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afternoon. I am building a customised J45 and I was seeking reco's on stellar bridge pick up set up and control's etc. There are probably a post somewhere, but, I'm gonna cheat here..thanks! look forward to hearing from y'all
For live use, you will probably have the most trouble free experience using a simple undersaddle pickup -- like a Baggs Element -- and handling processing to get a more realistic acoustic guitar sound outside the guitar. There are some good outboard preamps available that do a good job of dialing out the midrange "quack" of an undersaddle pickup, and can do some further shaping of the sound to be more natural. That also allows you to use a soundhole cover which can come in handy if you are trying to deal with loud monitors and a full band. This may not necessarily result in a tone that sounds exactly like the guitar unplugged but it can craft a tone that sounds realistic and cuts effectively through a band mix.
If you are interested in recording, and not so much in playing live, there are some good systems that incorporate small microphones that mount beneath the bridge; they do a good job reproducing the actual sound of the particular guitar. These range from expensive and complicated -- like the Trance Audio Amulet system with "acoustic lenses" -- to more common and reasonably priced offerings like the Baggs Lyric or a K&K Pure Mini.
There are also hybrid systems which combine an undersaddle with a mic below the bridge and allow you to blend the two. The Baggs Anthem is a good example of that approach.
Almost any system is going to work better with an outboard preamp because you will always be fighting feedback, and things like compression, a tuner and notch filtering, phase switches, etc., can really help tame the guitar. There's nothing worse than trying to play with an acoustic feeding back in your hands, and I've seen it happen on pro stages at big gigs, it was driving Ryan Adams nuts at a gig in Boston a couple years ago, you could see his acoustic vibrating in his hands on certain notes and the monitor guy just could not get it dialed out.
The most impressive live acoustic sound I ever heard was Jackson Browne solo in Providence a couple years ago ... he was using a bunch of different guitars but mostly his signature model Gibsons -- 12 fret deep body dreadnoughts -- and every guitar had the Trance Audio system in it. Awesome sound.
For recording, look into the DPA 4099G system ... it's a mini condenser mic that mounts temporarily to the side of the guitar and is infinitely adjustable over the fretboard. I compared that system on a Martin 000-18GE simultaneously with a vintage Gefell UM70 mic and the results were pretty impressive. Here is a quick clip, the little DPA is first, the Gefell second. No EQ, etc. A very natural sounding recording from both mics, really captured how that particular guitar sounds.
People use the DPA live but it's a little delicate, I wouldn't be taking out to the bars or anything. But great for recording at home because it's so adjustable, even a tiny move over the fretboard makes big differences in high end, low end, mids. That's the secret to getting a great acoustic recording, it's getting the mic positioned just right.
Live, it's more about cutting through the mix and controlling feedback onstage. Two very different scenarios.
thanks Man...so what I am taking from this is 3 things
1. best overall sound quality is to external pre-amp the guitar with a mic set up for live, but would be subject to feeback
2. bridge option to use sound hole cover to combat feedback but loss in quality of real sound
3. sounds like the Jackson Brown option is a good one.
I was always concerned about adjusting levels and such when the controls are not on board, pain in the ass or not really?
It's hard to do much with the onboard controls, honestly. The key is to dial it in on the monitors at soundcheck or you will struggle with it. I have a Martin OMCPA 1+ with the top of the line Aura F1 system ... it sounds reasonably good but even with the onboard feedback control and compression and ability to blend the Aura image and pickup it's still prone to feedback plugged straight into a Fishman amp.
Jackson was touring with his own PA and monitors, plus he had his own soundguys, so they obviously had it really dialed in. Trying to do that at the local bar with the house sound guy, it's going to be a struggle.