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Old 10-03-2013, 06:48 AM
OldGuitarNewbie OldGuitarNewbie is offline
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Default Acoustic guitar "pickup" questions

I have had Taylor and Martins that are Acoustic-Electric models. Usually they have an "active" pickup that must be turned ON, and can be used for tuning also. Their pre-amp controls allow setting the volume and tone sent to the guitar amplifier. But most of these have those "control panels" located on the top side of the guitar....and most look awful in my opinion.

The Eastman I recently bought has a Fishman Matrix VT pickup...it has a pre-amp, with nearly invisible volume and tone controls inside the "sound hole". It has no tuning ability or ON OFF switch - the later function is controlled by simply plugging/unplugging the cable into the amp.

My question: I don't expect much from AE guitars as I play them unplugged 98% of the time...I just rarely need the amplification when playing with others. So I really like the looks of that Fishman. I have NO experience with how it sounds amplified...I just brought the Eastman home and only verified the pickup "worked" at the dealer. I'd like to install something like the Fishman into other guitars, like my GS Mini and/or the Taylor 320.

What do you think? Is the Fishman at least as good as what's in my Martin and Takamine (see below)?
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:56 AM
Long Jon Long Jon is online now
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I'll probably get shot down here, but, I find the ES Go pup for the GS Mini is fine for occasional, amateur use....
Some people say they are too quiet. I wonder if they are setting them too far back in guitar body...
They have an adjustable bracket that allows you to position them up, almost touching strings, as you might on an electric .
Still blends in very discreetly visually. Taylor do sell a lead with a volume control on the jack....
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by OldGuitarNewbie View Post
My question: I don't expect much from AE guitars as I play them unplugged 98% of the time.
I assume what you mean is that you don't expect much from the amplification components of an AE guitar and that the unplugged tone is what is most important to you.

If that is correct, then I would expect that a non-AE guitar, you know, acoustic, is what you should be looking for to avoid any diminishing of the tone from the onboard electronics (Especially a UST) and use a removeable soundhole pickup on the rare occasions you do need to amplify. Or, a very non-invasive SBT like the K&K or McIntyre Leaf if you don't want to fool around with putting in and taking out a soundhole pup.

Steve
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Old 10-03-2013, 01:19 PM
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I assume what you mean is that you don't expect much from the amplification components of an AE guitar and that the unplugged tone is what is most important to you.

If that is correct, then I would expect that a non-AE guitar, you know, acoustic, is what you should be looking for to avoid any diminishing of the tone from the onboard electronics (Especially a UST) and use a removeable soundhole pickup on the rare occasions you do need to amplify. Or, a very non-invasive SBT like the K&K or McIntyre Leaf if you don't want to fool around with putting in and taking out a soundhole pup.

Steve
On the first paragraph, yes, that is correct.

I have two purely acoustic guitars (my two Taylors) and three AEs, the Martin Takamine and now the Eastman. (Good Lord, HOW did I get so many guitars?!) The sound of the AEs is fine for me....but then I rarely play them connected to an amp. I do use an acoustic guitar amp, which I understand is much better than just using the typical electric guitar amp, right?

I am less concerned about the pickup causing a degradation of the acoustic guitar's "sound" that I am with looks and convenience. For instance, the Tak has what I consider an "ugly" pickup control panel, but I dearly love how that guitar plays and how it sounds unplugged. The Martin's little knobs are much less "ugly", but still I prefer the clean lines of the Eastman. I'm far to lazy to move a pickup from guitar to guitar regardless of how great it sounds; I just don't use a pickup often enough. I do have a microphone that I COULD use to amp my acoustics, but then there are issues with that playing with 2-3 other guys.

What is "SBT" and "UST". Yes, the K&K (Pure Western ?) is one of the units that sounded like it would appeal to me. Simple and unobtrusive. Also the Fishman like what I have now in the Eastman. I am talking here about adding those to the GS Mini and/or Taylor 320.
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Old 10-03-2013, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by OldGuitarNewbie View Post
I am less concerned about the pickup causing a degradation of the acoustic guitar's "sound" that I am with looks and convenience.

What is "SBT" and "UST". Yes, the K&K (Pure Western ?) is one of the units that sounded like it would appeal to me. Simple and unobtrusive. Also the Fishman like what I have now in the Eastman. I am talking here about adding those to the GS Mini and/or Taylor 320.
Well, I agree that the so called "barn door" electronic control panels are exceedingly ugly and a K&K would show know evidence of its existence if you already have a 1/4" plug in your guitar. So, yeah.

BTW, sorry for the abreviations. SBT = sound board transducer and UST = Undersaddle transducer. The former attaches to the bridgeplate inside your gutiar and the latter is fitted between your saddle and your bridge.

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Old 10-04-2013, 05:54 AM
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Well, I agree that the so called "barn door" electronic control panels are exceedingly ugly and a K&K would show know evidence of its existence if you already have a 1/4" plug in your guitar. So, yeah.

BTW, sorry for the abreviations. SBT = sound board transducer and UST = Undersaddle transducer. The former attaches to the bridgeplate inside your gutiar and the latter is fitted between your saddle and your bridge.

Steve
Ah, can you give me a brief difference between the SBT pickups and UST pickups? Sounds like either would be good in my situation.....but what are the pros and cons of each? Sorry to be bugging you for info, but you started it!
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:16 AM
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Ah, can you give me a brief difference between the SBT pickups and UST pickups? Sounds like either would be good in my situation.....but what are the pros and cons of each?
UST - Pros: Very feedback resistant, great for loud band situations Con: (1)Generally do not sound natural at all. They are the source of the term "quack" in that they sound like a duck quacking. (2) because they are sandwiched between the saddle and the bridge, they can, and often do, negatively impact the the tone of your unplugged guitar.

SBT - Pros: (1) Can sound quite natural. (2) Many are very small and lightweight and have very little, if any, impact on the sound of your unplugged guitar. Cons: (1) are more susecptible to feedback, not recomended for loud band situations.

Hope this helps,
Steve
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by El Conquistador View Post
UST - Pros: Very feedback resistant, great for loud band situations Con: (1)Generally do not sound natural at all. They are the source of the term "quack" in that they sound like a duck quacking. (2) because they are sandwiched between the saddle and the bridge, they can, and often do, negatively impact the the tone of your unplugged guitar.

SBT - Pros: (1) Can sound quite natural. (2) Many are very small and lightweight and have very little, if any, impact on the sound of your unplugged guitar. Cons: (1) are more susecptible to feedback, not recomended for loud band situations.

Hope this helps,
Steve

Thanks, Steve, it's a SBT type for me.....I'd use it when playing with 2-3 other acoustic guitarists who use pickups USUALLY but not always.

Any idea if the Fishman Matrix VT on the Eastman is a SBT? I'm thinking the one on the Martin and Takamine is probably the same?
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:59 AM
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Any idea if the Fishman Matrix VT on the Eastman is a SBT? I'm thinking the one on the Martin and Takamine is probably the same?
I have no idea.

Steve
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:22 AM
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I've been through a lot of different acoustic pups over the years.

ALL of my acoustic stash is now equipped with the K&K Pure Mini pup. Accept no substitutes!
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:13 PM
mchalebk mchalebk is offline
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The Fishman Matrix is a UST. The Martin and Takamine most likely have USTs as well. Probably 95+% of acoustics that come with a factory pickup use a UST.
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:24 PM
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The Fishman Matrix is a UST. The Martin and Takamine most likely have USTs as well. Probably 95+% of acoustics that come with a factory pickup use a UST.
true.

Taylors have an SBT as part of the system in the full ES (it also has a magnetic pickup under the fingerboard), the Cole Clark system has a sort of SBT mixed with a UST, and a few of the higher end Gibsons come with the Trance system which is an SBT. I don't know of any other factory guitars that come with an SBT.

On higher end guitars, they sometimes mix something else with a UST, often an internal microphone or an artificial microphone via digital modeling in the case of Aura equipped guitars.

Because the UST style pickups are so plentiful, many folk have come to associate their sound with what an amplified acoustic is supposed to sound like. Each company that makes USTs has its own sound so you may find you prefer one over the others. Baggs, Fishman, B-Band, Highlander, Pickup the World. Are the most common manufacturers in the US. As for SBT's K&K are most popular. Other manufacturers are JJB, McIntyre, Dazzo, and Trance. There are two other ways to amplify an acoustic - microphones (internal to the guitar or external) and magnetic pickups. Each style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Many folk mix two styles to get the best of both. My guitars have a magnetic pickup and an SBT.

Finally, I would say that virtually all acoustic pickups sound better with a preamp. They do come in a variety of forms - internal which may require a hole in the side and offer lots of control or many which offer no controls at all or only a volume at the soundhole, or external which also run from simple to extremely complex.

When you purchase a guitar with an OEM pickup system, you are allowing them to decide what is best for you. Sometimes they're right, and sometimes not. I almost always add an aftermarket system to my guitars.

Have fun.
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:54 AM
OldGuitarNewbie OldGuitarNewbie is offline
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true.

Taylors have an SBT as part of the system in the full ES (it also has a magnetic pickup under the fingerboard), the Cole Clark system has a sort of SBT mixed with a UST, and a few of the higher end Gibsons come with the Trance system which is an SBT. I don't know of any other factory guitars that come with an SBT.

On higher end guitars, they sometimes mix something else with a UST, often an internal microphone or an artificial microphone via digital modeling in the case of Aura equipped guitars.

Because the UST style pickups are so plentiful, many folk have come to associate their sound with what an amplified acoustic is supposed to sound like. Each company that makes USTs has its own sound so you may find you prefer one over the others. Baggs, Fishman, B-Band, Highlander, Pickup the World. Are the most common manufacturers in the US. As for SBT's K&K are most popular. Other manufacturers are JJB, McIntyre, Dazzo, and Trance. There are two other ways to amplify an acoustic - microphones (internal to the guitar or external) and magnetic pickups. Each style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Many folk mix two styles to get the best of both. My guitars have a magnetic pickup and an SBT.

Finally, I would say that virtually all acoustic pickups sound better with a preamp. They do come in a variety of forms - internal which may require a hole in the side and offer lots of control or many which offer no controls at all or only a volume at the soundhole, or external which also run from simple to extremely complex.

When you purchase a guitar with an OEM pickup system, you are allowing them to decide what is best for you. Sometimes they're right, and sometimes not. I almost always add an aftermarket system to my guitars.

Have fun.
This wasn't directed to me, but contains much good info for me. Thanks to you and also Steve; you're been a quickie course in Acoustic Guitar Pickups. <g> Perhaps lesson two will be Active vs Passive Pickups - Which is best for You?

I believe the SBT style is what I'd want, so I'm keeping K&K's offerings near the top of my list. A previous Taylor or two (I buy/sell/trade a LOT) used the Taylor ES system, and it sounded fine.....but so do my Tak and Martin for the very limited use I make of them. So I'm not so much wed to one system over the other. But I DO like the clean looks of the Fishman in my new Eastern...keep in mind 've never played it plugged in.

I would probably have a dealer install whatever I get, and I understand that installation will require the 1/4 inch "plug" installed somewhere...most AE's seem to have them at the bottom of the guitar, which is fine with me.

I believe my uke's with pickups have been UST; like the Pono I have now. It uses Pono's passive pickup, which is one instrument that sounds as good as, if not better, amplified. It lacks the volume/tone controls of course, but the amp seems to give me enough adjustment, even if not as convenient as having controls on the instrument. For that reason I'd like my guitar pickups to be "active" which I think mine are since they have volume and tone controls on the instrument, right?

Of course, we haven't even started a decision on uke/guitar "acoustic guitar" amplifiers! Talk about opening a can of worms........but I do have questions on those and I might open a new thread so I can continue to educate myself.

Thanks again y'all.

PS - I spend about half the year in Pensacola Florida at an RV park. My wife and I, and several thousand other folk are rejoicing this morning.....looks like Ms Karen has decided to NOT become a hurricane, and she will be simply "depressed".
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Eastman AC 122 CE
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Taylor 320 (LR Baggs Lyric)
Pono ATDC-Ce (tenor ukulele) gCEA
Oscar Schmidt OU53 (baritone ukulele)
Gold Tone model "BUT" (tenor banjo ukulele) gCEA
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Old 10-05-2013, 06:54 AM
OldGuitarNewbie OldGuitarNewbie is offline
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I just found this link which compares the K&K Mini to the Fishman Infinity pickups....I believe it shows very well the difference between the two.

Based on what I heard, the K&M DOES seem to be the one I want. I would miss the vol/tone controls, but like I said earlier, I'm doing that now with my Pono uke.
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Gold Tone model "BUT" (tenor banjo ukulele) gCEA
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