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View Full Version : Fishman Aura pedals - Solution to the dreaded Piezo Quack?



Gerald Ross
12-29-2008, 04:44 AM
Many uke players have under-the-saddle pickups installed in their ukes. These pickups have their pros and cons. Pro – they amplify the uke with relatively little feedback conveniently allowing the musician the gift of volume without having to resort to the use of a microphone. Con – many of these pickups (cheaper models) tend to sound brittle and thin resulting in what has been labeled the ‘Piezo quack’.

Here’s an over-the-top, exaggerated example of the Piezo quack
http://www.ratcliffe.co.za/music/piezo/comp1.mp3

My current uke setup is a Talsma tenor with a MI-SI under-the-saddle pickup (L.R. Baggs pickup element MI-SI preamp) and an Earnest Tenor Tululele with a Schatten sound board Piezo pickup. These ukes don't suffer from the quack but in occasional circumstances I need to modify the pickup's natural tone. So, when needed, I have been happily modifying the pickup's tone in both performance and recording by using an L.R. Baggs Gigpro preamp.
http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/GIGPRO.htm

In the past year Fishman has released a series of pedals which are supposed to tame the Piezo quack as well as impart the sound of the instrument played through a quality microphone. These are the Aura pedals. There are specific Aura pedals for each style of guitar (calm down uke players)… Dreadnought, Concert, Orchestra, Nylon, 12 string and Jumbo.
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/search.php?s=Fishman+aura&go=Go!

Last year my friend and great musician Jon Prown bought the “Nylon” version of the Aura pedal in hopes of getting a more natural microphone-like sound during his ukulele recordings and performances. He sent me the Aura to try out for a few days. We both decided that it helped the tone a “little bit” for performance situations, but that it added too much noise and hiss to the signal for recording purposes.

This past week I noticed that my local Best Buy store had opened a music department (similar to Guitar Center type of feel). This department features many top-end guitars, keyboards, drums and amps. They also had demo station set up with an Aura pedal (Dreadnought) running through a Fishman Loudbox acoustic amp.

I took my Talsma uke to Best Buy to try out the pedal.

Findings… The uke did not benefit at all from the 16 different settings (microphone models) on the Aura pedal. In fact, the Talsma sounded better without the pedal and I discovered the Fishman Loudbox to be a great amp for ukulele or acoustic guitar work. The pedal just added a bit of airiness to the tone. Granted I used the Dreadnought pedal and Fishman loudly states that their pedals are geared towards specific body sizes but remember… I tried the Nylon version last year and was not impressed. I did try a Taylor Dreadnought guitar through the Aura and it did indeed improve the sound giving a more natural acoustic tone. So… until Fishman issues a specific ukulele pedal (unlikely) I will stick with either my current GigPro setup or buy a Fishman Loudbox amp (unlikely –too big and too heavy for travel).

I hope my research project helps in your quest for non-micro phonic natural amplified ukulele tone.

deach
12-29-2008, 02:57 PM
Thanks for posting this. I don't have a pick-up on any of my ukes yet but I am considering one.

RON<>VA
12-29-2008, 03:35 PM
Thanks Gerald. Good info.

h-drix
12-29-2008, 03:45 PM
This past week I noticed that my local Best Buy store had opened a music department (similar to Guitar Center type of feel).

i think this is your main problem, untill i see it with my own eyes i wont believe that they(best buy) have high end anything, not that im calling you a liar, im just calling best buy crap.

Gerald Ross
12-29-2008, 05:36 PM
h-drix,

With all due respect...

I know my musical equipment. I worked at Elderly Instruments for five years and have handled, inspected and played instruments ranging from $10 to $100,000.

The Best Buy in Ann Arbor, Michigan is now selling Gibson, Fender and Taylor guitars. Many of the Taylors are in the $2000 range as well the Gibsons and Fenders. They are selling Fender Twin Reverb, Fender Deluxe Reverb, '59 Bassman, Vox AC15 and Fishman Loudbox amps.

Maybe the Best Buy in your neighborhood does not have this department in their store as of yet. And honestly when I heard that Best Buy was selling instruments I too expected $75 junk guitars in triangular boxes. But I was surprised.

RON<>VA
12-29-2008, 06:48 PM
When Gerald says "he knows his musical instruments"- that is actually an understatement! Saw you in Annapolis, Md. last summer. One great musician!!

deach
12-30-2008, 01:47 AM
i think this is your main problem, untill i see it with my own eyes i wont believe that they(best buy) have high end anything, not that im calling you a liar, im just calling best buy crap.

The Best Buy I frequent has the coldest Coke Zero. I would call it high end in terms of maximum cooling. So refreshing. Ebony, bubbly, frigid, caffeinated goodness. Yes, yes.

h-drix
12-30-2008, 02:59 AM
h-drix,

With all due respect...

in that case...:bowdown: sorry if i came off like a dick.

to me best buy=lowest grade electronics, so i still find it hard to believe that they would sell high quality instruments. With your street cred, though, ill believe you more then myself. either way great review.

Gerald Ross
12-30-2008, 03:32 AM
No prob h-drix.

Keep your eyes peeled. I have a feeling Best Buy is trying out this music department in a few test markets. If it flies you may see it in your local store.

Have a good and musical 2009! :music: