), or could just have two separate mono cables in my case, one wired to use just the K&K, and the other to just use the M1A.

 

The other wrench to throw into the gears here is I do already have a Radial PZ Pre, which is an AWESOME dual source preamp that I could use for situations where I'd have time to mess with the sound, EQ, dial in the two sources, etc., but for right now Im looking for something that would just work best for open mics. With whatever pickup system configuration I go with, I'm leaning toward pickup a Red Eye preamp to go along with it for an easier "plus and play" option.

 

What are your thoughts, experiences and opinions/suggestions?

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I’d go k&k mini with a belt clip k&k preamp...

Just easy...

 

Thats a great, simple set up for sure, but although I've never used one, I've read those K&K pre's aren't that great.

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Thats a great, simple set up for sure, but although I've never used one, I've read those K&K pre's aren't that great.

 

I'm currently smitten with the idea of K&K and a Tonedexter. The closest reproduction of an acoustic from a pickup that I've heard (IMO). BK has samples in some of his threads.

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I'm a fan of the K&K thru a Red Eye signal chain. Works for me on various stages without much fuss. Most open mic stages I visit use some sort of powered mixer for sound.....I strum a couple chords, ask the host/sound man to dial the mids down a touch and away we go. There is one stage where it is necessary to turn the Red Eyes' treble control up a bit, but it's my experience that the K&K in a Gibson tends to be mid-heavy.........knock it down at the mixer and it's good to go.

 

I'd probably use a Tonedexter if it didn't require a wall wart. Getting AC to the front of the stage can be an issue at many venues and I'm all about simple, easy setups.

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If you want to plug direct, I would go an active (preamp included) Baggs M1A or Baggs M80 with a battery operated EQ.

I spent a fair bit of time with both of mine - to get it more 'acoustic', I lowered the poles right down and removed the 1 and 2 string poles totally. Then running the vol of the Baggs on half, I eq the boomy bass out, the glassy trebles off AND the mid Clunk is gone as well and the end result is something that I really like and may even take to an open mic up the road. May not. And it depends on the guitar too, I think - I like the M1A on my L-00 size guitar but on my beastly Lowden the M80 sounds superb straight out of the box and even better with eq.

 

I have the old Fishman Pro EQ and like it - here are my settings:

 

Zg1WIjIh.jpg

 

 

A friend uses and recommends the M80 through the new Baggs Align EQ - I have one arriving any day...currently landed in my country and awaiting for someone to hoof it out to me:

 

https://www.lrbaggs.com/align-series-equalizer-acoustic-pedal/

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

Edited by BluesKing777

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I'm now leaning toward the K&K Trinity Pro System that comes with the K&K Dual Channel Trinity pro preamp . I figure II can just use the SBT portion by itself if I do'nt want to mess with the mic, but if I want to ever blend a little mic in, all I have to do is turn a knob. I can also use just the mic itself to record demos and whatnot at home. If I am ever in a situation where I can spend time dialing in the sound I can use the K&K pre, then run each channel separate out into the PZ Pre for precise EQ'ing and be able to go XLR out to a board.

 

I'll use the J45 with the K&K Trinity System for my solo/singer/sonwriter/open mic stuff and save the LR Baggs M1 I have for one of my other acoustics if I ever need to plug in a guitar with a loud band (but doubt that's going to happen).

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Why have we got buc turning the mids down and BK’s EQ has them up ?

 

 

Are you looking at my Fishman photo? I am not turning the mids up - that is a 2 part mid eq called a sweepable mid - you turn the (left) level up a lot and move the (right) knob through all the frequencies and you can then heart the worst ploinky sounding mid and then you turn down that (left) level. It gets rid of the really annoying bits.The Baggs Venue DI has 2 of these sweepables, high mids and low mids.

 

This little video may help:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enc6oUhyT3c

 

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

Edited by BluesKing777

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Every day is a day at school

 

 

Really, really GREAT on your Baggs soundhole pickup! Well worth doing.

I suppose it is hiding the uglies by zoomng in and finding them and turning them down, not deleting them....

 

 

BluesKing777.

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If you have the dough... Fire Eye red eye. Best.

 

The other thing I've been thinking, you can basically get the K&K Trinity Mini Pro system for what you can get a K&K mini and Red Eye preamp for.

Edited by sbpark

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I had the K&K pure mini ultra (they have since redesigned the preamp at the soundhole into a much nicer unit) and loved it . Would recommend one to anybody. And I was able to fit it myself

 

For reference I play noisy pubs with a fishman soloamp / small PA .

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I think it’s all down to personal preferences-there are a lot of great pickups out there at the moment.

 

I have K&K in several of my acoustics and have had their Pure Mini in several others in the past. Great, transparent and acoustic sounding pickups. A bit midrange heavy but that gives good tailoring opportunities in the EQ department. The K&K pres are good, the Fire Eye units are great.

 

I have the Fishman Matrix Infinity in several other guitars, which is a great UST. As far as piezo undersaddles go, this is about as good as it gets, and when it’s a good match with the guitar (my SJ200 for example), they sound superb and respond very naturally.

 

My current favourite is the Sunrise soundhole pickup I have in my Maple AJ, it’s a big unit that may not be visually appealing to some folks but there’s a reason why these pickups are so popular and well regarded amongst big name players. The tone is exemplary, probably the best live sound I’ve ever had. Really touch sensitive and nuanced, not as “acoustic” as the K&Ks, but as Richard Thompson said, the Sunrise is something slightly beyond both the acoustic and electric world.

 

I’ve never been a fan of Fishman soundhole pickups, but last week I bought a sweet little 1968 F25 from a dealer friend of mine, and scooped a secondhand Rare Earth into the deal. It’s a modern one (the more curvy model). Put it in the F25 for this weekend’s gigs and it sounds fantastic-really suits the guitar.

 

It all boils down to what your preferences are and what suits the guitar. There’s an absolute ton of great pickups avaliable nowadays, we’re lucky to live in such times!

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I'd probably use a Tonedexter if it didn't require a wall wart. Getting AC to the front of the stage can be an issue at many venues and I'm all about simple, easy setups.

 

ahhh... i thought the fire eye / k&k pre amps had to be plugged in as well. the wariness makes sense now - still want one though, rgds - b.

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Can’t somebody invent something new that works and sounds like your acoustic guitar without all the stuff?

 

Some of these suggestions are pickups invented in the 80s.

 

The best pickup sound and usability I have is the Maton guitar system, fabulous....but that doesn’t help amplify the old Gibson....

 

I mean, they keep saying on TV that everyone is moving to Mars soon but we can’t get a decent acoustic pickup....

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I am a big fan of the Matrix Infinity. I have three acoustics using these. I'm quite interested in the new Matrix Infinity Mic Blend system. I am leaning towards upgrading my J200 with this setup.

The J200 initial came with an LR Baggs Anthem, which did sound very good, but it wasn't without it's issues. volume wise, it's a bit anemic, and the control module tends to rattle and make all kinds of unwanted noises from the vibrations when playing. -- nasty

 

I use a little bit of shaping from a Boss 7 band EQ sitting on my acoustic pedal board, I can dial in just enough to get the tone a bit more natural sounding. I suspect the new infinity with the condenser mic would be closer a pure sound.

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I think it’s all down to personal preferences-there are a lot of great pickups out there at the moment.

 

I have K&K in several of my acoustics and have had their Pure Mini in several others in the past. Great, transparent and acoustic sounding pickups. A bit midrange heavy but that gives good tailoring opportunities in the EQ department. The K&K pres are good, the Fire Eye units are great.

 

I have the Fishman Matrix Infinity in several other guitars, which is a great UST. As far as piezo undersaddles go, this is about as good as it gets, and when it’s a good match with the guitar (my SJ200 for example), they sound superb and respond very naturally.

 

My current favourite is the Sunrise soundhole pickup I have in my Maple AJ, it’s a big unit that may not be visually appealing to some folks but there’s a reason why these pickups are so popular and well regarded amongst big name players. The tone is exemplary, probably the best live sound I’ve ever had. Really touch sensitive and nuanced, not as “acoustic” as the K&Ks, but as Richard Thompson said, the Sunrise is something slightly beyond both the acoustic and electric world.

 

I’ve never been a fan of Fishman soundhole pickups, but last week I bought a sweet little 1968 F25 from a dealer friend of mine, and scooped a secondhand Rare Earth into the deal. It’s a modern one (the more curvy model). Put it in the F25 for this weekend’s gigs and it sounds fantastic-really suits the guitar.

 

It all boils down to what your preferences are and what suits the guitar. There’s an absolute ton of great pickups avaliable nowadays, we’re lucky to live in such times!

 

 

I didn’t know Richard Thompson uses sunrise

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I didn’t know Richard Thompson uses sunrise

 

He does indeed, has done for quite some years now-he runs it as a single source system into a Sunrise valve pre (the one that’s £4000 or something similarly ridiculous!). Before that, he ran it into a Ridge Farm Gas Cooker valve pre according to interviews.

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...having just checked a recent interview, he now runs the Sunrise alongside a Countryman Isomax condenser tucked inside the soundhole to add some air. I stand corrected!

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I just dropped the guitar off at the shop about an hour ago and ended up just going with the regular old K&K Mini. I pondered every possible situation and went down a bunch of different rabbit holes so to speak, contemplating this and that, but in the end really just wanted to keep it simple for a pretty easy "plug & play" situation. The K&K mini with a clip-on K&K single channel preamp that offers a little EQ seems to be the way to go. I have a Radial PZ Pre for other situations, but for the open mic stuff I want to keep it simple. The shop I take my guitars to is a K&K dealer, so if you buy the pickup from them they install it for free. Not a bad deal for under $100.

 

Yes, there are configurations that sound "better", but when taking into consideration the price of admission, flexibility and ease of use, seems like it's tough to beat a K&K mini.

 

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Edited by sbpark

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I think that’s a good deal. Wow. Free install? I think that’s a nice easy setup you got.

I like the red eye because it also has the boost.... which is good for solos when you play in a duo or trio...

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I think that’s a good deal. Wow. Free install? I think that’s a nice easy setup you got.

I like the red eye because it also has the boost.... which is good for solos when you play in a duo or trio...

 

I thought about going with the Red Eye. Then I went down a rabbit hole and said to myself, for what the K&K Mini and a Red Eye costs, I could get the K&K Trinity System with the K&K blender/preamp, but with that preamp it's near impossible to adjust the EQ on the fly (because it's buried inside the box), so I'd be better off using my PZ Pre (has 2 inputs and works with dual channel systems), but that would be a PITA to lug to an open mic and wouldn't have the time or opportunity to dial it in, so...........that brought me back around to just going with the simple K&K Mini and K&K pre.

 

But with that said, I'm kind of still second guessing myself and not just going big and getting the Trinity Pro system with the Trinity preamp/blender. I can just use the Mini portion by itself for the open mic stuff, and/or just plug a standard 1/4" cable into the Trinity since the Mini portion is wired to the tip, meaning I can use it with or without any preamp if I dont want to use the Trinity preamp/blender.

Edited by sbpark

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