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Pick up for AJ 200s


Spyders

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Hello Men!

 

I've got a Samick made AJ 200s with a surprisingly nice tone that I have been doing some recording with but I've just been miking it and I think I could get a better sound with a pick up. I don't want to spend more than perhaps $125 but (and would like to get by for less) so I'm wondering what you guys have had experience with in that price range. Also, I'm fairly new to acoustics but I know there are some different configurations for electronics on acoustics so any input on what configurations work well (and what to look out for) would be appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance for your input.

 

Spyders

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There are three main types of pickups available. There are soundhole, piezo under the saddle types and soundboard transducer pickups. A soundhole pickup is nice because you can usually install and remove it within a few seconds as they just mount into the soundhole. They generally don't have a true "acoustic sound" as they pickup the sound from the strings like an electric guitar. However, they are very good for high volume situations since they are not as prone to feedback. Piezo pickups are the type that have a vibration sensitive strip (transducer) that sits under the saddle and is attached by a wire to an endpin output jack. The soundboard transducer is a vibration sensitive pad (or two) that is generally stuck under the soundboard (usually near the bridge plate) and is also wired to an endpin jack.

 

The least expensive is usually the soundhole type and they cost between $40-$80. The type I use for live performances is a Fishman NeoD soundhole pickup. It is inexpensive and easy to install and remove with a small phillips screw driver. Since the pickup is "passive" I use an outboard pre-amp/DI unit to boost it's signal to the soundboard. I use the Behringer ADI-21 acoustic pre-amp/DI which costs about $30 new. I think a new Fishman NeoD pickup can be found for $50. Soundboard transducer and Piezo pickups start at the $50-$60 range and whole pickup "systems" can cost hundreds of dollars.

 

Most people really seem to like the soundboard transducer type since they give the most natural acoustic and don't require drilling of a hole in the guitar like a piezo pickup requires in order to pass the wire through the bridge to the endpin jack.

 

So depending on what type you need you can see there are a few choices.

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Hey Thanks OGP!

 

That helps clarify things a lot. I've got a couple of questions. I currently use DR Rare Phosphor Bronze strings and they have a really nice sound. Would I need to change strings to work properly with a sound hole pick up? I also use a BBE DI 100 (with built in Sonic Maximizer which makes anything sound better). Would that act suitably as a pre amp for recording purposes with a sound hole pick up?

 

Also, do under the saddle or transducer types require a pre amp? This seems to be a subject with a lot of variables.

 

Thanks,

Spyders

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Hey Thanks OGP!

 

That helps clarify things a lot. I've got a couple of questions. I currently use DR Rare Phosphor Bronze strings and they have a really nice sound. Would I need to change strings to work properly with a sound hole pick up? I also use a BBE DI 100 (with built in Sonic Maximizer which makes anything sound better). Would that act suitably as a pre amp for recording purposes with a sound hole pick up?

Also' date=' do under the saddle or transducer types require a pre amp? This seems to be a subject with a lot of variables.

 

Thanks,

Spyders[/color']

 

I am sure you would be able to use the DR Rare PB's with a soundhole pickup so no need to change strings.

I think you would get pretty good results with your BBE DI 100 and just about any kind of pickup being soundhole or the other types of pickups. Some under the saddle pickups need a pre-amp and some are pretty good on there own but again it certainly doesn't hurt to run them through and active DI box like you already have.

 

That being said, you can also buy "active" soundhole pickups like the LR Baggs M1 but they cost about $200

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I have an AJ-200s. The only soundboard pickup (that mounts to the bridge plate) you will likely be able to use is the K&K pure western. the X brace is just too close for an LR Baggs iBeam or the B-Band. The K&K has a great reputation, though.

 

If you are going to record, you should get a soundboard transducer. They just sound more natural. They can beat all consumer level mics for recording. But, for live playing, they just don't cut like an under saddle, or a soundhole pickup.

 

My favorite sound hole pickup is hands down the LR Baggs M1. It is just awesome for a soundhole pickup. It will pickup alot of the resonance of the body unlike many of the others.

 

The best combination would be two pickups with electronics to blend them together. One a soundboard transducer (K&K on your guitar) and the other either a undersaddle, or soundhole.

 

But for under $125, and for recording or playing solo live, the K&K pure western is your best choice.

 

This, of course is my opinion. Others may vary.....

 

Jeff

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I have an AJ-200s. The only soundboard pickup (that mounts to the bridge plate) you will likely be able to use is the K&K pure western. the X brace is just too close for an LR Baggs iBeam or the B-Band. The K&K has a great reputation' date=' though.

 

If you are going to record, you should get a soundboard transducer. They just sound more natural. They can beat all consumer level mics for recording. But, for live playing, they just don't cut like an under saddle, or a soundhole pickup.

 

My favorite sound hole pickup is hands down the LR Baggs M1. It is just awesome for a soundhole pickup. It will pickup alot of the resonance of the body unlike many of the others.

 

The best combination would be two pickups with electronics to blend them together. One a soundboard transducer (K&K on your guitar) and the other either a undersaddle, or soundhole.

 

But for under $125, and for recording or playing solo live, [b']the K&K pure western is your best choice[/b].

 

This, of course is my opinion. Others may vary.....

 

Jeff

 

I would tend to agree in regards to the K&K Pure Western soundboard transducer. Great pickups and really not all that expensive or difficult to install.

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Thanks, men for the great information. I've been checking out both the LR Baggs M1 (passive) as well as the K&K pure western. They're both pretty impressive.

 

It's kind of a dilemma because I'd like to get a good sounding, nice pick up yet I don't want to spend more than the guitar cost in the first place. I mean it's not like its a J-45 or something. Yet at the same time, my AJ-200s is the Indonesian (Samick made) model. It has a very well done fit and finish and is a surprisingly fine sounding guitar with a solid spruce top so I'm still thinking it would be worth doing. If I'm going to do it, I'll probably go ahead and do the strapjack too which means I'll probably need for a luthier to do it. That. of course, means that I might as well get it set up (as I've had it for about six months and I'm still working off the factory set up).

 

Oh well, so much for the $125.

 

Thanks again,

 

Spyders

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There is a shop on eBay that sells the K&K Pure Westerns for $54.00 but they are "2nds". I know someone who has one and it works perfectly fine so that might be an optional route. I am sure a good luthier/tech could install it and a strap-jack for no more that $25-$35 so you'd still be within your budget. A good tech with the proper tools should be able to install one in less than an hour.

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Here is my logic with the cost of the guitar and what mods I would do to it. If I put $200 into the AJ-200s, then another $350 into pickups, nut, saddle, bridge pins, setup, etc. for a total of $550, could I find a guitar that would sound and play as good in all situations (live and recording) for the same amount of money? My answer is NO. I could go buy a Masterbuilt all solid wood, but it does not have pickups. Or I could buy something with pickups already in it but it would not sound as good either acoustically, or plugged in. And if I have it set up the way I like to have it play, then NONE of the available options will beat it. But it will never be something to impress people or to brag about, because it is just a $200 guitar. UNTIL THEY PLAY IT!

 

If you take your time and have the belief that you can do it, drilling a strapjack hole is not that hard. Just take the time, and research how to do it. The nut and saddle are plastic, as are the bridge pins. My nut was cut WAY too high, and most luthiers will want to replace it with bone or tusq. Take him all the parts and tell him what you want to do.....if you don't want to learn it yourself. But I would not get a setup done on the plastic stuff, get it done right the first time, with some better materials.

 

I have an old all laminate Alvarez 5072 Jumbo that is a factory second guitar. It was my first acoustic, as I started out on electric, and now it has a bone nut and saddle, rosewood bridge pins, and a nice dual pickup system. All on a $200 factory second all laminate guitar. Sounds great, and I play along with a friends Taylor plugged in and sound just as good in his and my opinion.

 

Looking at the higher dollar guitars is nice, but I just like a cheaper, good sounding guitar that I can do the work to and get the way I want. I do setups and this kind of stuff for local musicians, and having a great sounding and playing $200 guitar is a good advertisement tool, and a good way to impress with your setup skills!!

 

Jeff

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Jeff,

 

I think you've convinced me. I just called a local luthier who is also a K&K dealer and he is going to get a K&K pure western for me. I am stunned by the overwhelmingly positive reviews on this pickup. NO ONE has anything bad to say about this pickup - just rave reviews - and I had never even heard of them before you mentioned K&K! Just to let you know I've already got a tusq saddle on this guitar and I bought a tusq nut at the same time as the saddle, however, I didn't install it because I couldn't remove the old nut. I think it must be glued in. Anyway he's going to install the K&K, the nut, and do a set up for me. It'll be a little more than the $125, but not much more. What about the bridge pins? Do you think they are worth replacing?

 

I can't wait to see how she plays and sounds. Thanks again to you and OGP for your help with this. I'll post a review once I get the work done.

 

Spyders

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You are most welcome for the advice. Good choice on the K&K and having a luthier install it and the tusq nut.

I am sure you will be very happy with the results. As far as the bridge pins I'd say sure, it won't hurt to replace them but you could also wait and see how it sounds after getting the new nut installed. I have also heard the replacing bridgepins does make a difference in tone but I have no first hand info on this. I want to one day replace the bridge pins on my Taylor 114 to see if that does make any difference in tone (altough I am quite happy with it how it sounds now).

 

Good luck and keep us posted when you get it back from the luthier!

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I think you will like the K&K. The cool thing is that if you do really like it, but find it doesn't cut live or in a band setting, then they have a setup called the PowerMix Pure that includes a little preamplifier and their FanTaStik under saddle transducer. The amp has some volume control wheels that mount in the soundhole and allow you to mix between the two pickups. This mixed in with the Pure Western pickups is really, really great!

 

www.kksound.com

 

For the bridge pins, it is really easy to upgrade later when you change strings, as long as you get a set that will fit.

 

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing your results!!

 

Jeff

 

I've got to start working on my AJ-200s soon!!

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