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View Full Version : After Action Report - JJB Soundboard Pickup in Mainland Mango Soprano



OldePhart
09-23-2012, 03:00 PM
A while back someone here strongly recommended the soundboard pickups from JJB Electronics. I don't recall who, but I owe them a beverage or six if we ever meet in person. :)

I ordered two of the single-transducer systems for my Mainland soprano ukes. Installed the one in the mango today and I'm frankly amazed - this is the most natural-sounding acoustic pickup I've experienced and I've used a lot of pickups literally costing up to ten times what this one did! Later this week I will probably be ordering several more of these pickups as I see them going in all my ukes - maybe even the ones that presently have MiSi pickups.

What really floored me is that the pickup even captured a little of the doppler effect this uke exhibits when strummed. I really wasn't expecting that at all because it's primarily caused by the strumming hand passing rapidly over the sound hole.

This isn't a step-by-step video as I didn't have time for that, but it is a video of the result and an audio comparison where I recorded the left channel from a Sure 58 microphone and the right channel from the JJB pickup.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB2oi0tXX_E&feature=youtu.be

Playing is lousy because I was sitting at an awkward angle trying to get close to the microphone without bumping it.

John

PS: Discovered that YouTube introduced a lot of cross-talk between the audio channels - maybe even made the audio mono I can't tell for sure - anyway, to hear the actual soundclip without YouTube's murderfication of it go to soundcloud http://soundcloud.com/oldephart/jjb-electronics-pickup-in

GKK
09-24-2012, 04:49 AM
I've always recommend the JJB pickup PPS-100 because it's inexpensive and sounds awesome!...

I think a lot of people shy way from JJB pickups because the PPS-100 only costs $15 and most people associate cost with quality. These Transducer pickups do not sound like the cheap $3 Radio Shack door buzzer Transducers some people use.

I also, use an L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI for more sound options.

vanflynn
09-24-2012, 05:25 AM
Hi John, Which model pick up did you install?

PhilUSAFRet
09-24-2012, 05:38 AM
Thank you for sharing this info....so far, only positive comments about these pickups. Sound/my hearing not clear, did you say you used a different jack than the one that came with the pickup?

OldePhart
09-24-2012, 06:04 AM
Hi John, Which model pick up did you install?

The PPS-100 - it's a single transducer model, which is all you need on a soprano and probably a concert. On a tenor I might go with the two transducer model, though I suspect a single transducer would be adequate there as well.

BTW, they ship by default with 20mm transducers now but you can specify the 15mm, which I did because I wasn't sure how much room there would be. Turns out that the 20mm would have fit fine.

John

OldePhart
09-24-2012, 06:06 AM
Thank you for sharing this info....so far, only positive comments about these pickups. Sound/my hearing not clear, did you say you used a different jack than the one that came with the pickup?

No, I used the jack that came with it. It seems like a decent quality jack though only time will tell. I had considered using an endpin jack but I really don't like over-the-shoulder straps on sopranos so it seemed pointless to use an endpin jack.

wolfchs
09-24-2012, 06:50 AM
Hey John,

I did this to my dolphin a couple of weeks ago... see the picture in the thread: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69940-JBB-Electronics-Piezo-Pickup&highlight=pickup and what i've learned in the process. I am also thinking about installing another in one of my other ukes but now being really careful where I place it :o

OldePhart
09-24-2012, 07:52 AM
Hey John,

I did this to my dolphin a couple of weeks ago... see the picture in the thread: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69940-JBB-Electronics-Piezo-Pickup&highlight=pickup and what i've learned in the process. I am also thinking about installing another in one of my other ukes but now being really careful where I place it :o

Cool, this is probably the perfect pickup for a Dolphin if only because it's one of the few that doesn't cost more than the uke!

Also, noticed gitarzan recommended the step bit in that thread - those are great if you can find one with the long space between steps like the one he posted a picture of. Unfortunately, the only ones Lowes had when I was there the other day were the kind with very short spaces between steps - those are okay for a side jack but useless for endpin jacks that have to go through a tail block - and I wasn't about to spend forty bucks for a bit that wouldn't also do endpin jacks!

The amazing thing was that I couldn't get an ordinary hand reamer at Lowes - the guy in their tool department didn't even know what I was talking about. That makes me feel so old... :)

Forstner bits are pretty good about not pulling up splinters at the sides of holes, though not perfect. Painter's tape also helps. I just put the other pickup in my mahogany soprano over my lunch break and managed to pull up a tiny splinter even with the right bit and painters tape, so it can happen, especially when drilling on a concave surface. The splinter is small enough that all but a tiny tip are hidden by the washer on the jack but I still know it's there LOL.

OldePhart
09-24-2012, 07:57 AM
I installed the other pickup in my mahogany soprano over my lunch break. THe strings should be stretched back in enough by this evening that I'll do an A/B test of the mahogany and mango Mainland sopranos. It will be interesting to see if the pickups grab enough of the fine nuances between the two to make an A/B test meaningful. I tried it with a Shure 58 microphone back when I first got the ukes and the difference between the two wasn't that meaningful in the recording even though you could clearly distinguish them in person.

So, if the A/B test shows a clear difference with the pickups that means they're better than a Shure 58 microphone at picking up the fine details. Of course, a Shure 58 isn't exactly the first choice for recording an acoustic instrument unless, like me, your only other choice is a Shure 57!

John

OldePhart
09-24-2012, 11:12 AM
Okay...sound samples of the mango and mahogany sopranos are here http://soundcloud.com/oldephart/sets/mainland-soprano-uke-1-with/

The pickups are good enough that you can tell the difference between the two ukes though not as clearly as in person. It is an interesting comparison of mango vs mahogany, though, as the ukes are otherwise as near twins as can be imagined. Same design and construction, same strings, manufactured in the same lot, with approximately the same amount of play time (probably a bit more on the mahogany), and having identical strings with approximately the same amount of time on them. Oh...and the same model of pickup position as nearly in the same position under the soundboard as I could manage.

These pickups showed the difference between the ukes better than a Shure 58 microphone did using the same USB interface...

John

fretman
01-19-2013, 05:44 PM
Well, based on the reviews I've read here and elsewhere, I sprung for the JJB prestige-220 for my concert Pono and I must say I'm disappointed. I should have paid more and gotten the K&K Twin Spot Internal. The main reason being volume (2nd reason: the K&K is smaller allowing more flexibility in placement). These JJBs have very low volume (they were mounted on the bridge plate), quieter than ALL of my other instruments, which will cause me some onstage antics and distractions to compensate when switching instruments. The sound between the two are basically identical as far as I can tell - much too bright with an unnatural accentuated string attack (plus I got a high C# resonance that needed to be tamed). I wish I could have afforded an internal Schertler Resocoil (like I have on my Kamaka) but it costs more than the uke. I'm making do with the JJB but hopefully some of you will learn from my mistake. Get the K&K and save the hassles.

Oh, and the JJB cable length is about 1-1.5" too long for a concert uke. It took some finagling to keep it out of the soundhole view without touching anything inside. And you MUST keep these from touching anything since the cable is very sensitive to piezo- and tribo-electric effects (and the K&K's are, too).

I should also say that the Schertler also requires EQ (where I placed it I got a resonance at G# and the overall sound needs a treble bosot). But once it's dialed in, man what a natural sound! You just don't get that from the K&K or JJB.

OldePhart
01-26-2013, 06:37 AM
@ fretman - FWIW I recently ordered some more of these and put a JJB-200 set in my Pono baritone and this one is much more trebley than any of the others in my other ukes. Still plenty hot signal, but very trebley. Not enough to make it unusable but definitely enough that you need some external EQ to tame it, which wasn't true of the other five or six ukes I put them in.

That's not enough to make me swear off the pickups, but is enough that in the future I'll attach them temporarily to the outside of the top first and test them before glueing them inside the uke!

John