How do I add an acoustic pickup to a J-160E, keep the magnetic pickup, have one jack?

PRW94

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I have a 1991 Gibson J-160E, solid top not the plywood top model, with a P100 magnetic pickup in the usual place at the top of the soundhole.

I want to add some type of acoustic pickup to this guitar ... I want to be able to use it as the wonderful, broken-in 31-year-old acoustic that it is ... while keeping the magnetic pickup for when I want to play "I Feel Fine."

I would also like to have the same jack (mine is on the endpin, not the side like the old J-160E's) for both pickups.

Years ago, I was told that the easiest way to make this work was to use the Baggs IMix system but instead of using the Element pickup that comes with that set, run wires from the existing volume and tone pots on the J-160E to the Element terminal on the IMix box. In other words just use the IBeam pickup for the acoustic sound.

I never got around to doing it, though, and now that I want to get around to doing it, it appears the IMix system has been discontinued (it's not on the Baggs website anymore) although it still seems pretty easy to get.

Just seeking input ... would that still be the optimal way to go for what I'm seeking to do, or is there a more recent system that would be better?

In my "perfect world" I'd like to have some kind of mic setup (Baggs Lyric?) more than an undersaddle pickup, but I realize this is an imperfect world.
 

Freeman Keller

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If your guitar has the funky adjustable saddle assembly that Gibson used you may be very limited to choices.

1655050734578.png


One possibility is a K&K style of transducers that glue onto the bridge plate but there may not be room with all the mechanism inside the guitar. You can fill the slot and route it for a standard saddle but that destroys the originality of the guitar.

The jack is easy, use a stereo output jack with a switch contact for power to whatever kind of transducer you decide to install. Don't try to mix a mag and piezo output - they are very different impedance. The piezo will require its own preamp or an external DI box.
 

PRW94

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If your guitar has the funky adjustable saddle assembly that Gibson used you may be very limited to choices.

View attachment 993309

One possibility is a K&K style of transducers that glue onto the bridge plate but there may not be room with all the mechanism inside the guitar. You can fill the slot and route it for a standard saddle but that destroys the originality of the guitar.

The jack is easy, use a stereo output jack with a switch contact for power to whatever kind of transducer you decide to install. Don't try to mix a mag and piezo output - they are very different impedance. The piezo will require its own preamp or an external DI box.

No mine has a traditional bridge and saddle.

What I was told … by Baggs … about the IMix setup was that you could blend the IBeam with the P100 if you wanted, I guess because of the IMix preamp that goes in the guitar.

As noted the IMix preamp is no longer in their catalog, though, and I’m not sure I could do that blend with one of their current products. It might have to be either/or which I don’t mind. Maybe control it with a push/pull pot?
 

Freeman Keller

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I did a guitar for my son a few years ago with both humbuckers and a "acoustic" tune-o-matic bridge (it has a piezo in each saddle). We ran the 'buckers thru usual tone and volume controls, the acoustic bridge thru its own volume (no active electronics) and then both out thru a stereo jack. He used a Y cable to split the signals, running them thru different amplification and effects. The piezo has a much higher impedance that doesn't match with most amp inputs.

(before I go further I will say that the guitar really didn't meet his or my expectations but that is another subject).

If you have room in your guitar I would consider installing any of the modern acoustic pickup systems including active electronics which will take care of both preamplification and impedance matching. StewMac sells a stereo output jack that has a switch for the electronics. Personally I would not install something that is not currently available and supported, I have had too many bad experiences trying to deal with out dated electrons on factory installed systems. I don't have strong opinions about which system is best, it seems like the ones with microphones can be made a little more realistic sounding and don't have as much of the quack as straight UST's - you'll have to decide that. They do feed back however. I've put a fair number of K&K Pure Minis in acoustic guitars, I don't know anyone who is dissatisfied with the sound, but they are passive (I asked K&K about connecting one of their transducer systems to a factory installed UST preamp, they did not recommend it).

I was slightly worried that if you had the adjustable saddle that there is a bunch of hardware on the bridge plate that might get in the way. Also a UST just won't work with that kind of saddle. Without poking around inside your guitar with a flashlight and mirror it is hard to say what you might run in to.

Good luck, I wish I could help more.
 

PRW94

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Gadsden, Alabama
I did a guitar for my son a few years ago with both humbuckers and a "acoustic" tune-o-matic bridge (it has a piezo in each saddle). We ran the 'buckers thru usual tone and volume controls, the acoustic bridge thru its own volume (no active electronics) and then both out thru a stereo jack. He used a Y cable to split the signals, running them thru different amplification and effects. The piezo has a much higher impedance that doesn't match with most amp inputs.

(before I go further I will say that the guitar really didn't meet his or my expectations but that is another subject).

If you have room in your guitar I would consider installing any of the modern acoustic pickup systems including active electronics which will take care of both preamplification and impedance matching. StewMac sells a stereo output jack that has a switch for the electronics. Personally I would not install something that is not currently available and supported, I have had too many bad experiences trying to deal with out dated electrons on factory installed systems. I don't have strong opinions about which system is best, it seems like the ones with microphones can be made a little more realistic sounding and don't have as much of the quack as straight UST's - you'll have to decide that. They do feed back however. I've put a fair number of K&K Pure Minis in acoustic guitars, I don't know anyone who is dissatisfied with the sound, but they are passive (I asked K&K about connecting one of their transducer systems to a factory installed UST preamp, they did not recommend it).

I was slightly worried that if you had the adjustable saddle that there is a bunch of hardware on the bridge plate that might get in the way. Also a UST just won't work with that kind of saddle. Without poking around inside your guitar with a flashlight and mirror it is hard to say what you might run in to.

Good luck, I wish I could help more.

You’ve been helpful. What I think I am going to do is see about getting a more acoustic oriented pickup system installed just totally separate from the existing mag P100 that can be controlled with an on/off switch, maybe a push/pull pot.
 




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