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  1. #1

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    Hi there,

    I own an L5 style guitar.
    My neck pickup is a custom made by Pete Biltoft ( Vintage Vibe Guitar ). Humbucker with 1 coil CC single sized, 1 coil P90 single sized. I can use the CC, the P90, both in parallel ( kind of a middle position ) and both in series ( kind of humbucker sound ).
    So as you can see i have tons of options... But none of them sound like my archtop unplugged ( beautiful acoustic sound ! ). They all have an "electric" sound, which is great but i'd really like to ear the acoustic sound, like if i'd put a mic in front of the guitar.

    Do you think adding a piezo would help to get a more acoustic/natural sound ? Any feedback ?

    Thanks in advance

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    You're still likely to get quack from piezo. Maybe a clip-on saxophone condensor mike would get you there?

  4. #3

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    The combination of an audio processor like the Audio Sprockets Tonedexter and a piezo pickup (Fishman makes an archtop piezo bridge) is supposed to yield a fairly accurate acoustic representation. There is already quite a bit of information online about this approach.

  5. #4

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    I put a Barcus Berry piezo—BB pretty much perfected the modern instrument piezo—on one of my Archies. I didn’t really like the result much, so went to a DeArmond RC1000 reissue, with much better results. I did put the BB on a dobro, and I think it worked pretty well for that application.

    The Fishman archtop bridge pickup is supposed to sound pretty good when coupled with a decent preamp.

  6. #5

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    Not a big fan of a piezo even with a good preamp. However, used with a Tonedexter it's a different kettle of fish. You set up a microphone on your guitar (like you would for recording) and input that to the device along with the piezo. It then creates a sound map to make the piezo input sound as close to the mic as possible. After that you just use the piezo and the sound map you stored on the Tonedexter without the mic. Works very well with flat tops. Haven't tried it with an archtop myself but there is quite a bit of information and recordings online.

    Side note: Tonedexter doesn't work well with electric guitar pickups (e.g. Humbuckers) as they don't collect enough sonic information to work with. There are other acoustic pickups in addition to piezo's (K&K and others) that do work well however.

  7. #6

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    I was just marveling at how acoustic players seem to get such a good sound. Molly Tuttle discusses using the Tonedexter here:

    Molly Tuttle: “I think I became more and more obsessed and in love with playing” | MusicRadar

    It seems flattop players have a much nicer selection of possibilities that we archtop players do. That said, the sound most people associate with jazz guitar is not a pure acoustic sound, at least outside of gypsy jazz.

  8. #7

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    I have thought about this topic a lot and tried different things. Playing with a microphone in front of your guitar will give you the true traditional percussive bright sound, just as the guitar was designed for in the days of yore.

    Looking back, the electric pickup was the best thing to happen to archtops. It permitted beautiful, full bodied tone for chord melody and single note soloing.

    Mixing a magnetic pickup sound at low volume with a miked acoustic sound is fabulous. Dialing the electric up and down allows great and practical versatility.

    I have nothing against extracting other tones from the archtop. I have not been as satisfied with them though.

  9. #8

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    I would use a transducer set like the K & K or Schertler rigs. Gets the body without the quack. You need to experiment with placements by using some stickum to place the pickups on the outside before you install them permanently. Also, Pickup The World makes a strip that would go under your bridge that may well be far superior to a piezo.

  10. #9

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    +1 for the Fishman. While I used one, I was regularly complimented on my sound.


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  11. #10

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    If you pick right next to the bridge, you'll hear basically the same sound that an undersaddle piezo gets. That's simply because of the position of the pickup being right at the bridge-string contact point. The headroom of the preamp also matters; a 9V preamp will probably be driven into distortion on the attack transient; an 18V or phantom powered 48V preamp/DI will probably present less of that. As a result, to get a realistic sound I think one is stuck with some signal processing between the guitar and the speakers.

    Like the Tonedexter, there are also other preamps that modify or add to the information provided in the signal to flesh the sound out, reduce the quack, improve timbre, etc. Seymour Duncan and Rick Turner collaborated on the Mama Bear preamp; the Fishman Aura preamps also operate about the same way. But all of those are designed primarily for a flattop acoustic or classical and most use preset patches; it seems like the Tonedexter might be the one that could accommodate an archtop fairly well and sound more like one's own instrument.

    Duncan-Turner Acoustic Research Mama Bear Preamp

    Aura(R) Acoustic Imaging | Fishman

    I have seen Jorma Kaukonen in concert multiple times using the Fishman set up and getting a very nice acoustic guitar sound.

    There's also the Pigtronix Real Deal pedal, which I've never seen or tried. It is a collaboration with Bob Weir; I have heard him use it in concert with an acoustic guitar and it seemed to be effective. Whether it would at all be helpful with an archtop is beyond me but I mentioned it for the sake of completeness.

    Bob Weir's Real Deal - Pigtronix

    Pat Metheny uses a condenser microphone mounted in the treble side F hole on his archtop guitars (an AMT in a custom mount). I've never had an opportunity to try that but it might be a reasonable option. It has the advantage of being fairly unobtrusive and able to be left in place in the case, unlike a microphone mounted on a gooseneck attached to the outside of the guitar.

    Pat Metheny | Applied Microphone Technology - microphone for saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, acoustic bass, violin, cello, drums, and percussion.

  12. #11

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    ToneDexter is not a preamp with better than average EQ and is not comparable to other preamps. The signal processing it performs and the fact that it's engineered to do it on your specific guitar is the whole point.

    If you want a good preamp for general purposes I recommend the Grace Felix. It's expensive. But after having used it for many years the cost is a distant memory and I'm really glad I got it.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    ..

    Looking back, the electric pickup was the best thing to happen to archtops. It permitted beautiful, full bodied tone for chord melody and single note soloing.
    Like this. While we chase certain tones (acoustic, woody, jazz, et al) we sometimes forget to listen to what just sounds good. We get better tools all the time and they are a lot of fun and useful in a great many ways. But sometimes you just plug the guitar into an amp and it reminds you that the native sound of an amplified archtop is very pleasing.

  14. #13

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    Has anyone tried simply plugging their electric archtop into one the the acoustic simulators, like the Boss AC? Might be worth picking up a cheap used one to experiment.

    Piezo for Archtop ? ( amplify an acoustic sound )-bossac-jpg

  15. #14

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    Rich Barbera Soloist archtop saddle transducer.

    K&K Definity under the bridge base transducer or Open 2 Source Sensors https://opentosourcesensors.com/prod...ression-pickup .

    Each one requires a good preamp like the Grace Design Alix or Felix-now Felix 2.

  16. #15

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    When I was playing a show in the summer before the pandemic, the theater company used a top sound company from NYC. They made my POS Gretsch tenor banjo sound like a D'A!
    I was so excited by the incredible sound system they used, I searched for the head of the sound crew, and asked him what the best pick up for an acoustic string instrument was, and he said Fishman was top of the line. He wasn't some young rock guy, like his underlings. He had to be in his 60s.

  17. #16

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    K&K definity sounds like this


    with a bit of EQ

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    ToneDexter is not a preamp with better than average EQ and is not comparable to other preamps. The signal processing it performs and the fact that it's engineered to do it on your specific guitar is the whole point.

    If you want a good preamp for general purposes I recommend the Grace Felix. It's expensive. But after having used it for many years the cost is a distant memory and I'm really glad I got it.
    i have a Tonedexter but it doesn’t seem to do it’s best work with the K&K Definity. It seems to work well with pure under saddle pickups.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    i have a Tonedexter but it doesn’t seem to do it’s best work with the K&K Definity. It seems to work well with pure under saddle pickups.
    Not surprised. Had a K&K Definity and never got it to work well even with a lot of EQ. Possibly because of the limited spectrum (top, middle, botton of bridge) sensed by the Definity in the first place. Sunrise pickup (arguably the best magnetic designed for acoustics) doesn't work well with the ToneDexter either. Have a K&K under saddle in a couple of archtops and maybe when I stop chasing other squirrels I'll get back to questing for better acoustic tone.

  20. #19

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    Well I don’t want to get too far afield, but a couple of questions:

    Aren’t all mics “transducer mics?” The transducer is the element for picking up and converting sound waves.

    Microphone Types: The 2 Primary Transducer Types + 5 Subtypes – My New Microphone

    Seems to me any contact pickup whether on the body or under saddle must be a piezo pickup.

    What Is a Piezo Pickup? - The ESP Guitar Company

    So there can be cheap ones and expensive ones (Fishman), but they all work the same way...i.e., they’re all “compression mics”. If they’re on the guitar body and as thin as a bandaid, I would think they would have to be piezo.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    K&K definity sounds like this


    with a bit of EQ
    That's a great sound.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    That's a great sound.
    It's really not bad! I might post some more audio of this pickup with some different types of playing. But it's certainly a great sound for rhythm.

    This is DI as well, nothing done apart from EQ. What I find quite interesting is that it is quite a resonant sound, unlike the under saddle pickups.

  23. #22

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    But I think the Tonedexter functions better when it has a less complex signal from the pickup. It really sounds super with my nylon string and flattop under saddle Fishman guitars, both of which are cheap guitars/ It makes the, sound like a million dollars. It does well with cheap guitars and basic pickups, which is great for touring.

    It kind of makes me want to try one of those cheap as chips Epiphone Masterbilt and run it through the ToneDexter.

    Don't quite have that money to throw away though ... (Or I could install one of those Fishman archtop pickups I suppose, but it's a risk and annoying to install.)

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    But I think the Tonedexter functions better when it has a less complex signal from the pickup..
    Possibly I'm mistaken (which hasn't happened for at least an hour or two), but I thought it was the other way round? I'm using the ToneDexter on a K&K under bridge (3 transducers) flat top which is a pretty typical application and is a fairly complex signal. Also, there is a list of what works well and what doesn't on the ToneDexter site and it seems the complex pickups win out. Audio Sprockets | ToneDexter Pickup Guidance and Pickup Compatibility
    Last edited by Spook410; 03-08-2021 at 02:07 PM.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    B
    It kind of makes me want to try one of those cheap as chips Epiphone Masterbilt and run it through the ToneDexter.
    From what I've heard over the internets, you might be very disappointed in the acoustic sound out of the Epi, as opposed to your Loar.

  26. #25

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    I really ought to keep a list of every time something like this has come up so I don't have to bug everyone else with seeing the same thing from me again... but here we are. (sorry for anybody that already knows what I think and doesn't really want to see it again)

    So, if you want to "blend" your acoustic and electric sounds, I think you can use a transducer (whether it be fishman piezo bridge, or a K&K, or something like the Carlos Juan stick-on pickup a lot of Jazz Manouche folks have been digging), because the electric side will help balance out the sound of the transducer by itself.

    But if you just want to amplify the acoustic sound of the guitar, I've never found transducers to be satisfying. (Well to be fair, I liked a K&K on one guitar, but it wasn't a very good guitar, when I got a much better sounding guitar, the sound from the K&K was still the same as the one from the lesser guitar.)

    Now the Tonedexter is a Modeler. You make a "model" of your guitar by playing it into a mic while sending it a transducer signal as well. So then you would just play with the transducer, and the Tonedexter alters that signal with to match the model. There are lots of flattop and jazz manouche people using them happily. But I haven't seen any acoustic archtop players doing so (of course, there ARE so few acoustic archtop players out there, so yeah...)

    I would be tempted to try one, but I developed a method to mic my acoustic archtops with a clip-on lavalier mic, and it's been so successful that I've never felt the need. There's no question that mic'ing acoustic instruments isn't always easy, and some super-noisy environments may just be unsuitable, but I'd rather mic than any of the alternatives.

    Basically the key tips:
    1 - use a clip-on style lavalier (like say the DPA4099, or the more affordable Audio Technica mics (like an AT831b with a AT8414 gooseneck, or the Pro70 or Pro35 that come attached to the gooseneck). The idea is to clip it on to the tailpiece, and point the mic directly at the top of the guitar, with about an inch of distance. I find the best spot to put the mic over is equidistant from the bridge, the end of the tailpiece and corner of the treble f-hole.
    2 - sound "geometry" is key, i.e. positioning the mic, guitar and any speakers/monitors - so, the idea is to have the mic on-axis to the guitar top, and have any monitors or speakers as close to 90° off-axis. Also, you want to have the speakers far enough away so that the sheer vibrations are resonating the guitar, or have your body as buffer between the guitar and speakers. So I tend to have my floor monitors on my left, aligned so that they are pointing the sound straight down the line of the fingerboard, and thus 90° to the mic, which is pointing straight down at the top. If I'm using an acoustic amp as both FOH sound and my monitor, than I'll have it behind me, and to the left, so that my body will be buffer between the speaker and body of the guitar.
    2.5 - this is related but slightly different. the top of guitar reflects other sounds in front of it into the mic, so you want to keep the top of the guitar from pointing at any monitors or other loud instruments.
    3 - get an on/off footswitch: unlike most guitar things that have volume knobs in reach, you'll need something to turn the mic off. Especially because it's a fairly sensitive mic, and positioning is so key - you'll need something to mute the signal when you do stuff like put the guitar down between songs or sets, or lean forward to change music, or otherwise moving out of position. Then you only have to be purposeful about the geometry when you're playing.
    4 - bonus - when I'm going direct into the house or PA, I will put an XLR A/B switcher pedal after the on/off pedal, and go to two different channels, one lower in volume for rhythm, and one slightly boosted for any solos, or other bits that need to pop out of the mix more. Plus, it allows a really good sound person the flexibility to EQ the two signals differently, or have different amounts of each in the monitors.

    The most important thing about why I find mic'ing to be better is all about the "feel" staying "acoustic". Anytime you amplify something it *does* change, but when I'm playing acoustic rhythm guitar or taking a chord-melody solo, or even single-note solo, it still feels "acoustic", and not that way it does with a magnetic pickup, and not the weird response I got with transducers. And honestly, I've use the DPA4099 for proper studio recording, and the quality is right up there with a good mic.

  27. #26

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    I had Bill Comins install a Barbera Soloist transducer on my 16" archtop by him. Bill had to make a different bridge to hold the transducer saddle vs. the ebony one that it came with. The guitar has a KA 12-pole piece humbucker and I had Bill add a separate volume pot for the Barbera.

    How I use it:

    • You need a two channel amplifier and a Planet Waves stereo cable from the guitar that is plugged into each channel of the amplifier. I use an Acoustic Image Clarus 2R Series III as a two channel amp.
    • I have found the Barbera needs to run at full volume out of the guitar (so much for the volume control on the guitar) and you need to control the volume with the amplifier. If you turn down the Barbera's output volume at the guitar, you begin to hear weird phasing issues.
    • I have found having the sound primarily with the magnetic pickup and using the transducer to add ambience (e.g. think 80% magnetic, 20% transducer).
    • You also need a two-way speaker to capture some of the higher frequency partials from the transducer. I use an 8" Buscarino Chameleon two-way speaker set on acoustic mode so both drivers are engaged.


    So you primarily have the familiar electric sound from the KA but with some ambient complexity that the player normally hears themselves added to the mix. This works well for lower volume solo play.


  28. #27

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    I just ordered one of these used, really cheap, no box or anything, just to try. I don't expect it to sound authentic, especially that middle range thunk, but it's worth the experiment for a few bucks.

    Piezo for Archtop ? ( amplify an acoustic sound )-mooer-jpg

  29. #28

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    Ha, I was about to post that you needed to wait for campusfive to cut and paste an answer to this, but he goes and writes a new one from scratch. I use his method with an AT pro35 and have been very happy with it for live play with a big band. For recording I would probably be better off with a more expensive mike. I have a Bud so I don't need a preamp.

    If your guitar sounds like this one you have got it right:

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    From what I've heard over the internets, you might be very disappointed in the acoustic sound out of the Epi, as opposed to your Loar.
    That's not really the point; we are looking for an amplified IR version of an acoustic sound, not an acoustic sound.

    For instance, Tonedexter works great with Yamaha silent guitars.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    That's not really the point; we are looking for an amplified IR version of an acoustic sound, not an acoustic sound.

    For instance, Tonedexter works great with Yamaha silent guitars.
    You may find a profile you like in the Fishman Spectrum Aura DI pedal. I know the pedal has been around a few years and is no longer "fashionably cutting edge" but the profiles both in situ and downloadable are great and you can always find something that works. Borrow or rent one first. I was deciding between the Tonedexter and this. I bought the Fishman because it suits my needs better than the Tonedexter does.

  32. #31

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    I still like K&K Big Twins mounted on the underside of the top plate, one beneath each bridge foot area using super glue gel for maximum volume and tone. Enough output not to need a preamp and accurate tone. Versus a bridge pickup you get the sound of the top, different guitars sound like themselves, not just the bridge sound. Certainly a low impact way to get started without the need for special processing or preamps out of the box.
    Attached Images Attached Images Piezo for Archtop ? ( amplify an acoustic sound )-pxl_20210213_194628142-jpg 

  33. #32

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    Never seen it tried on an archtop, but if you have a built-in pickup as opposed to a floater.....

    Would the K&K Trinity pro system be a potential solution? It has transducers to stick under the bridge AND a gooseneck mike that you stick to the inside side of the guitar. On a flattop the gooseneck points to the soundhole, and I imagine you would need to experiment to find the best focus point to target on an f-hole guitar. The external preamp has a channel for each source so you can mix (gooseneck and transducers) them as you like.
    Maybe someone has tried this already, and could they comment?

    PS it works fine on my Martin JM Mahogany jumbo

  34. #33

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    I'm sure it is would work fine using the big transducers for the archtop, K&K would probably set you up with a package, their engineers are very helpful.

    I use the big twins for the most output on thick tops like archtops and.cellos but some may prefer the smaller sizes ones for a different sound, the trick is to experiment with location using the adhesive tape before doing the glued installation. I've found in all my instruments I've done this to that the best spot is under the bridge foot area.