View Full Version : Pick-Up for Flat Top OM

Jan-16-2005, 7:07am

I have a flat top OM and am wanting to incorporate it in one or more of my esembles, but it is strictly acoustic (no electronics) and I am wondering what type of pick-system do y'all use? I play with one very loud ensemble and a mic will not get the job done, so a pick up is the best answer. I tired one of those Dean Markley stick on pick-ups and it didn't give me what I wanted...too thin sounding (I tired it in several locations). I'd also like to know the same for my Mandola...i.e. what do y'all use?

Jan-16-2005, 11:54am
An interesting alternative for a pickup comes from Seymour Duncan (http://www.seymourduncan.com/website/products/acousticdescr.shtml#mag)in his "Mag Mike", sound hole pick up with a condesor mike. Depending on the size of the sound hole, this may be an interesting alternative for you. You can adjust the height of the individual string poles and adjust the mix between strings and onboard mike. Pump this through a preamp for control and you've got something really worth hammering on - and you can be heard.

Other alternatives are Lace Pickups, Pick up the World and even K+K with their Piezco / condesor mike combinations. It seems, there isn't one pick up which does it all, even Schertler can be less than stellar on some instruments. If you can get to a big shop which has a good variety, you may find something which will be the piece of cake.

Avi Ziv
Jan-17-2005, 12:52pm
That's an interesting idea but how does the Mag Mike work for 4 pairs of strings - as is the case for an OM? Do they sell a version for this configuration?


Jim M.
Jan-17-2005, 1:58pm
I've used a Fishman Rare Earth, that goes in the soundhole. Very natural sound, IMHO, and not too hard to mount.

Jan-17-2005, 10:44pm
Avi - The two outside posts are screwed down (out of range of the strings) and the inside four are adjusted and balanced for out put. Normally that would mean the unwound strings are set lower than the wounds. The layout and symmetry will normally work for 4 course instrument ... I don't have a five course or a big cittern to experiment with. I think the round hole in my Waldzither (five course) is too narrow to install the p/u.

What's interesting about all of Seymour Duncan's acoustic pick ups - they're made for non magnetic strings ... which baffles me but it does work that way. #I assume that the Fishman and (I think) Barcus Berry sound hole pick ups all work that way. What is so interesting is having an omni mike built in. It really changes the nature of the output tremendously.

Avi Ziv
Jan-17-2005, 10:57pm
Dion - sounded great until I went to the SD spec sheet and saw the it will fit sound holes from 3.85" to 4.1". My Peterson OM has a sound hole with a diameter of 3.5"... Oh well. Thanks

GD Armstrong
Jan-18-2005, 1:58am
Check out the Lace California Acoustic soundhole pickup, I've installed several in various zooks for people. They fit the Trinity College & similar Irish zooks and I've put a couple in Greek instruments as well. They can be used with the cord running out of the hole or wired to an end pin jack.
EMG makes a bouzouki pickup intended for Greek style instruments that screws to the end of the fingerboard - I love it.
Also B-Band makes a very good transducer if you want a permanent installation.


steve V. johnson
Jan-18-2005, 10:31pm
I have the Pick-Up the World Acoustic Soundboard pickups in all my acoustic instruments, and I love them. Just like the cliche: "just like my instrument, only louder". I use a Raven Labs PMB-II and I am just all bubbly happy <GG> with this setup.

The mylar strip pickup attaches to the bridge plate inside the instrument with adhesives provided and connect to an endpin jack.


Michael Wolf
Jan-19-2005, 8:12am

isn't the Lace dedicated to six strings or do they make one for mandos/zouks or can the guitar pickup used for eight strings? What about the pole pieces? Same questions about the Rare Earth.

I want to electrify my Stuart Mandola and think about a Headway, because they sound very nice, but want to evaluate the alternatives.
I played the Headway build in a octave mando (it was John Littlers, the owner of Headway) on the music fair, Frankfurt. This was the best amplified sound I've heared so far, but not cheap.
I owned a Schertler (very expensive, as you know) and I was surprisingly disappointed. I expected to serve all my sound problems and now I wonder about the craze around Schertler. It sounded boxie (hope this is English), my AKG C-411 (really cheap in comparison) sound nearly the same or slightly better, certainly more feedback. I tried the Schertler on a archtop-mando, a 10-string cittern and a flattop guitar, all well made instruments. I put it on carefully and on different places.
So I'm on the search again.


Avi Ziv
Jan-19-2005, 7:45pm
Michael - you asked about the Rare Earth. #I just sent an inquiry to Fishman to see if it would fit my OM, because their spec sheet does not give the min sound hole diameter. The hole in my OM (Petersen) is 3.5". I also wanted to know if the pickup would work for the 4 double string courses. Here's the reply:

"The Rare earth Series pickups require a minimum 3-5/8th inch soundhole. #I fear that at 3.5 inches, the soundhole on your octave mando will be a bit too small...The Rare Earth Series pickups use 5 magnets to pickup the strings, and I fear that if you slant the pickup in any way to try to accommodate the fit, you will have string response problems"

I have to say though that customer support was extremely responsive and I received an email within 10 min(!!) of me sending them an email. Still - doesn't look like a good fit for me.


Avi Ziv
Jan-19-2005, 7:59pm
Steve - you say you use the PUTW + Raven Labs PMB-II . Do you wind up blending two sources? How do you use this preamp?

Also - how is the PUTW jack mounted on your instruments? Did you have an installation wired to an endpin jack? I went to their web site but could not see a picture of an installation.


GD Armstrong
Jan-19-2005, 11:55pm
The Lace sensor pickups do not have polepieces but rather use a sort of comb like structure to create a "wider tonal range and better string balance". (that's from thier literature) I've used the Lace pickups on instruments with 4,5,6,8,10 & 12 strings with no balance problems.


Jan-20-2005, 1:19am
For me, the best way is the EMG - B single coil with built preamp - http://www.emginc.com/display....ogid=66 (http://www.emginc.com/displayproducts.asp?section=Acoustic&categoryid=3&catalogid=66)

Jan-22-2005, 7:50am
What does the EMG cost roughly? And will it fit into an OM...it looks like a good ideal...

Jan-22-2005, 11:17am
The price in the USA is cca 90 dollars, but I'm not sure if it can be fixed to your OM. The best way would be to contact EMG Inc.. anyway good luck! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif