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  1. #1

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    Have you tried Fishman or K&K classical guitar pickups? Do they give you the pure natural sound of your classical guitar? Your comments welcome.

    I have been using up to now a quality condenser microphone--on a stand. Absolutely a pure acoustic sound. Can pickups compare?


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    not to derail your thread, but what condenser microphone are you using?


  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingtoneman
    Have you tried Fishman or K&K classical guitar pickups? Do they give you the pure natural sound of your classical guitar? Your comments welcome.

    I have been using up to now a quality condenser microphone--on a stand. Absolutely a pure acoustic sound. Can pickups compare?
    I think the answer is no. I see some classical guys who don't even want the mic. I prefer it when they do however, as most concert halls are pretty big for a classical guitar.

    So it may be more of a question of application. I have a nylon string guitar with a built in pickup, and a Fender Acoustasonic. I would not compare the sound to a pure acoustic sound, but it has it's applications. (style of music, ensemble makeup, venue...)

  5. #4
    The microphone I use is an Audio Technica AT4041 Condenser mic. A great mic. For me it delivers a good natural sound. I use this mic. also on acoustic steel strung guitar and banjo. I love the mic.--but problems with mic's are the feedback issue and that mic's do tie you down to the one spot.

    I have tried different pickups on steel strung acoustic guitar's only to find that the best sound for amplified acoustic sound is the mic.

    Never tried a pickup on a classical guitar and I wondered if there any pickup's out there that were as good as the mic.

  6. #5

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  7. #6

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    The best I've tried is the cheapest: the $70 Kremona pickup, a transducer that looks like a popsicle stick, slides under the strings on top of the bridge. I also like the very expensive RMC system, but that involves a fair amount of drilling and cutting of the guitar. The K & K transducers are good, but placement is key; in fact, with any contact transducer the placement is a huge factor. South African guitarist Derek Gripper has a great Hauser that he used to stick a transducer on and got a very accurate production of the guitar's tone, then he had it installed under the top, and lost some of the sparkly highs of the Hauser, unhappily. I am always impressed by the Kremona on my two Lester Devoe concert flamenco guitars, though, and no altering of the instruments whatsoever.

  8. #7

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    That Kremona thing is cool!

    Do you use a preamp with it or is the signal hot enough to go right into an amp/board? How's it do with feedback?

  9. #8

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    I had a Mi Si piezo pu installed on a ukulele that was pretty good. They may make one for a 6 string guitar. It was a braided wire that went under the saddle. The end pin jack had a tiny preamp built into it. Maybe 1/8'' to 3/16'' thick and 1/2'' in diameter. Like a thick washer. You'd charge it for a minute by plugging in a 1/4'' jack attached by a cable to a wall wart. That gives several hrs playing time depending on your playing style. No other preamp or battery is necessary.

  10. #9

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    I use an old multi-processor by Digitech with the Kremona, for EQ and reverb most, I think it puts out an OK signal, but I like the EQ and effects available on a pedal. I haven't had any feedback problems, but I generally use it only in solo situations, with the one exception of playing with a chorus doing two pieces written for classical guitar and chorale, by Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Jeffrey Van. Through my Bose Compact with no effects in a nice church, it sounded just great, and blended well with the chorus, as well as standing out in the sections where the guitar was accompanied by the chorus, just using my natural finger dynamics. That was a great experience, and I recommend the Kremona highly for that sort of situation. I'm not sure how it would work in a jazz context with drums and bass, though, since I always use a guitar with an RMC pickup system, either a Godin 7-string Multiac or a flamenco modded to 7-strings with the RMC installed.

  11. #10

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    The problem is that nylon strings end up needing an under-saddle transducer (UST) pickup or some other type of transducer that sticks onto the top somehow. Pick your strings at the bridge- that is what the UST pickup hears. IMHO most of the "piezo quack" just comes from its location. You probably don't want that pure acoustic sound! So the rest of the signal chain has to try to compensate for the problematic signal. There are lots of tools for this- the Fishman Aura products, the D-TAR Mama Bear, etc. And then there are amps and cabinets designed for acoustic instruments like the AER, Acoustic Image, etc. It's all trying to reverse engineer the acoustic sound of the guitar from a woefully inadequate source. Some get closer to that than others.

    The best amplified nylon string UST guitar sound I've heard so far is the Rick Turner Renaissance RN-6, which is a semi-hollow design. The interaction between the pickup and the resonance of an acoustic guitar body tends to emphasize some unfortunate frequencies; the semi-hollow design reduces that and simplifies the task of the signal chain.

    One of our own forumites:

    Someone I'm not familiar with:

  12. #11

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    both videos don´t feature any classical guitar sound

    first is loaded with effects, second sounds over trebly
    more like a rhodes or dx7 compared to the real piano thing, but if that´s o.k for you -so be it
    (dx7:synthesizer in the 80´s -first loved, then dumped)

    you can read about my frustration in my post "mic for classical guitar"

    why disguise the experience and efforts of master luthiers with piezos and effects? (a little "room" is enough)

    could be that some instruments/amplifications are just ...crap ...or dx7-nylons...and people forgot about
    the real nylon thing
    I don´t care about "famous players" sounding like plastic - sound is part of music, as is craft

    what makes me happy these days, is listening to Lotta-Maria Saksa playing piano rolls transkriptions
    -that´s a classical guitar (no need to have that spanish accent) -so pure and cute

    be happy,

  13. #12

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    That Kremona pickup mentioned by ronjazz looks very interesting, here’s a review and demo:

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    That Kremona pickup mentioned by ronjazz looks very interesting, here’s a review and demo:

    I've got one of these - apart from wedging a bit of scrap leather under the end of it so it doesn't snap off when attaching / detaching the cable (saw some cautionary tales on you tube) it works fine for my (crap) playing...much less hassle (& know how) than a microphone...

  15. #14

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    The pickup that John Buscarino is now installing in his nylon guitars is made by James May who is also the designer of the Tone Dexter.

    James May Engineering | The Ultra Tonic Pickup - Premium Sound

  16. #15

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    If your gold standard is a condenser microphone none of the other transducers are going to make you very happy. I suggest you check out the DPA 4099 G or AMT mini-condensers which mount with a rim clamp. A $199 alternative is the Barlett Condenser Guitar Mike B which clips on the inside lip of the soundhole.

    The nicest nylon string transducer pickup tone I have heard is from John Knowles playing his eponymous Kirk Sand guitar with the Rich Barbera Soloist transducer. This is a transducer saddle that replaces your bone saddle. It requires a small hole to be made in the saddle slot and top for it to run into an endpin jack; I recommend the Tapastring Vintage Jack because you may not want a 1/2" hole in the endblock for a Fishman or Schatten endpin jack. Trouble with this saddle transducer is that your classical guitar's pure acoustic tone with the bone saddle will be compromised. The note attack and its decay will be affected. You may not be bothered by it but then again, you may. It is all string modulated by a little bit of ebony bridge. Quite a good psychoacoustic trick BUT you probably won't be able to distinguish a $1200 Pavan TP20 from a $25 000 Hauser III or a $15 000 Simon Ambridge with the Barbera Soloist over the PA because that is all you are hearing: string vibration modulated by the ebony bridge. Let me just say that I won't be installing it on a classical guitar that I paid a lot of money for. A crossover nylon string guitar for crossover works, yes.

    The Kremona is highly affordable being $70 and non-invasive. For a quick and dirty solution, there is no harm trying it to see if it meets your needs. For a crossover audience over the PA, it works. But Jason Vieaux is not going to risk his reputation on the Kremona playing a classical repertoire unless it is for "fun". If you are playing a serious repertoire and require amplification, the DPA or AMT mini-condenser is the way to go. For $199 the Bartlett Microphone B or A (if you have 48V phantom power) is very good but not great.

    So, $70 for the Kremona, $199 for the Bartlett, $350 for the Barbera Soloist, or $599 for the DPA 4099G or AMT G. Jury is out on the James May Ultra Tonic Pickup.

    NB The Barbera Soloist is NOT an Under the Saddle transducer. It is far more rigid and mates with the floor of the saddle slot much much better than the squishy Under The Saddle transducer can ever hope for. The individual string transducer under each string is mounted on the top edge of the Soloist saddle. It is not bone so it does not have the characteristic of bone. I have an archtop saddle version in my archtop. Listen to John Knowles carefully and you can hear its characteristics rather clearly.

  17. #16

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  18. #17

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    Gawd, that direct to soundcard Kremona sounds absolutely awful in that video review that Grahambop posted. The amped sound isn't good either. OK, for cocktail parties where everybody is sozzled, and the, ahem, typical quality of human beings that attends cocktail parties!

  19. #18

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    I took a look at the $269 James May Ultra Tonic. If you are a person with many guitars, not only is the DPA 4099G or AMT S15G or Bartlett Mike B a better value for money as you can move it from guitar to guitar, you get much better miked acoustic sound of your guitar to boot.

  20. #19

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    I have this one on my nylon string. And it's amazing. Highly recommended.

    VINTAGE DYNAMIC TRIO – Pickup The World

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

  21. #20

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    I have a K&K Pure Classic installed in one of my classicals. The sound is great, no piezo "quack", and the signal is hot enough that I can run it straight into the amp or PA without a preamp. I've gigged with it, using it both for sound reinforcement (i.e., adding a little volume to the guitar's acoustic sound) and to play jazz combo gigs at moderate volume. I love that it doesn't require batteries.

    Compared to the unamplified guitar in a good room, the tone with the K&K is a little darker and it doesn't yield all the nuances of my playing. So for a more formal performance like a classical recital or wedding I either use a concert volume guitar or a microphone.

    Other tidbits:

    The amp matters, as I've found that many acoustic guitar amps really color the sound. My Fishman Loudbox sounds great with the K&K with just a little EQ. My Roland AC60 sounds fantastic with a steel string guitar with piezo, but I've never been able to EQ it for a particularly good "classical" sound.

    I also have a Yamaha classical with a B-band pickup + internal microphone combination, which gets closer to a true acoustic sound and can work in a noisy environment. I've recorded classical music with its onboard electronics (video below).

  22. #21

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    I use the DPA 4099. You can move around, and I've never had a problem with feedback. Playing with a full band, or for some reason needing loud stage volume, would probably be problematic though. In that case, get a pair of IEM's

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingtoneman
    Have you tried Fishman or K&K classical guitar pickups? Do they give you the pure natural sound of your classical guitar? Your comments welcome.

    I have been using up to now a quality condenser microphone--on a stand. Absolutely a pure acoustic sound. Can pickups compare?
    Very interesting subject. How do I bookmark this page so I can read it at a later time?

    Sent from my VS501 using Tapatalk

  24. #23

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    Have you looked into any of the Fishman Sys Blend setups? It’s a combo piezo transducer and internal microphone into on eoutout jack. It has a blend knob and works pretty well. It is not a tone of a pure condenser off the sound hole, so if you’re seeking that tone, it’s really the only way you’ll get it and no transducer will ever satisfy you. But this is good tone to me, and one of the reasons I chose an affordable GK studio.

    Here’s the sys blend in two córdobas:

    and here is a demo of just the blend:

  25. #24

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    Look, there is no way to get a good classical guitar sound from a UST. You can get better or worse, but it's never going to sound like the instrument does acoustically short of being able to use digital signal processing to add back in the missing information. Top mounted transducers may be slightly better but you will be experimenting with mounting location for ages to find the right spots for any given guitar. Frankly even a condenser mic doesn't reproduce the acoustic sound that well because its aperture is limited and only captures a part of the sound being projected; the best option would be a large ribbon mic that "reads" a pretty wide sample of the sound coming from the guitar. The whole top of the guitar projects sound, not just the soundhole, and while human ears can catch most of that no pickup or mic will. If you're going to amplify an acoustic guitar, you just have to accept the limitations involved. It is what it is.

    The Kremona that Jabs criticized so heavily was still the best sounding option of any non-mic setup on this page (to my ears through my headphones). Of the UST transducers the Rick Turner Renaissance still sounds better to me than any UST amplified acoustic classical I've heard yet. Is it a lifelike reproduction of acoustic classical guitar sound? No. It's that the others are worse sounding. But everyone's ears vary in their response to sound and everyone's expectations of tones are different.

  26. #25

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    I favor the Kremona because I generally use it at a very low volume, so that the real guitar sound can be heard with the amplified sound. The Kremona has virtually no effect on the guitar's acoustic sound; when I did a concert with chorus, the amplification served as a "monitor" for the chorale, giving them an easier reference to pitch than the acoustic sound, which was facing the wrong way for them. Any amplification system makes any guitar an electric guitar, really, but if one can get the acoustic sound out there as well, then you have a nice situation. John Williams has used subtle amplification with a high-end mic and stereo speakers with good preamps, his idea was to bring a little more bass to the audience, as he hears his guitar. The many times I heard him live, I was never aware of the amplified sound, just a warm and present guitar. And I had heard him in the same locations before he started doing that, and he sounded great, of course, but the amplified concerts were not affected negatively by the amplification..

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    I favor the Kremona because I generally use it at a very low volume, so that the real guitar sound can be heard with the amplified sound. The Kremona has virtually no effect on the guitar's acoustic sound;
    I've been interested in getting the Kremona after it was recommended by David Tanenbaum, head of the guitar department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He uses it when playing with an orchestra.

  28. #27

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    Well, I have a couple of really superb Lester Devoe concert flamenco guitars, and the Kremona really does them justice. In certain settings, it really makes the job easier and sounds very good. I imagine Tannenbaum uses his very judiciously, with just enough gain to blend in with the guitar but the ability to "throw" further with a speaker system.