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Old 09-27-2017, 04:03 PM
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James May James May is offline
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Default new technology: the Ultra Tonic Pickup

First a little background.

Under saddle transducers (USTs) have lots more feedback immunity than sound board transducers (SBTs). 10dB or more gain before feedback, as I measure it, with common USTs vs. K&K pure minis for example. SBTs that are not mounted on the bridge plate are even worse.

There are some folks who need to play really loud, and for those folks there are some USTs that have even more feedback immunity by special arrangement of the 6 piezo elements: 2 or 3 of the 6 elements are electrically out of phase with the rest. Some examples are RMC, Barbera, certain Alvarez guitars. The reason this helps is that the resonance modes of the top plate will excite the pickup elements about equally, but out-of-phase elements will tend to cancel this signal electrically.

All this got me to thinking: why can’t someone (i.e. me) design a SBT with the same out-of-phase feedback cancelling idea that USTs use, but with multiple sensors on the sound board?

I am pleased to announce the Ultra Tonic Pickup. Patent pending.

How does it sound? It’s similar to the most popular sound board transducer, the K&K Pure Mini, a great sounding pickup. But the Ultra Tonic goes further: it cleans up the low end mud and as a result sounds a bit clearer and crisper on top as well. It has a lot more feedback immunity – typically at least 10dB more at the fundamental chamber resonance of 100-110Hz.

I am offering this for sale under my company James May Engineering. The website is up with lots more info.

Oh and here’s a goodie: there are two versions, the full Ultra Tonic Pickup for those starting from scratch, and the Ultra Tonic Conversion Kit that turns your K&K Pure Mini into an Ultra Tonic Pickup.

NOTE: The Ultra Tonic Pickup will only work on acoustic guitars that have a bridge plate. Most nylon string guitars do not have a bridge plate and therefore are not candidates for this technology. Sorry.

Here are some demo tracks comparing the K&K Pure Mini to the Ultra Tonic Pickup, with and without a ToneDexter. The sequence for all of them is:
1st section: K&K
2nd section: K&K plus ToneDexter
3rd section: Ultra Tonic Pickup (with at least 10dB more feedback immunity)
4th section: Ultra Tonic plus ToneDexter

All were recorded direct, with no processing or EQ.

Comments welcome.





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James May
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James May Engineering
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Last edited by Kerbie; 09-27-2017 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Edited
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Old 10-07-2017, 07:44 AM
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martingitdave martingitdave is offline
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James, this is very promising. I have three K&K equipped guitars. Do you recommend this mod only for players who need the extra 10dB before feedback? Or, do you think there are multiple tonal benefits?
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Old 10-07-2017, 02:03 PM
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James May James May is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martingitdave View Post
James, this is very promising. I have three K&K equipped guitars. Do you recommend this mod only for players who need the extra 10dB before feedback? Or, do you think there are multiple tonal benefits?
Thanks for the question.

I will say that all of my beta testers, and my first paying customers have commented on how much clearer the low end sounds with the Ultra Tonic. I am convinced that this a byproduct of reducing the top plate resonances, which seem to be clouding things up down there.

So yes, I would recommend it on the merits of the sonic improvement alone, even if you don't need to play louder. I am of coursed biased, so hopefully there will be some independent verification of this published soon.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:18 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
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JM, that sounds like you're onto something.
I'll check your site out when I get home from work.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:23 PM
loco gringo loco gringo is offline
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I am interested in trying this pick up.

It would be nice to be able to test whether or not the 4th disc for the high e was needed before super gluing it in place. Any thoughts on whether you could use tape to determine if you needed the 4th disc before gluing it?

Or maybe install three and see if the high e is weak, then install the 4th disc if needed? I might be worried that it would be hard to decide if you can't hear comparison with and without.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:10 AM
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James May James May is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loco gringo View Post
I am interested in trying this pick up.

It would be nice to be able to test whether or not the 4th disc for the high e was needed before super gluing it in place. Any thoughts on whether you could use tape to determine if you needed the 4th disc before gluing it?

Or maybe install three and see if the high e is weak, then install the 4th disc if needed? I might be worried that it would be hard to decide if you can't hear comparison with and without.
Great question. You could certainly use tape to assess. My experience is that tape does not degrade or reduce the sound level very much at all (which is contrary to the commonly expressed idea).

Over the years, I had a lot of installs (from my guitar tech) where I started with 3 K&K discs, then evaluated by careful listening to see if I felt the high E was weaker. In every case it was immediately obvious that is was weak (for 7 or so guitars). Then we added a fourth disc and all was well. That's why I decided to add the fourth disc right off the bat to the Ultra Tonic.

I have heard of folks being satisfied with three, both friends and through AGF, but I never personally experienced it. So that's why I wrote the instruction guide suggesting folks evaluate before committing to 4.
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:34 PM
loco gringo loco gringo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James May View Post
Great question. You could certainly use tape to assess. My experience is that tape does not degrade or reduce the sound level very much at all (which is contrary to the commonly expressed idea).

Over the years, I had a lot of installs (from my guitar tech) where I started with 3 K&K discs, then evaluated by careful listening to see if I felt the high E was weaker. In every case it was immediately obvious that is was weak (for 7 or so guitars). Then we added a fourth disc and all was well. That's why I decided to add the fourth disc right off the bat to the Ultra Tonic.

I have heard of folks being satisfied with three, both friends and through AGF, but I never personally experienced it. So that's why I wrote the instruction guide suggesting folks evaluate before committing to 4.
Thanks for the reply. I have never been a fan of gluing the K & K discs in a guitar. I would likely have them in more guitars if it wasn't for the glue in installation.

Have you tried your new pick up system with a tape installation, no glue? I think if you could provide a working tape only installation, people would be interested. I know I would, even if it required a Tone Dexter to strengthen, or clean up, or whatever you want to call it, the pickup system.

If I wanted to try it, do you have a tape you would recommend?
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