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Old 05-18-2009, 09:53 AM
paulchevin paulchevin is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 300
Default Ehrlund Acoustic Pickup

I'm wondering whether anyone on the forums has come across the Ehrlund Acoustic Pickup, designed by Swedish sound engineer Goran Ehrlund:

Outwardly, the pickup looks like a triangular-shaped soundboard transducer and it operates in the same way, being attached to the soundboard by means of a soft, sticky (but non-marring) putty.

However, Goran Ehrlund describes his pickup as a "linear microphone" and it certainly has a wider and flatter frequency response than other transducers. I have found it to sound much closer to a microphone than any pickup I've used in the past.

As with all soundboard pickups (and microphones too, for that matter!), placement makes a huge difference to the tone you achieve, so it pays to spend plenty of time finding the spot on your guitar's soundboard which produces the best tonal balance. If you get placement wrong, you tend to end up with a very nasal sound due to excessive mid-frequencies coming through. On my Stonebridge grand auditorium, which I used for the demo below, I found that flush against the back/top corner of the bridge produced a pretty natural and balanced tone and on the other guitar I used in the past (a Johnson JO-17), I found a similar position worked quite well.

This is a recording of the pickup, with no added EQ, although I did use a high pass filter (60Hz) to remove a tiny bit of mains hum:

Obviously, a mono soundboard pickup can't hope to reproduce the full depth of a stereo pair of condenser microphones, but you can get surprisingly close by adding just a touch of compression, EQ and stereo reverb (for the reverb I used a room preset in the Perfect Space convolution reverb found in Sonar):

As a comparison, here is the same piece as recorded through my Zoom H4n's internal microphones:

A pickup of this type is unlikely to replace stereo mics for critical recordings, but in my opinion the Ehrlund pickup comes much closer to a miked up sound than any pickup I've used in the past.

I note that Goran Ehrlund himself originally designed this pickup to overcome problems recording acoustic instruments in a very small studio, where condenser microphones tend to capture unwanted room ambience. For home studio users who face this problem, or who can't seal out extraneous noise, this pickup might just be a viable option. Certainly, I would say that it could convincingly replace a mono miked acoustic guitar track as part of a multi-track project. I'd be interested to know what others think!

Goran has now released a preamp to pair with the pickup for live use. It incorporates a phase shifting switch to counteract feedback problems. My instincts tell me that feedback might well still be an issue in a band context with high stage volumes, but as a solo performer playing at lower volumes, I already use a Schatten Dualie soundboard transducer for my live performances, so I'm hopeful that I will be able to use this pickup successfully too - if I can, I reckon it should sound pretty good!

P.S. I have no association whatsoever with Goran Ehrlund, I just think his product deserves to be better known!

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