Pick Ups



Ken Magerman

Pick Ups

I have a 25 year old American made Ovation Legend 6 string. I would like to put a pick up in it. Can you recommend one that works well with Ovation guitars? Every store tells me the one they sell is the best.I love the sound of the guitar and would like a reasonably priced pick up that won't change the sound of the guitar and won't create feedback issues. I use light gauge strings. I would prefer something hidden in the guitar (not a soundhole pickup) Any suggestions?


Posted 11 months ago by Ken Magerman - 5 replies

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I agree with Stephen. I have Many différent guitars with almost as Many différent pickup systems. Most were installed by professionals but I did change a BlueStick for an LRBaggs iMix system. So a matter of taste and surely $$$... ;-)


Reply posted 10 months ago by Marc Mony


I've got a Fishman rare-earth humbucker soundhole mounted pickup in my D12-20 Martin and it has fairly incredible sound reproduction. It is a fairly easy install as far as pickup installs go. In contrast, I've got a Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend (stereo) combination pickup in my Alverez 12 string and a 00-16 Martin. It has a piezo under the saddle and a mic in the soundhole with a preamp that fits just inside the soundhole that is curved and gives direct access to overall volume, blend between the two input sources (piezo and mic), and phase. The mic is position adjustable, which makes putting it more towards one side of the hole or the other possible. So for the 12 string, I put it more towards the bass side and for the 00 it gets positioned more towards the mid and treble zone. For the blend portion of the adjustment, I never pushed the mic input more than about 15 – 25% of the mix otherwise it feeds back. But the sound is impressive and the adjustment ability is quite helpful. The install is a bit more difficult and I paid to have all three installed. The nice thing about the stereo is that you can split the output and balance the signal with an external blender. I have a Fishman pocket blender that lets you control each pickup externally for volume, bass and treble. I also have an EMG under the saddle in a 000-28. It is more sensitive than the Fishman but as far as piezos go, is a wonderful pickup but is not adjustable. It does have a preamp that allows you to plug in an EMG ACS humbucker soundhole pickup that has 6 adjustable magnets with hex sockets that you can adjust the height of to compensate for differences in individual strings. But I don’t use that guitar for performing, only recording, so I never set it up that way and sold the ACS half of that stereo system.

All pickups alter acoustic sound notably. Fishman introduced and discontinued a DI device called an Aura Imaging Blender. Pretty cool because you could download an “image” of a guitar, same model as yours hopefully, as it had been recorded through an external high quality microphone and then plug your guitar with a pickup into the blender and it would digitally alter the sound through the “image”, so that it sounded like your guitar was being played through a high quality microphone. I think it was a great idea but a lot of people had difficulty figuring out how to use it and once they saturated the market, people quit buying them plus Fishman figured out how to put the whole thing in a smaller package that replaced the matrix stereo blend pickup that I presently have 2 of and mount it inside of a soundhole of a guitar.

When I used to run an open mic performance event, I always brought a Dean Markley soundhole pickup with mewhich was fairly easy to fit into a guitar on the spot. A lot of people that showed up to play had acoustic guitars that didn’t have pickups. And then there were those that did have pickups but their batteries were dead. Down side to that pickup was the DM was sensitivity limited and a bit dull and required more amplification than all of the mounted pickups. Since I was also the sound guy at these events, I just boosted their gain at the board with a quick sound check and we were usually up and running in 90 seconds or so. Then I’d adjust the sound accordingly on the fly. Technology has changed a bit since the DM I used at open mic was designed, so even some newer soundhole pickups that are portable have better sound these days. Portable means they have a loose male 1/4” jack.

Pickup requirements are really dependent on what you need. Sometimes you need to plug in to be able to be heard over the ambient noise of the audience in a bar, or over the unplugged banjo player you like to jam with, or if you are like Adrian Legg and just need volume because he plays very lightly and very fast, and not so incidentally always tells the soundman to turn it up, and pretend that it is an electric guitar and not an acoustic ovation. I like to play acoustic plugged into a modeling amp and like Legg, play fingerstyle lightly. It helps me to be able to hear myself better and to make sounds that are not possible to make unplugged.

Good luck with your quest.


Reply posted 11 months ago by Stephen Hendricks


I've got a Fishman rare-earth humbucker soundhole mounted pickup in my D12-20 Martin and it has fairly incredible sound reproduction. It is a fairly easy install as far as pickup installs go. In contrast, I've got a Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend (stereo) combination pickup in my Alverez 12 string and a 00-16 Martin. It has a piezo under the saddle and a mic in the soundhole with a preamp that fits just inside the soundhole that is curved and gives direct access to overall volume, blend between the two input sources (piezo and mic), and phase. The mic is position adjustable, which makes putting it more towards one side of the hole or the other possible. So for the 12 string, I put it more towards the bass side and for the 00 it gets positioned more towards the mid and treble zone. For the blend portion of the adjustment, I never pushed the mic input more than about 15 – 25% of the mix otherwise it feeds back. But the sound is impressive and the adjustment ability is quite helpful. The install is a bit more difficult and I paid to have all three installed. The nice thing about the stereo is that you can split the output and balance the signal with an external blender. I have a Fishman pocket blender that lets you control each pickup externally for volume, bass and treble. I also have an EMG under the saddle in a 000-28. It is more sensitive than the Fishman but as far as piezos go, is a wonderful pickup but is not adjustable. It does have a preamp that allows you to plug in an EMG ACS humbucker soundhole pickup that has 6 adjustable magnets with hex sockets that you can adjust the height of to compensate for differences in individual strings. But I don’t use that guitar for performing, only recording, so I never set it up that way and sold the ACS half of that stereo system.

All pickups alter acoustic sound notably. Fishman introduced and discontinued a DI device called an Aura Imaging Blender. Pretty cool because you could download an “image” of a guitar, same model as yours hopefully, as it had been recorded through an external high quality microphone and then plug your guitar with a pickup into the blender and it would digitally alter the sound through the “image”, so that it sounded like your guitar was being played through a high quality microphone. I think it was a great idea but a lot of people had difficulty figuring out how to use it and once they saturated the market, people quit buying them plus Fishman figured out how to put the whole thing in a smaller package that replaced the matrix stereo blend pickup that I presently have 2 of and mount it inside of a soundhole of a guitar.

When I used to run an open mic performance event, I always brought a Dean Markley soundhole pickup with mewhich was fairly easy to fit into a guitar on the spot. A lot of people that showed up to play had acoustic guitars that didn’t have pickups. And then there were those that did have pickups but their batteries were dead. Down side to that pickup was the DM was sensitivity limited and a bit dull and required more amplification than all of the mounted pickups. Since I was also the sound guy at these events, I just boosted their gain at the board with a quick sound check and we were usually up and running in 90 seconds or so. Then I’d adjust the sound accordingly on the fly. Technology has changed a bit since the DM I used at open mic was designed, so even some newer soundhole pickups that are portable have better sound these days. Portable means they have a loose male 1/4” jack.

Pickup requirements are really dependent on what you need. Sometimes you need to plug in to be able to be heard over the ambient noise of the audience in a bar, or over the unplugged banjo player you like to jam with, or if you are like Adrian Legg and just need volume because he plays very lightly and very fast, and not so incidentally always tells the soundman to turn it up, and pretend that it is an electric guitar and not an acoustic ovation. I like to play acoustic plugged into a modeling amp and like Legg, play fingerstyle lightly. It helps me to be able to hear myself better and to make sounds that are not possible to make unplugged.

Good luck with your quest.


Reply posted 11 months ago by Stephen Hendricks


Jonathan Lloyd

Hey Ken,

Good question. I just went through this not too awful long ago. I put a pickup in a Martin 16 series guitar after TONS of research and trying to maintain a poor mans budget. My biggest concerns were 1. I was installing it myself. 2. I didn't want to alter my guitar too much. and 3. Money versus tone. I ended up putting a L.R. Baggs I-Beam in my martin. It was super easy to install (first time doing anything like this) and it has a super tone that is not too "tinny" like most Piezo style pickups that I don't like.

I also own an ovation. I think it would work well and maintain your tone. I have not experienced any terrible feedback issues and I have been very happy. I looked at just about every type of pickup out there and this one fit my bill.

I know the anthem system by L.R. Baggs was a close second for me and it has great reviews too.

Hope this helps.

J.J.


Reply posted 11 months ago by Jonathan Lloyd



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