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Acoustic-electric - any downside?

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Ope
 Ope
(@ope)
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Topic starter  

As always, great info. Thanks all.

Rahul - I'll watch the video when I get a chance. Can't watch videos at work. Well, at least this site isn't blocked.

Ric - thanks for the info about the Fishman magnetic pickup. I like the sound of Kurt's guitar on their Unplugged album.

-Ope

"What kind of music do you usually have here?"
"Oh, we got both kinds. We got country AND western."


   
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Ricochet
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Yeah, I do too!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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Nuno
 Nuno
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Nice video Rahul! :D

I remember I watched it in Discovery Channel some time ago.


   
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rr191
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I have an acoustic electric and I find it nice to be able to plug it into my computer for recording my practice sessions and deteemine what I need to improve (everything right now).

-- Rob


   
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Chris C
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So there you have it. When it comes to guitars, sounds, and music in general, the correct answer is...

.... whatever you want it to be, really. :mrgreen:

I've come to believe that it's not really a matter of working out what the right answer is - because no matter which one you choose somebody will tell you that it's just right for them and somebody else will tell you pretty much the opposite. It seems to me that, if they each like what they're getting, then they can both be right.

When I bought my Seagull, and paid for electrics that I currently only use relatively rarely compared to playing unplugged, my reasoning went like this.

  • 1. Seagull are a respected brand with a reputation to maintain - so they might just possibly have a better idea than me which pickups suit their guitars. So I bought the pickup system that they said was the best they had at the time. I've had no reason to complain that they were wrong, and I've been entirely happy with it when I have used it plugged in. I could conceivably upgrade the electrics later if something 'better' came along, but to be honest I'm unlikely to do that. The sound is just fine as it is.

    2. Yes, I have to buy batteries. I can afford the price of a battery, so this is not a problem. I have to buy strings too, and that's not a problem either. I'm even organised enough to keep spares of both.

  • But that's only what suits me. A buyer who thought that paying for any electrics right now would be a waste of their money, and that mucking around with batteries nothing but a nuisance, would be every bit as right as I am. The trick is always sorting out what suits our own style and situation, not what suits somebody else. Tricky.... :wink:

    Good luck with it all.

    Chris


       
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    Nick Torres
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    My high end guitars, Colling OM1A and the Breedlove Northwest have no pickups. They never will. It's too easy to put in a good soundhole mic. My Fylde Orsino does but whatever it was that was state of the art in 1979 isn't good enough now.

    My Taylor 712 had the stock pickup in it and it sounds great, as does the Parker P8e. Now the Parker is a strange acoustic that lists it's pickups as one of it's main selling points.

    After market pickups are relatively cheap, so if having a pickup isn't critical AND by not including it you can afford a higher end guitar then don't get it.

    You can get fantastic aftermarket pickups, PUTW, Schertler, LR Baggs M1, Fishman, (especially the rare earth blender) all of which out do whatever you'd get installed in a Seagull.

    Seagulls are great guitars by the way. If you get a chance though check out my other favorite first acoustics Blue Ridge.


       
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    Ignar Hillström
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    I could conceivably upgrade the electrics later if something 'better' came along, but to be honest I'm unlikely to do that. The sound is just fine as it is.

    +1. If something has a nice sound now it will still have that nice sound when other technology comes around. It's not like with computers, you'll still be able to play new songs without your guitar crashing all the time.


       
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    Nick Torres
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    Ssshhhhhh.....don't tell Bill


       
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    gnease
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    I could conceivably upgrade the electrics later if something 'better' came along, but to be honest I'm unlikely to do that. The sound is just fine as it is.

    +1. If something has a nice sound now it will still have that nice sound when other technology comes around. It's not like with computers, you'll still be able to play new songs without your guitar crashing all the time.

    If a player has not yet developed an ear for guitar timbres, it's very possible that what satisfies today will not in a year. Of course the same can be said about satisfaction with the pure acoustic tones of the guitar. But acoustic "goodness" has come a long way in lower cost guitars in recent years, and now those improvements seem to be moving down the cost curve instead of making any great strides in overall guitar tone. Cheapo pups put in lower/mid cost guitars have not kept pace. If a buyer pops for an extra $50 to $100 over a $300 acoustic (no electronics) guitar for a better acoustic-only, chances are (s)he will be getting a direct improvement in the construction or woods that will make the timbre and/or playability better. Seems a better place to put the cash over adding a bell & whistle pup system that is a high profit margin accessory for the maker. (BTW, fancy appearance is also a high margin "accessory".) I would rather set the bar at "sounding good" for years instead of settling for "not crashing." Many of the generic (and once pricey) pup systems of the 15+ years ago do not deliver by today's standards (recalling that original Ovation sound, yuck!). Yet those still relatively young acoustic guitars themselves are still - and will continue to be -- nice sounding instruments. Those old-school piezo systems are the ones now being sold in lower cost guitars, as they only cost a $1 (sans pre-amp/EQ) to maybe $10 (w/basic pre-amp and EQ) to add on at manufacture. Aftermarket pups and accessories such as hybrid soundhole and outboard processing units are always going to offer a better upgrade path when one can afford it -- maybe later, after the initial guitar purchase. Plus there are lower cost aftermarkets that already best the integrated units for that same $50 to $100. The tone and playability value is in the woods and craftmanship, not the electronics.

    +1 on Nick's points.

    -=tension & release=-


       
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    Chris C
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    If a player has not yet developed an ear for guitar timbres, it's very possible that what satisfies today will not in a year. Of course the same can be said about satisfaction with the pure acoustic tones of the guitar. But acoustic "goodness" has come a long way in lower cost guitars in recent years, and now those improvements seem to be moving down the cost curve instead of making any great strides in overall guitar tone. Cheapo pups put in lower/mid cost guitars have not kept pace. ..........

    I'd agree with all of your points in the post above. My only argument is that it doesn't mean they provide a single 'best' answer. :)

    A beginner usually doesn't have a good ear for the tone of the guitar, or for the pickups. Nor do they know how their tastes or their playing will develop. So ‘future proofing' by buying something that will last you for ever has a relatively slim chance of success. Buying a good quality acoustic guitar, and adding a pickup later if and when you want one is a great strategy. But once you do add that pickup, in another year or so you're back to the same position anyway – the pickups on offer are likely to continue to advance and what you want, or think you need, will continue to change too. Your opinion on the desirability of the guitar itself may have changed as well.

    I don't believe that guitars - especially the electrics side of things - have stopped improving. So it really boils down to "do I WANT a pickup now" or not. If you're happy to spend the first year or two playing an acoustic guitar with no pickup then that is a fine way to go. Buying the best quality you can afford sounds good too. But if you want a pickup to mess around with NOW (and I bet that many beginners do - I certainly did... :wink: ) then you're back to the same questions as always - "How far up the price chain can I afford to go, and how long will I be happy with it?".

    When I bought my Seagull I wanted a pickup NOW, to play plugged in occasionally, but mostly just to experiment with. I'm still completely happy with the sound it gives. If I really wanted to get a different sound I could still go out and buy a sound-hole pickup and use that on the same guitar. I would not have to remove the original pickup to do it. In fact, I do have a sound hole pickup that I use occasionally in another (non electric) acoustic guitar. I could easily put it in the Seagull if I wanted to. But in that case I still prefer the original one - it's a good pickup in a good guitar. And as my ear and taste has improved, so has my bank account. I've had a lot of fun with the guitar, and the 'pick-up sized hole' in my finances healed over very quickly. It was worth it. :wink:

    I notice that the advice about buying a super-duper acoustic and adding a fancy pickup later seems to be coming from members who have LOTS of guitars! What's Nick up to now? 30+ bought? Maybe over 40, counting the ones he's since sold??? Clearly these guys have a great deal of experience that should be heeded. But equally clearly they seem to be keener on chasing sounds that many of us are. So perhaps their version of events isn't the one that suits all of us?

    Bottom line: Take your best guess and buy what you want right now. Enjoy it for what it is, and keep saving. :mrgreen:

    Cheers,

    Chris


       
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    Nick Torres
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    Whoaaaaaa.....how many have I bought ever?

    I have no idea.

    hmmmm, ones I bought but no longer own

    Fender DG-22s
    Martin KWS
    An Epiphone
    Oscar Schmidt
    Martin 000 Mahogany something or other
    Tacoma PKK40
    Breedlove SC20k
    Epi Wildkat
    Godin Synth
    Ovation 2002 ltd
    Seagull
    Takamine Ltd Edition
    Squier 51
    Blueridge Carter Stanley
    Gibson J-200
    AMI parlor
    Gibson J185
    Gibson WM45
    Martin 00016srgt
    Washburn d22s
    Mermer Morning Star

    So I think a mere 50 between what I have and what I used to have.


       
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    gnease
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    I notice that the advice about buying a super-duper acoustic and adding a fancy pickup later seems to be coming from members who have LOTS of guitars! What's Nick up to now? 30+ bought? Maybe over 40, counting the ones he's since sold??? Clearly these guys have a great deal of experience that should be heeded. But equally clearly they seem to be keener on chasing sounds that many of us are. So perhaps their version of events isn't the one that suits all of us?

    Bottom line: Take your best guess and buy what you want right now. Enjoy it for what it is, and keep saving. :mrgreen:

    Cheers,

    Chris

    Unlike Nick, I don't have a lot of acoustics, but I still have the very first acoustic I bought for $125 while in high school. According to Vintage Guitar, it's now worth a whooping $100. I still use it occasionally, and even bought it a Fishman Rare Earth active soundhole pup. Wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, and BTW, I also have a very nice and much pricier Yamaha classical ... with the stupid dual mode pup system that Yammy favored when I bought it ... maybe seven or eight years ago. Nice guitar, except for that not-so-wonderful pup system mounted in a big hole in the rosewood rim.

    So I've been through this from close to the same PoV.

    Want a pup right now? Buy the Seagull electronically-naked and add one of the many $50 sound hole pups. Same total price, better sound. Upgradeable. You may be keeping that guitar longer than you think you will.

    -=tension & release=-


       
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    gnease
    (@gnease)
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    Whoaaaaaa.....how many have I bought ever?

    I have no idea.

    hmmmm, ones I bought but no longer own

    Fender DG-22s
    Martin KWS
    An Epiphone
    Oscar Schmidt
    Martin 000 Mahogany something or other
    Tacoma PKK40
    Breedlove SC20k
    Epi Wildkat
    Godin Synth
    Ovation 2002 ltd
    Seagull
    Takamine Ltd Edition
    Squier 51
    Blueridge Carter Stanley
    Gibson J-200
    AMI parlor
    Gibson J185
    Gibson WM45
    Martin 00016srgt
    Washburn d22s
    Mermer Morning Star

    So I think a mere 50 between what I have and what I used to have.

    "My name is Nick, and I'm a guitar addict."

    "Hello, Nick!"

    -=tension & release=-


       
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    Chris C
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    Oh, and BTW, I also have a very nice and much pricier Yamaha classical ... with the stupid dual mode pup system that Yammy favored when I bought it ... maybe seven or eight years ago. Nice guitar, except for that not-so-wonderful pup system mounted in a big hole in the rosewood rim.

    Ok, you made a choice that you apparently regret. That can happen, and I can see that could be particularly annoying when it's built in like that. :( But I made a somewhat similar choice and I don't regret it at all. I expect that thousands of other people have also bought factory equipped guitars and loved them for years. :D

    I don't think that makes either of us right or wrong. We just have different requirements and experiences. Or maybe you change your mind faster than I do?... :wink:
    Want a pup right now? Buy the Seagull electronically-naked and add one of the many $50 sound hole pups. Same total price, better sound. Upgradeable. You may be keeping that guitar longer than you think you will.

    Sounds like a good plan to me. :note2: :note1: Especially for those who feel confident about which of the “many $50 sound hole pups” would suit them (beginners sometimes find that hard too).

    In my early beginner days, I went that way as well. It didn't work out as well as I hoped though. I bought an un-electrified acoustic guitar that I liked, and then later bought a sound hole pick-up, based on a recommendation from somebody who liked the brand and model. I wasn't as impressed as they were and soon took it off again. Nothing wrong with the idea, or the pickup really – the combo just didn't work for me on that occasion. So buying Seagull's best recomendation was in my case partly a reaction to not getting it right when I did it the other way. The exact reverse of your experience in fact. :)

    I also bought yet another acoustic guitar (nylon strings) which I never intended to play anything other than unplugged. 3 years later, I could now use a pickup if it had one. But it's not a big deal and, as you say, buying a sound hole pickup for it now would give me a more up to date one that I might well prefer the sound of. But as it's only a temporary need in this case I'll probably buy a suitable mic instead and muck around with that, and not bother electrifying it directly at all. Lots of options - all interesting in some way.

    If I ever want another acoustic guitar this is probably what I'll do:

    Go to the shops and play whatever they actually have in stock. I've now learned not to buy unplayed, no matter what the reputation. That now applies to guitars and to pickups. The issue isn't whether they sound 'good' or not, by somebody else's rating - it's whether the sound(s) suits ME at the time, or not. If the store stocked a bare acoustic that I really liked AND a range of aftermarket sound hole pickups that they would let me try out AND I liked the way they combined, then I'd certainly be very happy to go that way. No question about that. I've had a lot more playing time since the first attempt, and I'd be a lot more confident about picking the right one.

    However, if they had a factory fitted combination that I liked the sound of then I'd be equally happy to go that way again. No big deal to me which way I get there, really. Either way can be good if you get it right, or cost you money and annoyance if you don't. Either way I get to save up and eventually keep trying out new combinations.... :mrgreen:

    Cheers,

    Chris


       
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    Nick Torres
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    addict maybe, but I've been clean for 3 months now.


       
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