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Thread: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

  1. #1
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Just had a JJB piezo installed in my Eastman MD315 and concur with the general opinion here that it is an amazing piece of gear.

    In fact, it almost seems to work a little too well, as I've noticed that any contact with the instrument comes through, including pick noise and even brushing the top of the mandolin with my hand.

    Anyone else have this issue? Or is this just life with a piezo (never had one before)? I have a gig in a couple weeks, so I'll be able to determine if it's going to be an issue or not. I hope not, because other than that, the thing sounds incredible.

    The pickup was installed by a good luthier, and placed under the bridge as directed.

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    EQ and input gain.

    You really do need a lot of low cut with these (referring to piezo's on mandolins generally). In fact, you can roll off everything below 196Hz really hard. That will dramatically reduce thumps, bumps and LF pick noise. The other thing to watch for is having the initial input gain ('trim') on the mixer or amp too high. These transducers have a very high output. You can cut the trim right back and instead use the channel fader cranked up a bit higher to attain the required level. If you have compression on the channel - turn it off.
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    One other thing: try to make sure the pickup wires aren't moving around inside to much - some of the handling noise can come from the wires hitting the instrument body when you handle it as much as anything else.

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    I like to turn the endpin jack in circles several times before tightening it up, to twist the wires so they don't come in contact with the top or back, and don't move around much. Don't make it too tight, but tight enough to stay in place.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    +1 to almeriastrings recommendations.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    I mount JJB's with low tack, non-hardening putty (see blu-tak). Several advantages over super glue, one being that it dampens the extraneous noises while still providing a good sound. Several people here talk about using double thickness mounting tape on K&K's for the same reason.

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    All reasonable suggestions. Thanks, everyone!

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    I have just fitted two JJB PPS200 pickup systems, one to a mandolin and the other to my octave. I would fully agree with Almeriastrings and the others here in the suggestions offered. I too have used superglue to attach mine inside the bodies, with the twin piezos placed under the bridge, one in line with the G and D courses and the other in line with the A and E courses. Good EQing will eliminate a lot of the contact noises you are getting. The units are very sensitive - the elements are used in Cajon drums and other percussion instruments because they pick up all the sounds being made on the soundboard.
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    With a preamp I seldom use any EQ and my mandolin sounds very nice. Sometimes I will roll off (very minimally) the highs, but seldom even do that.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    EQ and input gain.

    You really do need a lot of low cut with these (referring to piezo's on mandolins generally). In fact, you can roll off everything below 196Hz really hard. That will dramatically reduce thumps, bumps and LF pick noise. The other thing to watch for is having the initial input gain ('trim') on the mixer or amp too high. These transducers have a very high output. You can cut the trim right back and instead use the channel fader cranked up a bit higher to attain the required level. If you have compression on the channel - turn it off.
    Thanks, that low cut made a big difference.

    One question: would running this through a DI and into the mixer as a mic level input (rather than the line level) make a difference? I'm currently running it straight into the mixer (Mackie) from the instrument, or into my guitar amp (Koch Studiotone - which has an excellent tube preamp). That has sounded very good, but it may justify getting a good preamp/DI if it would help with quieting the noises.

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by spud3 View Post
    Thanks, that low cut made a big difference.

    One question: would running this through a DI and into the mixer as a mic level input (rather than the line level) make a difference? I'm currently running it straight into the mixer (Mackie) from the instrument, or into my guitar amp (Koch Studiotone - which has an excellent tube preamp). That has sounded very good, but it may justify getting a good preamp/DI if it would help with quieting the noises.
    Actually a pre-amp or DI box are line level inputs - more so than the output from the pickup.

    Leaving the pedantry aside for a moment (sorry, can't help myself sometimes!), I doubt they would help with the issue at hand, unless they offer a better high pass or notch filter than the gear you're using right now. They can also sometimes offer a richer/thicker sound as they'll match the impedance of the pickup better - that will actually give you even more bottom end which is sort of what you don't want for handling noise, even though all thing considered it may sound better overall.

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Contact transducers, Pickups, turn the Sound board into a Spruce Microphone Diaphragm..
    thats the Way it works, vibration causes the piezoelectric piece to make an electric signal ..

    They hear a lot of what the pickup is attached to.
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    What I meant was the line level output from the preamp, vs the XLR output. Would using one or the other make the noise reduction goal more easily attained?

    The other comments make sense. I'm, overall, happy with the sound quality without a preamp, just wasn't sure if having one would help the noise situation. But any time I can not spend a couple hundred bucks, I'm good with that...

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    A PA-DI like Baggs is combining 2 functions , the PREAMP (Thats the 1/4" out , you plug-into the Line-level input on a mixer channel..
    Your Piezo is a Mega Ohm impedance Output, so the preamp for a piezo hand shakes with that signal.

    The direct input drops the signal impedance back to a Microphone Level , then A Mic Cable connects to the Mic Preamp in a Mixer channel ..

    The 3 conductor cable is less subject to RFI when there is a long cable run..

    And some On stage remote 'snakes' only have Mic inputs used , on the FOH board out in front.


    Playing into a freestanding Microphone wont pick up your handling bumps .. short of bumping the Mic.



    As I read, some Pros use their pickup for their monitor signal, & the paying customers hear the Microphone,
    controlled by the sound engineer on the FOH board..

    (try less front end gain, and substitute the amp volume level at the end? )

    line level will also let you add a multiband EQ in the signal chain for more shaping than a 2 or 3 band offers.


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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by spud3 View Post
    Thanks, that low cut made a big difference.

    One question: would running this through a DI and into the mixer as a mic level input (rather than the line level) make a difference? I'm currently running it straight into the mixer (Mackie) from the instrument, or into my guitar amp (Koch Studiotone - which has an excellent tube preamp). That has sounded very good, but it may justify getting a good preamp/DI if it would help with quieting the noises.
    It very much depends which preamp or DI box you are referring to.

    Standard DI boxes vary a lot in terms of their input impedance and also in terms of the 'headroom' or peak-to-peak voltages they can handle. Transformer based boxes are not normally suitable for piezos as their input impedance is too low, so you are looking at a good quality active DI.

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StageBug1

    I'd recommend the SB1 over the SB4 for mandolin. For bass, the SB4 is more suited.

    The amount of unwanted noise you get depends on how much is being generated at source - pickup position and individual instruments affect this.

    How good your desk EQ is makes a huge difference. On many digital consoles you can 'tune out' specific frequencies very accurately - it is harder on more basic analog desks. In these cases, a full featured preamp with built-in high quality flexible EQ may be worth it.
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Actually a pre-amp or DI box are line level inputs - more so than the output from the pickup.
    To clarify this:

    1) A standard DI box (either passive or active) will have a microphone level output. Not line level.
    2) Some preamps do put out a line level output on XLR's - though most stick with mic level outputs as that is what the desk will be expecting. Some of these offer a parallel, higher level output, usually on a 1/4" mono jack or balanced TRS jack.
    3) It is always best to check the actual specifications to ensure that levels, and impedance, are suitable for your needs.

    I wrote a brief blog on this topic:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/en...eamp-or-DI-box
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    That's a great read, there. Very informative. Reminds me of when I was a young guitar player and another guitarist sat me down one day, explained how speaker impedance affected the amp output and told me that I had to pay attention to such things.

    I have an acoustic guitar with an active pickup, and the JJB passive model in the mandolin. I was considering a Red Eye Twin preamp/DI so I could plug both in and switch back and for the easily, but it sounds like it may be worthwhile to replace the pickup in the guitar with another JJB so the preamp is dealing with the same signal levels. I did check the input impedance on the Red Eye, and it seems to match well with the output of the JJB.

    Thanks again for the information!

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by spud3 View Post
    I have an acoustic guitar with an active pickup, and the JJB passive model in the mandolin. I was considering a Red Eye Twin preamp/DI so I could plug both in and switch back and for the easily, but it sounds like it may be worthwhile to replace the pickup in the guitar with another JJB so the preamp is dealing with the same signal levels. I did check the input impedance on the Red Eye, and it seems to match well with the output of the JJB.

    Thanks again for the information!
    My Redeye fire eye works great with all my JJB equipped instruments - fiddles, mandolin, mandola, OM, mandocello, banjo, guitar. Since I play multiple instruments at gigs I plug from the instruments to a Morley A-B-C pedal, output of ABC into the Redeye, then Redeye XLR out to PA. Very important to use a tuner/mute pedal in the Redeye effects loop to mute when switching the ABC or I get a loud pop thru the PA. I don't know if the Redeye twin allows for silent switching or if both are on all the time.

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Like Mandobart I use a redeye, just a single, and of the several preamps I have tried this is by far the best. It has less adjustments by far so very simple, it also has the best sound.
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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    I have a K&K in my Breedlove that I run through my Fishman Artist. I don't notice pick noise, but certainly if I tap on the top--either on purpose or inadvertently--it picks up the sound. It's just the nature of piezos so you have to try to avoid tapping.
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Any How.. . an Impedance matching transformer is XLR-Low In and 1/4"-Hi, Male Plug out.

    Uses: for Dynamic mic To a Guitar amp.

    DIs do just the opposite High In > Low Out [1/4" > XLR]
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    If it is passive the Impedance transformer can go either way. It is simply a stepup or stepdown transformer depending on which direction you are going.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Have You done that, Have you changed the plug genders too, to make it reversed?

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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Yes, I have used these both ways many times.
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: JJB Pickups and extraneous sounds

    Update - had the chance to try this out in a gig situation (NYE, my first public gig with the mandolin!) and with some careful attention to EQ, there was no problem with extraneous noise.

    The JJB got raves from band and audience members. I liked it so much I think I will be getting another to replace the active pickup in my acoustic guitar. Highly recommended!

    I also think I will be scouring the web for a Red Eye Twin to make things simpler and yet get the benefits of a good preamp for both instruments. My band is in the process of folding more acoustic-based music into what has, until now, been all electric. This is a reflection of our respective ages, mostly, but also part of what I see as a natural progression of musical interests. But that's for another thread...

    Thanks again to all here for their comments and advice!

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