Piezo in an Electromatic Center Block Jr...

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by GlenP, May 24, 2021.

  1. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Well, this is out of my hands now, all the parts are in and The Kingfisher is in the shop. They have worked with these before on larger guitars with easier access, this installation may be a challenge due to the smaller size and smaller f-holes, so everything will have to fit through the bridge pickup route and into the hollow wings. The LR Baggs Control-X pot has a little circuit board attached to it, so it might be a challenge to thread that in place through the existing wire way. This job may take them a while, I will post updates.

    Of course all the wiring instructions from LR Baggs for their piezo system are oriented towards Fender or Gibson wiring, not exactly applicable to Gretsch, but I think they can figure it out. Here is my concept of how the final controls will be incorporated. Not sure if there will be any major obstacles, some of the components are pre-wired and would fit fine in a single control pocket, but I want to relocate their mini-toggle in place of the original pickup selector switch, which will be replaced with a pickup Alpha MN Taper Panner/Blend type of pot. Both the Neck and Bridge volumes will be replaced with blend pots, one for the Piezo/Mag blend and the other with the Mag Neck/Bridge blend pot. Crazy enough, it just might work!

    Why? Well, I always wanted a piezo in one of my electrics, and this just seems like the right one suited for the job. And I was really inspired to act on this now by another NGD post (a really awesome PRS SE Piezo) by @LivingMyDream, so rather than living vicariously through his dream, I am making my dream a reality!

    Screen Shot 2021-05-24 at 7.44.19 PM.png
     
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  2. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Friend of Fred

    All the best to you, and to those working to make your dream come true, Glen!
     
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  3. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    I had a Ghost piezo system put into a Warmoth Starcaster body. Less complicated than the Baggs system but not all the features. Turned out well. Good luck with your project. The guy who did my work said if there hadn’t been access from the back he might not have agreed to do it. He had no interest in fishing things through the f holes.
     
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  4. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Well, the ball is back in my court, I guess. The shop was quoting something like $1500 for this installation job, the guitar was half that much. Looks like I will be doing this one myself. I have to clean off my workbench and dig out my soldering iron. Problem is, you void the warranty if you self-install this piezo system. Kind of a catch-22, you would not want to modify a more valuable instrument, and you would not want to spend the money on installation on an inexpensive instrument, so who would ever have one of these professionally installed? I guess if you have a Strat with a removeable pickguard and access to the controls then the job is much easier than working on a small center-block guitar with f-holes too small to fit anything through them. So this will be a fun project, but might take a while.
     
  5. I put one of those on my G5034tft. Didnt add the blend knob, so its a jack for the mag pickups and one for the piezo. I can tell you that with acoustic strings, and through a fishman preamp its passable as a amplified acoustic. But then the mag pickups dont like the bronze acoustic strings, so the high E and B come out strong and the rest sound a bit muted. When i switched to electric strings, even with the preamp , it just didnt sound as acoustic like. Close, but not convincing enough for me. Even with a would electric G string, which helps. So it was a compromise. Currently i have the acoustic strings on it and deal with it. I tried for a long time to get that guitar to sound acoustic with the bigsby. But there seems to always be a trade off. The closest i got to hassle free electric and acoustic sounds from one axe was the fender Stratocoustic. Which has decent acoustic sounds, and a few bridge electric sounds, but no bigsby. Always a trade off. Godin makes some as well, but no bigsby.


    Best of luck.
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I guess I don't expect it to be a total acoustic substitute, but I do like the blend of the piezeo with the magnetic for a bit of the acoustic percussive aspect when playing fingerstyle stuff. I think Lindsey Buckingham played with some kind of UST piezo blended with a humbucker equipped guitar, for example.
     
  7. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Thanks! one thing I was concerned about is using the Bigsby over the piezo saddles. Do you get any strange noises due to the strings sliding over the saddles, or is the acoustic signal just so much louder than any of that potential noise?
     
  8. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Step one, remove everything but the ground wire...

    3013188E-BF2F-459E-A598-B6B91EFD1983.jpeg
     
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  9. No bigsby noises. I wish I knew how to post short videos, but I’m dumb to those things. Dont have a you tube account or i would show ya. It sounds like a acoustic guitar thats plugged in, like moist under smaller pickups. Some amps/ preamps make the sound warmer. Doesnt work well through a regular guitar amp. But my bose, or my schertler amp make it sound passable. Not liked a miked up Martin, but a gig able guitar.
     
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  10. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    With a typical acoustic guitar piezo system, the output can be much hotter than a passive magnetic pickup, but this Control-X pre-amp has a trim pot on the board so you can dial down the piezo level to match the mag level as a one-time adjustment when you install it.

    First issue to deal with, the pickup selector switch was 1/2" dia, but this mini toggle is 1/4" and I can't seem to find any DPDT 3-position switches in a gold finish and larger size, but I am still looking. I may have to slice a dowel and fill that 1/2" hole, then drill a 1/4" in the middle, and just use a larger washer around the mini toggle knob to cover up the dowel. Still thinking about how to deal with that. I could make a little round name plate with "MAG/MIX/PIEZO" on it instead of "RHYTHM/LEAD" maybe.
     
  11. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    digital image mockup, maybe something to sort of match the pickguard...or I could just use a larger gold washer on the outside to cover up the dowel filled original hole dia.

    Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 1.23.45 PM.png

    seems like a plate like that would be appropriate on the Rich Robinson signature Gretsch if it had a piezo pickup, but his would say "MAG/PIE" on it.
     
  12. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Maybe a cool magnet symbol for mag and a crystal or diamond symbol for piezo, like Oramge Amps? For some reason the words always bugged me on les Paul's, it's just a pickup switch, it doesn't need a manual lol. But that's just me. And I would try white lettering on the gold
     
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  13. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I like the idea of little icons instead, maybe a horseshoe and a diamond.
     
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  14. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    an icon concept, borrowing from Gretsch headstock logos...

    Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.29.02 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.34.56 PM.png

    but I am kind of leaning to just using a gold flat washer with nothing on it, just fun to come up with some ideas like this.
     
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  15. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I kind of like them both, just hard to size it right where you can still read the plate but not have it so large it overshadows the top. I am going to have my local trophy shop make a couple of variations, not as large as the Les Paul switch plate, but maybe more in proportion to the mini toggle. I have a 1/2” dowel ready to fill the old hole, but am waiting for my new gold plated switch to arrive to make sure everything fits as expected before proceeding. The LR Baggs bridge comes in gold, but their pre-wired jack and toggle are only in chrome, so I am swapping those out for gold versions.
     
  16. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    They look cool! For a small figure, maybe simpler symbols, more caricatures. I am curious what it would look like with white drawing on gold.
     
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  17. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    E.g. but in white.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Screen Shot 2021-05-28 at 4.05.00 PM.png

    I actually traced the horseshoe shape and the diamond from pictures of different Gretsch headstocks, so kind of consistent with the overall Gretsch motif.

    The trophy shop doesn’t have those colors as an option, I am going for a gold with black engraving, it seems to match fairly well, and the engraving stands out well enough. These are like plastic plates like a pickguard material, he could not cut the metal plate in a round shape, that would have been cool though.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
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  19. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I guess I was a little surprised that all the pots were B500K, those are linear taper, for the neck and bridge vol, and the master vol with treble bleed and tone pot. I guess I was expecting a log pot for at least one of them. I think I have log pots in my Tele. Anyway, no big deal, just surprised. I am removing the neck and bridge vol pots and replacing them with one MN linear taper blend pot, but will keep the existing master volume and tone pots. Still waiting on the gold switch and jack to arrive to start wiring up the new harness.
     
  20. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    150267B0-B64B-4779-AB45-3E017F28D3C5.jpeg My gold mini toggle DPDT switch arrived. This will match the Gretsch gold hardware better. And I am going to have to run a much longer wire to go from the lower bout knobs by the bridge to the upper bout near the neck. The new switch plate should be done later this week. If it looks too cheesy I can still opt to leave it off and just touch up paint the filled hole or use a washer just big enough. But I might like the plate with the icons on it.

    Also I found a white battery box, it comes from
    Dunlop and is meant for a pedal enclosure, but it might match better than the typical black battery boxes for guitars.
     
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