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Turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric


(@jmh1819)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

Hi,
I just got an acoustic guitar and I'd like to be able to plug it in without modifying the guitar itself. I was wondering if anyone here had tried any of those soundhole pick-ups like the Fishman rare-earth pickups. Do they sound good? Do I need any extra stuff to install/use it? Like for example i buy the pickup and it's like a 100 bucks.... but you need a tool to install it that costs 50 bucks. I have a Epiphone Valve junior amp so I'm hoping whatever I get I can just plug into that and play.


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

I have an active Fishman Rare Earth soundhole in one of my acoustics. it's a nice sounding pup. but it's best installed with an endpin jack or similar. is the $50 tool you mention the endpin jack reamer? if so, I did mine without the reamer, but it was a lot more difficult than with, and I used other "semi-exotic" tools such as a Dremel tool instead. if you have a good guitar, it's worth getting the right tools to avoid damage.

it should be possible to pigtail a female jack onto the Fishman and allow this to hang out of the guitar soundhole for connection to an extender cable and to the amp. but I wouldn't recommend that unless you find a way to strain relief the cable, as the Fishman wiring isn't really made to take the stress.

if you don't want to do an installation, then consider one of the many "clip-in" soundhole pups -- such as a Seymour Duncan Woody. I've got one of those as well. Not as good sounding as the Fishman, but not bad given the convenience and the lower price.

on your Valve Junior: a good little amp that excels for saturated electric guitar tones, but you may find it a bit disappointing driven with an acoustic guitar. it probably doesn't have the high freq response that a dedicated acoustic amp has -- that'll reduce the acoustic sparkle and clarity somewhat. the acoustic pickup you choose probably shouldn't be judged through the VJ. in fact the sonic differences between a Rare Earth and a Woody would probably will not be so obvious through the VJ.

-=tension & release=-


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(@jmh1819)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

So if I get the Fishman pickup does that mean I would have to modify the guitar itself by drilling holes?


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

a hole of some sort is the best way. but there are two approaches:

1. (recommended by Fishman and others): replace the guitar's endpin (that's the strap button) with and endpin jack. this requires enlarging the existing endpin hole if your guitar has a Martin-style endpin that is inserted like a plug into an already somewhat large hole in the end of the guitar. or if your guitar is Taylor-style, and has a screw-mounted endpin, then you must first drill a sizable hole and finish it off by reaming to a size that will accept the endpin jack. The endpin jack will be a dual-purpose strap button and jack -- though most find it a bit unwieldy and "fat" as a strap button, and requiring some work to get the strap to fit well. an endpin jack is the least "invasive" installation, and is also used on many new guitars.

2. drill a hole in the guitar's rim to accommodate a generic 1/4 phone jack. this actually works very well, and was the method used by many aftermarket installers until the invention of the endpin jack. (my Taylor T5 came from the factor with a rim mounted jack -- an exception to the rule.) many guitarists seem bothered by the idea of such an "extra" hole in their guitar.

if you know how to work with wood, and can mark and drill without causing collateral damage, the second method is much easier ... but it's your guitar. next time I do this mod, I will likely go with #2.

-=tension & release=-


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(@mark-taylor)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 111
 

I just recently installed a Martin Thinline 332 pickup. Not much to it. I drilled a 3/32" hole in the bridge, sanded down the bridge to accomodate the thickness of the pickup and very carefull bored the endpin hole out to 1/2" inch to accept the included endpin jack. Total time 3 hours, price of pickup $70.00. Works like a champ. I use a volume pedal and plug right in to mixer or amp now.

You can ride a Yamaha, or play a Yamaha, it is up to you.


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