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Old 07-26-2015, 04:32 PM
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Doug Young Doug Young is offline
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Default Trance M install - update

Some people here noticed I tried to install a Trance M a year or so ago, and failed to get a usable sound, so I set it aside. Recently, some folks asked if I'd tried again, and in conjunction with some very helpful discussions with Gary at Trance, I gave it another try. Thought I'd provide an update and some sound files for those interested in this pickup.

Two things I learned first:

My install a year ago likely failed because that guitar had previously had a K&K installed. According to Gary, it's nearly impossible to sand down the bridge plate enough to allow the Amulet to adhere once there's been superglue on the bridge - apparently it soaks in. Unfortunate, because K&K users are probably a strong potential market for the Trance.

Second, Gary gave me some useful tips on using the install clamp they have. This wasn't included in the package I received, and on the samples here, I'm just using a C-clamp. After talking to Gary about how to use the Trance clamp, and after Gary nicely sent me one to try, I still plan to give that a shot and see if I can improve on what I've gotten so far, but it's going to be a while before I have some dedicated time. So this is "round 1" that I'm sharing. I shared these with Gary a few weeks ago, and he seemed to think the sound was as expected. These are installed in a Taylor 914c, which has not had a K&K in it.

So, let's start at the end. Here's a EQ'd (slightly) mix with a touch of air added by a stereo simulator and some reverb. This was recorded direct into my Apogee Ensemble guitar input. (The pickup sounds quite good with just a touch of EQ into my amp)

MIX:


Now let's trace the install steps. I recorded each attempt I made. I won't bother to post them all, but here's a few to give you an idea of the process of dialing in the sound.

Here's the initial step of installing with the "white tape", after creating the template:

White Tape install


That's about the sound I heard on my install a year ago (using red tape, but in a guitar that had previously had a K&K). You can probably see (hear) why I didn't stick with this.... Personally, I'd skip this entire step. The red tape is easier and cleaner to get off that the white, and I can't tell anything about how the pickup will sound from this.

Next I switched to the red tape, same install spot - right on the saddle line, the recommended starting point.

Red tape on saddle line:


This was a huge improvement over the white tape, but still unbalanced, with a sharp thin edge. I followed the manual suggestions to move in toward the soundhole. I first tried 1/8th of an inch in, making a new template. That got rid of the tinny sound, but was too dark, needed lots of EQ to sound right. But it showed be how much change was possible by moving the pickup a small amount - quite a lot!

So I split the difference, moving in 1/16th of an inch inward (another new template). That gave me the position I'm still using:

Red Tape, 1/16th inch off the saddle line


It's still maybe a tad less present that I'd like, but it's darn close, and requires just a touch of treble boost to come alive. Sounds excellent thru an amp. So this is the final install (until I get around to trying the newly arrived trance clamps), and is the same track I EQ'd and reverb'd above, this is just totally unprocessed:

----

So just to recap: What I'm sharing here is the initial white tape install in the recommended spot, then the same spot with the red "permanent" tape, then a red tape install moved 1/16th of an inch toward the soundhole, and (first sample above) an EQd/mixed version of the final 1/16th off position. This was roughly a 2-week process, between trying positions, clamping, letting set overnight, etc, moving a little, doing it all over again. I tried and recorded quite a few more positions than I'm posting here - this just sort of summarizes the process of finding the final spot. I pretty much burned thru all of the white and red tape getting to the final position.

I'll post a followup when I can carve out some time to try again with the clamping tips Gary gave me.
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Last edited by Doug Young; 07-26-2015 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 07-26-2015, 07:02 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Doug, thank you so much for the in-depth breakdown of your tests with the Amulet M. It seems as though Gary has made better efforts to make the install a little easier but it's obvious that small changes can yield varying tonal results.

I personally liked the sound of the last clip, which was the red tape install moved 1/16th of an inch toward the soundhole but without the eq added. IMO it had more warmth and a sweeter high end. I can see how the eq'd version would work better for finger style. What's surprising though is how different the tone is with just a change of tape. The first install was terrible and I can see why you disliked it. I would have been very depressed with that tone!

I have to ask though, I know you are a K&K user so how would you compare the Amulet and pure mini? Do you think that the Amulet is an improvement or is it just another SBT option that gives similar results? I used the Amulet M once in a Gibson and have the K&K in my Larrivee and to me the Amulet M has all of the characteristics of the pure mini but it's not as muddy and actually has some high end, which makes it more versatile and able to use in a busy mix.
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Old 07-26-2015, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
I have to ask though, I know you are a K&K user so how would you compare the Amulet and pure mini? Do you think that the Amulet is an improvement or is it just another SBT option that gives similar results?

I think the trance improves on the K&K in several ways. The K&K has a piezo sound that comes thru to a certain extent. There's a sound to the Trance, but it seems less "pickupy". Other things that bug me about the K&K are that there's an audible "thump" when my fingers hit the strings, and also there's the big spike that tends to occur if you hit the bridge with your hand. None of that seems to happen with the Trance M. The frequency balance also just seems wider range (once dialed in with placement). All in all, to me, the Trance sounds a lot more natural than the K&K - still a pickup tone there, but not bad. I'm especially impressed just playing thru an amp with it.

Downside is you have to have a battery and end-pin preamp, and there's no option to add a 2nd source. I think adding a small amount of mic to this would be terrific, adding a bit of air, but there's no support for a 2nd source other than adding a 2nd jack to the guitar. And of course the install is a bit more involved.
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Old 07-26-2015, 08:59 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I think the trance improves on the K&K in several ways. The K&K has a piezo sound that comes thru to a certain extent. There's a sound to the Trance, but it seems less "pickupy". Other things that bug me about the K&K are that there's an audible "thump" when my fingers hit the strings, and also there's the big spike that tends to occur if you hit the bridge with your hand. None of that seems to happen with the Trance M. The frequency balance also just seems wider range (once dialed in with placement). All in all, to me, the Trance sounds a lot more natural than the K&K - still a pickup tone there, but not bad. I'm especially impressed just playing thru an amp with it.

Downside is you have to have a battery and end-pin preamp, and there's no option to add a 2nd source. I think adding a small amount of mic to this would be terrific, adding a bit of air, but there's no support for a 2nd source other than adding a 2nd jack to the guitar. And of course the install is a bit more involved.
Thanks Doug! I only had about thirty minutes with the Amulet M equipped Gibson SJ but my findings were similar to yours. I was running through one of the Bose compact systems and the tone was very impressive. I too noticed the lack of thump when I hit the bridge and the frequency range was wide enough that I would have no problem using the Amulet with a full band. Being able to add an internal microphone would be great but I actually find that I don't miss the air as much with the Trance system. With the Pure Mini I am always wanting more air and a little more high end.
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:14 AM
dberkowitz dberkowitz is offline
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Doug, given that with the M series is a mono output (the other Amulet series are not), but a stereo jack, one could probably hack the preamp and solder in a mic on the ring and share the ground. You'd just need a TRS (stereo) cable and either an TRS A/B female to male Y adapter, or a preamp that accepts a stereo cable. Looking at this photo from their Facebook page, it seems like the connections to the jack are easily accessible.

Amulet M Preamp
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Last edited by dberkowitz; 07-27-2015 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:50 AM
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Yes, i briefly looked at that, and it seems doable. I may give it a try once Im done exploring the system as-is.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:52 AM
dberkowitz dberkowitz is offline
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I sent an email to Trance asking them about this.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:37 AM
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Would definitly be a nice addition, not just for a mic - some people might want to add a mag
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:06 AM
dberkowitz dberkowitz is offline
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Doug, is there a similar response pattern with regard to placement with the K&K's if you move them north of the saddle line they get darker?
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dberkowitz View Post
Doug, is there a similar response pattern with regard to placement with the K&K's if you move them north of the saddle line they get darker?
I don't really know. Seems logical. But you don't really get to move K&Ks around easily, once they're glued in, they're in. So I've never experimented with placement of those
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:47 AM
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Default trance install

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post

I'll post a followup when I can carve out some time to try again with the clamping tips Gary gave me.
Curious, are you Not going to try "gluing" the pickups in place as Trance recommends?
I am not understanding what using any clamp achieves installing with their tape?
It is my understanding the clamp is important for usage with Glue, holding in it place and applying desired pressure until the Glue cures, so I wanted to inquire.
Your last audio clip does sound good, nice playing too.
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:09 AM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Doug,

Thanks for posting the results, thus far, of your Trance Audio Amulet M Dual Mono system! Your thoroughness and perseverance with your installations is admirable and much appreciated!

The fingerstyle tone you're getting sounds darn good and your performance is wonderful! When you get a chance, I think many players would like to hear you moderately dig in with a flatpick doing the typical Carter-style alternating bass & strum with some bass runs between chords and maybe some melody thrown in too, e,g., "Wildwood Flower." I think a flatpick can uncover any inadequacies in any system by stressing a system's headroom and the strength and tone that pick attack has in creating reverse-directional, string transients.

Ken
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Last edited by SpruceTop; 07-27-2015 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by largeal View Post
Curious, are you Not going to try "gluing" the pickups in place as Trance recommends?
I am not understanding what using any clamp achieves installing with their tape?
It is my understanding the clamp is important for usage with Glue, holding in it place and applying desired pressure until the Glue cures, so I wanted to inquire.
Your last audio clip does sound good, nice playing too.
Trance now uses tape - they do not recommend gluing anymore, but the tape requires being clamped under pressure for 8-12 hours (per pickup) to bond. I used a C bridge clamp, which seems to work fine, but Trance has a slightly different (turnbuckle-like) clamp. In conversations with Gary, he described a technique for dialing in the tone by listening to a string over headphones while adjusting the positioning of the clamp, apparently altering the tone depending on where on the transducer the pressure is applied. I have yet to try this, it sounds like something I may have to experiment with a bit before becoming proficient.

The red tape Trance provides is very cool, bonds tightly in place, but removes cleanly. Doesn't mess up your bridge plate with superglue, Barge cement, etc. Besides a nice long conversation with Gary about this, I also talked to the tech at Gryphon who does Trance installs (lots of them...) and they confirmed that they had also stopped using Barge cement, and had very happily switched to the new tape.

Trance also provides "white" tape, which is intended to be used for early evaluation installs. It only requires clamping for about 5 minutes, and bonds less tightly. You can hear how that tape sounds in the files I posted.

You can view the entire install manual online at Trance's site, and read all about the red tape, white tape, clamping process, etc, all with detailed photos.
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Pickup tests: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/
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Old 07-27-2015, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SpruceTop View Post
Doug,

Thanks for posting the results, thus far, of your Trance Audio Amulet M Dual Mono system! Your thoroughness and perseverance with your installations is admirable and much appreciated!

The fingerstyle tone you're getting sounds darn good and your performance is wonderful! When you get a chance, I think many players would like to hear you moderately dig in with a flatpick doing the typical Carter-style alternating bass & strum with some bass runs between chords and maybe some melody thrown in too, e,g., "Wildwood Flower." I think a flatpick can uncover any inadequacies in any system by stressing a system's headroom and the strength and tone that pick attack has in creating reverse-directional, string transients.

Ken
Yes, I'll eventually get some samples up on my pickup page, once I'm done experimenting, and will include some strumming. I agree that strumming reveals more issues than fingerstyle - virtually every pickup I know of sounds terrible hard-strummed. For me personally, how a pickup works for strumming is a non-issue, since I simply don't do it :-) but I can try to demo that at some point. My prediction would be that the Trance will handle strumming quite well.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:54 PM
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Thank you for all your time and efforts, Doug!
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