Handmade Guitars by Bob Gramann

There are many opinions among guitarists about pickups.  Here are mine:

I have never met a pickup that I loved.  Every one that I have ever heard adds some distortion or artifacts to the sound of an acoustic guitar.  I particularly dislike the distortion that comes with under-saddle pickups.  For me, a good microphone placed a few inches from the guitar captures the sound of a guitar more accurately than any pickup. That said, there are situations where a microphone just won't work well for a guitar on stage.  My research on pickups has led me to brands of bridgeplate pickups that I think do as well as can be done to accurately capture the sound of a guitar, the McIntyre Feather and the K&K Pure Mini.  Neither changes the sound of the instrument when it is unplugged.  Neither interferes with the critical joint between the saddle and the bridge.  In order to service my customers who need pickups, I have become a K&K dealer.  I sell the K&K Pure Mini installed for $160.  With about a week's lead time, I can get any of the K&K products that you may need, although if you need it faster and plan to install it yourself,  you may wish to use Amazon.com.

My wife and I ran a venue, The Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase, for 20 years.  My experience there leads me to this advice:  Keep the electronics in the guitar as simple as you can!  Failures on stage are very inconvenient.  Dead batteries that require slacking the strings to change are very inconvenient.  If you need a preamp or any controls for the pickup, put them in a box outside the guitar, either on your belt or on the floor.  An external box is easy to bypass or swap and the gig can go on.

An easy way to get the flexibility of a pickup, for moving around on stage, and the sound of a mic'ed guitar is to put a microphone on a stand in front of your guitar and use both the microphone and the pickup.  The audience will hear the fullness and shimmer of the guitar when you are close to the mic.  They will still hear the guitar through the pickup when you move away from the mic, but they will remember the fullness that they heard before and think that they still hear it even though you may have moved away for a few seconds.  And, it is simple and limits the equipment you need in your guitar.  Remember:  keep it simple.

Bob Gramann
122 Laurel Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

(540) 898-0611