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  #1  
Old 10-16-2021, 02:05 PM
awalsh awalsh is offline
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Default Contact piezo mic vs under saddle

Hello,
I recently saw a review for a new contact mic (cortado mkiii) in tape op magazine and was wondering how contact mics in general compare to undersaddle piezo pickups.
Is it basically the same sound? I remember they were used by Led Zeppelin live and the acoustic sound on how the west was won is pretty good.
Thanks for any knowledge.
Alex
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2021, 06:13 PM
YamahaGuy YamahaGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awalsh View Post
Hello,
I recently saw a review for a new contact mic (cortado mkiii) in tape op magazine and was wondering how contact mics in general compare to undersaddle piezo pickups.
Is it basically the same sound? I remember they were used by Led Zeppelin live and the acoustic sound on how the west was won is pretty good.
Thanks for any knowledge.
Alex
The Yamaha ART pickups, which have piezo elements in them, and are a contact pickup, sound phenomenal -- very natural. Not a hint of quack. Yamaha sandwiches the piezo material in several layers of varying material to dampen the sound.
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2021, 02:56 AM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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The main problem with all single point pickups is that they are "listening" to a very limited aspect of the instrument's overall sound.

I have a couple of AKG c411s and a Schertler dyn-G which work on a similar basis and, while they are significantly better than the old piezo bugs of years gone by they don't capture what they aren't physically attached to.

I once did sound for a small music festival where a country music duo's Ovation guitar packed up before the gig. I stuck a c411 behind the bridge to get them up and running and got the best sound I've ever heard from an Ovation. However, there were four very important factors at play:

* The guitarist was playing with bare fingertips which produced a very subtle top end attack followed by a separate body tone which was complex and changing but didn't compete with the attack. The gentle dynamics of the player/guitar/pickup interface suited the pickup because it wasn't overwhelmed by the energy of hard playing.

* The sound system was well set up with plenty of headroom before feedback and good monitoring so the guitarist wasn't tempted to play harder to be heard.

* The venue didn't present lots of structural issues which might have restricted the possibilities.

* The audience were attentive and appreciative, creating a good environment, both technical and artistic, where I could manipulate what was available into something very listenable.

In my experience had those factors not been in balance the finer points of the guitar sound would have been missed and an SBT or UST would have been more useful.
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Last edited by shufflebeat; 10-17-2021 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 10-17-2021, 07:20 AM
MarkF_48 MarkF_48 is offline
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I have one of these piezo contact pickups which is totally passive and not all that expensive to give a try to see if it does what you want.
Dean Markley 3000 Artist Transducer Acoustic Pickup

It sounds fairly OK once the sweet spot is found for placement on the guitar top and tweaked a bit with a decent preamp. For use with a guitar that has no pickups and you may not want to put a pickup in this is an easy solution.
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Old 10-17-2021, 08:40 AM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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Originally Posted by MarkF_48 View Post
I have one of these piezo contact pickups which is totally passive and not all that expensive to give a try to see if it does what you want.
Dean Markley 3000 Artist Transducer Acoustic Pickup
I may be wrong here but a quick glance at the description would suggest this is a very different beast altogether, much more like the piezo bugs I referred to previously.

Happy to be corrected.
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Old 10-17-2021, 08:57 AM
MarkF_48 MarkF_48 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shufflebeat View Post
I may be wrong here but a quick glance at the description would suggest this is a very different beast altogether, much more like the piezo bugs I referred to previously.

Happy to be corrected.
I believe they are similar (could be wrong, both being piezo mics, but the Zeppelin version includes the phantom powered preamp. Both mount with a putty.
This link refers to it as being a 'professional-grade piezo mic'(?)
https://www.perfectcircuit.com/zeppe...icrophone.html
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Old 11-05-2021, 05:04 AM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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Originally Posted by MarkF_48 View Post
I believe they are similar (could be wrong, both being piezo mics...
I may be getting unhelpfully deep into the semantics here, i.e. what is a mic vs what is a pickup, but the Dean Markley doesn't claim to be a mic anywhere on the page you link to.

The reviews of the Zep refer to use as a drum mic and a room mic which the Dean Markley wouldn't, if it is what I think it is.
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Old 11-05-2021, 05:54 AM
euraquilo euraquilo is offline
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There's also these - https://www.clingon.co/clingon-pickup - that I recently bought but haven't had a chance to try out yet. They use a magnet puttied to the underside of the top and then the actual pickup just clings to the top without any adhesive.

Check out this video (among many others).
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Old 11-05-2021, 07:56 AM
jricc jricc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by euraquilo View Post
There's also these - https://www.clingon.co/clingon-pickup - that I recently bought but haven't had a chance to try out yet. They use a magnet puttied to the underside of the top and then the actual pickup just clings to the top without any adhesive.

Check out this video (among many others).
To the OP, if you decide to go this route, I have one of these that I use on my tenor ukulele. They sound pretty good. Being passive, they don't have a lot of gain. So a preamp/eq is highly recommended, they need some shaping and gain. They are convenient and the mounting putty/magnet is concealed in the instrument, so you just pop them on.

Search Methos79 posts, he has a good demo of this pickup. Hope this helps.
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Last edited by jricc; 11-05-2021 at 10:06 AM.
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2021, 08:54 AM
MarkF_48 MarkF_48 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shufflebeat View Post
I may be getting unhelpfully deep into the semantics here, i.e. what is a mic vs what is a pickup, but the Dean Markley doesn't claim to be a mic anywhere on the page you link to.

The reviews of the Zep refer to use as a drum mic and a room mic which the Dean Markley wouldn't, if it is what I think it is.
A piezo element by itself generally would not be good at picking up sound waves in the air. Most 'microphones' have diaphragms that vibrate when a sound wave impinges on that diaphragm and the vibration is mechanically coupled to a transducer which creates the signal voltage. When a contact transducer/microphone is attached to something, the something it is attached to in a sense becomes the 'diaphragm' for that transducer and is able to transfer the vibrations it senses to the transducer.

It probably is preferable to call a piezo element a transducer, but loosely is referred to as mic at times.

In this review the wall became the 'diaphragm' for the Cortado contact microphone. Sound hitting the wall caused a vibration which was mechanically coupled to the contact mic.
"Wow I used it as a room mic, attached it to the wall and what I nice tight sound!"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_microphone
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/contact-microphone/
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  #11  
Old 11-05-2021, 12:24 PM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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Transducers would include mics, pickups, speakers - anything that transforms energy from one form to another, i.e., kinetic to electrical and vice versa.

I would suggest the difference between pickups and mics is, as you say, the inclusion of a diaphragm to sense kinetic energy in the air.

I don't know for sure that the Cortado has a diaphragm inside but the description of it as a microphone suggests it has. This would imply that, rather than the wall being a diaphragm, it works like a PZM where it directs and focuses energy towards the diaphragm in the Cortado but isn't directly connected to the energy-sensitive mechanism. The Dean Markley wouldn't work for that reason, walls don't make good soundboards.

Anyway, rapidly approaching rabbit hole territory so - apologies for diversion.
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Old 11-05-2021, 01:31 PM
MarkF_48 MarkF_48 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shufflebeat View Post
Transducers would include mics, pickups, speakers - anything that transforms energy from one form to another, i.e., kinetic to electrical and vice versa.

I would suggest the difference between pickups and mics is, as you say, the inclusion of a diaphragm to sense kinetic energy in the air.

I don't know for sure that the Cortado has a diaphragm inside but the description of it as a microphone suggests it has. This would imply that, rather than the wall being a diaphragm, it works like a PZM where it directs and focuses energy towards the diaphragm in the Cortado but isn't directly connected to the energy-sensitive mechanism. The Dean Markley wouldn't work for that reason, walls don't make good soundboards.

Anyway, rapidly approaching rabbit hole territory so - apologies for diversion.
I just went to the ZepplinDesignLabs site. They have a Cortado II Contact Mic DIY kit. The transducer used as a 'mic' is a piezo element as shown in one of the images. At a guess the Cortado III would be the same, but packaged ruggedly and with a better preamp.
The tin can or hula microphone could be interesting
https://zeppelindesignlabs.com/produ...o-contact-mic/

Overview of the Cortado III..........
https://youtu.be/h8P0mfeAokw?list=PL...5rY124FkHo3NSd

Few DIY kits and other stuff on the site worthy of bookmarking.

Yeah, kinda of a rabbit hole subject
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2021, 02:54 PM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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Well spotted, interesting read.

I've had a scan and don't really see what makes this a contact mic (like the Schertler Dyn series) as opposed to a simple piezo disc pickup, which I think it is.

The use of the tin can does make it a simple piezo disc attached to a vibrating surface, which then, if we've agreed a definition, makes it a mic.

This is a the Schertler Dyn AG which is related to my old Dyn G and describes the business end as a moving coil assembly (with a diaphragm) rather than a piezo element (without). Note the 280 ohm output impedance rather than the 1M ohm of something like the K&K.

Schertler AG6
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  #14  
Old 11-07-2021, 11:15 AM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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On a related note.

Comment on the Cortado on this podcast:

Project Studio Tes Break #41

Comments are based on demos off Zeppelin's own site so is likely not to be unbiased, however, Mike Senior is a serious guy so not to be disregarded lightly.
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