This is my current setup (click on the photo for larger view). I am always experimenting. I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Hedges live at several different venues. If you saw him live you understand what I am talking about. Monster Sound. His live and recording setups are nicely described on his website www.nomadland.com and is required reading for those interested in live acoustic sound. He used a FRAP pickup under the treble side of the bridge and a Sunrise Magnetic sound hole pickup. (FRAP stand for “Flat Response Acoustic Pickup, created by Arnie Lazarus, similar pickups are also made by Trance Audio under the name “Acoustic Lens.”)
I have one Acoustic Lens and the Sunrise in both of my 6-strings (one is for C tunings, the other for D, G, and standard tunings). The lens reproduces the high end and percussive/wood sounds, and the Sunrise the low end. From the guitar they run stereo out into a Trance Audio Amulet (see photo, the Amulet is the blue box on the lower right). From there stereo out to a Rane AP-13, a product that has been unfortunately discontinued by the Rane Corporation. With the Rane I have 6 bands of EQ for each pickup, and effects send/return for a loop pedal, tuner output, and a mute button which is VERY useful when switching guitars.
Because of the very hot signal coming out of the Amulet, the AP-13 has had its preamps altered, or essentially disconnected (the procedure for which was kindly provided to me by the nice people at Rane and completed at Tulsa Guitar and Electronics). Prior to this alteration, the signal was being overly pre-amped and was too hot to handle, even with phosphor-bronze strings (Hedges used medium gage nickel stings, as in electric guitar strings, which makes the Sunrise magnetic pickup sound like a roaring lion, and was controlled by Hedges other-worldly ability to use parametric EQ).
The signal of each pickup then exits the AP-13 and enters two channels of a Mackie 1202 mixer which is bolted to the top of a 4-space wooden rack box (by now I know you are thinking: OVERKILL!!). I plug the Lexicon MX-200 into two separate Mackie channel inserts so that I can use reverb and delay on only one or both pickups (by accident I placed delay on the Lens pick and not the Sunrise, so the high end was delayed, not the low end, cool sound) (see below). An Alesis Nanoverb unit is routed via one of the Mackie aux send/returns to provide signal to my vocal mix, or anyone else who may be joining me. The other aux-send I use for a monitor out. The Mackie main-outs go to my powered speakers or the house PA.
I came up with this complex mess because I wanted to have a system to use at home and stage. I only play about 10 – 20 gigs a year, so most of the time I am playing/experimenting at home where I can mess with various tones, delays, loops, etc. The loops and delays are fun and inspirational and help me in coming up with new material. When I play out I just haul this beast around on a small dolly. I have tried using pedals but just do not get the tone I am looking for.
Players such as Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour are having great success using K&K pickups, the Radial Tonebone, and D-Tar products. This sounds like light-weight heaven! I am currently checking this out because I’m tired of lugging all this stuff around!!
Below I have tried to demonstrate the signal flow:
|——————————- guitar ———————————————————————–|
Acoustic Lens pickup Sunrise S-1 Magnetic pickup
Trance Audio preamp Trance Audio preamp
Rane AP-13 <——— Boomerang loop station————————> Rane AP-13 (or Rane 30 band eq)
Mackie 1202 <–> channel one of Lexicon M200 Mackie 1202 <–> channel two of Lexicon M200
XLR out XLR out