One Of The Most Critical Guitar Accessories Is A Classical Guitar Pickup.
A classical guitar pickup gets mixed reviews. The purists won’t consider using an acoustic guitar pickup. Other players see them as one of the most important guitar accessories. Who’s right?
Steel strings and several new types of guitars were invented at the beginning of the 20th century. They were designed to solve the problems of the “guitar” of that time.
At the end of the 19th century there wasn’t a classical or steel string guitar. There was just the guitar and it had gut strings with metal wire wrapping the bass strings. This guitar has continued on to be what we think of as the classical guitar.
Is That You, Mic?
These guitars with gut strings were pretty sounding, but were fairly quite. In a small concert hall or room this may not be a problem. It is a problem in a large hall or if playing with an orchestra. If the guitar is used in jazz or any other type of popular music, it’s a real problem. How does a guitarist overcome this?
The purist will use an external microphone. This will give an amplified sound that’s closest to the guitars acoustic sound, but there are drawbacks.
Using an external mic ties you to one place. If the guitar moves in relation to the mic, the sound changes. It’s not the most streamlined set-up either. A very common gig for solo guitarists is restaurants and cocktail parties. You won’t make many friends among the waitstaff if they have walk around a mic stand!
An alternative to an external mic, is an internal mic. The “road hazard” aspect of the external mic is removed since there’s no mic stand. You still get some of the natural sound of the guitar that you get with an external mic.
Internal mics can be either permanently or temporally installed. That really depends on if you mind holes being made in your guitar or not.
Pick Up A Pickup
Transducer pickups are another extremely popular choice in classical guitar pickups. They tend to fall into 2 categories.
The type that go under the saddle in the bridge and the type that attach to the inside of the soundboard. Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side for the undersaddle type is the install it and forget it factor. Undersaddle pickups use a pre-amp that is built into the endpin jack. This boosts the signal and prepares it to be amplified.
Undersaddle pickups can have a harsh sound. Manufacturers will E.Q. the pre-amp to remove some of the harsh sound.
Find out what this pickup sounds like. Try out any electric-acoustic classical in your local guitar shop. It probably uses an undersaddle classical guitar pickup.
This type of classical guitar pickup is pretty feedback resistant. That and it’s plug in and play capability are what has made this type of pickup so popular.
The soundboard transducer is the other type of pickup used on classical guitar. This type of pickup attaches to the top of the guitar. It normally uses a type of adhesive putty to hold it in place.
The advantage of this type of classical guitar pickup is that it senses the vibration of the top. This can produce a warmer sound than the undersaddle type pickup. The undersaddle pickup just senses the vibration of the string at the bridge.
I used a Fishman SBT-C for Classical Guitar in an Alvarez-Yairi classical and was very happy with the results.
SBTs (soundboard transducers) can tend to feedback. I dealt with feedback by running the pickup through my Fishman Pro EQ Pre-Amp. This pre-amp is a real problem solver when amplifying acoustic instruments.
Soundboard transducers are passive pickups. This means that there’s no battery to worry about changing.
These are the choices that are now available for a Classical Guitar Pickup .
Read, research and experiment to see which is the best choice for you.