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Ideas on great Electronics for a great j-45


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I have a 2016 J-45 Legend Limited with torrefied top. I have a lot of guitars and this might be my favorite. Wow, it is so fine! Gosh, it sounds good and I can't explain it but it's something about the string geometry at the soundhole, it makes playing easier. The latter is awesome but the sound is mostly what slays me.


I have not kept up with electronics over the past several years. This guitar sounds so good and plays so well, I think it enhances live play, so, I would like to gig with it and don't know what to put in it. Anyone have any ideas on what would be good? Mostly I play with a plectrum, but some fingerstyle and I don't have nails. Probably 90% using plectrum. Strumming and chord-melody style.


I am not so worried about cost as I am the ultimate live sound. I also am open to adding a mic. You know, like they did in the old days. But... if modern electronics can be hand that provide great sound, that's better from a feedback standpoint.


I have an Amulet system in my Jackson Browne model, need to play it more. I admit, haven't used it much on gigs.

Edited by livemusic
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I have a 2006 J-45 Legend. The bridge plate is not large enough on mine for the install of the Trance Amulet lenses, without modification to the bridge plate (make it bigger), and so did not happen. So, the Legend only gets "amplified" when I use my Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina mic to pickup both guitar and vocals. Good for a small intimate setting. Plus, my Luthier was really really reluctant to drill a hole in that Legend. Good luck on your quest.

Edited by duluthdan
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I have a 2006 J-45 Legend. The bridge plate is not large enough on mine for the install of the Trance Amulet lenses, without modification to the bridge plate (make it bigger), and so did not happen. So, the Legend only gets "amplified" when I use my Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina mic to pickup both guitar and vocals. Good for a small intimate setting. Plus, my Luthier was really really reluctant to drill a hole in that Legend. Good luck on your quest.


Hey Dan... how do I have an Amulet M-VT in my Gibson AJ? Doesnt it have the same bridge as that legend? the long narrow one too?




To the OP's question... others on the forum are more in tune with getting the ultimate plugged in tone... All I know is that the Amulet I have (and you) sounds fantastic, as do my K&K equipped guitars. K&K into FireEye RedEye.



I also have found my Baggs Element VTC to give a great sound for a UST especially. Finally, I have a Takamine with a nice preamp in it. It's not something I would advocate for a Gibson, but I do know many folks who seem to buy Takamine CoolTube preamps, and put them in their guitars. Not sure you would add a barn door in your legend though :)

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Don’t put anything between the saddle and top, and don’t cut any holes in it would be my advice!


You have some great pickups in different great guitars, but no soundhole pickups I notice...I’m happiest with my Sunrise equipped Maple AJ for live work. Mine is permanently installed, but you could easily pick up (no pun intended!) the long cable version and just fit the pickup when you want to take that guitar live.


I used USTs for many years and still have some in various guitars, along with K&Ks and several soundhole pickups. The Sunrise smokes them all though, absolutely wonderful pickup.

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Don't drill that Legend..ever!



When you say 'gig', is it hoping to go to an open mic now and again or hitting the road full time? The answer depends on that.



Best pickup without altering anything on the guitar is the Sunrise Pickup with the 'Long Wire Jack' to dangle out the front of the guitar/tape down. You also need the Sunrise Buffer Box. Be really quick - they have been out of stock for ever and these just arrived. No affiliation.







Try the pickup in your guitar to see if you like it and later if you want to drill, buy the 'Installation Kit'





The pickup won't sound very 'acoustic', it is a magnetic pickup, but it is an unbelievably great sound.



Similar buy cheaper and brighter sounding is the Baggs M80 magnetic pickup available everywhere, which has its own preamp in the pickup, so you don't really need anything else. 70% as good as the Sunrise....



All the other serious pickups need the Drill. Both these pickups above are highly feedback resistant so you could play acoustic in a band if you want. If you are playing solo at a cafe, truest acoustic sound is....a mic.





Edited by BluesKing777
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My take on acoustic guitar pickups is that all of them change the acoustic sound of the guitar. With this in mind, I do not try to emulate the acoustic guitar’s acoustic sound when plugging in. Rather, I go for the most pleasing sound as I hear it when plugging in. That to me is accomplished by using a Rare Earth Humbucker Soundhole pickup. With the cord dangling out of the guitar (so I can move it between my various guitars as I deem necessary. Actually, I have three of the Rare Earth Humbucker Soundhole pickup’s, so some stay longer with some guitars.). I like its sometimes similarity to the amp’d sound of a single P90 pickup on an acoustic guitar, like was used on the original J160 (I think). Or, old time Gibson archtops (like my 125TC or the original 125).


To me, since no pickup emulates a true acoustic guitar sound, I figure I should just go with the beautiful P90 type sound on an acoustic via the Rare Earth Humbucker Soundhole pickup.


Just my preference.


QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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I don't know that I have ever heard a soundhole pickup that I like. No offense, but to my ears, it's exactly what I *don't* want. I want to get a pleasing acoustic sound, much akin to the natural sound. They've made some advances, I've heard a few here and there that I thought sounded real good. I guess just hire Jackson Browne's guitar tech!


As for gigging, listening rooms is where it would be played, not rowdy bars. My guitar playing prowess is not so strong that I don't seek help here and there lol. And edge helps! Point being, this guitar makes me play better than I am! Its playability is superb. This difference I am talking about is not much... maybe 5%? 10%? But that small percent to me is a really big difference.


I am somewhat like Greg Brown, the singer-songwriter. He said he's not an expert guitar player, he just more or less accompanies the song. That's me. My day to day focus is songwriting. Live, playing in time, cleanly as possible, dynamics, with no mistakes the goal, and trying to sing a well-enunciated lyric with emotion.


I have a K&K in a Collings and it sounds pretty good.


Lastly, I don't want to screw up this guitar in any way regarding its playability or acoustic sound, as I will use this to record with a lot.

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The thing is tone is for the most part in the hands of the player, plus the sound system, whether it be a a pickup or mic with a full sound system or an amp or a recording mechanism, as well it’s settings, and the reverb in the sound environment, as they all also play a role in the mic’d or pickup’s output sound of a guitar...not to mention the guitar’s woods, string height set up, its bracing, etc etc. Your may have to experiment until you find what works for you. Depending on which guitar I am playing during a gig, I often have to change settings on my amp or sound system, whichever I am using to get the sound I am after. Plus, if some one else is working a sound system (a reason I prefer to use my own at a gig), sound checks are essential as well as are times to speak up and let the sound person know what what I as a player like (not necessarily what he/she likes) and hope the sound person listens.


You mention you like your Collings’ pickup. Why not start experimenting with that pickup set up on your J45 for starters in your experimentation?


QM aka Jazzmam Jeff

Edited by QuestionMark
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  • 3 years later...
1 hour ago, brianrowland said:

Can anyone say definitively whether the Trance Amulet will fit in a J-45 Standard?  I have a 2019 model.  Is the internal bridge plate large enough for the Trance sensors?




It should but you might have to drill or ream the hole where the strap button goes to make room for where the jack will reside. I don't think any pickup that uses the jack hole is just as simple as -1.  take out strap button 2. install jack where strap button was 3. install the rest of the electronics and off you go. I think all require drilling, but I could be wrong. 

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If you're not looking to drill in the guitar - I'm pretty impressed by the IK acoustic stage. I don't have one and I'm not a gigging musician anymore, but it really sounds great when listening to demos. It seems to produce the sound of the guitar accurately like a mic would. That said, if you're looking to blend - you might want something more complimentary with a mic like a saddle piezo or magnetic pickup to replace some of the boominess.

One of the best live sounds I've heard is by a fingerstyle musician that used a Fishman rare earth with mic. The problem there is that you have this bar sitting on your acoustic which takes away from the look and a bit of the sound.  

That said - the rest of my 2 cents:

Traditional piezo pickups under the bridge 👎. Quacky and produce  a sound of their own. Again, blended with a mic would be the only thing that would appeal to me here.

Bridge plate transducers like the K&K, LR Baggs has a couple of versions, maybe the Amulet - to me they sound a bit like putting a stethoscope on the bridge plate... I do have a K&K in one of my guitars = it's good enough, but I'm not in love with it.  👍

I have gigged in the past with sound hole pickups - LR Baggs M1A and it performed great on stage. Sounds magnetic and a bit brash for strumming, but loud and clear. It's removable too which is cool because otherwise - it will affect the sound acoustically.  👍

Last but not least - believe it or not a lapel mic sounds amazing! You definitely need an EQ with this, but nothing sounds better than a mic!

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I suggest the LR Baggs Lyric, as that's what I use in my 2018 Legend.

Heres a few examples of my plugged in sound. I use a Baggs Venue as my EQ to notch the feedback at live volume.



These do have a bit of that AKG condenser mixed in.














Edited by Mr.Woody
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