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Author Topic: Your Favorite Ust  (Read 2004 times)
JohnM2001
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« on: June 13, 2004, 12:04:10 PM »

What is your preferred under saddle pickup, if you were installing one on a used Larrivee L, and why?  I would prefer an integral preamp and just be able to plug into the PA, with standard size end pin hole.  My existing guitar has a Fishman matrix, but I know there are better ones available now for my 2nd guitar.
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charlies3
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2004, 01:05:51 PM »

When I added a ust to my son's LJ05-12, I asked our local Larrivee dealer Steve Attix from Acoustic Axis for a recommendation.   He favored the Highlander IP2 and we've been very happy with it.   Simple design, no blender, natural sound, upgradeable with internal mic and external preamp if desired.
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2004, 01:48:06 PM »

The B-band is a good, non piezo, UST.  It is a tad on the bright side though...you some may like that.
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2004, 02:00:47 PM »

I have to give a vote here for the active I Beam. Technically not a UST, it fits under the bridge plate, I personally think it is superior to a UST for the following reasons:

1) No modification to bridge or saddle needed
2) Can be installed by anyone with basic "DIY" skills
3) Can be easily repositioned to find optimum balance
4) Is not affected by changes in string pressure due to use of open tunings
5) Doesn't "quack" under heavy attack
6) Offers more "body tone" than UST
7) Sounds better (IMHO)

The best sound I have ever had from my L10 (I have been experimenting for quite a few years and I have tried 10+ PU combinations) is the I Beam active combined with a Fishman RareEarth Humbucking sound hole PU. Run in stereo, and put through a Rane AP13 processor and RNC compressor, it is as good as it gets. This is a little pricey, but it costs to put a  :)  on peoples faces

Ron
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Ron

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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2004, 05:21:47 PM »

I'm notone for pickups myself but the best I've played is the Dean Markley sweet spot.Its 6 piezo crystals that generate about 48 volts on its own so no pre amp needed and a natural tone.
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dberch
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2004, 03:23:09 PM »

Just curious, John, but are you open to SBTs (sound-board transducers)?  They have some excellent advantages to USTs (Under Saddle Transducers).
SBTs go inside your guitar and are glued or stuck with tape underneath the bridge on the re-inforcing brace called the bridge plate.

The most important advantages, to me anyway, are you don't have to drill a hole through your bridge, and they tend to sound much more like your guitar.  They don't emphasize string and pick noise like most USTs do.

I would recommend the K&K Pure Western, becuase the output is strong enough to not require a preamp and it really sounds great.  I have it on two of my guitars - my Collings and Martin.

Excerpt form K&K's website:
The special Pure surface transducers transmit a significant portion of the soundboard because they are not as close to the strings as an under-saddle pickup. Each of the 3 or 4 transducers is designed to pick up a specific string pair, but also “listens” to the adjacent area around the bridge. The Pure pickups are not under pressure and therefore do NOT sound percussive or harsh. The Pure System reproduces all strings nicely balanced, a known problem with under-saddle pickups. The Pure System sounds great just in passive mode! Unlike under-saddle pickups which passively sound thin and trebled-only, the passive PURE system puts out a nicely balanced, warm, full range signal.

Another really good one is B-Bands AST, which I have on my Larrivee. The B-Band requires a battery and preamp inside your guitar.  Actually, B-Bands UST is darn good too - very warm and true sounding, but you just don't get that 'wood' sound with a UST like you can with a good SBT.  

Before you buy please go to HarmonyCentral.com and read reviews on all the pickups you're interested in.  Very informative!

I suppose I should mention that I'm K&K's featured artist of the month, but that is a non-payed honor, and I've been recommending them for a couple years now.  So, yes, I'm biased, but it's from experience not because I'm on their payroll (I'm NOT!)  

Oh, one other thing about my recommendations - THEY'RE AFFORDABLE!

So, Good luck with your search, John.

(Probably way too much information, but I hope this helps.)

David
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JohnM2001
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2004, 06:27:52 PM »

yes, I'd consider SBT, and have heard that the active I-beam is good.  Doesn't the K&K require a bigger end pin hole?  I think that if I add a pickup at all, I'd want a standard size end pin hole.  Also, what's an AST?
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2004, 06:32:38 PM »

David,

Congratulations on your selection as K&K Artist of the Month.

Have you ever had the opportunity to do a side by side comparison between the I Beam and the K&K sytems? I am very satisfied with the I Beam, but I have heard so many fine comments about the K&K I am tempted to try one. I would be interested in your comments.

I agree with everything you said about bridge plate transducers. I find them much more natural sounding then the UST type. Because of the prevalence of UST systems I am concerned that audiences may forget what an acoustic guitar is supposed to sound like.

Ron


 
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2004, 10:51:50 PM »

Quote
1. Doesn't the K&K require a bigger end pin hole? 
2. Also, what's an AST?
John,

1. I just checked and both the K&K and  IBeam (active or passive) require reaming out the endpin hole, and both use 1/2" jacks.

2. Oops!  Sorry about that.   AST (Acoustic Soundbard Transducer) is B-Bands term for SBT (SoundBoard Transducer).  They just had to make up their own fancy acronym.

David
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2004, 11:10:07 PM »

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1. Congratulations on your selection as K&K Artist of the Month.

2. Have you ever had the opportunity to do a side by side comparison between the I Beam and the K&K sytems?

3. I find them much more natural sounding then the UST type. Because of the prevalence of UST systems I am concerned that audiences may forget what an acoustic guitar is supposed to sound like.
ronmac,

1. Thanks!  

2. Yes, a good friend of mine has an iBeam on his Martin 000-28VS.  When we play out together, which we've done several times, my observation is that if he takes the time to dial it in using his PADI, it sounds great.  If he tries to plug and play, he has problems with low register feedback and it sometimes sounds kind of, uh,  "muddy" is the best word I can think of.  He just bought another Martin, a 000-15S gloss, and installed a K&K.  It sounds fantastic plugged straight in to his Peavy Ecoustic 100 amp.

I run my K&K through their preamp (I have the mini's on my guitars and they need the preamp.  Regular size do NOT need a preamp).  But I've never had a problem witht the K&K.  

3.  I agree!   And to make matters worse, people are starting to RECORD with these less than optimum pickup systems.  Have you heard Steven Stills' "Stills Alone" CD?  His playing is OK (I guess) but the guitar recording quality is horrible.  He's holding a D45  on the cover, but it sounds like any number of manufactureer's $300 entry-level plugged-in guitars.  I grew up listening to "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" and "Black Queen."  I almost cried.

It's up to us to set the world straight, man!  You CAN sound great plugged in, and for a very reasonble price.  My recommendations are K&K and B-Band, but to be fair there really are a number of good solutions out there now (McIntyre, PicupTheWorld, etc) but I'm hearing that some of those require experimenting with pickup placement and lots of EQ to really make them sound good.

David
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jazzalta2
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2004, 03:47:40 AM »

Fishman Matrix may be out of fashion, but aside from a good microphone I haven't found anything better that captures my sound. Just my 2 cents.  
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dberch
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2004, 12:23:44 PM »

Jazzalta,

Just curious... What is your rig?  Do you process your Martix at all?
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sublro
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2004, 02:11:58 PM »

Hey Dave -

Have you had any experience with the Fishman Rare Earth Blender (mag and mic)? Or heard much about them? It's what I use and I like it OK, but I didn't comparison shop much back when I bought it (five years ago). The guy at the shop said it was his favorite at the time.  Just curious if you know anything about how it stacks up....
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« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2004, 02:37:18 PM »

Quote
Have you had any experience with the Fishman Rare Earth Blender (mag and mic)? Or heard much about them?
Hi sublro,

I've never tried a mic blend system because everything I've heard is if you play in lound venues (bars/restaurants) you just can't use the mic because of feedback.  What's your experience been, sublro?  I'd be interested to hear how the mic works for you.

I've never tried a mag-type pickup, but I've heard quite a few.  Heard some good things about the Rare Earth/mic version.  Some people love mags and they have some wonderful qualities.  You can be as loud as you want without feedback and have tons of fat low end.  But to me, it's just not acoustic.  I've always thought they sound like a very clean electric guitar.  

I buy guitars because I like the way they sound unplugged.  When I play live, that's what I want people to hear, so I've gone a direction that gets me as close to that as possible in the most simple and most affordable way.

If you are looking into a new solution and you like the mag sound, check out LR Baggs new M1.  They've made some changes that are supposed to allow it to keep the mag benefits, but add an acoustic 'woody' flavor.  A good friend of mine recently put one on his Collings and his comment was: "For the first time in my life I can fingerpick and still be on top of the live mix with my band."  He loves it.  

Hope this helps.
David
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sublro
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« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2004, 03:10:56 PM »

Hi -

I rarely play in loud enough venues to worry about the feedback threshold, so not much comment about that. I have just been checking out Doug Young's EXCELLENT comparison site (http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptest.htm), and yes, the M1 seems to be EQ'd to be the best mag-alone setup. However, I'm with you, I just don't dig the mag-alone sound. All the best pickups from the perspective of my ears seem to be combinations with mic's. The K&K Trinity does seem to emerge as my favorite, so who knows, I might switch. The rare earth blender holds up pretty well on comparison, but still has a bit too much mag sound for me. I think the combo of mic and soundboard/bridgeplate transducer seems to be the best approach for capturing true acoustic tone...  given that the comparison site purposely leaves any EQ'ing out of the picture, the Rare Earth Blend can be imroved over what's there (I use a PADI) so I may just stick with it. I like the idea of not having a pickup sitting in the sound-hole. On the other hand, it's easy to take the REB with you when you switch guitars...

oy, so many factors. the good news is that the Rare Earth Blend is certainly still competitive with what's out there... :)  
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2004, 03:55:38 PM »

Not to get too far off the UST topic, but I'm in the process of dual-sourcing my K&K Pure Western with a magnetic soundhole pickup, so I'll let you all know how it turns out.  Now...if I could only find a Rare Earth for $50...  :)  
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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2004, 04:49:21 PM »

Quote
The best sound I have ever had from my L10 (I have been experimenting for quite a few years and I have tried 10+ PU combinations) is the I Beam active combined with a Fishman RareEarth Humbucking sound hole PU. Run in stereo, and put through a Rane AP13 processor and RNC compressor, it is as good as it gets. This is a little pricey, but it costs to put a  :)  on peoples faces

Ron
Manthoney,

You will be happy with that setup, especially if you send out as seperate signals and process to taste.

Personally I use the mag for "attack and high end" (rolloff everything below 250~300) and the IBeam for the "body" (rolloff everything above 800~1K). Pan them to 11:00 and 1:00 and you should have a nice fat sound. Treat this as a starting point and fine tune to your personal taste and room acoustics.

Ron
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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2004, 08:52:37 PM »

Ron,

Thanks for the tips.  You may have covered this in the "...fine tune to your personal taste and room acoustics" comment, but I was thinking that the mag would provide a smooth and fat low-end while the Pure would provide the 'body'.  Nice to know that the mag will give me some attack as well!  Now, if I could only find a Rare Earth for $50...

 
 ;)  
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« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2004, 08:55:37 PM »

Check out how good this LR Baggs M1 sounds.
Hard to beat I think!

http://www.andromedan.com/movies/baggs1.wmv
 
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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2004, 12:36:27 AM »

Wow!  Have to admit that sounds wonderful.  Probably the best Mag sound I've heard yet.

But I have to ask, what is the setup?  How was the signal processed?  EQ?  Compressed?  Also, I'd really love to hear that M1 on two guitars - say a Rosewood OM and a Mahogany Dread, to hear how much is guitar and how much is M1.  If I install an M1, am I going to sound just like everyone else with an M1?

You know, the more I read and participate in these discussions, the more I realize - It's a great time to play an acoustic!   So many options exist now to amplify a guitar that really sound fantastic.

Thanks for posting that clip!

David

Edited: Just had a thought - I have an opportunity to do an A/B of two pretty different guitars equipped with identical K&K pickups and both installed exactly the same way (not superglued) by the same person:  an OM-28V and a 000-15S.  Be really interesting to record them and post the results....  

I'll get back to you!
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