A high quality guitar inspires because we can hear so much more. The first guiding
principle: get a guitar made of solid tone woods. The price factor is a bit daunting.
Solid wood mass production guitars such as Martin, Taylor or Larrivee start out at
about $1200 for something basic. Expect to pay $2500 + for their mid-price guitars.
Consider it an investment. Better guitars sound better and inspire you to play longer
and more often. The music you will make will inspire others. The pay-off is worth it.
In the limited production shops, the prices run from $4000-8000 for a hand made
instrument. These guitars have a lot of personal time invested in them by the builder
and his workers. You can hear the difference. Goodall Guitars, Charis Guitars,
Lowden Guitars, Froggy Bottom, Dana Bourgeois are building great guitars. I have
owned several Goodall's and still play a rosewood-German spruce jumbo. With these
guitars take the inspiration factor and multiply it by 10. They are the equivalent of
concert performance instruments.
Okay. Why would you want to take a nice guitar and put a crummy pickup in it? It
defies common sense. It's a desecration of a work of art. It's worth at least 3 billion
bad style points. Seriously, if you just want your guitar to be loud: buy an electric
guitar. The only pickups worth installing in your fine guitar would be those made by
L.R. Baggs. The Baggs I Mix has an IBeam and Element paired with a very cool,
highly adjustable preamp. Reaching through the sound hole with a jeweler's phillips
head screwdriver allows you to balance gain between the two pickup, roll of the bass
on the IBeam, trim the mids, and switch to mono [blended] operation. A nifty thumb
wheel mounted in the sound hole gives you volume and mix control. It's the holy grail
of pickups. Baggs has won several gold medals in the acoustic guitar player's
You could install a Fishman aura, but then you'll be wanting processed sound-not
pure tone. You could install a K&K, but then you're hurting for enough gain and using
superglue gel to stick it on your bridge plate. [Uninstalling is a blind adventure with a
razor blade in a cramped space...] Schertler's are supposed to be mini microphones.
If I owned a microphone that sounded like a Schertler Bluestick that was installed in
my jumbo, I'd throw it away.[In fact, I did!] Holy mid range hump, Batman! I know this
may sound like a lot of attitude, but I'm on my second double espresso. Point of fact:
I've used everything that I just critiqued.
I will say that the B-band A2.2 under saddle and bridge plate combo sounds pretty
good. However, unless you want to saw a hole in the side of your guitar for an A8,
there's not the same level of tone adjustment.
With your excellent pickup purchase a high quality cable. I like monster cable, but the
Planet Waves cables are pretty good, too. A cheap cable can make you think your
pickup has issues.,A good cable faithfully moves those beautiful electrons along the
signal chain so people can hear your beautiful acoustic tone.
Genz-Benz builds an amazing acoustic amp that I used for several years. Currently I
use a Bose L-1 with double subs: absolutely amazing.
There are a few solid state preamps that do an excellent job, like the Duncan-Turner
[D-TAR] Solstice which blends two pickup signals. Everyone I know who uses them
raves about them. The Baggs para DI is relatively inexpensive, but provides notch
filter and sweepable EQ settings. Fishman recently released a DI box with eq,
microphone modeling, 3 bands of notch, a tuner, and compressor. This one bears
watching! One of the lowest priced quality tube alternatives is the Universal Audio
Twinfinity. UA specializes in analog/tube gear. I love their stuff.