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guitarwebguy 07-29-2019 11:07 PM

Suggestions for a banjo pickup
I have a Deering 12 string banjo that has a 1980ís vintage Barcus Berry pickup installed under the head that has failed, so Iíd like to replace it but I know nothing about amplifying a banjo so I am open to suggestions, Thanks in advance

Wade Hampton 07-30-2019 03:44 AM

K&K makes a two piezo banjo pickup that sounds pretty good; I have one mounted in my Deering B6 guitar-banjo:

Those are not photos of my instruments, but that's what the K&K banjo pickup looks like.

Something I discovered to my dismay when I first started playing five string banjo onstage is that banjos are actually quite difficult to mic accurately. You'd think the opposite, that they're so loud that mics will pick them right up, but in reality if you move so much as a quarter inch away from the mic it totally changes the sound.

I had always thought that bluegrass banjoplayers were undemonstrative dorks, frankly, the way they all stood stock still while playing onstage, but the truth is that they HAVE to stand stock still to get a decent sound from their instruments through an instrument mic. But if you put a K&K pickup on it, you can use both the pickup and the stage instrument mic - what I do is stay a little bit away from the mic when I'm singing, then step in closer when I play an instrumental solo.

I have a special order LR Baggs banjo pickup on my five string, but I recommend the K&K over that for no other reason than they're more easily available. I had to wait a little bit while Baggs made a banjo pickup for me, but the K&K's are a regular stock item.

Both sound about the same, both work pretty well.

Hope this helps.

Wade Hampton Miller

guitarwebguy 07-30-2019 11:14 PM

Wade, Do you find that you need a preamp or does it work just fine going into an amp or PA

Wade Hampton 07-31-2019 04:15 AM

The K&K pickups are hot enough that you can plug them straight into the board or into an amp without running them through a preamp first. And Iíve done that. But they sound better if you use a good preamp, one that allows you to shape the tone a bit.


Steve DeRosa 07-31-2019 06:56 AM

The Barcus-Berry Outsider is still in production - just the right size to stick on the underside of the head directly under the bridge feet, much like a piezo UST on a flattop guitar (mutes the acoustic tone a bit, which I find useful in certain situations - YMMV); doesn't need a preamp either - probably the world's worst guitar pickup, but I've been using it as my go-to banjo pickup for over 25 years with excellent results...

roylor4 07-31-2019 08:14 AM

JJB makes a banjo pickup as does Schatten.

I installed the JJB in my wife's Deering Goodtime resonator banjo and the Schatten in her openback Goldtone.

The Schatten is hotter and more feedback resistant than the JJB. The beauty (or ugliness, however you look at it) of both these pickups is that they mount on the brackets and do not require drilling. Both are quick installs.

As Wade said about the K&K - the Schatten would probably be okay straight in, the JJB would not IMHO. Both benefit greatly from an external preamp.

guitarwebguy 07-31-2019 02:27 PM

Since all of my instruments go through a Grace Design Felix, Iím surmising that would be enough. Since Iíd have to have Baggs custom make a 12 string bridge pickup Iíll be looking into the other great suggestions everyone made. Thanks!

guitarman68 08-13-2019 11:03 AM

I use Pickuptheworld-pickups in all my banjo instruments (5-string, Tenor, Uke) and like them a lot. Easy installation, no artefacts. Premp required, but a simple Boss-tuner pedal or any Boss pedal does the job. For simple I recommend BOSS GE7, if money is no issue Grace Felix.
Tried K&K and Schatten - both nice. Settled on the PUTW (now OTSS).

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