q:restoring old acoustic pickup

how to

Hey all, this pick up used to be my dads and it hasnt been used in a long time. im pretty sure its vintage. its a De Armond acoustic pick up
pretty much this exact one except mine has a 10ft male ended cord…its a bit yellowed where it should be white, tiny rust spots in places. but the outter face is nice and it works great but when i record it, its pretty muddy. i have to eq alot to get some nice gleam from it. is there anything i could do to make it sound any better? like replace anyhing?
you can hear it there on the 4th song called 'new guitar and mic’
i also bought a no name acoustic that i think sounds good :)
any suggestions for anything are MUCh appreciated Thanks alot ~matt

Well unfortunately any soundhole magnetic pickup I’ve ever tried has always sounded rubbish - vintage or not. I guess that’s why most high-end acoustic pickups nowadays are piezo or some hybrid with a mic built-in. Saying that, I’ve not tried a Seymour Duncan Woody, so perhaps I’m wrong, but even then those Woodys are pretty cheap in the whole gamut of pickups available.

You could try different pre-amps. Getting the right impedence match between the pickup and what it’s plugged into may help.

That’s a heck of a price for that pickup on Ebay.

I hope you get it sorted.


im not really sure of the price…
the link i gave to ebay isnt my actual pickup by the way
and ebay auctions arent the best source for pricing out something…
it sounds okay, some of the characteristics remind me of professional recordings ive heard. :)
the only thing i can think of is change the magnetic posts on it. thinkthat would help any?
i like the sound :stuck_out_tongue:


If you like the sound, why bother trying to change it?

If you want to try a quick & dirty method of remagnetising the poles, just stroke a strong magnet across them a few times.
If the pole pieces have lost some magnetism, the output from that pole will be reduced, hence colouring of the sound will occur.

If you remagnetise, you will inevitably not do it evenly, therefore you will have coloured the sound and will have to adjust the poles :(


Go the piezo route. Stay away from magnetic. Get the piezo professionally installed with onboard pre-amp.

For recording, use a mic, for live work use a piezo.

thanks for the info everyone… i actualy, see all your points and i agree with your experience.
maybe ill try brand new poles, and if they sound horrible, ill put these old ones back in :)
thanks again everyone

also, whats a cheap pre-amp i could buy? anyone have recomendations? thanks

Presonus Blue Tube DP (little over 200USD)

Presonus Tube Pre (little over 100USD)


Someone had bad experience with the earlier model (Blue Tube) in “this toys a dud” under “anything else topic” but I enjoy and have had great success with their products.

Studio Projects VTB1

A trick I’ve done with GREAT results, and posted about here a few times, is to wire a Radio Shack piezo buzzer in parallel with a sound-hole magnetic pickup. There are no resistors or anything else to add. Straight-wire the piezo buzz to be parallel to the pickup and superglue it flat under the bridge inside the guitar. The final balance might need adjusting depending on the strength of the magnetic pickup and it does need some EQ. I’ve balanced the sound by adjusting the distance of the sound-hole pickup from the strings. That’s not an option with the DeArmond, but I can say the one of the guitars I did this was used a DeArmond and it needed no other balancing that EQ couldn’t handle. The idea of this trick is to bring out some natural acoustic brightness that isn’t picked up by the magnetic pickup. The magnetic pickup on the other hand produced depth that a piezo just doesn’t do well. It’s a nice trade-off. After doing this it’s a good idea to run the output into a FET preamp, not not absolutely necessary as is the case when doing piezo alone.

Piezo Element Model: 273-073

With that type of radio shack piezo you won’t get depth.
This type is better as you get a wider range of natural frequencies off the wood because of the larger surface area covered.

The on board pre-amps here are fine for plugging into an amp but they need an outboard pre-amp for puter recording.

half decent piezo with onboard pre-amp eq cobos

EDIT: url should say cheap but effective


With that type of radio shack piezo you won’t get depth.

No, you don’t. You aren’t supposed to when doing my trick. The depth comes from the magnetic pickup and the combination is the whole sound. A piezo with depth may not work since there could be competing lower frequencies. (It could work…I’ve never tried that trick with a “good” piezo.) It’s worth $2 to try it and that’s a lot cheaper than $30. Any piezo pickup by it self sounds like crap in my opinion, including the under saddle things. I’ve never heard one I liked, except for those Gibson solid body acoustics. I don’t know how they work but I like them.

By the way, I’ve put on on the body of a solid body guitar and it does much the same, though not as well. I got a nearly natural acoustic sound out of an old Melody Maker I used to own doing that. Of couse that’s a very light bodied Gibson, so it had a lot of wood sound in the body already. Yes, it does pick up every little noise off the body.

Ahhhh… I didn’t realize it was a trick…and the low frew competition…but how do you can a nice deep freq response from a mag pickup on an acoustic… nice and muddy maybe.

Disagree about your view on piezo though, some sound purty good, not all card board and scratch as the myth states, provided it’s eq’d and well good wood helps. Yamaha APX series a good example of good sounding piezo guitars.

You wouldn’t catch me ever putting a magnetic pickup on an acoustic…not a chance.

do you by chance know the part # StuH?
so there’s no way to balance the piezo with the magnetic pickup? like…if the piezo picks up way too much?
sounds really easy and reversable too, ill probably give this a go. :)
good tip!

Well I’m not saying it won’t work…just my experience with mags on an acoustic is the bottom end drops off too much…nature of the strings.

No I don’t know a part number but any reputable guitar shop should be able to help you out. The thing with piezo is it tops at a very high frequency so the EQ is a must. Pre-amp a must to. The low end is there though. If you pre-amp outside the guitar the fear is signal drop off because of line length, so generally the best setup is pre-amp as close to the source as possible . Preferably built in. Best to have a guit tech put this in though. Pretty hard for us regular Joe’s to find the sweet spot.

All low frequency is muddy is if it doesn’t have enough highs to bring out what’s there. By that I mean if you roll all the highs off of any acoustic only mud is left. The piezo is there to add a touch of highs that electric pickups don’t have and it gets them from a place electric pickups can’t easily be put. That makes it more acousty sounding. The lows acousticly and electriclly don’t sound nearly as different as you might think when the highs are gone.

A band I was in did this for a long time when playing live. It worked well and sounded better than any other ways we tried to get the acoustics up to stage volume. We did mics only, piezos only, electric only, and even PZMs at all kinds of different places and all combinations of the above. It was a bunch of fun experimenting to find a resolution for the impossible. Anyway, those Gibson solid body acoustics are perfect for stage.

Of course there’s a way to balance the piezo and magnetic pickup, but we never needed to to do it. The magnetic pickup loads the piezo down a lot so it doesn’t sound as bright as a piezo by itself. A preamp for the piezo before wiring the two parts together might make it not work as well…I don’t know. That could counteract any loading that might happen, making it overly bright. That’s why I said you might have to balance it somehow. I can see an electric pickup just blowing over the piezo.

For that matter, I had the Melody Maker wired so that the regular guitar pickup and piezo went to different channels on the mixer. That guitar was harder to balance than the acoustics that the band used years later. For all I know wiring the electric pickup and piezo together with nothing else makes it sound better than keeping them separate. Think of this: A piezo straight-wired in parallel to an electric pickup is just like wiring a tone capacitor across the output. Doing that will cause some of the highs from the electric pickup to be rolled off, and ultimately replaced by the piezo. That might help the sound.

Anway, I haven’t done this in years. I’d like for someone to try it, and to experiment around with it to see what they think about it and what improvements they might could come up with. I used two different kinds of magnetic pickups. One was the DeArmond (had a built-in volume control) – the other was a single coil Gibson bass pickup (came out of a cheap Gibson SG shaped student bass from the middle 70’s – not a very good quality pickup by any stretch - neither was the bass – the neck snapped off when a speaker fell on it). I had two of those Gibson pickups. We did this to three guitars. All three sounded great through the PA…all three needed a good amount of EQ at the board though.

The gibson pickups were mounted flat on a piece of wood that was held in place inside the guitar with velcro. The top of the pickup was about flush with the top of the guitar (right in the middle of the sound hole) so it was a pretty good distance from the strings.

The only recordings I have of these are on video tapes. I’ve been moving the last few weeks so if I run across something I’ll try to post a sample. They are straight board mixes of the band so the sound is a pretty good representation of whatthe direct output of those guitars would sound like for the most part…I honestly don’t even know where the tapes are at the moment.

Same website showing variety of saddle mounted piezo pu

saddle pu (pezo)

For what it’s worth, I have a soundhole pickup that I like a lot – not so much because it sounds authentically acoustic
(it doesn’t) but because it gives me a nice warm “hollow body” ES335 jazzy kind of a sound out of my Yamaha acoustic. It’s an old black Lawrence thing that clips into the soundhole with a kind of a spring. It ain’t pretty, but I like the way it sounds…

And as some wise person once said, “When it comes to music, if it sounds good, it is good.”

Here’s what it sounds like (all the guitar solos and the reggae rhythm guitar on this song were recorded with it, direct into the board):
"I’m a Lima Bean"


Another link showing pro/cons in acoustic pu choices, good but very general article.

acoustic amplification

A review of the Trilogy from Dean Markley. 3 in 1 pu system looks good but re-enforces my dislike of mag pickups, could generate a bias as no EQ’ing is done with any the pickups.

review Trilogy (Dean Markley product)