How much does it cost to retrofit acoustic with pick ups/preamsp

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TedTed Frets: 9
Hi 

I've got a a Martin D-16GT which came without electronics. But I want to turn into an electro-acoustic so it can plug into an amp. Approximately how much would it cost to fit with necessary kit, I don't think I want to risk doing it myself.


Any advice appreciated.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    Don't - fit just a passive pickup and an output jack. Not only is it the cheapest solution, that way you avoid all the problems of batteries, reliability and built-in obsolescence. If you're plugging into an acoustic amp you don't need onboard EQ, anti-feedback etc since that will be on the amp. If you're plugging into a PA or powered monitor you're still better to use an external preamp rather than an onboard one since that can be replaced or upgraded as needed.

    The current 'best choice' passive pickup if you're not using some sort of outboard modelling system (eg Fishman Aura) is the K&K Pure Mini, which costs about £100 and should cost about £40-£50 to fit professionally. If you're using a modelling system then you want an undersaddle transducer, the basic Fishman AG094 is still as good as it gets. They don't sound as natural when amplified directly though.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • TedTed Frets: 9
    Thank you very much for the advice. Could I ask what a passive pick up is - for instance where does it go?
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  • TeyeplayerTeyeplayer Frets: 698
    If you go down the k&k route also check these guys out, they are on my list of must try’s. 

    http://www.jjb-electronics.com/
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    edited February 23
    Ted said:
    Thank you very much for the advice. Could I ask what a passive pick up is - for instance where does it go?
    Passive pickup - one without an onboard preamp.

    There are three basic types:

    Undersaddle transducer (UST) - often called a 'piezo' pickup because the technology is piezo-electric, fits under the bridge saddle and will need the saddle reducing in height and a hole drilling through into the guitar. They give a defined but rather artificial sound and are quite resistant to feedback. (eg Fishman AG094)

    Contact transducer - these also work on the piezo-electric principle but are glued (permanently) on the inside of the guitar on the soundboard or bridgeplate and pick up the vibration from the body. They're the least invasive to fit and the most natural-sounding but can be more prone to feedback. (eg K&K Pure Mini)

    Magnetic soundhole pickup - basically an electric guitar pickup with a slightly tweaked frequency response to sound more 'acoustic'. These can be fitted and removed easily and are resistant to feedback but don't sound as 'acoustic' in some ways, although some people think they're less artificial than a UST. (eg LR Baggs M1)

    These can all also be bought with preamps, inside the pickup itself for the magnetic or fitted inside the guitar (usually on the endpin jack for the other two, but still without a control box cut into the side of the guitar. Some people like this because it avoids the need to use an external preamp and keeps the whole thing self-contained, but they still rely on batteries inside the guitar (or in the pickup, for magnetics).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ClashmanClashman Frets: 154
    I have a plug in acoustic but ask myself what is the point in plugging it in when
    I don't play it outside my room I plug my Electric in however ..am I mad?
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3323
    Ted said:
    I've got a a Martin D-16GT which came without electronics. 
    All serious Martin acoustic guitars come without electronical gubbins.

    ICBM said:
    Don't
    Almost any system that you can install internally will be considered by Martin to invalidate the warranty.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    Funkfingers said:

    Almost any system that you can install internally will be considered by Martin to invalidate the warranty.
    If I remember rightly, the standard Martin Thinline (which was a Fishman) passive UST and endpin jack didn't when fitted by a Martin dealer, but that was a long time ago and it may be different now.

    Although that plus an external Aura is still a very good option.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18466
    ICBM said:
    Don't - fit just a passive pickup and an output jack. 
    Is the correct answer.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3821
    Magnetic soundhole pickups can have an effect on the unplugged sound of the guitar.  You are fixing a relatively heavy pickup across the soundhole and it seems to inhibit the vibration of the top.

    Personally I don't like the sound of them anyway.  The K&K sounds better.
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  • RJTRJT Frets: 1
    I agree with ICBM, and all the others who recommend a passive pick-up.
    The easiest to fit is the internal bridgeplate type. I have fitted two of these - an LR Baggs Ibeam, and a KK Pure Mini.
    I preferred the Ibeam. LR Baggs also do the Anthem, which is more expensive, but highly rated.
    I don't like the idea of having a battery in a little bag inside the guitar body. You can't change it, or even test it test it, without removing the strings. I fancy chopping a hole in the guitar and fitting a pre-amp even less!
    You are not supposed to have a very long lead with the passive Ibeam. I just have a 1.2 metre lead going to an external pre-amp, (LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI).
    Fitting wasn't too bad, and with a bridgeplate pick-up you can't do very much damage to the guitar. However, if you're not very good practically, then get it fitted. Fitting an under-saddle type (eg Piezo) is a different ball-game, and requires craftsman skills.

    Having said all that, I'm not wild about any pick-up, and for live performances I just have a mike in front of the guitar!

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    RJT said:

    I have fitted two of these - an LR Baggs Ibeam, and a KK Pure Mini.
    I preferred the Ibeam.
    I wasn't aware that they did a passive iBeam, but it appears they do... I might have to give that a go on my Gibson, which has a jig hole in the bridgeplate right where the G/D sensor of the K&K would have to go. Currently it has a Fishman UST in it because I was driving a Fishman Aura, but I found the Aura too fussy and the UST sounds terrible without it, even with a preamp.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 3821
    ICBM said:
    RJT said:

    I have fitted two of these - an LR Baggs Ibeam, and a KK Pure Mini.
    I preferred the Ibeam.
    I wasn't aware that they did a passive iBeam, but it appears they do... I might have to give that a go on my Gibson, which has a jig hole in the bridgeplate right where the G/D sensor of the K&K would have to go. Currently it has a Fishman UST in it because I was driving a Fishman Aura, but I found the Aura too fussy and the UST sounds terrible without it, even with a preamp.

    @ICBM, have you tried something like a TC Bodyrez?  That helps quite a lot when I use the guitar that only has a UST without the blend mic.  You can pick one up for around £50 second hand.  I've had mine for a couple of years and it hasn't died yet, so seems to be quite reliable by TC standards.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    crunchman said:

    @ICBM, have you tried something like a TC Bodyrez?  That helps quite a lot when I use the guitar that only has a UST without the blend mic.  You can pick one up for around £50 second hand.  I've had mine for a couple of years and it hasn't died yet, so seems to be quite reliable by TC standards.
    lol

    I did briefly consider the Boss AD-2, but it seems a waste to use a pedal with so little functionality when you can do a lot more with something only a little bigger. I'm actually getting an AD-8 this week, which should hopefully be the solution, even if it is a bit on the large side!
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1863
    Soundhole pickup and endpin socket, as already mentioned, Fishman etc, it really depends on your budget 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3323
    ICBM said:
    RJT said:
    I have fitted two of these - an LR Baggs Ibeam and a KK Pure Mini.
    I preferred the Ibeam.
    I wasn't aware that they did a passive iBeam
    I am interested in your opinions of the iBeam - active or passive, by itself or blended with other transducer devices.


    ICBM said:
    the UST sounds terrible
    I recently replaced the nut and saddle on my ageing Martin DM. The acoustic sound with no UST has reminded me why I bought the guitar in the first instance. 

    The L.R. Baggs Anthem SL is off the guitar. I am trying to decide what will replace it. I already have a Baggs Lyric on another guitar. I suppose that I could just modify the Anthem SL.

    Please do not suggest the Fishman Rare Earth Blend. I tried that before and found it wanting in several respects. 


    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7658
    what is considered the best sound hole pickup?
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    what is considered the best sound hole pickup?
    Sunrise. But it's huge, ugly, blocks half the soundhole, and is limited in availability and costs an absolute fortune. Although having heard them close up through a nice PA, probably worth it.

    Of the common ones I actually like the standard Rare Earth best, I think.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • LewyLewy Frets: 690
    edited May 9
    ICBM said:
    what is considered the best sound hole pickup?
    Sunrise. But it's huge, ugly, blocks half the soundhole, and is limited in availability and costs an absolute fortune.
    It’s also one of those products that earned its rep when there wasn’t much other quality competition. I really don’t think they sound as good as other cheaper things that have come along since (like the Baggs M1A or M80). 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    Lewy said:

    It’s also one of those products that earned its rep when there wasn’t much other quality competition. I really don’t think they sound as good as other cheaper things that have come along since (like the Baggs M1A or M80). 
    I have to say I don't like the M1A. (I haven't tried the M80.) I did at first, but after a while it somehow started to grate, and now I tend to hear that every time... whereas I used to think the Rare Earth sounded a bit bland, but now I think it sounds better than the Baggs.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • KKJaleKKJale Frets: 633
    edited May 11
    what is considered the best sound hole pickup?
    The Baggs M1/M1A didn't suit me at all. The various Rare Earths give an acceptable bulk sound with careful EQ; equally so the Sunrise, but it's huge and spendy. The M80 has a decent rep. My current favourite is a long-discontinued but ace-sounding Dimarzio, but they're hard to find.

    Although Doug Young wrote his soundhole magnetics blog a decade ago now, it's still worth a read. See http://www.fingerpick.com/pickups.htm.

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  • LewyLewy Frets: 690
    ICBM said:
    Lewy said:

    It’s also one of those products that earned its rep when there wasn’t much other quality competition. I really don’t think they sound as good as other cheaper things that have come along since (like the Baggs M1A or M80). 
    I have to say I don't like the M1A. (I haven't tried the M80.) I did at first, but after a while it somehow started to grate, and now I tend to hear that every time... whereas I used to think the Rare Earth sounded a bit bland, but now I think it sounds better than the Baggs.
    I might know the characteristic of the M1A you’re referring to, actually. Something honky in the mids you can’t quite get rid of?

    if it is that, it bothered me too until I put the M1A through a Session DI and turned up the comp EQ (multiband compression). It largely went away but of course once you start adding in the cost of preamps to get pickups sounding how you want them, things like the Sunrise stop looking expensive... 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32816
    Lewy said:

    I might know the characteristic of the M1A you’re referring to, actually. Something honky in the mids you can’t quite get rid of?
    Yes, a weird midrangy 'overtoney' kind of sound.

    Lewy said:

    if it is that, it bothered me too until I put the M1A through a Session DI and turned up the comp EQ (multiband compression).
    It bothered me until I picked up another Rare Earth :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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