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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Placement of pizzo pickup

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burnttoastbanjo - Posted - 03/19/2016:  11:17:49

Having trouble deciding on a location of a pizzo pickup. Current position is 45 degree slant between the middle leg and the outer leg (between the G and the high D). It seems to be too hot and a bit too bright. I am open to suggestions. Unfortunately it is glued on with a dot of epoxy. Any idea on getting the epoxy to loosen up? I have had a couple of people suggest behind the middle bridge leg parallel to the bridge between the bridge and the tailpiece. Any thoughts?

xnavyguy - Posted - 03/19/2016:  16:00:34

I've never tried a piezo pickup on a banjo but they seem to be very strident in their characteristics so it might be a little warmer if you placed it in front of the bridge.  

rudy - Posted - 03/20/2016:  05:15:36

I've found piezos to generally sound their "best" mounted 1" to 2" behind the bridge and centered between two bridge feet.  Mount using the thick (1/16"-1/8") double sided poster mounting foam tape will make the sound more tolerable.

Depending on the type of head material the epoxy should pop off but you might loose frosting if that's what it's stuck to.  (Hindsight, but don't use epoxy to mount.)  At worst you'll be replacing the head, no big deal.

Piezo transducers really need a preamp to impedance match them to an amp or PA.  Some acoustic amps are made with an input appropriate for piezos, but not all.  The preamp ideally shouldn't be more than 3 feet from the transducer, but that requires a strap or belt mount preamp.  You can also use a short high quality guitar cable, but it's not ideal.  The reason this is important is that the small amount of cable capacitance works to create a high pass filter for the piezo transducer, lessening the lower mids and bass and leaving the shrill top end.  This might be "too much information", but it's important to understand why these pickups generally sound so bad.

In the end they are still a piezo and you have to accept their limitations if you want to use them.

BugTugly - Posted - 03/20/2016:  13:58:59

If you are a bit of a DIY'er, here are some sites that have simple schematics 

for piezo preamps / buffers. Have not built them yet, but should be pretty 

cheap to build. 

Rudy, have you used any homebrew preamps?

rudy - Posted - 03/20/2016:  15:15:36


Originally posted by BugTugly

If you are a bit of a DIY'er, here are some sites that have simple schematics 

for piezo preamps / buffers. Have not built them yet, but should be pretty 

cheap to build. 

Rudy, have you used any homebrew preamps?

I have, and I've put together a lot of electronics in the past.

Unless you have a hobbyist interest in electronics it's far better to purchase a preamp.  When you can purchase something like the Behringer AD-21 preamp DI box for $30 it's not really worth your time to homebrew a pre.

BugTugly - Posted - 03/20/2016:  20:52:58

Tnx Rudy, hadn't come across that. Looked up specs. Input impedance listed 

at around 1Mohm. Looks like a nice little DI box to have on hand.

(burnt toast, didn't mean to hi-jack your thread blush

burnttoastbanjo - Posted - 03/27/2016:  13:22:12

No problem Bug never looked around these sites before. Lots of info to digest. On the topic of preamps I have used a ART MP for 15 years of so. It is a tube microphone preamp that works great for the banjo. The tube warms up the harsh brittle sound you can get sometimes that drives me to the edge of insanity. I use a Trace-Elliot TA100R for my stage sound and the two are very compatible for a really fine sound. There are many ways to go with equipment in my case based on what I need for the band I play in. We've been together for 27 years so each guy over time has a preference for stage sound. We used to have a kit drummer and a conga/percussionist and our dobro player played a lap steel so I had to be able to adapt to a lot going on in order to integrate and hear myself properly. For the last 10 years we've been a string band so things are different. That said if you have the right equipment it works just as good soft and quiet as it does loud and proud. As we speak I am trying out a newer ART product MPA II tube preamp and the ToneBone PZ Deluxe. Both are pricy but you get what you pay for most of the time. Still deciding which one to keep. The sound from the MPA is so sweet it caused me to conclude I need to move my pickup slightly (yes Rudy in hindsight ditch the epoxy) I am worried I might damage the head removing the pick up so until I have a new head in hand nothing's going to happen. I read on another thread several folks mention using the ToneBone it has many nice features like a mute switch for tuning and a boost for solos. Tuesday is practice night so I'll get a more realistic trial than my living room. 

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