Friday, May 25, 2007

Pickup Manufacturers Round Table

Acoustic Guitar's latest issue contains a transcript from an acoustic-guitar pickup manufacturer round table hald at Winter NAMM. It's definitely worth reading:

But how do people know what a pickup is going to sound like in their guitar? I find it very difficult to pinpoint. I can have a pickup that I love in one guitar, and I’ll put the same system in a different guitar and it’ll sound completely different.

TURNER Isn’t it the same as going into the studio with microphones?

But you don’t have to install the microphone.

TURNER I understand that. But it’s the same issue, with a much more difficult solution.

I've heard many mentions of things that effect sound, but this was the first time I have heard about the angle of the saddle:

MARINIC […] the whole thing falls apart with the installation in the guitar. The inclination of the saddle in the bridge is the most important thing on the guitar. It’s pure physics. If you look at the drawings from the old masters—from violins to other instruments—the bridge inclination is the most important thing.

TURNER I’ve been tilting saddles back about eight degrees for 15 years now, and it really makes a huge difference in being able to get that balance happening.

So many people talk about altering their saddles, and compensated saddles on the forums that I thought this was particularly interesting:

FISHMAN I will add another element: When people started using molded saddles with exaggerated B-string compensation, they stuck a knife in our gut. Because that saddle hasn’t got a chance of having a balanced set of forces on it. I’ve seen guitars that were hopelessly out of balance, and we made a saddle with a rounded top on it and stuck it in, and all the problems went away. Another real problem can be smile-shaped bridge-pin setups.

One final warning:

What are some of the most common mistakes that you see players making with your gear?

TURNER One thing that I see is too much gear—too many EQ stages. You’ve got EQ in the guitar, you’ve got EQ in your preamp. You have situations where there’s five stages of EQ between the guitar and the loudspeakers. I advise people to get their stage rig happening and plug it in to some really flat speakers or listen to it on headphones. Have that available as an XLR [out] and give that signal to the P.A. and say, “This is my sound.”