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Thread: cheap external pickup

  1. #1

    Default cheap external pickup

    I know there have been many threads about this, but in my search I couldn't find the suggestions I was looking for, so here we go. I just purchased an F hole Weber but not sure if I'm going to marry it. While I'm deliberating I want to play out but it's a situation where they don't mic instruments. Are there any dirt-cheap stick-on pickups that will give an at least passable sound, as I'm not ready to do an internal install? I see some well under $50, some under $20. I imagine they sound like, well, $20 pickups, so I'm asking for the unlikely: are that any inexpensive ones that sound decent (again, just a temporary fix)? thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    The stick on external pickups are not great.
    I'd go with the JJB Mercato that has a carpenter jack. Install the pickups with blu-tack and you'll be good to go, no drilling required and easily removable to use on your next mandolin!
    http://jjb-electronics.com/marcato.html

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  4. #3
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Yeah, the JJB Mercato is a good bet. Have one on my A Jr. Don't plug in that often, but the sound is decent. At least when I run it through my Fishman Loudbox Mini.
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Remember the pickup, no matter what brand or price, will not sound good without a preamp. You can plug into an amp designed for a piezo, and sometimes a board will have one channel that will have a high Z input. While they help, I don't think they sound as good as a preamp.
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  7. #5

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    for me, the jjb mercato was and is clearly the way to go, and it will most likely be the same for you.

    if the honeymoon lasts you may find the jjb will last as well, with no need for any other mando amp-o system-o.
    Mandolins are truly *magic*!

  8. #6

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Me as well, I’m looking for an external pickup that has a jack that doubles as a strap attachment and an hidden internal pre-amp -so I don’t have to chomp out part of my Octave. But a pickup that is accessible in order to change batteries.
    Having said that, when I told me daughter of the plan, she did that teenager, arms in the air, eyes rolling, what-is-wrong-with-my-Dad? look!
    Yeh, acoustic is cool.
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  9. #7

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Iíve recently posted this but itís on an old thread so putting it here too. Hope thatís OK!

    Iíve borrowed from a friend a Myers The Grip which sounds really good - but Iím finding the suction pad isnít great and it has fallen off a couple of times. Itís also twice the price of the Ovid T Bone system
    But my question is whether I need to factor into the cost buying a pre-amp as well? I realise the Myers has one built in, with a volume control, but I canít work out whether the Ovid does or not.
    Also, if it needs one which pre-amp would you recommend for the Ovid please?
    Thanks

  10. #8
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Looks like it is a condenser mic, and requires 48 volt phantom power, but shouldn't need a preamp. You may need a phantom power unit depending on what you are plugging into.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  11. #9
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    I tried several cheap external pickups before I got a K&K twin internal. The others sounded cheap. My advice would be to get a good external, and if you donít keep your Weber, you can transfer the pickup to your new love.

    Edit: I play through a Fishman Artist that has a built-in preamp. Most acoustic amps have them, but most electric guitar amps donít. The preamp makes a huge difference.
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    In my experience; I bought my first piezo pickup in about 1974, what you plug it into matters more than the make of pickup. A half decent acoustic amp with the right high impedance inputs or a preamp designed for piezo pickups should be your starting point.

  13. #11

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Yeah, choices for a good and cheap external are few.

    I went with a Schertler DYN-M P48 which attaches externally using putty. I plug it into an XLR cable hung off the mic stand and that goes directly into my Carvin amp which has phantom 48V power. Sounds great! The Schertler is a mic so it doesn't require the signal processing that piezo pickups do in order to sound good.

    At around $388, it might sound expensive but I didn't need to buy a pre-amp which raises the price of those piezo pickups. And it is easily taken off when I want to use it on a different mandolin.

  14. #12
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    I had a JJB Marcado and it was great, but when I custom ordered my Silverangel, I had Ken put in a K&K and thought the sound was magnificent. I also found the JJB to be quieter than the K&K. I ended up buying a used K&K to go on my Jacobson.

    I play through a Fire-Eye Red Eye pre/DI and am pleased with the result.
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  15. #13
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    For quick and cheap, google up the Cherub Violin Pickup. Less than $10. I wanted something that I could just put on and remove easily. I clamp it to my Collings MT at the rear of the bottom F hole. It doesn't get much easier, or cheaper! As others have pointed out, good pre-amping and some EQ dialing in will be needed.
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  16. #14
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    To add to what I said in Post #10, I fitted a Barcus Berry to my Martin D18 - epoxied it to the bridge plate! - back in the 70’s and, plugged into my Acoustic Image Coda, it sounds as good as anything else, piezo equipped, I’ve heard.

    Piezo pickups were originally invented for the telephone and things haven’t improved that much since. If you want to get really cheapskate, try using one of the guts out of a piezo buzzer - I believe that Radio Shack sell them. If you’re really carefull, you can cut them into 5/6 pieces, solder on new wires and you’ll have several to play with.

  17. #15
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal View Post
    Yeah, choices for a good and cheap external are few.

    I went with a Schertler DYN-M P48 which attaches externally using putty. I plug it into an XLR cable hung off the mic stand and that goes directly into my Carvin amp which has phantom 48V power. Sounds great! The Schertler is a mic so it doesn't require the signal processing that piezo pickups do in order to sound good.

    At around $388, it might sound expensive but I didn't need to buy a pre-amp which raises the price of those piezo pickups. And it is easily taken off when I want to use it on a different mandolin.
    I, too have a Schertler, but the Basik instead of the more expensive model. For around $170, it's actually pretty good. Plugged directly into my Schertler Guilia, it sounds good whether on my OM, flat-top mandolin or arch top mandolin, or even my piccolo mandolin. They each sound very much like they do acoustically, which is what I am after.

    Plugged into a 'house system' out and about, sound quality is completely dependent on the sound tech. If the is a good sound person running the board, it can be great. If it is being run by a drunk inattentive guy trying to pick up a girl, forget it. In that case, nothing works. Been there, experienced that, fed up with it.

    The stick-on putty works great. I haven't had it fall off and it leaves no mark at all on lacquer or varnish. Be careful to play with placement ahead of time to find the right place for your instrument, and a place where you won't bump it while playing (makes a jarring noise if you do).

    I like the small phantom power pack because I run the wire from the pickup to the pack, put the pack in my back pocket, and the cord to the house board from my back pocket. Nice and secure.

    Anyway, that's my experience. Good luck!
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  18. #16

    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    To add to what I said in Post #10, I fitted a Barcus Berry to my Martin D18 - epoxied it to the bridge plate! - back in the 70’s and, plugged into my Acoustic Image Coda, it sounds as good as anything else, piezo equipped, I’ve heard.

    Piezo pickups were originally invented for the telephone and things haven’t improved that much since. If you want to get really cheapskate, try using one of the guts out of a piezo buzzer - I believe that Radio Shack sell them. If you’re really carefull, you can cut them into 5/6 pieces, solder on new wires and you’ll have several to play with.

    I did the doorbell buzzer route with a cigar box guitar. I did have to hot glue over the element to mitigate feedback. It sounds great.
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  19. #17
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    I'm not a fan of piezo pickups, so my experience is limited. From what I've seen, the main difference between expensive and cheap piezos is the price - the technology is the same, as others have pointed out. The impedance (mis-) match is the deciding factor. Apart from the more expensive buffer/preamps, it's worth looking at the Behringer V-Tone pedal. The poor reputation that Behringer deservedly had is not reflected by this pedal at all - I've seen it used by various fiddlers/guitarists and it does the job very well.
    For myself, I use an AKG C411, which is a condenser transducer, stuck on externally with putty, which can plug straight into the sound board without anything in between. I'm a great believer in keeping the signal chain as simple as possible, not for any high fidelity reasons, but because it's less stuff to break (and experience shows that most things will fail eventually, usually when it's most inconvenient).
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  20. #18
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    Default Re: cheap external pickup

    Are there vocals that are mic’ed, or is it just an instrumental performance? If you have to plug a cable into the board anyway, what’s the difference if it’s from a mic? Maybe need a little different mix at the board, but your sound will be a whole lot better than from a cheap pickup.
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