Let's talk about the history and music of the American Heartland

Visit our Sister Sites
CreekDontRise.com Home Page Visit our sister site, School of the Rock
Visit our Classic Train Songs Page
A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
 

It is currently Mon Jan 27, 2020 12:43 pm


To ask any question about the content on this site please use our Site Contact Page.

To sign up for this discussion forum, please use our Forum Signup Page.

Either way, we'll be very glad to hear from you - Paul Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for this discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Banjo Pickup Discussion
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:22 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
This section will be for updates about banjo pickups.

Several years ago, I needed one, so I researched, then bought an inexpensive piezoelectric pickup that served my purpose.

An article about the research I did and the pickup I chose is here:

http://creekdontrise.com/acoustic/banjo ... pickup.htm

Back then the main technologies were:

Magnetic coil pickup under the head (like Dean and Gold-tone's electric-acoustic banjos use) or attached to the head (like some Deerings) - gives the least handling noise and feedback but doesn't sound as much like a "real" banjo.

Piezoelectric that attaches right to the head. Generally a more realistic sound, but requires a preamp, and picks up more handling noise. Also, piezoelectric crystals vary even within the same batch, and you might get one that sounds like a duck quacking. The cheapest option, if you're not counting the preamp.

Fishman "rare earth" pickups which are somewhat in between. They use magnetic pickup technology, but the pickup sits under a sliver of metal attached to the head, so they're picking up head vibrations, not just string vibrations. They sound more realistic than straight mag pickups, with less handling noise than piezoelectrics.

Since then, a few other technologies have been more widely promoted, including tiny condenser microphones that attach to the banjo. These typically give the most realistic sound at all, but they are also the most prone to feedback. We show an example of this on the following page:

http://riverboatmusic.com/banjos/access ... tm#pickups

The rest of this thread will be dedicated to reader questions and interaction on this topic.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:25 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
Here's the reader question that prompted me to add this thread to the forum:

I would like to play with electric sound and effects on my clawhammer banjo. For that I need a magnetic pick-up that captures only the movement of the strings, and barely anything of the actual sound. There are a few solutions for this problem on the guitar, but most banjo pick-ups are designed to capture sound, which is exactly what I don't need.
Are you aware of any 5-string magnetic pick-ups that deliver only the vibration of the strings? I figured, if anyone did, it would be you.

----------Our Response ----------------------------

I would think that the Gold Tone pickup would be your best bet.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005GX ... ZD572SPKPB

It's a magnetic coil pickup that you attach to the coordinating rod(s) and can slide north and south depending on where you want to pick up the string vibrations. Most folks put them as close to the neck of the banjo as they can. For clawhammer, I would expect that would be your preference.

A mag coil pickup does NOT pick up sound from the head - just the vibrations from the strings. As a result they don't sound as "acoustic" as most banjo players want. But that may be exactly what you're looking for.

One came on my Dean Backwoods 6 "electric-acoustic" 6-string banjo, so I'm sure the same thing is available on their 5-strings, as well as on several Gold Tone models. Since Gold Tone started making their mag pickups available separately, they have sold a ton of them, and I've heard few complaints EXCEPT that they're not as "acoustic-sounding" as pickups like the Fishman or most piezos. Then again, they don't require a preamp, aren't as prone to feedback, and don't transmit as much "handling noise."

The only thing that would get you closer to a pure electric sound would be if you could figure out how to get a mag pickup JUST under the strings instead of separated from them by 1/2". Maybe something that eliminates the head altogether (like one of those wooden-faced banjo kits) so you can mount a mag pickup right to the face of the instrument.

If you go THAT way, a "single-coil" pickup like the old Fender electric guitars might give you a more distinctly electric tone than a humbucker.

Hope this helps, please let me know how things work out. - Paul


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:39 am 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
Just installed an old pickup that is, technologically, halfway between the Fishman Rare Earth pickup and the Gold-Tone magnetic pickup.

I'm still not entirely sure what I think of the sound, but it's given me some ideas of experimentation with my mag-pickup-equipped banjo. Stay tuned. :-)

http://creekdontrise.com/acoustic/banjo ... pickup.htm


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:33 am 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
A reader writes:

This article about the Dean Backwoods 6 was very good. I own one and, I'm getting ready to do the exact installation that you did. Very helpful.

---------Our Reply---------------------------------------------

Thanks for getting in touch.

Just don't do what I did to my banjo and put the hole next to the thumbscrew that holds the resonator on. So I can't use the pickup unless I take the screw out. :-)

I actually started researching 6-string banjo when I was working on a play, and some of the musicians I was considering were not 5-string players. But I didn't buy one until I wound up having to play a faux-dixieland part for a faux-dixieland era play (The Boy Friend). Turns out that the Broadway debut used a 6-string banjo, not a 4-string, anyway.

Since I don't tend to play Jazz banjo, the first thing I tried after the play was over was seeing how it would work with various kinds of traditional music. I'm on my fourth 6-string now, so I guess it worked. :-)

Best of luck - Paul


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:39 am 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
The reader replied:

Thanks for the reply, I'm going to move the 1/4" jack 1 space from where you put yours. I noticed that where you located the piezo element was about 1" behind and, in the middle of the bridge. Did that work pretty good for you? I will be running my setup through a LR Baggs para DI into a Fishman acoustic amp. I should have no problem finding a workable tone solution.

---------------------------------------

I experimented with the pickup in several different places and wound up with it where most people recommended. For my experiment, I used two-sided Scotch tape, which is a lot weaker than the adhesive on the pickup. Once I decided where I wanted it, I used the pickup's adhesive. That said, the adhesive failed after a couple of years and I just glued the thing on.

With your setup, you'll have no trouble getting a good sound. It won't entirely satisfy you, but let's face it if it sounds more like a banjo than not, that is good enough for the acoustics in 99% of the places you're going to play. And if you go into a recording studio with it, they'll use a condenser microphone on the thing anyway.

Ceramic crystals vary between one and the next. Theoretically, if you buy a $120 one you'll get a better sound. But there is likely to be as much difference between two of the $120 ones as there will be between the $120 and the $20 one.

The mag pickups, like the "electric/acoustic" Backwoods 6 and several Goldtones have, do NOT sound more like a banjo than not. Most of them sound more like the single-coil Kent guitar I had in the 1970s and used for Beach Boy songs in cover bands. The advantages they have is that they don't need a preamp, they're not as prone to feedback, and they pick up almost no handling noise. So if you're playing in a roadhouse or someplace where the acoustics are terrible, the crowd is noisy, and you need to channel insane volume through a 50s-era PA system, they will be more useful than a piezo. :-)

I've been trying to find a two-input battery-powered preamp that I could fasten to my mag-pickup-equipped banjos and mix between a piezo and the mag pickup so I'd be ready for anything. But the only ones they make are made to fasten on the strap, which is not as robust a solution as I need - I change instruments all night long, and I could see myself pulling the little cables to bits the third time I switched.

Sorry, more than you wanted to know.

Please let me know how it works out for you. - Paul


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:31 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
Yesterday, I played my Classic Goodtime Special Backless in church. I played an Irish-style arpeggio throughout on the Rend Collective's "Build Your Kingdom." The song sounded great in rehearsal, using an omni condenser mike right up near the head of the banjo, but when it actually came time to play it in the service, the mic was turned off. So nobody further than six feet away could hear it.

So I'm back to studying banjo pickups again. One thing that bothers me is how few offer a solution that doesn't include drilling a hole somewhere, or trying some flimsy thing like velcro or a flimsy little wire running right out of the piezo pickup to your amp (like THAT's not a recipe for disaster.). Then I came across a music store selling some PBJA jacks on eBay for $35@. He had three in stock, and I ordered them all.

So I can attach the piezo of my choice on my backless banjo without drilling any holes. I can also mount my Kavanjo banjo head on my soon-to-be-refurbished Deering Sierra without having to worry about routing a dip in the resonator to accept the back of the "flange-mount" jack. More later.

http://www.schattendesign.com/NBJA_Jacks.htm


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:32 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
I updated my article on Banjo Pickups to include more information about the Kavanjo head and the PBJA bracket-mount jacks. I'm sure I'll have to update it again after I've gotten some of the new things installed and "road-tested," but it's a start. http://creekdontrise.com/acoustic/banjo ... pickup.htm


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:34 pm 
Offline
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 pm
Posts: 984
More Banjo Pickup stuff. Mag pickups as a rule don't capture an authentic banjo sound. I'm betting real money that the Kavanjo is an exception. But Piezo pickups have low output and uneven frequency response. There are about a thousand guitar piezo-and-preamp-and-eq combinations that require cutting a big rectangle in the side of your guitar, but A: they don't fit on my banjos and B: I wouldn't slice and dice my better banjos this way if they did. So now I'm investigating something called an end-pin preamp. Several of the old trustworthy companies sell these for ~100, several fly-by-night Chinese companies sell these for ~15. They have a tiny preamp built into the back of the jack, so the preamp part is REAL easy to install just by drilling a hole where the end-pin goes, like you would for pickups you installed. The 9v battery installation is by velcro, though, which is less than optimum. The "better" guitar versions have little volume knobs or volume-and-tone knobs that you install with stickum just inside the tone hole so other folks can't see them, but you can feel them with your fingers and turn them up or down. Those will buy me nothing on a banjo, so I'm ordering the kind without the knobs. I think I can install these on my banjos that I don't want to drill holes in by mounting them in the Schatten PBJA jack mounts I've already ordered and received. And the battery mount won't be as big a problem on banjo as it is on guitar, since I don't feel bad about mounting an actual metal battery clip to the inside wall of my banjo pot. The piezo won't work on my banjo, though, so I'll have to order a piezo that will separately. Plus every amp or pa I'm likely to use with these things has volume & eq. So I just ordered three of the cheap Chines end-pin-preamps. I actually only need two, and I can get by with one for now, but they're shipping from China, so I figured I'd go ahead and order extra in case one is DOA (or two). The ones I ordered are here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018U9 ... 8b8c1a2bf4
I also ordered a little pack of battery clips here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EED ... 9c2bc3af80
On of the common complaints about endpin preamp pickup sets is that the piezo that comes with it isn't very good. In my case, it's useless, because it's made to go into a guitar bridge. Since the preamp seems to take a 1/8" plug, I'm thinking of these ordering Barcus Berry pickups to complete the set: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YP ... 394af00f77 But before I do, I'll have to find something else to order, since Amazon raised its threshold for free shipping to $50. And the other things I ordered "don't count" because they're coming from non-Amazon warehouses. Obviously a new article or blog will probably be coming out of this soon. If all goes well, cost per banjo will be ~$35 per Schatten clamp, ~13 per Chinese endpin preamp, $1 per battery clip, and ~20 per Barcus Berry pickup, or $69. We'll see.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron




To ask any question about the content on this site please use our Site Contact Page.

To sign up for this discussion forum, please use our Forum Signup Page.


Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel.



All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.

Note: Creek Don't Rise (tm) is Paul Race's name for his resources supporting the history and
music of the North American Heartland as well as additional kinds of acoustic and traditional music.

Creek Dont' Rise(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising
program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.



Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. The Independent Christian Musician. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village.
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Building temporary and permanent railroads with big model trains Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments



Click to trains that commemorate your team!

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group