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View Full Version : Installing a pezio on a tenor guitar



mikeyes
Feb-05-2010, 11:46am
I have a Dean Markley Sweetspot piezo (http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/deanmarsweet.html)under saddle pickup that I would like to install in my BR-40T tenor guitar. Has anyone here installed a six string piezo on a tenor? My understanding is that you can't cut these to size but you might be able to drill a hole at the end of the saddle slot and put the excess in the hole.

Does anyone think this might work?

I put a Sweetspot in my Seagull six string and it works very well. The instructions are not very good - I went to a guitar blog to see how to actually put it in - but they do say that you don't have to have the "bumps" lined up under each string to make it work properly. It is a very hot pickup that doesn't need a pre-amp. It does not sound exactly like the instrument, but I don't really care about that. In addition I can get it for $35 on line so if I screw it up (about a 20% chance of that) I am not out a ton of money.

mikeyes
Feb-05-2010, 9:57pm
I went ahead and installed the Sweetspot in my BR-40T and it is not for the faint of heart. Read through the whole thing before you start. You will not regret doing so.

Not that it was hard, but the instructions that come with the Sweetspot are, how can I say this, terrible. Non-existent to be specific because most of the instructions are for another product and what seems to pertain to the Sweetspot makes no sense.

I found instructions on a guitar forum that helped a lot (lost the URL, however) so here is how I did it:

1) The instructions do say to mark thesaddle (which is bone, by the way) where it meets the bridge with a pencil - I used a half pencil that I made by sanding a sharp number two pencil on my belt sander - to show where the the bridge should be after you put the pezio strip underneath. Take the strings off and remove the saddle. Don't lose it.

2) Drill a 3/32" hole at one end of the saddle slot. The saddle slot is open at both ends and it happens to be just about the same length as the pezio strip. I didn't have to hid part of it in a hole or anything. Check the lenght of the strip against the saddle slot and choose a place for the hole accordingly. The guitar forum recommended that the hole be slanted to make sure that there is not too acute a bend in the pezio strip. Apparently it is very fragile. The strip comes through this hole to the saddle slot from beneath.

3) Remove the end pin. The end pin is plastic and it is glued in. I used my vice grips to twist it out. Crude, but it worked and the pin is still in pretty good shape. I used a cloth so my vice grip would mar it much, but it really doesn't matter as you will never use it again. This leaves a 3/8" or so hole in the back.

4) Ream this hole with a reamer to make sure that you don't mess the binding up too much. Eventually you want a 15/32" hole there (the instructions say a 1/2" hole, but that is a little too big.) I used a Uni-bit to enlarge the hole then incrementally larger bits until I got to the required hole size. I still managed to chip a little of the finish but it is covered up by the end jack.
This is all the preparation you need for your guitar.

5) The Sweetspot comes as a pezio with wiring and a jack. You are supposed to measure the length of the wire and cut it to fit the distance between the bridge and the end pin. I didn't bother, it was a pain to do with my Seagull and you may, if you are lucky, get the promised clips for the wire to hold the excess. If not, I used 3M "Command" poster strips to do the same thing. They come off without marring the wood if you need to change something.

6) Solder the outside mesh to the ground which is the tongue like thing that is sticking out at the end. There is a little crimping area that you can use to crimp the ground in and then solder. The live wire, which is very small goes to the pin at 2 o'clock as you look at the jack from the rear. For some reason they don't tell you which pin to solder to. I initially soldered the wrong one - and soldering a little wire is a bitch - and had to do it all over. I wrapped the whole thing with silicon tape to keep the soldering intact.

7) Now you have the jack and the pezio attached and you have to put it in the guitar. I put the pezio through the end/jack hole from the back and put in the jack which will fit snugly. Then you are supposed to put the washer, the lock washer, and the nut over the pezio wire and snug it up against the end block. For this you need teeny hands and long fingers. The instructions tell you to then tighten it up with a wrench. I found out that the outside end comes off and you can push the end jack into the body of the guitar if you want. What I did was to put the washer/washer/nut on from the inside and then tighten it all up from the outside which was a lot easier. I was going to push the whole thing in from the inside, but that turned out to be very difficult.

8) Put the pezio through the hole and lay it on the saddle slot. This sounds easy but was the most difficult part of the whole exercise. Eventually I put a piece of monofilament fishing line (use heavy line) doubled through the hole from the top and snagged the end bump on the pezio strip. I was concerned that it might ruin the pezio, but it didn't and I did it twice because I had to re-solder the hot wire so I went through the whole thing twice. (That's when I learned about the end pin being able to go through either way.)

9) Now you need to reduce the height of the saddle to compensate for the extra height that the pezio strip brings. I used a piece of sandpaper on a thick pane of glass and slowly sanded off the bottom. It is important that you keep the saddle as level as you can, but it is not easy and I ended up with a slightly canted saddle. Measure your progress using that line you drew in the beginning. When it just reaches the bridge, you have sanded enough off (In fact leave a little - see below.) If you go too far, you will have to get another saddle.

10) If everything is right and you haven't ruined the pezio, and your solder joint is good, and you have gotten everything tight, string the guitar up. The pressure of the strings will compress the pezio strip a little which is the reason I leave the saddle a little high. Plug in your guitar and tap the saddle. You should hear the thumping as this is a very hot pezio. At this point you are finished.

I tested the setup outside of the installation the second time I went through the process just to make sure that my soldering was good. I did it by putting the pezio under the saddle and letting it hang on the outside of the guitar. I plugged it in to see if it worked.

The sound you get after the installation is not any different from before. The electronic sound is hot and somewhat harsh but when I used a pre-amp it sounded more natural. The price is right and I don't intend to use it plugged in unless I am on stage.

I still love my BR-40T, by the way :grin:

Mike Keyes

martinedwards
Feb-27-2010, 2:34pm
for 4 course instruments I use Artec's PP402

http://www.airburst.co.uk/junkboxinstruments/banjo/thumbnails/tn_pickup.jpg

1/4 the price of a mando pup (8 inc post in the UK) and I remove the two string section and put it in the bag with the others......

some day I'll find a use for a bag or two string piezos......

anyway, they work just great and my ears cant tell the difference beteween one of these and an expensive under saddle piezo