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  #16  
Old 08-15-2014, 04:50 PM
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ljguitar ljguitar is offline
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Hi Pheof…

I used Baggs pickups over the years, and by far my least favorite in my guitars and the instruments of others is the Element. It is gutless, and muddy (anemic) even when using high end preamplifiers.

Like several others who have posted in this thread, in a search for natural and full sounding acoustic rigs, I've gone to K&K dual source (Pure mini plus internal mics).

I play them through everything from small acoustic amplifiers to high powered Front of House systems, even with the mic running hotter than the pickup without issue and producing very natural acoustic sound.

If it's important that your pickup be in the saddle slot, and be a Baggs, then I recommend the LRBaggs LB-6 full saddle, which is 6 piezo elements embedded in a brass blank and then topped with man-made saddle material.

I used one in a dual source rig for about 7 years, and it was nearly as full and fat as the K&K Pure Mini. It was in my guitar for 11 years before I replaced it (4 years as only the LB-6 then added the Baggs preamp and internal mic).





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  #17  
Old 08-15-2014, 05:51 PM
McShepherd McShepherd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie Voltaire View Post
I found the Element that came in my J-35 to exhibit the worst characteristics of UST pickups: it was quacky and plastic-sounding.
+1 to This.

Bought the J-45 because, after 10 years, I gave up on improving the playability of my Alvarez. The Gibby plays great, but the Baggs UST sounds horrible to my ears, which were accustomed to JJB transducers in the old axe.

I'm waiting for a Miniflex model 2 to arrive this weekend, which I hope to use as a substitute until I can have another SBT set (will probably try the new BGM Elevation pickups) installed by the local warranty-approved shop.
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  #18  
Old 04-12-2015, 10:41 AM
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Ed-in-Ohio Ed-in-Ohio is offline
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I'm bumping this thread to get some opinions...

I am a (mostly) solo Americana singer/songwriter. My playing is primarily moderate strumming with some fingerpicking. I've recently picked-up a new J-45 Standard, and it clearly has the acoustic potential to be my #1 guitar (and my one and only performing guitar - It would be really nice to take just one guitar to gigs). Feedback is not an issue for me. Besides the guitar my stage set-up is one Heil PR-22 mic (for vox & harmonica).

I have K&K Pure Minis in three of my other guitars, and a Fishman NEO-D2 soundhole pickup in one other guitar (Martin 000-15), and I frankly think all those guitars sound better (more natural) amplified than the J-45.

I play everything through a Baggs Para DI and then either into my Carvin AG200 or DI'ed into a PA.

So, I considering a lot of options of how to address the Active Element's deficiencies for my application. Here are some I'm considering (ranked from less invasive/expensive to most invasive/expensive):

1. Keep everything "as is" for the time being, and continue to experiment with different setting on the Para DI (I've actually tweaked the sound to be fairly "quackless", but it's still more colored than I would like).

2. Add a second microphone to my rig/system and either blend that in with the Element, or don't use the Element at all. I play sitting, so this would be fairly doable. The downside, of course, would be the added gear and set-up. I'm a Heil guy, so the mic would likely be a Heil. Thoughts? Would it be worth the time and effort to blend the Element and the mic, or should I just give up on the Element if I go this route?

3. Upgrade my preamp to the Baggs Venue. Would this be a substantial upgrade from the Para DI in terms of the degree of tone coloration?

4. Upgrade my preamp to the Fishman Aura 16. I've read that this works very well with the Active Element, but I'd hate to lose the DI, and don't like that this wouldn't work with my non Dread guitars.

5. Upgrade my preamp to the Fishman Aura Spectrum. How will this sound with the J-45, and with my other guitars equipped with the K&K minis? This thing is expensive...Is it a reasonable value for my situation?

6. Upgrade the pickup in my J-45 to the Baggs Lyric or Anthem SL. Opinions on these for my situation? Will the current end pin hole in the J-45 work with the jacks for these? Will the installation of these be fairly non-invasive?

7. Upgrade to some other pickup all together.

So, I'd like opinions on all these options. I guess my initial inclination is to go in baby steps instead of making huge changes and modifications at once. So, right now I'm leaning toward adding a second stage mic to either replace or blend with the Element.
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Last edited by Ed-in-Ohio; 04-12-2015 at 11:06 AM.
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  #19  
Old 12-12-2018, 04:02 PM
billyboy1962 billyboy1962 is offline
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I replaced the Para DI with the Venue system recently and the improvement is significant. My Breedlove C25 with the Element pu sounds lovely XLRd from the Venue into the PA. Rich and vibrant with little colouration and no piezo quack or hollow sound. Ive had nothing but compliments on my sound. The main difference between the Para and the Venue are the EQ options. Pretty hard to go wrong in my experience

My two pennies, upgrade to the Venue
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  #20  
Old 12-12-2018, 04:27 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I've had a couple of Elements installed in acoustic guitars and found them OK, but much prefer the K&K Pure Mini, of which I've done a half dozen installs in my own and others guitars.

I think that they can be problematic on guitars that don't preset a strong coupling and high string energy through the bridge saddle. I've used them in 2 electric short scale bass guitars and they have worked really well in that application.

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  #21  
Old 12-14-2018, 09:07 PM
MrErikJ MrErikJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed-in-Ohio View Post
I'm bumping this thread to get some opinions...

I am a (mostly) solo Americana singer/songwriter. My playing is primarily moderate strumming with some fingerpicking. I've recently picked-up a new J-45 Standard, and it clearly has the acoustic potential to be my #1 guitar (and my one and only performing guitar - It would be really nice to take just one guitar to gigs). Feedback is not an issue for me. Besides the guitar my stage set-up is one Heil PR-22 mic (for vox & harmonica).

I have K&K Pure Minis in three of my other guitars, and a Fishman NEO-D2 soundhole pickup in one other guitar (Martin 000-15), and I frankly think all those guitars sound better (more natural) amplified than the J-45.

I play everything through a Baggs Para DI and then either into my Carvin AG200 or DI'ed into a PA.

So, I considering a lot of options of how to address the Active Element's deficiencies for my application. Here are some I'm considering (ranked from less invasive/expensive to most invasive/expensive):

1. Keep everything "as is" for the time being, and continue to experiment with different setting on the Para DI (I've actually tweaked the sound to be fairly "quackless", but it's still more colored than I would like).

2. Add a second microphone to my rig/system and either blend that in with the Element, or don't use the Element at all. I play sitting, so this would be fairly doable. The downside, of course, would be the added gear and set-up. I'm a Heil guy, so the mic would likely be a Heil. Thoughts? Would it be worth the time and effort to blend the Element and the mic, or should I just give up on the Element if I go this route?

3. Upgrade my preamp to the Baggs Venue. Would this be a substantial upgrade from the Para DI in terms of the degree of tone coloration?

4. Upgrade my preamp to the Fishman Aura 16. I've read that this works very well with the Active Element, but I'd hate to lose the DI, and don't like that this wouldn't work with my non Dread guitars.

5. Upgrade my preamp to the Fishman Aura Spectrum. How will this sound with the J-45, and with my other guitars equipped with the K&K minis? This thing is expensive...Is it a reasonable value for my situation?

6. Upgrade the pickup in my J-45 to the Baggs Lyric or Anthem SL. Opinions on these for my situation? Will the current end pin hole in the J-45 work with the jacks for these? Will the installation of these be fairly non-invasive?

7. Upgrade to some other pickup all together.

So, I'd like opinions on all these options. I guess my initial inclination is to go in baby steps instead of making huge changes and modifications at once. So, right now I'm leaning toward adding a second stage mic to either replace or blend with the Element.
Based on your playing style, I probably wouldnt reco the Element solo. I think youd be much happier with the Anthem or the K&K. The Element isnt as strong of a solo UST as the LB6 and has all of the hallmarks of a UST, positive and negative. In a modified duet setup, like the Anthem, it works well. The Anthem is great as its natural sounding and buffered but if thats too much system for your preference, the Anthe SL or K&K are better here.

I would start with the fundamental matter of the right pickup before fiddling with other preamps.
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  #22  
Old 12-15-2018, 05:56 AM
jonfields45 jonfields45 is offline
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I don't like any available pickup I've tried or effect pedal to improve them. I hear something wrong with all of them.

Starting there, I don't find the Element dramatically more objectionable than a K&K and it has the advantages of being active (will plug into anything), you can tweak the string balance to your requirements (paint/sand/shim saddle bottom), there is no crazy glue, there is no endless tweaking of transducer placement, there is no fragile Matrix foil shield, and once installed it is a DIY task to replace anything that fails over time (which everything does).

Then if you need to tweak and perfect, buy a ToneDexter. Of all the bad choices it is the best. My problem with ToneDexter is I did not discover what my ear would object to until I got to the gig (where you play is a big part of what you hear and perfection at home is not perfection in a restaurant). So you can add limited patience to my list of problems with pickups.
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  #23  
Old 12-15-2018, 03:10 PM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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I recently bought an anniversary model Crafter guitar with a "barn door" style Element system. I tried using it with ToneDexter, but the results weren't nearly as good as I was getting from using ToneDexter with the Open To Source Sensor (OTSS) UST in a different guitar.

Due to this disparity in results, I decided to try swapping out the Element UST for an OTSS UST. OTSS's David Enke wired the OTSS UST with a 2.5mm plug so that I could plug it right into the barn door preamp. All I had to do is widen the access hole through the bridgeplate a tad and shim the saddle a tad. (The OTSS UST is 1/32" wider than the Element and noticeably thinner.

The experiment succeeded well beyond my expectations. I like the sound of the OTSS UST so much that I find myself debating about whether to even bother with ToneDexter.
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  #24  
Old 12-15-2018, 04:42 PM
MrErikJ MrErikJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitaniac View Post
I recently bought an anniversary model Crafter guitar with a "barn door" style Element system. I tried using it with ToneDexter, but the results weren't nearly as good as I was getting from using ToneDexter with the Open To Source Sensor (OTSS) UST in a different guitar.

Due to this disparity in results, I decided to try swapping out the Element UST for an OTSS UST. OTSS's David Enke wired the OTSS UST with a 2.5mm plug so that I could plug it right into the barn door preamp. All I had to do is widen the access hole through the bridgeplate a tad and shim the saddle a tad. (The OTSS UST is 1/32" wider than the Element and noticeably thinner.

The experiment succeeded well beyond my expectations. I like the sound of the OTSS UST so much that I find myself debating about whether to even bother with ToneDexter.
I was just talking to Dave in email about maybe trying his gear. Im happy with my LB6 Dual Source but the idea of all passive pickups and his power plug is really tempting. I had a PUTW #54 mixed w/a LB6 that simply couldnt stand up to it. He said I should try his current dual SBT w/the LB6. Have any thoughts on his Dual Gold sensor? I asked him about wiring that up with his UST and preamping it with the Power Plug.
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  #25  
Old 12-15-2018, 07:27 PM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrErikJ View Post
I was just talking to Dave in email about maybe trying his gear. I’m happy with my LB6 Dual Source but the idea of all passive pickups and his power plug is really tempting. I had a PUTW #54 mixed w/a LB6 that simply couldnt stand up to it. He said I should try his current dual SBT w/the LB6. Have any thoughts on his Dual Gold sensor? I asked him about wiring that up with his UST and preamping it with the Power Plug.
I'm afraid that I haven't got any experience with the OTSS SBTs. I've used PUTW's #54 and #27 SBTs and tended to like the #27 better, although it did seem to need a bit of a mid cut.

I suspect you'd find that the OTSS UST is top responsive enough that you wouldn't feel any need to wire it in parallel with an SBT, or wire it in stereo (for a blender setup) with an SBT. Its an unusually good sounding pickup by itself.

The OTSS UST puts out a strong enough signal that you wouldn't need to use it with a power plug. It will work fine with a decent instrument cable that's 10' or less between the guitar and an outboard preamp. This gives you the option of using a full-featured outboard preamp. I'd recommend an outboard preamp with a 10Mohm input impedance. It lacked a bit of the bass end when used with ToneDexter in the bypass mode. (TD's input impedance is 1Mohm.)

Its my experience with the PUTW USTs and SBTs that the USTs put out a much stronger signal. I've also noticed that wiring an SBT in parallel with a UST tends to reduce the output level. I haven't tried the OTSS SBTs, but I suspect their signal levels are also lower, relative to the UST levels.

Low signal levels have always been the biggest complaint about PUTW's piezo film pickups, but I don't find it to be an issue with the OTSS UST used by itself. (As I mentioned before, I suspect that wiring a #27 or #54 in parallel will lower the output.)

PS If you want to experiment with a UST and an SBT connected in parallel, you don't necessarily need to hardwire them in parallel. You can wire them in stereo (ie,, UST to strap-jack's tip tab and SBT to strap-jack's ring tab) and use a specially wired mono cable to mechanically connect the UST and SBT in parallel. The specially wired mono cable would have a stereo plug, tip tab shorted to ring tab, on the end of the cable which is plugged into the strap-jack.

Last edited by guitaniac; 12-16-2018 at 06:27 AM.
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