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Thread: Amplification

  1. #1
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    Default Amplification

    Playing in a combo with drums and electric guitar, I've battled for years with my mando sound to the point that I enjoy playing it less now. I tried a solid body Eastman, but it sounded more like an electric guitar. I'm currently playing an Epiphone MM-50E, but there's so much lost between the instrument and the amplifier (not to mention that it's not a great acoustic tone to start) - doesn't give the mando sound I want.

    I've had a 1922 Gibson A4 for years that I absolutely love - loud, warm, beautiful. I had a Fishman bridge pickup in it years ago, but again felt like the output wasn't adequately reproducing the warmth I wanted.

    The stick-ons I've tried give a lot of instrument knocking and scratching, but I've only used inexpensive ones - likely too inexpensive.

    Because the Gibson really does have the acoustic tone I wqnt, I'd love to hear recommendations on how to reproduce it on stage with a loud band. I do have a LR Baggs Venue DI as a pre-amp. I see K&K, AKG, LR Baggs, and other reviews here. Is there a clip-on mic that won't feed back? A bridge PU that captures the acoustic? Or top stick-on that not super-sensitive to taps and touches? What setup is working for you?
    Jeff Shu
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Amplification

    Sounds like a good application for a ToneDexter with the pickup of your choice. There are several folks on here that swear by the ToneDexter. (I haven’t tried one myself but am intrigued).

  3. #3
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreypshu View Post
    . I had a Fishman bridge pickup in it years ago, but again felt like the output wasn't adequately reproducing the warmth I wanted.
    Undersaddle is the way to go in a loud band, but no pickup is like a microphone, that is, a good representation of the acoustic tone. So you need capable multi-band EQ. I recommend the Boss GE-7. For a bridge pickup that has no electronics of its own, just the piezo, you need a large cut between 800Hz and 1200Hz (Boss pedal has 800 and 1600 bands). A general roll off of the highs is also needed.

    The acoustic body runs out of steam after 700 Hz or so, so the honking midrange of a pickup is unnatural-sounding. Also, the highs are pretty much only radiated by the strings themselves, almost none of that makes it through the bridge and from the top. So the bright, tinny pickup tone is also unnatural.

    The preamps with parametric EQ are fine, but I find the graphic EQ easier to use, and understand.

    The best pickup sounds I've heard from archtops were Drew Emmitt's Nugget with a Baggs undersaddle pickup, and Don Stiernerg's also with undersaddle. Both could have been improved with more detailed EQ but darn good straight into amp or P.A.

    Headway, from the U.K., makes undersaddle styles, with or without built-in preamp. I like mine, and met some English players that were very happy with theirs, on bouzoukis and citterns.

    Any undersaddle needs a very exactly flat channel under the saddle, and minor tinkering afterward to balance string response. Then you're set, and can be as loud as needed.
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I just play to my vocal mic.

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    Default Re: Amplification

    In an electric setting I plug my Eastman MD604 (oval hole with K&K pickup installed) into a Fishman PRO EQ and go from there directly into the PA. This works well but you need a good monitoring system.
    In a half acoustic/electric setting I use a Fishman Loudbox Artist but always connect that to the PA as well so that I can set the amp at a moderate level.

  7. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I have considered putting the K&K into my mandolin. I have them in my 000-18GE. I have run it directly to the QSCK10 to great effect, it sounded very representative of my guitar. I also noticed with some of the stick-in ones they pick up everything! I find it has made me focus on my technique. Also, I didn't use double-sided tape to install them. I used super glue. I think it's worth possibly losing the pickups for the better tone it gives. I did not have any luck using them with Fishman amps it seemed to me they did not play together as well as I thought they would. I believe there was an impedance mismatch between the two. K&K pure mini is a hot pup. I want to try them in my mandolin but just don't need to.
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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    Undersaddle is the way to go in a loud band, but no pickup is like a microphone, that is, a good representation of the acoustic tone. So you need capable multi-band EQ. I recommend the Boss GE-7. .
    I use a GE-7 with most of the highs and lows knocked off. Kind of inverted smile on the sliders.


    It gives a reasonable facsimile of the instrument's acoustic tone, as much as you can discern it in a loud band.

    Although general advice seems to be to use sliders to cut, rather boost, signal than I push the "Level" slider on the far right of the pedal slightly up into "boost" territory to increase my volume output. It's hard for you or anyone else to hear yourself in the mix if you don't do that.

    I've not found anything that works better for me, and the GE-7 is also inexpensive and widely available.
    Bren

  10. #8
    Registered User tooloud's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I use the BOSS GE-7 in my Guitar rig I put it in the effect loop of my amp as a solo boost I use the frown face on the Sliders same as Bren above. the last slider on the GE-7 is volume.
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  12. #9

    Default Re: Amplification

    I have good results with the K & K Twin Spot. I use the $70.00 universal rather than the $120.00 mandolin version. Here is my rig. It is fun to move around and I never have to worry about being in a band too long.

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  13. #10
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Man i play in a country band and was really struggling with getting a sounds..had the Fishman M2200.;.LR bAggs, Myers Feather. One of those Eastman El Rey Electric mandos poped up and i nought it. Never looked back..sold the pickups..this little mando sounds great through my Fractal Axe 8 and Ev Wedge..

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  15. #11
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I had a Fishman bridge pickup on my main mando for 10 years. Never liked the tone, even with a preamp, but it produced the volume I needed with a loud band and the preamp had a notch filter for feedback control. Now I will play my OM with a K&K Twin and my Rigel A+ Deluxe with the OEM pickup through a Red Eye Twin preamp. I like the sound and while it does not have a notch filter, I get good volume out of it without feedback, but it is with a quieter group.

  16. #12
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I believe Steve Carlson makes a mandolin designed to solve this problem. Zeta, Elderly has them. NFI.
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    Undersaddle is the way to go in a loud band, but no pickup is like a microphone, that is, a good representation of the acoustic tone. So you need capable multi-band EQ.

    Tom, you and several others gave me a lot to think about, most of which I know little about. So a couple follow-ups if you've got a minute. Baggs vs K&K undersaddle? And how valuable are the mods on a GE-7? I'm not made of money, but may try to sell or trade the MM-50e I'm playing now.

    Again, I really want to get as close to acoustic as I can to return to my first mando love - have been compromising ever since my volume had to go up :-). Thanks for responding.
    Jeff Shu
    the bo-stevens - Honky Tonk from Winston-Salem, NC
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  18. #14
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreypshu View Post
    Tom, you and several others gave me a lot to think about, most of which I know little about. So a couple follow-ups if you've got a minute. Baggs vs K&K undersaddle? And how valuable are the mods on a GE-7? I'm not made of money, but may try to sell or trade the MM-50e I'm playing now.

    Again, I really want to get as close to acoustic as I can to return to my first mando love - have been compromising ever since my volume had to go up :-). Thanks for responding.
    K & K can yield a nice tone on some instruments, but that is a contact piezo that is placed on the top, near the bridge (inside or outside), but won't give you freedom from feedback to the extent an undersaddle (bridge) pickup will. Baggs no longer offers one, but the Fishmans are fine. My Headway pickup comes from the UK and is not easy to acquire here, but I recommend looking for one with the included built-in preamp (in the endpin output jack).

    The Fishman type, built into a bridge saddle, is the easiest approach. I played a gig with a guy that plugged his low-end mandolin with a Fishman bridge straight into his Fender guitar amp in a country band. Sounded pretty good in context.

    In your case I would use the basic Fishman bridge, and some version of a preamp for tone and volume control. The Boss eq pedal is happy with piezo signals, no impedance issues, and there are te others, like Baggs Venue, RedEye, ToneDexter. Get a pickup, install (e.g. fit the feet to your top -- look that up), and try out a couple of preamps.
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    Default Re: Amplification

    My Fishman bridge pickup experiences before weren't great, but were nearly 20 years ago. Improved technology? Is it worth trying to track down a used LRBaggs?

    I'm full of questions, so one more... any experience with a DOD EQ vs a Boss? Again, thanks for taking the time.
    Jeff Shu
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  20. #16
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreypshu View Post
    My Fishman bridge pickup experiences before weren't great, but were nearly 20 years ago. Improved technology? Is it worth trying to track down a used LRBaggs?

    I'm full of questions, so one more... any experience with a DOD EQ vs a Boss? Again, thanks for taking the time.
    Any EQ will be fine. What was your approach to using a Fishman bridge? Results depend heavily on the EQ/amplfication string, and also the performing context.
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  21. #17
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    Question Re: Amplification

    Schertler passive Dyn-M stick on, or the built in version in, my Mix A5 ..
    Roland AC 60 amp , or the even smaller Mobile AC.
    2 channels Mic & instrument , usually use the Mic channel
    since it's a contact dynamic Mic ..
    Impedance matching transformer & I can use OP guitar amps too.

    I see the Piezo types are cheaper, so popular .. but you do need a preamp, too, with those..

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    Default Re: Amplification

    A good pickup even with a good preamp will not equal the tone of a good mic. The technology just isn't there yet. Although it is miles ahead of what it was a couple of decades ago. Or maybe a modeling amp / preamp but they just don't have a 24' Loar setting. IDK ... It is just a choice between having the best tone or being heard when you are playing in a loud environment. Onboard mics have all the problems of any mic in that they will feed back . Bartlett does get good reviews for their mic though I have no personal experience with one. Soooo an under saddle pickup with a good preamp. A quality amp built for acoustic instruments like a Fishman or a Roland makes a difference. And as you alluded to an Epiphone MM -50E isn't going to yield the best tonal palette. Enjoy your shopping ..... R/
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  23. #19
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    Default Re: Amplification

    Pickups like the Fishman bridge sound the same on any mandolin. It's like an undersaddle pickup on a guitar. Sounds the same on all instruments. An transducer on the under side of an instruments picks up the sound of the top vibrating, as opposed to just the strings, and will be more representative of your instrument. Yes there will be more feedback potential, but better sound. I use a K&K and a RedEye into the PA and have had great sound at decent volume. Sometimes we have drums, but not a terribly loud band. I did the install of the pickup a little different. I glued the double stick tape to the pickup with super glue, glued another piece of tape to that, then glued the whole thing to the top underneath. The tape helps give a warmer sound, but with the volume of the super glue over the tape only. I don't trust that on a hot day the tape would hold down the line. I have also used a much thicker 3M double stick tape that is seriously sticky and will hold indefinitely. It sounded good, but I didn't have it on the same mandolin for a comparison.
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  24. #20

    Default Re: Amplification

    Haven't seen much about the actual amplification. To get good sound from an acoustic instrument you need a high quality, full range monitor.

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    Default Re: Amplification

    I have been playing through an SWR Strawberry Blonde, but never had a preamp or EQ when I was using the Fishman bridge pickup. Played around with my Baggs Venue DI last night with the Epiphone - and didn't get much more I liked. I tried to work a "frown" EQ setting by dialing back the bass and highs, then tried to find the "bark" midrange Tom mentioned between 800-1200; the Venue makes me choose one or the other with a 500-2000k single sweep dial as opposed to a devoted EQ. Still didn't get anything better than straight into the amp. I'm trying to play it through channel 1 of a '74 Twin Reverb, though - using channel 2 for pedal steel. So I'm likely creating lots more problems for myself.

    The Dyn-M reviews I've read sound interesting, but I can't justify dropping that much cash without knowing it's going to work for me. The k&K isn't quite so risky. But as several of you have intimated, my band might still require an undersaddle. But I'm still looking for that Loar setting :-). For the record, my Gibson A4 actually is a 1921 - does not have a truss rod, so pre-Loar. The serial # is so faint, can only get an approximation on the last 3 digits.

    If I do go underside, thanks for the gluing tips Pops1. I very much appreciate the education I'm getting here.
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  26. #22
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I play in a 6 person (sometimes 7) band with one or two loud electric guitars, a drummer, percussionist, and bassist at least (line up can vary a bit). I use a Newson mandolin with a K&K pickup installed - I also have a clip on mic (the meridian) but I found that only works in very specific settings - generally not with a band. I have found it's possible to use the personal mic IF

    1. I have a buffer between me and the monitors (like a plexiglass wall)
    2. The rest of the band is not super loud
    3. The venue is fairly open / doesn't bounce sound around a lot
    4. I can have a personal monitor

    While I generally like the sound of my mandolin played acoustic, it's VERY rare that I use it for anything other than solo / duo (sometimes trio) gigs that are more acoustic in nature but need to be amplified.

    For most of the time, I'm plugged in. In those cases, while I'm still very much on my quest for sound when plugged in - here's my thoughts.

    First, pedals. I use the below three pedals for tone purposes (I have a couple others for weirder sounds - it's a dead style cover band, we have weird jams haha)

    LR Baggs Venue DI - powered DI helps boost the signal and also has a boost pedal which is nice
    LR Baggs Align Session Acoustic Saturation/Compressor/EQ - needed to control the dynamics better
    Strymon blueSky Reverberator - low mix (~1/4) just enough to help get some light echo

    Usually they are always on though sometimes I'll turn off the Bluesky.

    I find this helps me balance the sound - allowing me to drop out lows and mids while compensating for the tin-type sound of the treble. When it's dialed in, it sounds pretty good (not as good as acoustic, but still)

    Second, for the amp. Generally I plug directly to the PA from the LR Baggs Venue and also plug into a personal Fishman Loudbox mini. The direct to PA goes to the mains and can be balanced however needed there. I get a little bit of monitor mix too - but not too much as that can cause feedback issues. Because of that, I use the personal amp / monitor that just has my mandolin. That allows me to turn myself up so I can hear without causing feedback issues or unbalancing the sound.

    It's important to avoid feedback with this setup - so you need to watch where you're standing and where the amps / monitors / mains are pointing. There are usually a few "no go" spots on stage haha.


    There are a couple small updates I'm planning to my rig to help reduce noise more.
    - Adding a power conditioner (like a Furman to reduce hum)
    - Adding an isolated power supply for the pedals (reduces hum)
    - Upgrade cables to soldered cables rather than solderless
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  28. #23

    Default Re: Amplification

    I use the Schertler DYN-M P-48. It gets stuck on the top between the bridge and tailpiece and closer to the treble side. I didn't want to drill any holes or glue anything on underneath the top. The P-48 means that it requires phantom power, which I had with my first amp. When the amp died, I bought a Behringer Xvive Audio P1 portable power unit that is small and I zip tied it to my mic stand. That way I can use any acoustic amp or PA system even if they don't have 48V phantom power.

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

    The DYN-M is a contact mic, not a piezo; thus, it awards a very close-to-true acoustic tone without having to mess with EQ much. I like it, and it is loud enough. My understanding is that the earlier, passive DYN-Ms had issues with noise from touching the top but I don't have those issues.

    Yeah, they are expensive, but those piezos with the drilling and pre-amps and messing with the EQ just didn't sound like a winner for me.

    For monitor, I use a Behringer in-ear monitor from the headphones or monitor out plugs on the mixing board. Cheaper than wireless, it works for me in my trio. I have to stand by the mic stand anyway since I am the singer in addition to the soloist.

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  29. #24

    Default Re: Amplification

    My solution to an acceptable acoustic mandolin tone was maybe a tad more radical. I built one, specifically I built a chambered solid body one.
    It’s a two point design with a standard tail piece and floating bridge. The bridge has a piezo pickup built in and runs through an impedance matching circuit powered from a PP3. It has a bar humbucker fitted in the neck position. These can either be blended in the mandolin or split into two outputs and sent to amp and PA
    The end result sounds good through either my little 5 watt tube amp or valvetronic. It even sounds good though my iPhone with an adapter and a couple of different apps. The whole idea behind the design was to get an acoustic sound without the feedback. When playing in a gig situation, specifically the Pub type gigs in small venues. I have friends (I’m not that good a player) who play with various bands. Folk Rock with a mix of electric and acoustic instruments along with drums. In a small venue don’t mix well (pardon the pun).
    It is an extreme way to solve the problem, but solve it it did.
    Gary Nava did a build along the same lines and posted the progress along with video’s.

  30. #25
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amplification

    I have this : Click image for larger version. 

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    RMC box has Tone controls for the 4 in Bridge Piezos 2 of 6 not used
    7th conductor is the magnetic pickup.. Box also has 13 pin to use Guitar Synths .

    I Got a 5 string , mentioned in eMando site .. magnetic has a separate 1/4" + the 8 pin ..
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