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Old December 19th, 2012, 04:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My new solo/duo acoustic setup!

I wasn't sure where to post this since it covers so many things, but this seemed like the best place. Hopefully it might help out someone else in a similar situation.

So, I've put a lot of thought into this, and I think I came up with a solution. My problem, which is stated in a previous thread, was how do I switch from acoustic to electric with one guitar during a solo or duo show?

Step 1: How do I make my acoustic guitar sound like an electric guitar?

I found the answer by purchasing an original Lawrence A300 soundhole pickup. I play a lot of slide, and I wanted that old school, raw electric sound those blues guys got by installing a soundhole pickup in their acoustic guitar. Amplifying it was easy, or so I thought, and I would run it directly into a tube amp.

Step 2: How do I switch from an acoustic sound to the electric sound?

Sounds simple enough. I would run the stock piezo from my guitar directly to the P.A. and the A300 would run through a pedalboard to the tube amp using some type of A/B switch to engage one sound at a time. This turned out to be my biggest problem since no one really made exactly what I was looking for in a switch.

Step 3: Back to the drawing board.

After approaching a couple of custom pedal makers without a response, and getting suggestions in the Stomp Box forum, I decided I needed to look at other options. Then it hit me! Doesn't Tech 21 make pedals that emulate amps that can be plugged into P.A.s, mixers, and used for recordings? They do and apparetly they are pretty good. The Tech 21 pedal choice was an easy one. Since I love Fender amps I went with the Blonde pedal, picked one up today off of eBay, and it's going on the pedal board with little to nothing else. By going this route, I will be able to use a standard A/B switch.

Below is a crude diagram I came up with. It's not on there, but I'm also using a Boss Loop Station for solo shows. What do you think?
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Old December 19th, 2012, 05:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I love it when a plan comes together like that.

As long as you're happy with the end results, ya go for it. Looks like a good setup that will get the job done. Have fun!
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Old December 19th, 2012, 06:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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That should work well if you're sure you'll always want only the piezo alone or the Lawrence alone.

The problem is that there's a great danger that you'll find, as I have, that the magnetic and piezo pickups together sound lots better than either alone. The magnetic pickup compensates for the ear-to-the-soundboard harshness that folks frequently describe as piezo quack. The piezo supplies the high frequency shimmer that the magnetic pickup fails to convey. The result was once characterized by Leo Kottke as "larger than life."

If you use an A/B/Y pedal, you can have the mix of both pickups. I'm presuming that the piezo pickup system includes an onboard preamp; if so, you can control the mix with that. The one risk with such a system is that the A/B/Y pedal might load the magnetic pickup when the Tech 21 Blonde is in bypass mode. You could compensate for that with any clean buffer preamp in the Lawrence pickup's signal path. If you place it before the Blonde, this would also permit selecting between two preset grit levels with the Lawrence.

Whatever you decide, I'm eager to hear the results.
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Old December 19th, 2012, 08:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
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That should work well if you're sure you'll always want only the piezo alone or the Lawrence alone.

The problem is that there's a great danger that you'll find, as I have, that the magnetic and piezo pickups together sound lots better than either alone. The magnetic pickup compensates for the ear-to-the-soundboard harshness that folks frequently describe as piezo quack. The piezo supplies the high frequency shimmer that the magnetic pickup fails to convey. The result was once characterized by Leo Kottke as "larger than life."

If you use an A/B/Y pedal, you can have the mix of both pickups. I'm presuming that the piezo pickup system includes an onboard preamp; if so, you can control the mix with that. The one risk with such a system is that the A/B/Y pedal might load the magnetic pickup when the Tech 21 Blonde is in bypass mode. You could compensate for that with any clean buffer preamp in the Lawrence pickup's signal path. If you place it before the Blonde, this would also permit selecting between two preset grit levels with the Lawrence.

Whatever you decide, I'm eager to hear the results.
Thanks for the heads up on some of the potential obstacles I might encounter.
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Old December 19th, 2012, 09:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No obstacles, only opportunities!

I made my previous post based upon the assumption that the A/B/Y switch you'll be using is passive. If it has buffered inputs, you wouldn't need the buffer preamp I suggested.

Even if the A/B/Y switch is passive, you wouldn't necessarily need to acquire a new buffer, if you have any stomp box that does not feature true bypass. For example, I have an old Ibanez PQ9 (quasi-) parametric EQ stompbox. Because it's not true bypass, it always presents a nice high input impedance, so it would serve to isolate the magnetic pickup from the low-Z load which the A/B/Y box might present. I also have an old MXR 10-band graphic EQ which would work equally well. Check your pedal collection; there's a good chance you already have something that will do the job.
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Old December 19th, 2012, 09:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I believe Monte Montgomery basically does just that..
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Old December 19th, 2012, 09:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syrynx View Post
That should work well if you're sure you'll always want only the piezo alone or the Lawrence alone.

The problem is that there's a great danger that you'll find, as I have, that the magnetic and piezo pickups together sound lots better than either alone. The magnetic pickup compensates for the ear-to-the-soundboard harshness that folks frequently describe as piezo quack. The piezo supplies the high frequency shimmer that the magnetic pickup fails to convey. The result was once characterized by Leo Kottke as "larger than life."

If you use an A/B/Y pedal, you can have the mix of both pickups. I'm presuming that the piezo pickup system includes an onboard preamp; if so, you can control the mix with that. The one risk with such a system is that the A/B/Y pedal might load the magnetic pickup when the Tech 21 Blonde is in bypass mode. You could compensate for that with any clean buffer preamp in the Lawrence pickup's signal path. If you place it before the Blonde, this would also permit selecting between two preset grit levels with the Lawrence.

Whatever you decide, I'm eager to hear the results.
This comment is so right on, it hurts.
For sure, you want to be able to combine the 2.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 11:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I received my Tech 21 Blonde pedal in the mail today, and I am quite impressed! If anyone is looking for an easy backup "amp" for gigs, looking to do a little something like I am, or just looking for an alternative to carrying an amp, this pedal is your answer! What an amazing pedal and it sounds so natural.

I still don't have an A/B pedal yet, but I have played my acoustic with the A300 soundhole pickup through the pedal into the P.A. and it sounded great. It's still going to require some tweaking, but I'm confident in the pedal. I'm one step away from making this happen, and it was a wise choice going with this pedal.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 11:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The problem is that there's a great danger that you'll find, as I have, that the magnetic and piezo pickups together sound lots better than either alone.
no doubt.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 11:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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The problem is that there's a great danger that you'll find, as I have, that the magnetic and piezo pickups together sound lots better than either alone.
Good prediction. I've been able to play around a little bit with the setup minus the A/B/Y pedal which means both the magnetic and piezo pups are working together. They do sound good as a combo and it's very easy to kick in my Tech 21 Blonde pedal for that electric sound. It does overpower the piezo which is hard to hear through the P.A. when the pedal is kicked in. I'm OK with that, and it could be the best of both worlds. I should be able to give it a go in rehearsal tonight, and I'll be back with an update.

BTW, do any of you guys use a volume pedal with your acoustic setups? I've been tossing around the idea of getting one and could use some recommendations.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 11:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I put together a stereo set up last year. I have a Fender Stratacoustic that I added a soundhole pickup to. Had to wire the pickups to a TRS jack because I was not able to come up with a blend control without adding another onboard preamp. I use a stereo cord. I built a signal splitter at the input of my pedal board. The soundhole pickup goes through my pedal chain & into my guitar amp. The piezo signal goes into an LR Baggs Para DI & then into the PA mixer (or acoustic amp). I can go from pure acoustic to electric by adjusting the individual pickup volume controls. This also allows me to get a nice blend of both for a unique sound.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 12:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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My experience with volume pedals is they are tone suckers. Maybe other ears have a different take. It might not effect the piezo though.
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