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Author Topic: Which Acoustic Soundhole Pickup?  (Read 4706 times)
whiskeyjack
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« on: December 05, 2009, 06:45:50 AM »


The name of this thread has been altered from "Which Passive Soundhole Pickup" to "Which Acoustic Soundhole Pickup".  There aren't many passive soundhole pickups out there and discussions in the thread turned to mostly to active soundhole pickups.:

I have a lovely Timberline OM 12-string with an Engelman soundboard and the most lovely rosewood back and sides.  The thing is just starting to open up after so many years of not being played.  I want to add some sound re-enforcement to it.

IMix is probably the best way to go.  I have an inboard IMix installed in my 000-15S - it's a pain in the butt to change the battery.  Then I had the outboard IMix installed on my Larrivee OM-12 - after that, I swore off cutting holes in perfectly fine guitars.  Now, the Timberline......

I think I've narrowed it down to one of the following three:

Fishman Rare Earth
Seymour Duncan SA-1
DiMarzio DP 138

The only requirements for this passive system is that it sounds natural, there MUST be an onboard volume
control and I'd rather the pickup be as inconspicuous as possible, (black or other dark colour).   I  would greatly appreciate hearing about anyone's experience with these or other passive soundhole systems that might be a good fit for my OM twelve.    Thank you.

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SMan
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2009, 03:24:18 PM »

Not sure the fishman passive has onboard volume.  My NeoD does not but I still like it.  I have a fishman rare earth humbucking in my 550 Taylor 12 string and love it.  (I did the permanent install)  Sounds very natural and very clean.  It also eliminates most finger string squeak present with most transducer type pickups.

Good luck.
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Steve ....aka the SMan
whiskeyjack
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2009, 03:32:25 PM »

Thanks for that!

Depends on the Rare Earth model I guess.  I thought the one I was looking at was Passive but turns out to require batteries.   Rare Earth Humbucker It does have a volume control. These batteries wouldn't be that hard to replace.

I looked at the NeoD....good to hear quality report about that one.  Thanks again.

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SMan
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2009, 04:32:42 PM »

Another thought:  The passive NeoD works better with some sort of pre amp.  I use my older fishman Pro EQ box.  Where the NeoD is convenient to switch from guitar to guitar the Rare Earth Humbucking is much better IMHO and I am considering it for my CS-05.   I've had no experience with the other 2 on your list.

I was leaning to the LR Baggs Ibeam until my good friend, who is a luthier, pointed out that UST's and SBT's usually transfer a lot of string squeak where a magnetic pickup would not.  (He gave me a great demo on that)  For my style and type of playing I do, I am thinking the rare earth soundhole pickup would better serve me.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2009, 05:22:22 AM »

I was leaning that way too.  The Rare Earth "Active".  It does require batteries but it's touted as being better than the average soundhole humbucker....and it does have a volume control....

BUT, I just discovered today that a volume control can be added to a K&K Pure (Western) Mini.  String squeak on these isn't that awful bad.  So, maybe I'll look further into the K&K series again.
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webberink
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2009, 06:04:33 PM »

For something different, have a look at the pickups on the Wyres site. http://www.wyresstrings.com/  I have no idea how good they are as I have not tried any of them.  I do use their strings and they are way cool.
Dave
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2009, 08:57:33 PM »

So I did something different and ordered a LR Baggs M1A soundhole pickup  for my CS-05.  After some research and input from my buddy I am going to give this one a shot.  I like the idea of the adjustable pole pieces.  The beauty is it can be moved to one of my other guitars if I don't like it in the Larrivee.  After already having a Rare Earth Active in my Taylor 12 and a NeoD that I switch around I thought it would be good to try something different.  I'll give some impressions after it is installed
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Steve ....aka the SMan
whiskeyjack
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2009, 03:09:44 AM »

Web:
Thanks for the link.  Interesting configuration on those Wyre pickupts.  It'd sure help if they put some audio with the pickups to hear what they sound like, eh?

SMan:
I'd sure be interested in your assessment of the M1A. 


Thanks to both of you for your response.
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LaminateBoy
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 03:25:03 PM »

One possible problem with using a soundhole magnetic pickup is that only the inner core of the wrapped strings is picked up by the magnet so the sound can be a bit unbalanced. Having said that, I first used a Baggs M1 passive on my L-03-12 and it sounded quite good. However, I decided to try a K&K mini and I'm very pleased with the sound. K&K recommends using the full size K&K Western for better bass response.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 11:08:45 PM »

I hear ya.  I spoke with Marty down a the Podium in Minneapolis about the inner core concept and how the M1A is supposed to have overcome the balance issues by a type of sympathetic vibration.  He's a very knowledgeable luthier and highly recommends K&K products.

I had one in my 000-15S once but wasn't really thrilled with it.  Too mid-rangy and feedback was a bit of a problem.  So, I'm still a little skeptical about a passive K&K product even with a volume control.

It makes sense that a K&K-type pickup will capture more energy from a broader area of THE SOUND BOARD.   Wheras soundhole pickups capture a combination of string vibration and soundboard vibration in proximity to the soundhole only.  

Encouraging to know that the K&K mini works well on a Larrivee L twelve.!~!  Does it have a volume control in the sound hole?  

Thanks for your response.
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LaminateBoy
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2009, 04:09:53 AM »

No volume control with the K&K mini. I run it through the Pure XLR Preamp which gives me quite a bit of control over the sound.
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2009, 05:28:08 PM »

No volume control with the K&K mini....

I found this on ebay.  Makes the K&K a candidate for what I have in mind.

K&K Mini with volume control
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2009, 05:39:24 PM »

I found this on ebay.  Makes the K&K a candidate for what I have in mind.

K&K Mini with volume control

Cool. I hadn't seen that before.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2009, 09:16:52 PM »

I too had a passive unit at one time with a pre for volume and tone control.  I felt it was a bonafide nuisance because I was always fumbling around feeling for the itsy bitsy volume control that was every bit as wide as a toothpick.   And, as always with those, one jack for input and another for output.  Much simpler to make tonal settings once at the amp and then just have a onboard volume control: one cable.

The inboard LR Baggs IMix (and others) is really nice in that respect: two half-inch wheels on the upper side of the soundhole - one for volume, the other for fine-tuning tonal adjustment.  I just wish there was a way to know in advance when that battery was gonna' die.  But even then....loosen all the strings, reach into the soundhole, un-velcro the battery case, loosen a few wires in the process because I'm clumsy, replace the battery, re-velcro things back in place, re-attach the battery wire and then wait a day or so for the strings to re-adjust after they've been brought back up to pitch.  Call me a whiner.... crying  I'm lazy too.  bigrin
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2009, 08:56:36 PM »

I really rate the K&K minis - and as you've noticed you can get a volume control for them too.

If you want/need a soundhole pickup, consider the Baggs M1a. Ok, so it does have batteries (they do a passive one too, but I prefer the active), but it's easy to change, has good tone, adjustable pole pieces and onboard volume. For best results, combine the K&K and the M1a. I take the bass from the M1a (rest rolled off) and the rest from the K&K - it's my favourite combination of pickups I've used so far. Other recommendations include the Seymour Duncan MagMic and the Fishmann Rare Earth humbucker  (ideally with the mic) and the I Beam active.

Like you, I refuse to have cut out barn doors for electronics on any of my guitars - buy you don't need to have them with any of the above.

Good luck!
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2009, 03:07:47 AM »

Thanks mrrinse:

I never thought of using a combination of the M1 and a K&K.  But I have considered the others you mentioned.

I'm suddenly feeling the urge for a road trip to The Podium down in Minneapolis to check some of these things out.
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SMan
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« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2009, 05:04:09 AM »

I installed the M1A in my CS-05 this morning.  Overall I am very pleased with the sound.  I plug into a Marshall AS50D.  I was wondering if the bass end would be thin but that was unfounded. Nice full clean acoustic sound.  Very natural IMHO.  We'll see how I like it as I log more time with it.  

Installation was easy except for a few issues specific to the CS-05.  Drilling the guitar went perfectly.  The end block was too thick and I had to counter sink the block on the inside.  (That was the biggest challenge)  Also the sound hole on the CS-05 is a bit smaller than most of my guitars and as a result I had to modify the M1A slightly.  I like having an 1/8th in jack that simply plugs into the pickup from the end pin jack.  Very nice clean setup and install.

My only negative is mainly from an aesthetic perspective.  The pickup sits closer to the center of the sound hole than I would like.  I also don't care for the light colored "plastic appearance.  (I knew that when I ordered it) I may paint it at some point which would be easy as the light piece comes off.

Spent an hour playing it today and did not try to tweak the pole pieces.  I like the ability to be able to easily move this to another guitar and it's design makes it possible.  Now I just need to sit down and spend some quality time with it.  I play my families Christmas party every year and I am looking forward to using the Larrivee at next Saturdays event.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2009, 04:19:49 PM »

For those of you following this thread who haven't seen a Larrivee CS-05, check this out.   LOVELY guitar!

Thanks for the summary, Sman.  Very helpful stuff.  I do agree that the colour of the M1A is a little off-taste.  I'd also consider painting it a dull black so it's not so conspicuous against the soundhole.  How wide is the soundhole on the CS-05?  Most of these  pickups are designed for 3 3/4" to 4 1/8" soundholes.

According to internet lore, "The M1A is powered by a 3v lithium battery and will give you over 1,000 hours of playing time!"

I think I'll try to change the title of this thread to "Which soundhole acoustic pickup" since most of the discussion has become more universal with regard to soundhole pickups.
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SMan
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2009, 10:58:04 PM »

For those of you following this thread who haven't seen a Larrivee CS-05, check this out.   LOVELY guitar!

Thanks for the summary, Sman.  Very helpful stuff.  I do agree that the colour of the M1A is a little off-taste.  I'd also consider painting it a dull black so it's not so conspicuous against the soundhole.  How wide is the soundhole on the CS-05?  Most of these  pickups are designed for 3 3/4" to 4 1/8" soundholes.

According to internet lore, "The M1A is powered by a 3v lithium battery and will give you over 1,000 hours of playing time!"

I think I'll try to change the title of this thread to "Which soundhole acoustic pickup" since most of the discussion has become more universal with regard to soundhole pickups.

The soundhole on the CS-05 is 3.7 inches.  (Slightly under 3 3/4)  The battery that came with it is a CR 2032.

(For those who don't know photomat's guitar is the one I bought.)
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Steve ....aka the SMan
whiskeyjack
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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2009, 12:42:36 AM »

I guess the tolerance is right at 3.75" eh?

We've got over 200 views on this thread, so there's some interest in the topic.

Are you able to post an audio clip of this guitar and the M1A?  I'd sure like to hear this.  (I'll try to post something from my 000-15S with the inboard IMix.)  Thanks.
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whiskeyjack:  Perisoreus canadensis.  aka, gray jay, whiskey jay, whiskeyjack or timber jay.   A small, friendly bird of the northern coniferous forest.
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