Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Mandolin with a pickup?

I was in a store today and tried playing a mandolin with a pickup in it. I had never played an acoustic electric mandolin before and wow, I loved it. Often times some of the best sounds come out of the mandolin when you play softly, but when plugged in it makes it louder and it just was really fun. Anyone have any experience adding a pickup to your mandolin? Am I the only one that thinks they sound great?

I have an Ovation Applause (currently loaned out somewhere) that has a pickup. It’s got a pretty significant attack. You better want to be heard when you plug it in :smiley:

I had a K & K twin internal installed in my Loar VS 220. I need to use a preamp strapped to my belt. It’s a bit of a nuisance but it sounds good. Once you get used to the preamp you can dial it back or turn it up on the fly. I mostly play with 3 other guys in a folk/blues/rock group, sometimes with them there’s no such thing as too much.

Yeah the mandolin is so quiet but sounds best that way I think. when I try to play louder I think it sacrifices quality sound. So I’ve been thinking about installing that k&k twin internal. But why do I need a pre-amp…that’s what I don’t get. If the amp has bass, treble and other controls, do you still need to have a pre-amp?

The purpose of a preamp is to match the impedance of the pickup and get a good signal level to the amp. You can use a piezo without a preamp (as I have tried with my K&K on a guitar), but it generally doesn’t sound very good. My guitar sounds bloated, tubby and very bassy without a preamp. I could set the EQ on the amp to compensate, but it doesn’t sound near as well as it does with the preamp. The preamp I got was an Orchid muting DI box. It is bare bones simple (no tone controls) but it does a great job. It was fairly inexpensive as well (a bit under $100).