Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Acoustic pick-up recommendations

I have a Blueridge 240-A that I love. I need to get a pick-up for it and wanted to know what y’all recommend. I would prefer not to drill the guitar if possible. I saw buried on another thread Ben said he got good results from an LR Baggs soundhole pick up. He also posted this article.

I wanted to hear what others might have and what you think. $250 is a lot of money. Has anyone had a good experience with a pick up for $100 - $150?

Also, is it weird having a wire hanging out the sound hole? I get the feeling that could be annoying.

I love the sound of the Blueridge and would like to keep it as pure as possible.

Thanks in advance.

Good question. Honestly, I’d rather have a slightly larger endpin because of the jack than a wire hanging out the sound hole. I know you don’t want to mess with your baby! But, a professional pickup installation will do nothing to the acoustic sound, and no one can tell that it’s installed unless they look at the endpin. That’s just my opinion!

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I was wondering about that too. What are your favorite pick-ups that might require installation?

I agree with Ben on drilling the hole in the guitar. It doesn’t bother me.

One of my favorite pickups to add is the K&K Mini soundboard transducers. One caveat, to work best, it needs an impedance matched DI box. The one I have is the Orchid Muting DI. That setup is an inexpensive, non-intrusive and very natural sounding combination.

The setup I use most often is a fishman F1 Aura. That effectively models a mic sound based on the undersaddle transducer’s output. It’s more complex and more expensive, but if you will be plugging in a fair amount, I think it worth the effort.

I also like the SBT pickups like the K&K. I use the JJB pickup as it is also an SBT and much cheaper than the K&K; and I think it sounds as good. The one I installed in my RD316 does not need any preamp and still sounds very natural. In addition, if you do not want to do any modifications, you can install an endpin jack like this one:

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Thanks for all the advice and recommendations. After much hemming and hawing, I went with the LR Baggs Lyric. I’ll report back once I get it installed.

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You made a good choice and I’m excited to hear your feedback, but not literal feedback :wink:



Turn it up to eleven.

What is DI, what does the DI box do, and how/when does one use it? I have K&K Pure Minis. (Apologies to David for jumping in on his thread.)

A Direct Box changes your signal from high to low impedance, from a 1/4" jack to an XLR mic, for instance. But included in these direct boxes are often times EQ’s and a pre-amp, which allows you to have more control over your sound and boost the signal if needed. It’s better to boost the signal at this point in the chain then to have to crank the gain on the sound board.

A really nice, all-uses DI/EQ I recommend is the L.R. Baggs ParaDI. I used them for years in the biggest venues in the world and they always performed well for guitar/banjo/mandolin. I recommend the Fishman Aura for violin/reso.

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The Baggs Para DI is a great piece. It allows for great shaping of the sound with under-saddle transducers.

The DI I was discussing in regards to the K&K above is to correct a specific issue between a fair amount of equipment and the K&K. Many (most) acoustic amps (and DIs) have a very high input impedance (10 megaohm) to match up with undersaddle transducers. If you plug a K&K directly into one of those, the bass is overwhelming… it is a very tubby sound. The K&K works best with a input impedance in the range of 500k to 1Mohm. There are many DIs that do have input impedance in that range. I have heard of some with variable input impedance. Also, FWIW, the K&K seems to impedance match well with mixers I have plugged straight it into. I suspect that is what it was engineered for.

So Danl1, to sum up the above… if you plug straight into an amp with the K&K and it sounds really tubby with bloated bass and dull trebles, it isn’t anything wrong or broken. It is just two pieces of equipment that don’t work well together. If you want to use an amp that doesn’t match up, an impedance matched DI would allow you to use the K&K with that amp. If you don’t have that problem, then don’t worry about it :slight_smile:



Yeah, what @Mike_R said!

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Thanks Mike and Ben,
I can verify that going direct into my son’s amplifier was not a rewarding experience. (I thought it was me…well, probably still is) This is just the information I need!!

If you want any more info on various DIs that work well with the K&K, let me know.

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As always at, I get more value with every question. I’m actually glad to read about the DI. That was my next thing I wondered about. Gonna have to save up a few more pennies.

My Lyric gets delivered tomorrow. I just picked up a step drill bit and drilled out the hole on the bottom of the guitar with masking tape to protect the finish. Came through looking fabulous! Clean as a whistle. The rest of the installation is peel and stick, so I’m very happy about that.

Plus Ricky Skaggs endorses the Lyric! Thanks again for all the great advice.

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A little late here but…
I have never been satisfied with the sound of a piezo pickup for acoustic instruments. To me they always sound quacky and electronic.

So that said, here is a little extra expense but I found that it really changes the sound of a piezo pickup. I have Fishman Aura pedals. The current model, the Fishman Aura Spectrum is really expensive so forget about that unless you have suddenly increased your budget.

But before, Fishman made Aura pedals with names like Dreadnought, Acoustic, Concert… These models were keyed to specific types of acoustic guitars BUT hidden inside was software that could make the pedal very flexible.

The Aura operates using ‘images’ but let’s say for convenience’s sake that they are models (they are supposed to be much more sophisticated and magic than just mere models). So there is a huge library of models available including the Blueridge BR 140, 143, 160 and 163. The idea is that you match your own guitar with one of these images (so say, a Blueridge BR 140 recorded with a Neumann M147) and then the image matches and blends in with your original sound.

What it does is make the nasal, quacky piezo sound more woody and stringy and, basically, more acoustic. There are hundreds of images so you mix and match. I have a Taylor 310 and I use Taylor 800 images for a match.

Anyway, if you buy one of the older pedals (but not the oldest ones, you have to buy the ones with guitar ‘type’ names) you can then purchase a software update from Fishman that will allow you to use any of the images in the library (there’s even dobro and violin images).

You can find these older Aura pedals on Ebay for well under $100 if you’re patient (not everyone is aware they are updatable. The USB plug is ‘hidden’ under the metal plate with the serial number). The update costs $30. You just need the downloadable update. The more expensive option with the CD ROM really isn’t worth it.

Anyway, if you find that the sound of the Baggs is a little unnatural sounding to your ears, don’t despair. It will cost you maybe $100 for the Aura plus update but it will be worth it.

Here is soundclip I did:

Even more astounding, not for the playing but for the acoustic quality of the sound, is this. This is a solid body nylon string guitar and a semi-acoustic fretless electric bass, both using the Aura:


Brilliant stuff. I loved the Aura with my dobro…I’d mix a little Jerry Douglas in my mix. I just wish it fixed my intonation.

I love these discussions.

Here is a simple comparison recording I did a few years back. The recording compares the sound of a JJB SBT pickup in my Recording King RD316 to a small diaphragm Shure condenser microphone SM81. The microphone was about 18 inches away pointed at the 14 fret. Both the JJB and the microphone were connected to the computer via an Alesis Multimix USB 2.0 without any EQ (set flat) or reverb (dry).
The room was not ideal and no preamp or DI was used for the pickup.
The recording shows a 50/50 blend, then 100% JJB, then 100% SM81. The examples are finger picked, flat picked, then strummed.

Again, both the pickup and the microphone were recorded simultaneously with out any eq or effects. A good DI and some EQ would go a long way in improving the tone of the JJB and a better room would help the SM81, but I wanted to try an apples to apples comparison as much as possible.

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I just snagged a gently used LR Baggs Para DI for $89 on Woo hoo! I couldn’t pass it up at that price.

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Hi Mike,
Can you suggest a couple of DI options for the K&K pure mini?
thanks, d.