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Old 01-04-2019, 11:31 AM
Melt in the Sun Melt in the Sun is offline
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Default LR Baggs Element UST - in/out comparison

After reading GuitarLuva's description of the tone difference with/without the Anthem system in their Emerald X30, I decided to do a quick comparison of the element in/out of the X20 while I still have it. I figured this would be better not buried in my other thread.

I was putting a new set of strings on it since the ones on it were of unknown age - probably not too old, but as they didn't look perfectly new I wanted to hear the guitar with known fresh ones. Since I had the strings off I pulled the saddle to take a gander at the UST...and it is thicker and mushier than I expected. I mean, it's braided wire so isn't soft and fluffy, but has some give to it. I don't have much experience with different systems, having installed a b-band 12 years ago and never looked back. That UST is almost as thin as a sheet of paper and is hard. This is when I got curious about the sound impact. I lifted it out of the slot and pushed it into the guitar body, then strung it up. Sounds different, I think...so I decided to record it.

First is with the element removed, and second is the element installed under the saddle. This is recorded on the voice notes app on my phone, so is not intended to sound good (and it doesn't!), it's just to demonstrate the difference. It is audible on the recording...not night and day, but it does sound different.

You'll have to excuse the sloppy play! I recorded this by doing the first take and pausing the recording, then loosening strings, pulling the saddle, installing UST, re-tuning, then playing the second part. So, no do-overs, and since I knew that I naturally screwed it up.

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  #2  
Old 01-04-2019, 05:09 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melt in the Sun View Post
After reading GuitarLuva's description of the tone difference with/without the Anthem system in their Emerald X30, I decided to do a quick comparison of the element in/out of the X20 while I still have it. I figured this would be better not buried in my other thread.

I was putting a new set of strings on it since the ones on it were of unknown age - probably not too old, but as they didn't look perfectly new I wanted to hear the guitar with known fresh ones. Since I had the strings off I pulled the saddle to take a gander at the UST...and it is thicker and mushier than I expected. I mean, it's braided wire so isn't soft and fluffy, but has some give to it. I don't have much experience with different systems, having installed a b-band 12 years ago and never looked back. That UST is almost as thin as a sheet of paper and is hard. This is when I got curious about the sound impact. I lifted it out of the slot and pushed it into the guitar body, then strung it up. Sounds different, I think...so I decided to record it.

First is with the element removed, and second is the element installed under the saddle. This is recorded on the voice notes app on my phone, so is not intended to sound good (and it doesn't!), it's just to demonstrate the difference. It is audible on the recording...not night and day, but it does sound different.

You'll have to excuse the sloppy play! I recorded this by doing the first take and pausing the recording, then loosening strings, pulling the saddle, installing UST, re-tuning, then playing the second part. So, no do-overs, and since I knew that I naturally screwed it up.

Both parts sound about the same but the first part without the saddle sounds a bit fuller and louder than the second part with the Element in place. This may be partly due to recording parameters? Also, once the Element has been removed, and then replaced, it'll likely take some time for it to compress a bit, under string pressure, and better reseat and conform itself to the saddle slot. Maybe a day or two max. This will bring a bit more tone back to the sound. Something else to consider is that if you shim the saddle or make a new one to compensate for the lack of the Element's thickness, you'll likely find your guitar sounds even fuller and louder than with the saddle in the slot without the Element as in the first part of your demo.
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Last edited by SpruceTop; 01-04-2019 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:59 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Listening to it on the cell phone with headphones doesn't yield much of a difference for me (I'll listen again on studio monitors when I get home). That Baggs element might settle over time like Sprucetop said but compared to other UST's like the Fishman Matrix it's a lot softer and would be hard to believe that it wouldn't impact the unplugged tone in a guitar.
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:46 PM
jonfields45 jonfields45 is offline
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Originally Posted by GuitarLuva View Post
but compared to other UST's like the Fishman Matrix it's a lot softer
Maybe compared to a Fishman AG ceramic no-preamp UST, but it is exceedingly likely that both the Matrix and the Element are at their core the same piezo polymer. The Matrix is squared up and has that fragile foil wrapping which eventually self destructs. It's construction gives the illusion of resilience but it is the same stuff sold to you in a brittle format.
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Old 01-05-2019, 07:58 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by jonfields45 View Post
Maybe compared to a Fishman AG ceramic no-preamp UST, but it is exceedingly likely that both the Matrix and the Element are at their core the same piezo polymer. The Matrix is squared up and has that fragile foil wrapping which eventually self destructs. It's construction gives the illusion of resilience but it is the same stuff sold to you in a brittle format.
Yep no doubt it is. I singled out the matrix as I used to have one in a guitar. Even though I'm a firm believer that all UST's have some impact on unplugged tone, with the matrix my ears couldn't hear the difference, which is all I personally care about. The Baggs element was a different story, at least in the Emerald. Very noticeable difference that I certainly do not miss.
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Old 01-06-2019, 06:36 AM
jonfields45 jonfields45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarLuva View Post
Yep no doubt it is. I singled out the matrix as I used to have one in a guitar. Even though I'm a firm believer that all UST's have some impact on unplugged tone, with the matrix my ears couldn't hear the difference, which is all I personally care about. The Baggs element was a different story, at least in the Emerald. Very noticeable difference that I certainly do not miss.
I did the Element install in my RainSong Parlor and did not notice any acoustic impact. I've installed something approaching half a dozen Mi-Si Trio (Element) pickups over the years and not noticed a change, but that is just to my ears. I have a prejudice that the Matrix sounds better, but I've never tested that. I prefer the Element for its physical robustness. I like USTs in general because tweaking string balance (important for covering classic rock lead guitar) is so simple and impossible for a super glued SBT.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:18 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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I listened to your clip through studio monitors and headphones and could only hear a subtle difference. Just in case my ears were wrong I downloaded your audio file and ran a frequency spectrum on it. My ears heard right there was an improvement without the UST, though very subtle, I wonder if it's the recording, that is of course if you were hearing a big difference yourself.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:46 AM
Melt in the Sun Melt in the Sun is offline
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It's a subtle difference for sure; and honestly I was surprised to notice anything at all. I believe the tone is a smidge brighter and louder without it.

Since the X20 is a pretty warm guitar (all relative, of course...it's definitely warm compared to my taylor or any rainsong), I thought it worth mentioning to any who might want to squeeze a little more treble clarity out of it. There's a lot of talk about warming up Rainsongs with various tweaks, but not much about brightening up a guitar that you wish had just a little more high-end. For me, this made me more certain that I could get it bright enough for my taste while still having room to experiment with strings.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:59 AM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melt in the Sun View Post
I believe the tone is a smidge brighter and louder without it.
I don't doubt this at all. I couldn't believe the difference it made for my X30. I have read some people saying after several months their volume came back once the element "settles in".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melt in the Sun View Post
Since the X20 is a pretty warm guitar (all relative, of course...it's definitely warm compared to my taylor or any rainsong), I thought it worth mentioning to any who might want to squeeze a little more treble clarity out of it. There's a lot of talk about warming up Rainsongs with various tweaks, but not much about brightening up a guitar that you wish had just a little more high-end. For me, this made me more certain that I could get it bright enough for my taste while still having room to experiment with strings.
I personally liked the added brightness from elixir 80/20 bronze nanowebs and a bone saddle once I removed the UST. I found this combo gave a nice overall tone.
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