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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Electric banjo or pick up?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/355218

Johnwu - Posted - 07/05/2019:  09:17:25


I play clawhammer in a band just starting to book gigs first one end on the month but have been having a nightmare with feedback from a cheap pick up even when plugged into the PA. So wondering peoples recommendations on whether to get a gd pick up (been looking at fishman and kavanjo) or an electric banjo (not sure what's decent), I have a budget of 500 could be stretched though, just loathed to spend that much on something I cant try first!?

Cheers

xnavyguy - Posted - 07/05/2019:  10:06:32


I do sound for a band with stage monitors and the banjo picker is a very light picker. I was using a Shure SM-57 to mic his banjo and could never get enough of his banjo in the monitors to satisfy him, because of feedback. In fact, I couldn't get enough banjo in the mains for a good, balanced mix.



I swapped the SM-57 for one of these and the results have been quite amazing.  They have a tremendous amount of gain, before feedback, and the banjo player has been more than happy with the performance.  Sometimes Musician's Friend has them on sale, 2 for the price of one, just under $60 for 2.  They're good mics.



I realize they aren't a pickup but they're cheap and, to my ears, are better than any pickup.



musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/...KtdPD_BwE


Edited by - xnavyguy on 07/05/2019 10:07:50

Old Hickory - Posted - 07/05/2019:  10:41:38


$500 doesn't buy any electric banjo I'm aware of. The various Gold Tone models cost more than that used. Likewise the Deering Crossfire.



So a pickup is probably the way for you to go.



I was totally impressed by the sound of a Fishman that I heard a banjo player using in an RK-25 at a local festival. Through some DI box and the PA, it sounded very close to a well-mic'd banjo.  I heard a Kavanjo live once -- Ashley Campbell paying in her dad's farewell concert tour.  Not totally banjo sounding but it did the job.  It seems to my ear that the sound of magnetic pickups is affected by banjo characteristics of the picking attack, bridge and head, so they do end up sounding something like a banjo.  Fishman is magnetic, but somehow sounds more realistic to me.



The Hatfield-Jones pickup (available again and only $80 at Elderly) is similar to the Fishman but is passive instead of active (no battery required).



Schatten is popular and often recommended. I use Pickup the World. It's OK. They now charge $30 extra for the jack mounting bracket. It's a thicker version of the L-bracket included with the less-expensive Schatten pickup.



A combination that would stretch your budget would be to get a good pickup and pair it with a $399 ToneDexter preamp. ToneDexter learns the mic'd sound of your instrument and adjusts the pickup sound to match. It works.  Here's an example of ToneDexter on a banjo.   The difference with ToneDexter is much more dramatic in this example on a violin.



And here's a demo on mandolin, where the player first plays his mandolin through a clip-on microphone to teach ToneDexter what the instrument sounds like. After the learning is complete, he plays in "bypass" mode so you can hear what the pickup on its own sounds like. Finally, he plays with ToneDexter on and the sound is pretty much the same as through the microphone.



If my band gets back to active playing, I'm getting one of these.



I believe every pickup needs a pre-amp or DI box. One that outputs a low-impedance signal through an XLR connection is preferable. The highly recommended LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI runs $200 new. So one of those plus a good pickup is within your budget.



Good luck.



Edited to add: Jack Hatfield himself sells his pickup direct for the  same $80 and only $5 shipping.  He also sells a Fishman preamp/DI box for $125.  It looks like a good deal, but I prefer devices that run on phantom power from the PA so I don't have to worry about batteries running out or plugging in one more AC device. To each his own.


Edited by - Old Hickory on 07/05/2019 10:52:07

Robbie McKee - Posted - 07/05/2019:  12:06:23


I would take a look at the EMG banjo pickup. It’s leaps and bounds beyond anything else I’ve seen. Of course thats only my opinion. But just trying to help.


Edited by - Robbie McKee on 07/05/2019 12:07:02

Old Hickory - Posted - 07/05/2019:  12:43:28


EMG is one that doesn't do it for me.



Promo video.



Maybe strings 1, 2, 3 & 5 sound almost like a banjo, but the 4th string to my ear is nothing at all like what I want to hear. Too bassy and boomy while lacking the attack twang clarity of a banjo heard un-aided or through a mic.



This is all subjective.

banjo bill-e - Posted - 07/05/2019:  12:52:42


I think you will be using a mic if you want it to sound anything like clawhammer banjo.

Texaspaul - Posted - 07/05/2019:  14:16:16


I once use blue painters tape to mount a SHURE SM 57 to my dowel stick seemed to work fine on my open back. I have a Fishman on a resonator and ud LR Bagga account pars equalizer DI box to PA or straight to my Crate acoustic amp. I often play at area State Prison Units with a bunch of Guitars (plugged in), bass, drums and group singing lots of noise seems to work fine. The caveat is quality isn’t as important as being loud and dinsct from Guitars.

Tractor1 - Posted - 07/05/2019:  14:16:17


If you use a piezo pick up ,you might use , a bit of compression.The dynamic range of pick-ups makes a small plunk turn really loud. In other words the feel is way out of wack and hard to lighten up on. If you put it around the bridge you get string noise ,since those type waves reach the pick up first.
This is the way I see it ,but not necessarily the only view or even a good one

petereckel - Posted - 07/07/2019:  03:24:08


quote:

Originally posted by Old Hickory

$500 doesn't buy any electric banjo I'm aware of. The various Gold Tone models cost more than that used. Likewise the Deering Crossfire.



So a pickup is probably the way for you to go.



I was totally impressed by the sound of a Fishman that I heard a banjo player using in an RK-25 at a local festival. Through some DI box and the PA, it sounded very close to a well-mic'd banjo.  I heard a Kavanjo live once -- Ashley Campbell paying in her dad's farewell concert tour.  Not totally banjo sounding but it did the job.  It seems to my ear that the sound of magnetic pickups is affected by banjo characteristics of the picking attack, bridge and head, so they do end up sounding something like a banjo.  Fishman is magnetic, but somehow sounds more realistic to me.



The Hatfield-Jones pickup (available again and only $80 at Elderly) is similar to the Fishman but is passive instead of active (no battery required).



Schatten is popular and often recommended. I use Pickup the World. It's OK. They now charge $30 extra for the jack mounting bracket. It's a thicker version of the L-bracket included with the less-expensive Schatten pickup.



A combination that would stretch your budget would be to get a good pickup and pair it with a $399 ToneDexter preamp. ToneDexter learns the mic'd sound of your instrument and adjusts the pickup sound to match. It works.  Here's an example of ToneDexter on a banjo.   The difference with ToneDexter is much more dramatic in this example on a violin.



And here's a demo on mandolin, where the player first plays his mandolin through a clip-on microphone to teach ToneDexter what the instrument sounds like. After the learning is complete, he plays in "bypass" mode so you can hear what the pickup on its own sounds like. Finally, he plays with ToneDexter on and the sound is pretty much the same as through the microphone.



If my band gets back to active playing, I'm getting one of these.



I believe every pickup needs a pre-amp or DI box. One that outputs a low-impedance signal through an XLR connection is preferable. The highly recommended LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI runs $200 new. So one of those plus a good pickup is within your budget.



Good luck.



Edited to add: Jack Hatfield himself sells his pickup direct for the  same $80 and only $5 shipping.  He also sells a Fishman preamp/DI box for $125.  It looks like a good deal, but I prefer devices that run on phantom power from the PA so I don't have to worry about batteries running out or plugging in one more AC device. To each his own.






I use a pickup the world as well. Through the Tonedexter and am pretty pleased with the results playing in my band with drums and electric guitar. Definitely worth checking out if you do get back into it. 

Aradobanjo - Posted - 07/12/2019:  05:32:38


Hello,

I like the Cling-On. Using 1/4” plug wireless guitar devices, this sounds like a banjo. I have been using this at a camp I am attending with family. It is magnetic, which allows it to be placed where you like it.

SansPix - Posted - 07/16/2019:  14:03:34


I use an LR Baggs bridge embedded pick up on my Stelling Staghorn which is a passive p/u requiring a pre-amp/di and that goes through a Fishman Platinum. The Fishman gives you an opportunity to dial in the tone you want, provides a boost for breaks, and also works as a D/I. On my OME Juggernaught I use the EMG which is an active p/u. Of the two, the EMG is the most natural sounding but I haven't swapped the p/u's btwn the two instruments to finalize that comment.
On electric banjos, nothing playable out there for $500. But you need to think about what you want to sound like. Some of the electric ones with 8" drumheads on a solid body look and sound like musical hermaphrodites. They can't make up their minds to what they want to be. If you go that route understand that the amp you pick is an integral part of your instrument. The way I went was with a custom Nechville Comet. Solid body with two EMG passive single coil pickups. It's set up like a Stratocaster. I did this to access tones (and music) that were at this point only available to electric guitarists. When I play out with it, guitarists tell me it doesn't sound like an "electric" banjo but a guitar. My answer to that is does your Tele or Strat sound like a Martin, Taylor or Collins and the bigger question why would you want it to? I use my acoustics for Old Time, Bluegrass and Americana. I use my Comet to play "Sultans of Swing". Electric banjos are a different rabbit hole. Go for the cleanest and simplest pick up you can find along with a pre-amp to fine tune it.

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