BY PAT SMITH AND GAYLA DRAKE PAUL
Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed
Woodstock, soundhole pickups were the only
choice for the acoustic guitarist who wanted
to plug in. They were born bulky, sound-board-squashing and utterly artificial sounding, but recent innovations have transformed
them, making them a terrific choice for the
gigging guitarist who wants high feedback
resistance and natural sound. We rounded
up seven to test in the $150-plus range, six
active and one passive: the L.R. Baggs M1
and M1 Active, the Shadow NanoMAG, the
Duncan MagMic, the EMG ACS, and the
Fishman Humbucking and Blend System.
We installed all these pickups (
non-permanently and one at a time) into Pat’s
Larivee D60 guitar strung with D’Addario
EXP26 Phosphor Bronze (Custom Light)
strings. Because we wanted to hear how
they’d respond through different amp configurations, we routed everything through
a Road Rage Pro Gear TBEL in order to
quickly switch between the five amps. We
recorded with two ECM800 omni-direc-tional room mics, into an Aphex 207D digital mic pre, into an RME Fireface interface
to hard disc using Samplitude V8 software.
We chose a small arsenal of acoustic amps.
Pat brought his old standby AER Compact
60, and Gayla chose her trusty L.R. Baggs
Core 1. From the current review stash at
PG, we also chose the Bose L1 Compact,
the Genz Benz Shenandoah Compak 300,
and the Fishman SoloAmp—a broad spectrum of potential sounds.
L.R. Baggs M1, Fishman Blend, Duncan MagMic and EMG ACS
We are not rocket scientists; we’re guitar
players. This wasn’t the most scientifically
pure test ever designed, but we heard
what we set out to hear. Pat played the
same basic series of licks with each pickup
through each amp, going through the
series in the same order every time: Bose,
AER, Fishman SoloAmp, Genz Benz,
Baggs Core 1.