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-   -   Get guitar with pickups or add later? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=215896)

clintonb 05-06-2011 02:40 PM

Get guitar with pickups or add later?
 
Is it better to find a guitar that sounds good and then add a pickup system later (and hope it recreates the tone faithfully) or is it better to find a guitar that already has a pickup system installed (perhaps it mates well with the guitar).

SimplyLuo 05-06-2011 03:14 PM

I think it's better to add the pickups later, unless you are looking specifically for a stage guitar.
Some of the built-in pickups, such as the ones by Takamine and Cole Clark, sound very good. But then you have to factor the electronics into the price of the guitar as well. Usually, this means that you're getting less guitar for the money.
For the same price as a guitar with a built-in pickup, you can generally get a better guitar that doesn't have a pickup. This also allows you to choose your pickup system later on, replace it, mod it, etc. It's a lot more versatile. And with so many great pickups available on the market, you're bound to find something you like!

Jeff M 05-06-2011 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SimplyLuo (Post 2607844)
I think it's better to add the pickups later, unless you are looking specifically for a stage guitar.
Some of the built-in pickups, such as the ones by Takamine and Cole Clark, sound very good. But then you have to factor the electronics into the price of the guitar as well. Usually, this means that you're getting less guitar for the money.
For the same price as a guitar with a built-in pickup, you can generally get a better guitar that doesn't have a pickup. This also allows you to choose your pickup system later on, replace it, mod it, etc. It's a lot more versatile. And with so many great pickups available on the market, you're bound to find something you like!

Same preference myself. Same reasons.
And, if you aren't playing a guitar amplified, no need for one to begin with...until when/if you ever do start playing it amplified.

patticake 05-06-2011 03:23 PM

a lot of people prefer the convenience of not having to put the pickups in, but if you have a moderate budget (say under a grand), you can get a lot more guitar for your money if you buy a straight acoustic and add the pickup later.

Misifus 05-06-2011 03:24 PM

Get the guitar that has the tone you want, and add the pickups later. There are a number of good, reliable pickup systems available which will do an excellent job of reproducing the sound of your instrument. I'm a fan of the K&K Pure Western Mini, but there are many other good ones, too.

-Raf

Jeff M 05-06-2011 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by patticake (Post 2607853)
a lot of people prefer the convenience of not having to put the pickups in, but if you have a moderate budget (say under a grand), you can get a lot more guitar for your money if you buy a straight acoustic and add the pickup later.

That's why you take the guitar and system to the guitar tech to add it. ;)

patticake 05-06-2011 03:56 PM

a lot of players i know are perfectly happy with their factory pickups sound. just like with guitars, many never really notice or care about the difference and they appreciate the convenience.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeff M (Post 2607856)
That's why you take the guitar and system to the guitar tech to add it. ;)


dulcimerman62 05-06-2011 04:28 PM

Unless I buy a guitar that has a pickup already installed it has always been my preference to have the option/choice of what type of pickup I want to install in my guitars. I've used Pickup the World, B Band, Fishman, Baggs, and K&K over the years with all kinds of guitars and models of pickup. Factoring in price and installation is important and would NEVER use an external pickup that mounts to the topwood unless the guitar is very inexpensive since it can damage the finish.
A good tech or luthier can install just about any kind of pickup and I have come to prefer K&K Pure Western Mini with an endpin jack and LR Baggs Para DI external preamp box to shape the sound.

mannixgb 05-06-2011 05:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SimplyLuo (Post 2607844)
I think it's better to add the pickups later, unless you are looking specifically for a stage guitar.
Some of the built-in pickups, such as the ones by Takamine and Cole Clark, sound very good. But then you have to factor the electronics into the price of the guitar as well. Usually, this means that you're getting less guitar for the money.
For the same price as a guitar with a built-in pickup, you can generally get a better guitar that doesn't have a pickup. This also allows you to choose your pickup system later on, replace it, mod it, etc. It's a lot more versatile. And with so many great pickups available on the market, you're bound to find something you like!

I was about to type something very similar to this out myself.

Don't dismiss guitars with pickups in them, cause they might be the perfect guitar for you, but I would personally prefer the versatility to choose my own pickup or mod it later on.

donh 05-06-2011 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Misifus (Post 2607855)
Get the guitar that has the tone you want, and add the pickups later. There are a number of good, reliable pickup systems available which will do an excellent job of reproducing the sound of your instrument. I'm a fan of the K&K Pure Western Mini, but there are many other good ones, too.

-Raf

THIS!

:-)

epaul 05-06-2011 10:54 PM

I think the best answer here is "it all depends".

If you are buying a Taylor and you want to be plugging it in, it is foolish to dismiss getting a Taylor ES out of hand. What are you going to put in there that is handier, sounds as good, and is as trouble free?

A K&K? Maybe, maybe not. In some guitars and some situations, a K&K is the best pickup on the planet. But in other guitars and other situations, the ES is a better option. An ES will work in almost any situation and with any Taylor big or small. That is not true for a K&K.

So, how about the Anthem? Maybe. I love my Anthem. But, and don't quote me here, I have the niggling suspicion that the combination of an undersaddle element and the mic thing stuck under the bridge might have deadened my guitar some. I don't want to think that, but I sort of do. It was definitely deader when I got it back from the shop. I changed strings, and I think it came back to about where it had been. Maybe all the way, maybe not quite. I'm not sure. Anyway, there is no worry of this happening with the ES. The bridge and saddle are left alone, untouched, free to vibrate for all they are worth.

The M1? Maybe, if you like a fat, electric sound. If not, the ES wins.

In short, if you are going Taylor, the ES is a good system and you may not be able to improve upon it. Now add in the convenience factor of getting it all together in one package. And then consider that the prospective player may not be the type that likes to fart around with installing and jerking out a stream of different pickup combinations and messing around with one preamp after another.

The same can be said for the Martin Aura systems, the Yamaha ART systems, and any number of Takamine systems. In each one of those cases, the factory system may be the best all around option, especially if the person doesn't view installing and un-installing of pickups as part of the joy of guitar ownership.

If the quest is for the perfect sound, if the hunt itself is the pleasure, then grab your bow and silver horn and chase that elusive stag through the forest. But if you just want to buy a no hassle guitar that sounds good when you plug it in and works well in almost any situation, then just get a good factory system from Taylor, Martin, Yamaha, or Takamine.

(note, I have yet to do this myself, but the approach shouldn't be dismissed. It is a valid option, and, in some cases, maybe even the very best one.)

jseth 05-06-2011 11:19 PM

"So, how about the Anthem? Maybe. I love my Anthem. But, don't quote me here, I have the niggling suspicion the combination of an undersaddle element and the mic thing stuck under the bridge might have deadened the guitar some. I don't want to think that, but I sort of do. It was definitely deader when I got it back from the shop." ( from EPaul)

Funny, I just had the Anthem installed in both my acoustics; #35, my 6 string guitar, was built for me by Mark Angus in 1979... I have played the dickens out of that guitar for 32 years! And I had the same thought when I got her home and played her un-plugged.

Now, I am VERY familiar with the sound of this guitar - I'm lucky enough to have a sweet playing room at my house - mostly tile and glass, a weird trapezoidal shape, and it's PERFECT for guitar and voice! And when I play my old sweetie in that room, it is obvious that the sound has changed; actually a bit more "even" across the tonal spectrum, as #35 has a really HOT mid-range... and the volume is lower, as well; maybe only 5-10%, but it's noticeable to me.

I've had several techs/luthiers say that there is no discernable difference, but I sure hear SOMETHING... problem is, Mark had to add a shim to the saddle, as the Anthem Element is thinner than my old Fishman Matrix - so the action is a bit lower than usual. I don't know that the additional shim paired with the lower action, might have a lot to do with it...

I'm in the process of having James Goodall build me a guitar (as a 60th birthday present to myself! YAY!!!!), and James has a similar suspicion about the Anthem, although he has installed several in his guitars, as requested by the player. Both James and I are reluctant to "sully" the sound of my new guitar - so he's going to make a new saddle for my Angus, so we can see if it's the saddle/action/shim or the Anthem...

I'll let you know the findings...

All THAT said, I LOVE the Anthem! Very dynamic / touch responsive, a very pleasant acoustic sound... not as "direct" a tone as the UST I had been using, but airy-er and way more natural sounding. Took me a few hours before I got used to it, as the sound and response is SO MUCH DIFFERENT than the Fishman pick-up I had previously... but I really prefer it, already...

All of this is to say that finding a GREAT sounding acoustic guitar is a difficult chore; when you find one that really "speaks" to you, trust that you can always add electronics if you desire. As has been said, I would not discount ANY guitar, just because it has electronics - and I love the reply about Taylor, Yamaha and Takamine and their respective electronics. I've heard all of them sound very good, live... both unplugged and plugged!

I'm assuming that you already know that you'll be playing with the guitar plaugged in... if that isn't the case, I would just go ahead and try 'em until you find one for you!

Good luck! A great acoustic guitar is a joy for a lifetime...


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