acoustic guitar pickup eq settings

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by johnmcg, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. johnmcg

    johnmcg Guest

    I just picked up a pretty high end pre/di and eq unit (speck electronics) and compressor (FRM RNC), and i'm having trouble getting what i feel to be natural sounding results with them (it's a little better than without them, but not a ton). does anyone have suggestions about particular pre / eq / comp settings that they've found to be particularly good, or that i should be experimenting with in my search for a great sound?

    i should say that this is for a live application, or i'd just be using a mic, and that the pre and eq were purchased for studio application, but i have a gig coming up that i thought i'd be able to use them for...

    details: this is an old taylor dreadnought with a fishman piezo under the bridge, and i'm playing bluegrassy country/folk music (a little pickin', a little strummin').

    thanks for the help!
  2. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Jul 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    The problem is likely that old under the saddle piezo pickup in the Taylor. Those USTs are pretty cheesy sounding.
  3. johnmcg

    johnmcg Guest

    well, given that's what i have, do you have any productive suggestions on settings that might help to address its limitations?
  4. JBsound

    JBsound Guest


    I play acoustic guitar live also and it is definitely challenging to dial in good tones. Don't you wish you could just have a perfectly mic'ed up guitar and be done with it?

    I'm sure you already know that there will be no exact setting good for every situation. So everything is just a suggestion to try.

    On the EQ, I usually end up cutting the mids fairly heavily. This depends on so much though, and I usually sweep around until I find the right cut. Even though you're using some good stuff you'll have to remember that everytime you EQ something it will degrade the signal somewhat. I'm not familiar with the options on the Speck, but you should be able to fiddle with frequencies and such a good bit. I also like to find a kind of narrow bass frequency to boost and give it some body. You also definitely need the high end, but it can be a problem with those pickups...especially the hi-mids.

    With the compressor, you should be able to really help your consistency and sustain here. I like to set the attack time so that there is still some attack of the pick that gets through. I don't know if you're even using a pick at all though since you'll be doing some fingerpicking. Use the RNC gently, and it should treat you well. You can even try it on supernice mode. You don't want to necessarily hear that the compressor is in. I usually try and use it to even out and fill out my sound just slightly.

    I think that just like with everything else, you will just need to experiment. In the time leading up to your gig, try every setting and combination under the sun. If you get a chance, it will help to blend in a little microphone in there also during the gig.
  5. johnmcg

    johnmcg Guest

    those are exactly the kind of suggestions i was looking for! anyone else have any other ideas? also, what are some pickup options people have had better luck with than the under-saddle piezos?
  6. vpoulos

    vpoulos Guest

    Hi John,

    I'm curious, you didn't mention the order of signal flow. The order I recommend is: mic pre --> compressor --> EQ. Is that what you have?
  7. JBsound

    JBsound Guest


    You have a couple of options as far as different pickups go. I recently switched over from using a Taylor 410ce with a piezo (under the bridge) pickup only, to using an 814ce with the piezo and a small microphone...the "blender" system. It really does make a difference to me. On softer, fingerpicking stuff, where I don't have to be as loud, I go with more mic in the blend. On loud fast strumming, where I need to cut through the band, I put more of the piezo in there.

    Taylor's new ES series is also an option. I have had only limited use of a guitar with the ES, but a buddy of mine gigs one a good bit. In his words, you can't even tell you're plugged just sounds like the guitar. I haven't been able to use one enough quite yet to tell if that is the case, but it sounds promising.

    Finally, back in the day we use to mic acoustics with lapel mics on the sound hole. A lot depends on the guitar, the mic, and how you position it, but we had some good sounds that way.

    If you are staying still on stage, you really might want to consider a condenser mic up there to supplement your sound.
  8. foldedpath

    foldedpath Guest

    In addition to the midrange cut, you might want to try shelving off the highs above 12k - 16k. That can help take some of the nasty edge and "zing" off a piezo pickup without affecting the main sound of the guitar, which sits much lower in the frequency range.

    Also I would reserve one band of the Speck para EQ for notching out body resonance feedback, typically around 100Hz - 110 Hz, unless you'll be working with a soundman who can take care of this at the gig.

    Mike Barrs
  9. johnmcg

    johnmcg Guest

    thanks for all these great suggestions--i'll have lots of ideas to experiment with to get it dialed in!

    vpoulos -- I actually had it set up pre->eq->comp, so i'll definitely try it with the eq last.

    anyone else? (y)
  10. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Jan 10, 2005
    Near Clagary
    Home Page:
    Since your original question was about EQ settings, I'd say that if you have to EQ to get it to sound good, there's something quite wrong, but that's just my opinion.

    I don't know if this is helpful, but 10 years ago I got a tech to install a pickup for me. I think it's a 'Fishman Matrix.' It has a 9V but no EQ or other controls whatsoever.

    Anyway, every person who has ever heard me play says that it's a gorgeous sounding instrument live. It may be the pickup, or it may be the guitar(a Flambeau: a 1980's K-Yari production of a George Lowden design, $500 but sings like a bird) but I'm pretty sure it's not my playing...

    FYI, I go to a 'budget' church, without the dough to spend on equipment, but we happen to have a pretty good wireless condenser lapel mic. I got a hold of an old hands-free cell phone headpiece, put a little clip on the arm, turned down the gain on the unit, and voila! instant headworn microphone. It sounds great. I would think that a tiny mic like this, with an arm to hold it out front, would give you pretty good results mixed with the piezo. Such a thing for guitar may even exist.

    How could it get sweeter than having a condenser mic positioned 8" out at the 14th fret, and being able to adjust it's position as in a studio? You might be able to rent such a rig to try it out. No guitar mods would be necessary, which is always a good thing.

    Those are my two cents.

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