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  1. #1

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    semi serious thought exercise:

    I have a gretsch g400 I dearly love, and a USA Kent Armstrong floater installed. Neat. Happy.

    But sometimes, I like to run it through my electric amps because I'm a terrible person who likes to do horrible things. And it's glorious.

    So I got to wondering: what if I were to install a second pickup to get an " acoustic" sound and run that one way, while running the floater into an amp for electric tones, and possibly do both at the same time?

    On a scale from one to me, how dumb is this? Any tips, tricks or pitfalls involved?

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  3. #2

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    So like a piezo?

  4. #3

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    Problem is how you split them. You would need some sort of utility box to accept a stereo jack from your guitar and split it out to separate feeds. Once split you can run the signal chains however you want. You could also use a TRS to separate 1/4" cable feeds but they're pretty clunky.

    As for an Armstrong floater, it's probably one of the best for running into an acoustic set up but I think most of us treat it like the humbucker it is and run it into amps designed for electric guitar.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by arielcee
    So like a piezo?
    possibly? Something under the bridge, or a sound board transducer or something? Hopefully not a mic or contact mic (for ease of use, mostly), but I'm listening.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    Problem is how you split them. You would need some sort of utility box to accept a stereo jack from your guitar and split it out to separate feeds. Once split you can run the signal chains however you want. You could also use a TRS to separate 1/4" cable feeds but they're pretty clunky.

    As for an Armstrong floater, it's probably one of the best for running into an acoustic set up but I think most of us treat it like the humbucker it is and run it into amps designed for electric guitar.
    i assumed that is be running two lines out of the guitar, which would negate the need to split the signal. The g400 has the input jack on the lower rim, so running a second pickup through where the strap pin currently resides shouldn't be an issue.

    And I'm pretty happy with the Armstrong. It does pretty acoustic things fairly well. But I do things more akin to this with it, as well:



    I think it would be cool do do heavily distorted or effected things one way while still having the acoustic thing going, too. Or I could track clean and acoustic at the same time, which would be neat. There at possibilities here, both live and in the studio.

  6. #5

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    I have a G400 too!

    I tried having magnetic pickup and a piezo wired up. I had a toggle switch under the pickguard to toggle between the two.

    It didn't work - I think you'd need separate outputs.
    What sounds good for the magnetic pickup sounds horrible for the piezo and vice versa.

    No amount of tweaking would result in a useable sound with the piezo.

    My G400 is used for big band duties a lot, generally I want more of an acoustic sound for that style. That's why I tried the piezo thing.

  7. #6
    But I kinda think it just needs someone as dumb as me to make the financial and emotional commitment to fail on such a grandiose level. I could be wrong, though.

    But consider:

    I have a separate acoustic chain with parametric eq, aura system etc going into a pa.

    I won't have to split the signal if I just run two separate signals, so they will be fully independent; they won't share amps or processing.

    Im already running DR zebra strings, which are an electric/acoustic compromise that sound pretty OK ( though they inexplicably stain your fingertips)

    I'm already doing all that anyway, so the only difference here would be the extra pickup, and instead of picking which chain to play through, i could do both. Or either. I havent figured that part out, nor what the onboard options would look like.

    And congratulations on being the only other person on earth in the coolest guitar ever club. Which pickups have you tried with it? Any recordings?

  8. #7

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    Maybe consider K&K's Defnity system?

    Definity System | K&K Sound

  9. #8

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    I've not had unqualified success using the K&K live with my arch top (a Loar LH600) but it's OK with my Maccaferrri. Mostly I find I have to heavily EQ the sound on the Loar.

    I used to use the K&K pickup in combination with a Shadow Atila Zoller pickup and a stereo jack output with a splitting cable. I never tried the two amps thing - I didn't have two amps at that point, but I can't see why it wouldn't work. Might need to be aware of phasing but an acoustic preamp with a phase switch like the LR Baggs Para DI may sort that out?

    In the end I stopped using it because it was more trouble than it was worth. This is what it sounded like:



    I think that sounds a lot better than I remember it lol. Actually that might mostly be the K&K.

    What might be worth looking at is the ToneDexter with the K&K. This guy seems to get a really nice sound:



    (Obviously there's a difference between what sounds good in the studio and what works out live.) The idea of it seems almost too good to be true, and as I play a variety of acoustic instruments I am seriously considering saving up for one of these...

    I'm sure Jonathon Stout will be on here in presently to extoll the virtues of a lavelier mic, a solution I've never found terribly practical, but he gets a great sound.

    Another option that I would be interested in hearing about is the use of a small contact mic such as the AKG C411L. I tried one on my Nylon String the other day and it sounded good and not too feedback.

  10. #9

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    Oh one last thing. I now use the K&K on my Django box with a cheap as chips ART Tube preamp I had lying around and an EQ pedal and it sounds a whole lot better.

    I haven't tried this on the Loar, and if I do and like it I will make a recording.

    The ART also has a phase switch (hooray!) but no tweakable EQ (boo) or notch (double boo.) Maybe I should write to them as I would buy such a thing in a heartbeat and I'm sure there would be others.

    It does the Junior Barnyard/Octal Amp thing a little bit with an electric too, at least to my ears....

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ray175
    Maybe consider K&K's Defnity system?

    Definity System | K&K Sound
    I wasn't super impressed with their clips or their pricing. But there doesn't seem to be many options for this kinda thing, so I may have to look closer at it.


    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Oh one last thing. I now use the K&K on my Django box with a cheap as chips ART Tube preamp I had lying around and an EQ pedal and it sounds a whole lot better.

    I haven't tried this on the Loar, and if I do and like it I will make a recording.

    The ART also has a phase switch (hooray!) but no tweakable EQ (boo) or notch (double boo.) Maybe I should write to them as I would buy such a thing in a heartbeat and I'm sure there would be others.

    It does the Junior Barnyard/Octal Amp thing a little bit with an electric too, at least to my ears....
    first off, your sound and playing was great. And lucky for me, my trusty Platinum pro eq has plenty of eq and phase switching and a notch filter. I might not have considered this without such a tool at my disposal.

  12. #11

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    This is what Jonathan Stout recommends and uses (which I bought recently as well):


  13. #12

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    Have a K&K Definity as well as a K&K archtop. Not real happy with either even with lots of EQ. Haven't tried them with a ToneDexter yet but have one and will one of these days. It works very well on a K&K equipped flat top.

  14. #13

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    The Tonedexter looks interesting. Does it work with magnetic pickups, or only piezos? I can't tell from a quick look at the website.

  15. #14
    I'd be reticent to use a mic because it's expensive, a hassle, and higher volumes and being attached to a distorted guitar feeding back can't be a great idea. But I don't doubt it's the best sounding option. In just not the guy to set it up every single time I take the guitar out of the case.

    As for the tone Dexter, well... I have a fishman aura on the way. Six of one, maybe. Not that it has images for archtops, but it claims to work with magnetic pickups as well. Which the tonedexter doesn't and I have a fair amount of. So I'll report back on that, even if it isn't exactly what we're talking about here.

    As for using copious eq to make a salvageable sound, I already have an lr baggs lyric a regular old k&k sounds pretty nice with my baritone, and the aura should fluff it up some. Any thoughts on the schatten soundboard pickup, maybe?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    The Tonedexter looks interesting. Does it work with magnetic pickups, or only piezos? I can't tell from a quick look at the website.
    Does not work well with magnetic pickups. Not even a Sunrise pickup. Needs the full spectrum you get for a piezo or K&K. Interesting how good a piezo equipped flat top sounds with this thing.

  17. #16

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    My recommendation is to throw away the definity set ups and mount K&K Big Twins on the underside of the top, one under each bridge foot mounted with super glue gel. Route the combined output into one side of a stereo Jack and the magnetic pickups on the other and process them separately. Works great, I do this on cellos and archtops.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cavalier
    My recommendation is to throw away the definity set ups and mount K&K Big Twins on the underside of the top, one under each bridge foot mounted with super glue gel. Route the combined output into one side of a stereo Jack and the magnetic pickups on the other and process them separately. Works great, I do this on cellos and archtops.
    there's an interesting idea. My guitar is pretty big and I do tune down pretty far some times. Mildly worried about soundboard pickups with regards to volume and feedback. But I tried my baritone with a k&k mini and it sounded awesome once properly eq'ed.

    Wish there were more clips or info on it.

    Edit: I see that they still have their true archtop model around. A little reticent about crazy glue, but it does mean I can use something like the aura or tone dexter with it later, if need be. Nice to have an out if I don't like the sound. That's enticing.
    Last edited by feet; 01-24-2020 at 07:34 AM.

  19. #18

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    I had a Fishman Pickup-in-the bridge and a floater on my archtop for years, but only ever played the one or the other. Eventually, the Fishman went since I preferred the electric sound of the floater. However, I got compliments on the Fishman sound from people who do not normally compliment on guitar sounds. The real drawback of the Fishman was that I had set it as low as possible and still the action was a spot too high - which, of course, is not the pickup's fault.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    I had a Fishman Pickup-in-the bridge and a floater on my archtop for years, but only ever played the one or the other. Eventually, the Fishman went since I preferred the electric sound of the floater. However, I got compliments on the Fishman sound from people who do not normally compliment on guitar sounds. The real drawback of the Fishman was that I had set it as low as possible and still the action was a spot too high - which, of course, is not the pickup's fault.
    Are you referring to this? Can it go right into an acoustic amp or pa? Or does it need some kind of preamp boost?

    https://www.amazon.com/Fishman-PROAR.../dp/B0002D06ZE

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Are you referring to this? Can it go right into an acoustic amp or pa? Or does it need some kind of preamp boost?

    https://www.amazon.com/Fishman-PROAR.../dp/B0002D06ZE
    That’s the one. It can go right into a PA, the output is quite loud (which makes it hard to balance with a magnetic pup).


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  22. #21

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    I know you said you didn't want to use a microphone but I don't know of any other way to get a acoustic sound.

    How about trying this run through another channel.
    Acoustic Archtop Pickup-dsc_0018-b-2018_08_24-00_11_34-utc-jpg

  23. #22

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    I've never heard a pickup or transducer that sounded good on an archtop.

    The acoustic sound of an archtop, and the way that it is different than a flattop, just isn't captured by simply getting the vibrations of the top. It requires "air".

    That said, I've managed to use a clip-on lavalier microphone to capture the acoustic sound of an archtop with a floating pickup and make that work. The main difficulty (which is why I don't do it regularly) is that the DeArmond money-on-a-stick rig often contributes some buzzes acoustically, and I don't have a guitar I'm willing to mount it to permanently. That said, I had great luck with a friend's Loar 700 with a 1100 Rhythm Chief Reissue permanently mounted and my DPA. I've done it several times with my 1932 L-5 and a DeArmond FHC, but usually the FHC starts to work loose and I can pickup some kind of vibrations (I think it might be the cable touching the top at times, but I couldn't ever isolate it).

    Anyway, if you want some kind of Pat Metheny, new-age-y sound to blend with your magnetic pickup, then a transducer would be fine.

  24. #23
    I am shocked and appalled at the suggestion that I replace me transcendent stair step bridge with a plain old fishman one were this any other guitar, however... I wonder if I could just use the top half of the fishman? Im guessing not. Looks like a cool solution, though.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by feet
    I am shocked and appalled at the suggestion that I replace me transcendent stair step bridge with a plain old fishman one were this any other guitar, however... I wonder if I could just use the top half of the fishman? Im guessing not. Looks like a cool solution, though.
    You probably could, as long as the holes line up. The cord comes out of the saddle, the base is just a passive part.

  26. #25
    I know you guys are fans of the mics (probably because they work)' but it looks to be A hassle to position and remove every time and I'm bound to get it caught on something like an idiot.

    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive
    I've never heard a pickup or transducer that sounded good on an archtop.

    The acoustic sound of an archtop, and the way that it is different than a flattop, just isn't captured by simply getting the vibrations of the top. It requires "air".

    That said, I've managed to use a clip-on lavalier microphone to capture the acoustic sound of an archtop with a floating pickup and make that work. The main difficulty (which is why I don't do it regularly) is that the DeArmond money-on-a-stick rig often contributes some buzzes acoustically, and I don't have a guitar I'm willing to mount it to permanently. That said, I had great luck with a friend's Loar 700 with a 1100 Rhythm Chief Reissue permanently mounted and my DPA. I've done it several times with my 1932 L-5 and a DeArmond FHC, but usually the FHC starts to work loose and I can pickup some kind of vibrations (I think it might be the cable touching the top at times, but I couldn't ever isolate it).

    Anyway, if you want some kind of Pat Metheny, new-age-y sound to blend with your magnetic pickup, then a transducer would be fine.
    interesting. Hadn't considered guitar noise. Bet mine can get rattle-y and my technique is trash. Disappointing that the standard options don't work well here, and I'm super not after no laser chorus tones. Guess I have a few things to research here.

    One Avant grade thought: internal mic? Like the kind of baggs makes. Now that I've figured those out, I wonder if anyone had tried one in an archtop.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by feet
    I know you guys are fans of the mics (probably because they work)' but it looks to be A hassle to position and remove every time and I'm bound to get it caught on something like an idiot.

    interesting. Hadn't considered guitar noise. Bet mine can get rattle-y and my technique is trash. Disappointing that the standard options don't work well here, and I'm super not after no laser chorus tones. Guess I have a few things to research here.

    One Avant grade thought: internal mic? Like the kind of baggs makes. Now that I've figured those out, I wonder if anyone had tried one in an archtop.
    Might be tricky getting it into position yourself without a big round sound hold. But I'm sure there are techniques that guitar techs know.


  28. #27

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    You know, there was a guitar in the market with the piezo+magnetic setup: the Yamaha AEX1500, aka the Martin Taylor guitar. It’s a really nice one for finger style, although a little prone to feedback. Here’s some pics:




  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Might be tricky getting it into position yourself without a big round sound hold. But I'm sure there are techniques that guitar techs know.

    didn't think about that. might be a bitch to get it in there through those cats eyes


    Quote Originally Posted by xavierbarcelo
    You know, there was a guitar in the market with the piezo+magnetic setup: the Yamaha AEX1500, aka the Martin Taylor guitar. It’s a really nice one for finger style, although a little prone to feedback. Here’s some pics:



    didn't know about that one. Looks like they were smart enough to go with their own system. I'll go look for clips to see how the concept works and sounds. Thanks! I suppose the feedback is primarily because of the body and not either of the pickups.

  30. #29
    I checked out a few more things when it dawned on me that without a big round soundhole, I would struggle to accommodate not just pickup elements, but internal preamps and battery packs as well. I doubt anyone is willing to build a ship in a bottle here.

    Guess that narrows it down some. It might just be passive pickups and external mics for me, then. I remember gretsch made a Jimmie Vaughn version of this that had sound board transducers, i think. Not sure how well that turned out, maybe I should look into it.