|Notice the under saddle pickup|
|We got lucky and found this Fishman preamp that fit the existing hole.|
|BEWARE!!! Scary shielding job......|
|Cool Fishman pickup|
This cavaquinho was brought to us with a DIY pickup install. A big hole had been cut on the side with a piece of plastic installed to hold the preamp. The sound was uneven and quiet, and I'm guessing noisy too because it had been completely covered with copper and aluminum*.
That was just the start of it...shorted turns, too much capacitance, grounding out of the circuit...the list goes on. Needless to say this system was not working well. Enter: The Fishman solution! In the past we had to order Fishman pickups in custom lengths to be able to put it on a saddle that is this short, but look what they make now. The Fishman AG-Series 094 Ukelele Passive Undersaddle Pickup is great for any short saddle acoustic instrument. In a uke it gives a loud, strong feedback-resistant signal. A battery is required and, in the case of the cavaquinho, there happened to be another hole on the side so we converted that to a pull-out battery box. This Series 094 side mounted preamp has a pull out battery compartment but we didn't use this so that the owner could have easy battery access**.
The advantage to an undersaddle pickup as compared to any of the stick on pickups is tonal clarity and resistance to feedback. We have installed many stick on pickups (K&K and B-band, etc) and they sound beautiful, more acoustic and natural than an undersaddle but if you need to cut through the mix in a loud band situation and you do not have a quality sound system you may encounter premature feedback. In a perfect world we would combine both types (internal stick-on and undersaddle) in a blending circuit.
This instrument sounds beautiful; clear-voiced, clean and loud.
* - One word about shielding, unless the shielding has a solid ground attached, it will become an antenna, attracting more of the same noise you were trying to get rid of!
** - If necessary, just about any on-board preamp can be powered with a remote battery box.