Do acoustics really need pickup?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by The Box, Dec 7, 2021.

  1. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    I used one once some 25-30 yrs ago ( similar to the one in the photo ) ...... did not like the way the cord came out , felt " in the way " all the time . Other than that , no other experience with them after that .
    Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 1.31.41 PM.png
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  2. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    We would prefer to record using microphones, because you don't have a lot of people talking or yelling in the recording area. In addition, you can keep the distance to the mic fairly consistent.

    Performing live is another story, it is difficult to keep unwanted noise away from a the guitar mic(s).

    Playing live we plug in to help eliminate unwanted noise. Some inboard systems are great at not adding color to the sound, the names mentioned: Fishman, L.R. Baggs, and K&K are good at capturing the natural sound. That said, we always use a preamp so that we reduce hum, echo, and boom. The large body guitars tend to give feedback when the accompanying instruments, amps, or singing mic get to close. We have had some reduction in feedback using sound hole covers.
  3. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Thanks! Isn't Neko Case amazing?
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  4. Butch Ammon

    Butch Ammon Gretschie

    Jan 3, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    I had that same acoustic pickup, years ago too! Bought it at Manny's Music on 48th St. in Manhattan, NY City back around 1980-1981 when I was stationed on Governors Island in the US Coast Guard.

    Anyway, I recently bought this (bonus sale from Sweetwater, after I ordered my Strat)... A really nice, smooth sounding Seymour Duncan "Woody" acoustic pickup that mounts in the sound hole. The 15' guitar cable does get in the way, but with some fiddling around with it, down, around, and through the guitar strap, it's not bad. The best part is it DOESN'T sound like an electric! It doesn't give off that Les Paul type of sound from an acoustic guitar pickup! I was amazed by the sound of it. See, when you look at it, it looks like a cheap single coil slip-in-the-sound-hole, acoustic pickup, but yet once you look underneath, you'll see there is also a massive microphone magnet covered up in cloth and whatever. It also captures the actual acoustic resonance of the body of the guitar! Very cool, if I could say so!

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  5. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Indeed. You just prompted me to put a playlist on with her stuff.
    section2 likes this.
  6. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    That setup works for some---Kurt Cobain comes to mind, as does Muddy Waters. I have a soft spot for a flat top with a pickup. That's all I had for years. It's an electric sound with nuances you don't find in a solid body. Either it works for you, or it doesn't. It's not an acoustic sound, nor an electric, but something of both.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2021
  7. S.R.Cash

    S.R.Cash Gretschie

    Aug 29, 2019
    Ontario, Canada
    My Martin got a Pure Mini and my Fender got a Schatten HFN passive. When needed I run them through a Tech 21 Acoustic Fly Rig. Terrific setup and terrific sound. When I feel the need or get the chance to record though .... A Mic.
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  8. Floo

    Floo Country Gent

    Dec 16, 2012
    Elmshorn, Germany
    JJ Cale did it for quite some time. He totally frankensteined his acoustic, but he got kind of a signature sound out of it.

    I see pickups in acoustics as the easiest way to play them live, piezos or other kinds like the already mentioned K&K system. Or you want to achieve Elmore James' tone, then you need a magnetic pickup.
    In a recording situation, I'd always use microphones for the most natural sound.
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  9. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    After only playing a dreadnought for 12+years and never putting any electronics in it, I really desired a cutaway with electronics. Now that I have a couple of Yamahas and a Takamine with cutaways and electronics, I now think those features aren't necessary, in my case.

    I think cutaways rob some tone and I rarely ever go beyond the 12th fret.

    Electronics are a nice feature, but my acoustics are for around the house, not playing out. Also, I have a knack for being able to get the mounted electronics (battery compartment and preamp) to rattle.

    So, my next acoustic will be full bodied with no electronics. Then I can start this whole thought process all over again.
    The Box, mrfixitmi and section2 like this.
  10. BuddyHollywood

    BuddyHollywood Gretschie

    Sep 11, 2009
    Venice, CA
    I bought one of those Dean Markley humbucker sound hole pickups in the early 2000s for my Yamaha FG-413S SDB shown in my avatar. I've barely used it. For recordings I've used microphones. If I am playing an acoustic gig where I need to plug in I usually bring my Epiphone Casino and play that on low volume. I just like the sound of it better than my acoustic with a pickup. The Casino's volume pots are useable from 1 - 10 and I've discovered it sounds good plugged directly into a PA. I've found that with the volumes on 3 on both pickups it delivers an amplified version of a very pleasing low output acoustic Casino sound. It doesn't really sound like a dreadnaught acoustic but it sounds full and balanced. The P90s with the volume on 3 remind me of HiLotrons. I've been tempted to get a piezo bridge for the Casino but I'm not really into the piezo sound so much. It would be for convenience much the same way Alex Lifeson from Rush would blend his piezo acoustic sound in with his electric guitar sound at a live gig.
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  11. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    Apr 14, 2020
    I do like the sound of my 5627 on the neck or both pickups with the master volume turned down into a clean amp. Does it sound “like” an acoustic? No, but I like the sound better than piezo.

    I have Thomastik Infeld rope core classical strings on a Taylor Academy A12Ne. The “rope” is actually stranded steel. I like the acoustic sound and feel. While not the reason I use them, someday I need to stick a magnetic pickup in the sound hole just to try it.
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  12. Tele295

    Tele295 Country Gent

    I’ll run one or a pair of mics (preferably Akg 414) and the pickup in a separate channel. That way I can blend just a little bit of the DI signal for clarity or effects.
    The Box likes this.
  13. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Country Gent

    Oct 17, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    No one has mentioned the Fishman Aura. The Fishman Aura. A well miked acoustic will still probably sound better but the Fishman will be effective if the acoustic is part of the mix.

    Yesterday, I used it on a Godin Nylon ACS-SA and that can sound very convincing (but then, it's not an acoustic guitar).
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2021
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  14. Pine Apple Slim

    Pine Apple Slim Country Gent

    Dec 14, 2011
    North Alabama
    I’ve owned a D28 since 1985 and it’s never had a pickup in it. But its a bluegrass guitar primarily and I just didn’t need a pickup. When I needed a guitar with a pickup instead of sullying it I bought myself a little 000 Recording King and put a Baggs sound hole pickup in it.
    I agree recording an acoustic direct with a pickup sucks any way you look at it. You get a much better tone with even an SM57.
    The Box likes this.
  15. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    I have a Yamaha guitar that has a piezo and a mic inside the guitar.

    The mic doesn’t help with feedback on stage, but it did sound good at one time.

    I think the mic or mics were reattached with tape at some point, I got the guitar back from a tech and it was too bright or the balance was weird. I was told by Yamaha they were originally attached with mastic, and now they are not attached at all.
    The Box likes this.
  16. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    On many of my recordings I've played unplugged acoustic direct into a close placed mic. To get sufficient volume on the DAW you need a good to pro quality audio interface with high headroom powerful preamps.

    My Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 was just high quality enough to do a decent job but the pro-quality Focusrite Clarret+ 4pre I got last week does it easy with better results. I'll never bother with an acoustic amp again :)
    The Box and Bertotti like this.
  17. Howitt

    Howitt Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    Huntington Station, NY
    As long as you don't expect the amplified sound to equal the acoustic sound there's no reason you can't use a pickup of some sort.

    I put my first pickup in an acoustic in 1970. It was a small wooden Barcus-Berry that screwed onto the bridge, or could be mounted with putty.

    What I learned really fast was that having the pickup on the sound board itself, or under the bridge on the bridge plate, gave a much more pleasing result than what has become the 'standard': A saddle slot transducer. My feeling has always been that that's the last place you'd want it because it 'hears' the strings before the top of the guitar does, and I always had issues with it messing up my timing because it was so instantaneous.

    Here's a recording that I did on my The Wall Talks CD. It's called Rumble Strut. It's played with my Flammang L-40 plugged directly into a Fishman Loudbox Performer. The pickup is a Fishman SBT-E soundboard transducer mounted under the top, slightly southwest of the bridge plate. The amp was mic'd, but not the guitar. I'm using the minimum chorus effect and a bit of delay built into the amp. It's played in open C tuning.

    The result serves the song very well.

    Howard Emerson
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  18. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    The other stage option are the little mics that attach to the body.

    Some of them clamp from the top, some from the bottom or the tail.

    It also doesn’t help with feedback, so you’re still limited to movement on the stage, but at least the microphone remains in the right spot in respect to the guitar.

    This one is on the larger side, some are just bendy pencils.

    The Box likes this.
  19. JaredmacNeil90

    JaredmacNeil90 Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2021
    I don’t like a pizeo I find them shrill lol. I like the old pickup thst my tak has
  20. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    The Everly Brothers typically shared one mic for their vocals and guitars. For a volume boost, they just lifted their guitars up to the mic and strummed harder!

    I like the convenience of a wireless bug from my built in piezo to the DI on the floor in the choir section, no cables for the sopranos to trip over while they walk in. The PA sounds good enough. I do remember the days of running vocal and guitar mics to about three or four guitarists in the folk group when I was a kid, and before Takamines.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2021
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