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Magnetic Pickup for Cello - Idea/Question
Magnetic Pickup for Cello - Idea/Question
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Old 15th January 2017, 05:43 PM   #1
spectreman is offline spectreman  United States
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Default Magnetic Pickup for Cello - Idea/Question

Hello,

I am hoping someone here has spent some time with pickups for bowed instruments, specifically larger ones like Bass or Cello.

I have previously constructed a few Piezo pickups/preamp for my cello which work great for clean amplification...however whenever i add distortion to the chain, i get crazy feedback. I know this is more or less "unavoidable" but i'm thinking a different pickup system MAY tame it down a bit.

My question involves this magnetic pickup:
https://reverb.com/item/811301-artec...odWEQDuA&pla=1

Is it possible to use something like this for a large bowed instrument (placed on the bridge)? If not, have any of you come across a magnetic type pickup (as opposed to piezo sensors) that will work well for an application like this?

Thanks!

Last edited by spectreman; 15th January 2017 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 15th January 2017, 06:01 PM   #2
hitsware is offline hitsware
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Are the strings magnetic ?
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Old 15th January 2017, 06:05 PM   #3
spectreman is offline spectreman  United States
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thanks for the reply - yes, a magnet sticks to all of the strings.
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Old 16th January 2017, 01:44 AM   #4
multi-volti is offline multi-volti  United States
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Nice price for experiments.

String spacing may be inadequate...much narrower than a cello or upright bass.

I don't know what your budget is, but there is a cello pickup by Headway in the UK called The Band. It's available in the US. Violin/viola version was roughly $150 last I knew. I have seen one in person, but of course wasn't allowed to dissect it to see what was inside. I later learned it apparently has three piezo ceramic discs. It's in a rubber innertube-like wrap with I think velcro. It typically goes around the lower bout at the 'points' or 'corners'. It's said to not need a preamp but if you are trying the low end of a bass with piezos (I don't know freq. range of a cello), a preamp with hi-z (higher than 1 M guitar amp, like 5-10-20 Mohm) input will serve you much better.

This pickup assembly apparently damps the body just enough to discourage feedback, at least in folkier environments. If you have a wall of Marshall stacks behind you any acoustic instrument will have feedback.

If you have a carved instrument the wrap pickup will probably work without fussiness in positioning. Some upright basses (that are affordable) are plywood/laminate...less feedback-prone, but people say The Band is pretty particular about positioning (most complaints are from people with no preamp. Be aware a piezo, as a capacitive sensor, feeding a resistive amp input, forms a high pass filter...too low-Z input and you lose the low end. A magnetic pickup is predominantly inductive so feeding the amp resistive input forms a low pass filter, consistent with complaints about hf loss with long cables, etc.

Talk Bass forum has extensive discussion about Headway's The Band bass version. I noted almost all the complaints were from people trying to get away with no preamp. The market seems to demand marketing that says no preamp is needed, but it's apparent there is a reality gap there.
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Old 16th January 2017, 08:56 AM   #5
JonSnell Electronic is online now JonSnell Electronic  United Kingdom
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Have you tried a Shure Beta57 microphone on a short stand? That is the industry standard for musical instruments.
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Old 16th January 2017, 02:15 PM   #6
VictoriaGuy is offline VictoriaGuy  Canada
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Magnetic Pickup for Cello - Idea/Question
Quote:
Originally Posted by spectreman View Post
My question involves this magnetic pickup:

Is it possible to use something like this for a large bowed instrument (placed on the bridge)?
Well, only experimentation will give you the answer for your application, but I don't think a magnetic pickup placed right at the bridge will give very 'full' results - it will be very much in the treble range as only the high overtones will be picked up that close to the bridge, which is a 'node' for vibration.
Have you considered placing a magnetic pickup at the end of the fingerboard?
That's where magnetic pickups are placed/attached on acoustic jazz guitars, as you know. The fingerboard doesn't vibrate nearly as much as the top, so resists feedback better. On a guitar, there's a block under the top at the end of the fingerboard, which isn't the case with a cello (with the fingerboard above the top), so there are more possibilities.

On a good cello, you don't want to be making irreversible changes, so the bridge or something attached under the fingerboard would be the targets, I'd think. A block attached with hide glue under the fingerboard could be removed by any capable repair person.
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Old 16th January 2017, 05:19 PM   #7
spectreman is offline spectreman  United States
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yeah! I can fabricate an extension on the end of the fingerboard, and attach the pickup...fantastic idea.

Iíll try it out, and report back...
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Old 16th January 2017, 09:14 PM   #8
multi-volti is offline multi-volti  United States
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That will be interesting...bowed, plucked, both?
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Old 17th January 2017, 12:37 AM   #9
turk 182 is offline turk 182  Canada
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distortion on a cello... hope you succeed and can upload a recording of this i just gotta hear this!
piezo's have incredible high frequency capability maybe a low pass filter could tame things a bit or look at distortion pedals with a sweepable mid freq filter.

i'd also see if you can find what Lee Rocker (Stray Cats) uses for a pickup system.
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Old 17th January 2017, 12:59 AM   #10
multi-volti is offline multi-volti  United States
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Lee Rocker | Bassplayer

This link is not looking like what I expected ��

About halfway into the article the interview discusses his pickups with steel strings and gut strings
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Last edited by multi-volti; 17th January 2017 at 01:03 AM.
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