Acoustic pickup recommendations?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by Flouswa, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Flouswa

    Flouswa Country Gent

    I love my Takamine GS330S acoustic, but one problem--it's just a plain acoustic, no pickup for plug in. I've been contemplating having one put in it because it's just such a great sounding guitar and I love playing it. Yeah, sure, I could be miked--but it would be so much easier to have something that is "plug and play" (can you tell I'm a computer geek?).

    I'd love to hear from those of you who have done this as well and your good and bad experiences with different types of pickups! My original thought is a Fishman as close to what I have in Scarlett as I can get, but I'm open to suggestions.
    thunder58 likes this.
  2. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    There are tons out there. Frankly, I have found this Lawrence to work as well as any short of a complete onboard installed piezo system.. Some models have a little volume pot on them. (not shown) But it's sure nice to have a preamp also for acoustic.
    larryb likes this.
  3. Crooner

    Crooner Friend of Fred

    Apr 15, 2009
    Do you have a budget in mind? If you’re looking for tone over bargain, expect to spend a few hundred dollars. When I got my 000-42 I had an LR Baggs Anthem installed and it sounds very good, but it does require some EQ and other things to get it to sound more "acoustic."
    Since then, I have discovered two pickup systems that I wish I had known about...

    1) Your Heaven Closeup Mic System For Guitar.
    This is, at its basics, a mic system that uses a custom sound hole cover. What makes it different from any other pickup system is its amazingly realistic sound capture and isolation. Whatch this demo in which you can interactively choose the recording source. When you choose the Your Heaven Closeup Mic System you get the guitar and the guitar *only, even with a drummer banging away just a efew feet from the guitar. It's pretty cool.

    2) MiniFlex Mics.
    There are several models choose from, but these are all, essentials, single or dual condenser mics that ride inside your acoustic, giving you an authentic mic'd up tone.

    These are two I would seriously consider if you’re looking for the most natural tone you can get and not the typical quacky Piezo under saddle tone.

    Hope this helps.
  4. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Country Gent

    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    K&K Pure Western model.
    ronbo, section2 and Bertotti like this.
  5. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    I am partial to mics or pickup systems that include a mic. Imo piezo sounds less natural than a clean electric tone.
    MotorCentaur and wildeman like this.
  6. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Piezo's don't do it for me at all. I actually use vintage DeArmond's but they are hard to come by so i think Swivel's Lawrence would do fine.
  7. GlenP

    GlenP Gretschie

    Jul 23, 2019
    If you decide to go with a UST, you might go ahead and get a new bridge, you would have to sand down the original anyway to allow for the thickness of the transducer, but you might want to upgrade to a new one, like a TUSQ from Graphtech, and maybe new bridge pins too.

    Drilling that big diameter hole through the end block, if you install it in place of the existing strap button, is a little tricky for the jack installation. You might try drilling a smaller dia hole first then using a bigger bit. Or take it to a shop to have them do it. If you are going through any purfling, score the edge of the hole first to cut the purfling or the bit might grab and rip it out. The jack nut will cover a little bit of the hole edge if it does not look perfect.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  8. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    It really depends on what you're using it for. If it's for recording, then, hands down, mike it. Live is another animal all together. Piezos work well enough in that area. I doubt you can find a Baldwin Prismatone like Willie Nelson uses. That's the best piezo ever made. The combination piezo/mike setups work as good as you can hope for. Preamps, like the LR Baggs, are a necessity with most piezos. Using something like a DeArmond takes you closer to a straight electric sound. Then, there is the EJ-160 type---flat top with a mag pickup. I like them myself. There are quite a few around---Gretsch 5034, the Gibson EJ-160, Howard Roberts ( my personal favorite), and Fender's Telecoustic/Stratacoustic and others. The amp you use makes a huge difference. Straight to PA seems the best solution. That's all "acoustic amps" really are ("Acoustic amp" is a contradiction in terms). Even a small powered monitor will work in that instance.

    Try as many as you can. Enjoy the hunt.
    section2 likes this.
  9. johnny g

    johnny g Country Gent

    Sep 2, 2017
    union, ms
    I use a Dean Markley, humbuckling coil, sound hole pickup on my Washburn acoustic. It is the Promag Grand model. It want break the bank and is completely silent and humless (no feed back).
    wabash slim likes this.
  10. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I am always amazed at how good my K&K Pure western minis sound in my 000-18GE. I have never recorded it just played it through a QSC K10 direct.
    ronbo and section2 like this.
  11. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    DON"T DO IT !
    Ugh ... anyone remember the Martin GC-MMV I purchased a few months back .... I couldn't wait to get rid of it ..
    I had an LR Baggs Element installed in the guitar . Was so excited to get the call that it was ready for pickup . Ran down to Guitar Center , plugged into a Fishman Loudbox . I was so turned off and disgusted by the sound just from playing one cord . You could even hear my fingers sliding up and down the strings . Take my advice again ...DON'T DO IT ! Just sold the guitar back to GC 2 weeks ago for half of what I paid and I couldn't be happier .NEVER AGAIN ...Next time I'll buy an acoustic with a factory installed pickup like my old Martin travel guitar ( never should have got rid of that one ) or my Taylor GC Classic
    johnny g likes this.
  12. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    Dont do anything permanent....I have a Fishman soundhole pup that sounds great...They are cheap and no mods necessary.
    wildeman likes this.
  13. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    I'm a big fan of this three-piezo setup from JJB Electronics:

    It's basically the same as the K&K setup at half the price. I have the JJB Prestige 330 series pickup in my acoustic guitar, and the 220 series in my mandolin. I'm very happy with both.

    JJB is a one-person small family shop (hence the low prices), and the owner is extremely helpful. He gave me top-notch customer service: good product advice before I bought, and clear installation instructions afterwards. He was a pleasure to deal with.

    The upside of a piezo setup like this is that it offers a warm, natural sound at a low cost with a minimally invasive installation. I find that it sounds much more natural than the magnetic pickups in many electrified acoustic guitars.

    The downside is that you'll need to plug your guitar into an impedance-matching preamp that can handle a 1 megohm input. JJB sells a preamp for $119, though I'm sure there are cheaper models out there if you're on a budget.

    The installation was simple. I crazy-glued the piezos to the underside of the soundboard (you can use double-sided tape if you're worried about permanently modding the guitar), reamed out the strap button hole using a step drill bit, and installed the strap jack through the hole. It took about half an hour. Your local luthier can do it if you're leery about going near your guitar with a drill.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
    Bertotti likes this.
  14. Tele295

    Tele295 Country Gent

    I’ve used Fishman Prefix (piezo + mic), LR Baggs, and K&K pickup systems in various instruments. All have been great.
    section2 likes this.
  15. cqscqs

    cqscqs Gretschie

    Dec 8, 2013
    These are all great responses. If you want to go deeper on this you could visit the Acoustic Guitar Forum, where you can read loads on any given pickup. And preamp, etc..
    section2 likes this.
  16. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    You must realize that trying to get an acoustic sound amplified will always be a trade-off. Hands down, the best way is with a mike. Piezos will always transmit noise, like finger sliding on the strings. Magnetic pickups won't sound like an acoustic. Many systems rely on a mix of all three. Then, the amplification used will make a difference. It's an imperfect world.
    tdtom and johnny g like this.
  17. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    True that. I spent some time researching different systems a few years ago and settled on the three-disc-piezo setup as the best mix of warm tone, ease of use, and value for money. My reading led me to reject mics (too much feedback; good ones are too expensive for me), long undersaddle piezos (too quacky), and magnetic pickups (too electric-sounding). I decided that the K&K or JJB three-disc-piezos would suit me best.

    I'm sure that a high-quality mic, or a mix of mic and piezo, would sound best. As Wabash Slim says, there are always tradeoffs (in this case: higher cost, greater feedback risk, more time tweaking the balance between mic and piezo). I've heard good things about the LR Baggs Anthem, which combines a mic with an undersaddle piezo, but it was more than I wanted to spend, so I didn't take a long look at it. If it's in your budget, @Flouswa, you might want to check it out.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
    johnny g likes this.
  18. tdtom

    tdtom Gretschie

    Oct 26, 2018
    new zealand
    Hey Flo.
    Thought you had a cutaway Tak that was electrified? I'd be interested to see where you head on this venture. That temporary one that Swivel posted looks interesting, would like to hear that kind of thing in person. In the meantime, play your Tele.
    Flouswa likes this.
  19. Flouswa

    Flouswa Country Gent

    I do have a Tak that is electrified. It sounds completely different from this one though, the cedar top is a big difference! I need to do my research, it's a lot of money to spend when I could probably just put it towards a cedar topped Tak with it already in!!
  20. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    so cal
    Any acoustic pickup system needs a good preamp, NEEDS it along with an eq. If you think you can plug an acoustic guitar in a guitar amp even if you install say an LR Baggs M-1 active, its going to disappoint.. plug it into a powered speaker w a tweeter/driver and woofer w crossover and suddenly the eyebrows lift. Adjust the gain on the preamp and use the eq in say an LR Baggs paracoustic DI and you are smiling. Gotta pay to dance in my opinion. I have a 300 dollar Galetta Bigsby Acoustic pickup in my d-35 clone and it sounds like ass until I put my preamp and eq between the guitar and the JBL EON 115 I use. Anything less sounds like butt crumpets :) oh.. that $500 ovation Yngvie Malmsteen acoustic sounds like heaven w the Lr Baggs paracoustic, too
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