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Drew

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Reply with quote  #1 
Basically, just what the title says.  I was using the Dearmond autoharp + FRAP setup on my Knutsen, and my live sound was killer.  Now that I have the Dyer I'm using FRAP + Barcus Berry magnetic (for the sub Basses) and my sound is really thin.

Everyone who performs live and actually likes the sound they are getting, please fill me in on the pickups you are using. I'm thinking of scrapping what I have and starting over with some kind of undersaddle/ internal mic setup.

Drew

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Frank

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Drew,

You may want to send Stephen Bennett a note.  You can reach him through his website http://www.harpguitar.com .  He uses Pick-up The World pick-ups and always sounds great to my ears.

Take care!

--Frank
Dennis_Mitchell

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Reply with quote  #3 
Yep....Bennett uses PUTW in his HG and Morris guitars, and Joe Morgan uses a PUTW in his HG as well. They have my vote, and my Sedgwick will have one someday as well. I've heard Stephen live many, many times. And his sound is always great. But then my guitars sound WAY better in his hands as they do in mine! So it could be the player.....

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Drew

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Reply with quote  #4 

Are we talking about their undersaddle or their transducer pickups, or perhaps a blend of both?


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Dennis_Mitchell

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Reply with quote  #5 
Sorry Drew,
   SB and Joe both use their dual transducer pick ups for the harp guitars. I'd be willing to bet Stephen's new Morris has the dual transducer also. (Inside joke, but Joe knows!) Another big part of Stephen's sound is using a mic in combination with the on board system.

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Joe_Morgan

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hey Gang,
Thought I'd toss in what I know about the pickups, which won't take much time.  SB does use a Pick-up the World in his hg.  It's actually a custom unit with 3 transducers.  It's like one of their #54 pickups (two elements) that's had a third, slightly larger transducer added.  Two of the transducers are located on the bass side of the bridgeplate and the third one is on the treble side.  The pickups are wired for mono output and he's running the signal through an L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI.  He's used different pre-amps through the years, but he's used the Baggs the last few times I've seen him.  He also uses a mic in front of the hg in addition to the pickup, which allows him to blend the sound a bit to fit the situation/room.

As Dennis said, I've got a PUTW in my Sedgwick.  Sounds kinda kinky, doesn't it?  Anyway, it's the #54 model with 2 elements that I mentioned above.  I went with it because that's what SB was using before he got the custom unit and, since he was having such good luck with his setup, I didn't see any sense in re-inventing the wheel.  I was actually using the Baggs Para Acoustic before SB because I'd been using it with my other guitars and was pleased with the results.  So, I stuck with it on the hg and it's worked well for me.  And, one of these days Dennis will get a PUTW #54 in his Sedgwick.  He would have had it by now, but his pickup found it's way into SB's Morris 6-string a few months back. Don't worry Dennis, I'll get you another one.

FWIW, I believe Paul Oorts has a K&K pickup in his Sedgwick.  I don't know the particular model or what kind of preamp he's using, but I know he's been pleased with the result.  Maybe Mr. Sedgwick could fill in some of those details.

With all that said, there are a bunch of folks using a bunch of different pickups and electronics and getting great results.  I hope some of them will jump in and tell us about their current equipment choices.
Drew

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_Morgan

With all that said, there are a bunch of folks using a bunch of different pickups and electronics and getting great results.  I hope some of them will jump in and tell us about their current equipment choices.


Yes, please! Thanks for all the input so far guys.  Also, if anybody could put up a sound clip of thier pickup on their HG it would be worth more than words.

Thanks so much so far

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nate

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Reply with quote  #8 

I use the K&K system in my harp guitar.  I recommended it to Dan La Voie a while back and he not only uses it but endorses the product.  Dieter (from K&K) will customize the pickup for harp guitar.


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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Seems like I've said this a lot of times before, but it's still true:

My favorite acoustic pickup is the RMC system (http://www.rmcpickup.com) , which I use for the main strings as well as the sub-bass harp strings.  The system consists of 6 separate piezo pickup elements, one for each string (assuming 6 main and 6 sub-basses I use two separate RMC"systems" in a harp guitar, perhaps other systems if there are treble harp strings and/or sympathetics), which get wired to 6 separate pins on a multi-pin output jack.  From the jack a cord goes to the RMC Polydrive, which acts as pre-amp and buffer, has simple tone controls, and can send out either a mono blend of all six strings or all six signals separate to a MIDI controller.  The pickups themselves are attached to little metal saddle, each fits in it's own slot in the bridge.  This is really a pain to set up initially, and has limitations in terms of ease of action and intonation adjustments.  But the amplified sound is loud, clean, not bothered by feedback and sounds very much like the instrument, very acoustic.  Bass RMC pickups have a larger saddle/pickup assembly for each string, and the Polydrive unit is optimized for bass frequencies.  The sub-basses I've set up with these sound stunning.  Also available for this system is a "break-out box" that enables you to to adjust volume of each string individually, which can be really handy in some cases.
Drawbacks are price of components, complexity of proper installation (making it very expensive to have someone install them for you) and a slight altering of the acoustic, non-amplified sound of the instrument.  This latter results in a slight loss of depth to the treble notes, but isn't all that bad; some folks find it to be an improvement in tone (not me, but I can live with it). 

I've also made custom undersaddle pickups out of coaxial piezo cable.  This is a very inexpensive industrial material that can be gotten through hobby-science sites on the WEB.  I couple it with the small Bartolini piezo pre-amp/buffer that is available through Allparts.  The cable material can be cut to any length, so works great for main strings or sub-bass or treble harp strings.  It fits under the saddle, and unfortunately requires a special channel to be routed in the bottom of the saddle slot for best fit and sound.  This set-up sounds especially great for treble or supertreble harp strings...I mean really great.  I find it to be acceptable for the mains and the basses, too, though not nearly as exciting as the RMCs can be.  Pluses are it's a pretty cheap, good sounding approach that will work for a wide range of string spreads, has good feedback resistance, doesn't alter the looks of the instrument.  Drawbacks are that you pretty much have to do it yourself or find someone willing and able to figure it out and do it for you; and it can dull the acoustic tone just a bit, especially if the cable isn't fit really well in it's special channel in the bottom of the saddle slot.

Both these systems sound better than the typical piezo sound of the past, which had a tendancy to be brittle and edgy, with a bit of a "bark" to it (or a "quack" as some say).

If you're into experimenting on your own, their are a lot of good possibilities using the piezo film pickups that are now available.  This is essentially the same material that Pick Up The World (PUTW) uses, and is available from several places on the web in a variety of sizes.  It can be stuck onto the instrument with double stick tape, and wired in multiples to get the sound from various parts of the top (or back or sides etc).  The elements are cheap, you need a good pre-amp (the Bartolini MPB mentioned above is a nice one; the Fishman AmpJack costs about the same, is a lot easier to use/install, and doesn't sound quite as nice as the Bartolini (it's available from Stewart MacDonald).  The piezo film material tends to be a bit lower in output than some piezos, and also a bit warmer and woodier sounding.  Also feeds back more easily.

I've been recently experimenting with rigid piezo-ceramic sensors that come in sheets or wafers, sometimes stacked up in layers.  This stuff has an amazingly high output...very, very hot.  Hot is good, since the less you need to turn things up, the less noise you'll enter into the circuit.  But being very hard and stiff, it tends to really favor the high overtones, and sounds really, really harsh and trebley, especially at louder volumes.  Still, it's great for some applications, and there may be ways to mediate the harshness....

Too much fun!

Fred

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Drew

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Reply with quote  #10 

Wow Fred, thanks for taking the time to give that response, so many great ideas. 


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FredCarlson

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks, Drew,

I realize that most HG players aren't likely to go to such great lengths to make their own custom pickups; but the technology is sure there, the parts are available and not that costly, and it can be fun and give better results than what's commercially available.

As for commercial pickups, I'm amazed to be able to say that I've heard the Fishman undersaddle pickups sound good (ordinarily I hate the sound of these!).  Undersaddle pickups that I've used and like include the B-Band, The Baggs Ribbon Transducer and the Highlander.  All three are capable of acceptable sound; for ease of installation I like the B-Band and the Baggs Ribbon; they both also probably have enough extra length of the sensor to work with a wider-than-normal string spacing such as one might need for sub-basses.  Installation is not too tricky.  The B-Band is not piezo and it seems to have a bit less "quack" in the trebles at high volumes than the others; also the element is very thin, so it's possible to install one and not have to lower the saddle/action afterwards.  Otherwise, I don't find the sound particularly better or worse than the Baggs.  I generally like Baggs's products (they make a violin pickup that has been the only good thing for violins for years). 

The systems with integrated mini-condenser microphones as part of them can sound very nice; the mic adds some of the air sound missing in the piezo.  But they tend to feed back really easily, and although they can sound pleasing they also sound like the inside of an instrument (unless they're mounted outside!), which is usually pretty different from the way the instrument actually sounds.

Magnetic pickups can also be cool; it's possible to get reasonably priced magnetic pickups of custom lengths.  But again, you get a sound that is pretty different than the acoustic sound of the instrument.

For all the playing around I've done with pickups, my feeling is still that the best way to get a good amplified sound from a HG (or any guitar) is a really high quality microphone (or two) out in front of the instrument (man, that's so old fashioned, I know!).

Fred

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Pierre_Lamour

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Reply with quote  #12 
Hi folks,

I've just installed two pickups for a customer.
The first is the SeymourDuncan acoustic tube (magnetic pickup in the sound hole) monted on a Guild jumbo guuitar and a I-Beam from Baggs on a Martin OM guitar.
I really like the Baggs sound quality, clear, well ballanced, good dynimic range and a kind of "air sound" and natural trebles!
The Duncan is quite different, a good melt between acoustic and magnetic sound. The closer to the string, the more "magnetic" and the farer from the string the more acoustic!! Feedback is hard to obtain! I try it on a mesa boogie studio amp at an unusual lever for acoustic guitar and then try with distortion and slight feedback appered!! It really was not the same with the Baggs ;-)
As conclusion, the duncan is great for folk/rock playing (with a pick) and the baggs for fingerstyle!

That's my feeling

I also try on a 15 strings lyre a custom home made 'pvdf ribond' pickup with a custom made preamp. It sounds good but it is prety delicate to make! It was 6" long and sticked under the sound board. But It doesn't have a so good balance (more bass than treble) so I think I have to make two pickups 3" long with two premap to have a beter balance.

peace !

Pierre


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JAMESTHOMPSON

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Reply with quote  #13 
i WOULD TEND TO AGREE WITH fRED FOR LITTLE EFFORT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN PICKUPS.

ON A GUITAR I BUILT RECENTLY I TRIED EXPERIMENTING WITH PIEZO CABLE.  I CHOSE THE MORE EXPENSIVE GRADE OF THE TWO THAT WERE AVAILBLE - NOT BEING SENSETIVE TO STATIC - THE CHEAPER OPTION IS OFTEN USED FOR SENSORS IN ALARM INSTALLATIONS SUCH AS ALONG THE TOPS OF FENCES ETC.

YOU CAN ALSO BUILD YOUR OWN BUFFER WITH VERY USABLE RESULTS FOR ONLY A COUPLE OF POUNDS (OR A FEW DOLLARS, IF YOU SHOP IN THE RIGHT PLACES. CIRCUITS ARE AVAIBLE WIDELY IF YOU SEARCH THE NET AND IN THEIR SIMPLEST FORM ONLY USE ONE TRANSSITOR AND A FEW PASSIVE COMPONENTS AND BATTERY CLIP...

I BUILD VALVE GEAR AND INTEND TO BUILD A DEDICATED  VALVE PREAMP FOR THE HARP GUITAR I AM CURRENTLY BUIDING.  THAT WILL BE USING THE PIEZO CABLE ONCE AGAIN. ALL IN I EXPECT IT TO WORK OUT AROUND THE SAME PRICE OR CHEAPER THAN BUYING AN OFF THE SHELF SYSTEM... WITH THE FLEXIBILITY OF CUSTOMIZING CIRCUITS TO SUIT MY TASTE.

BUILDING WITH VALVES IS FUN AND REWARDING, IF A LITTLE DANGEROUS TO THE INEXPERIENCED!

HOPE THIS ADDS SOMETHING

JAMES

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Stephen_W

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Reply with quote  #14 
Dieter from K&K custom built a six transducer set up for Frieda, my Noble HG. They are set up in two groups of three (one placed beneath each pair of strings on the bridge plate, three for the subs and three for the standards). Those two groups feed the signal to a stereo jack out put to a K&K Quantum Blender Pre Amp.
 
Three are their standard Mini Western transducers right off the shelf while the other three have been custom tweaked for the lower frequencies of the sub basses.
I opted not to put in an internal microphone. I have mics in both my Andrew White's and find them very particular as to what they will and will not work with. They don't seem to like the Bose Systems at all. Besides with so much going on inside a HG I didn't know where to best position one. I think like SB, if you want to fill out the sound with a microphone do it externally.
 
Those of you who heard me play Frieda during the Sunday morning Round Robin this past weekend at HGGV what did you think of the sound?
I know Stacey Hobbs was quite impressed.
 
Ruby: Andrew White custom ordered C body
Fast Eddie: Andrew White custom ordered F body
Frieda: Duane Noble custom built Harp Guitar

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Frank

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hi Stephen,

I would agree that the amplified sound of Frieda was excellent.  Internal mics do have their problems no matter what the instrument may be.  That is why guitarists like Peter Finger and Dougie MacLean have used external mics that can be clipped on to the edge of the sound hole.  I'm not sure what brand Dougie uses but I know Peter's is a Fishman.  The mic is mounted on a flexible stem to allow the player to find the best position for their needs.

Take care!

--Frank
rexjames

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Reply with quote  #16 
hey guys,
we're now discussing the pickup systems, and we really want to make the right choices. is there a pickup that has high output like the B-band UST, and will also give you a good "body slap" sound as well? or is the only way to achieve that with an exterior mic or K n K transducers blended? it would be nice to have only one output jack.
i know there has been a lot of discussion on this topic, but i don t see much about the "body slap" technique which is very popular, and how to achieve a good mix.
we are thinking you almost need 4 pickups,
-a magnetic in the sound hole for the guitar,
-a pair of B-bands under each saddle (guitar and sub),
-and transducers for body sound and slap technique.
what do y' all think?





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