This is my second installment of what components Bruce Cockburn uses on his acoustic guitars. Today we’ll tackle his pick ups and basically how they work.
Bruce uses 2 types in this main guitars. One is called a Acoustic Matrix (video takes a while to load sometimes and don’t forget to go through all video’s, it’s worth it!) and the other is a modified Audio-Technica internal mic.
The Acoustic Matrix pickup (p/u) is the driving force behind the Fishman system. For this p/u, Bruce runs this signal through his guitar effects. The effects that he uses are numerous and will be part of another post that describes them in greater detail. Now the signal will travel directly into his sound board to be manipulated and then it is forwarded to the speakers. This particular kind of acoustic of pick up is essentially like a Piezoelectric p/u in nature.
This p/u technology produces a voltage signal when pressure is subjected to it (the sound vibrations of the strings against the front section of the guitar). This signal then converts these vibrations into an electrical signal. The material used here is called vibration sensing co-polymer film. It seizes the signal/sound and sends it off to the amplifier or P.A. system. This product is specifically designed for acoustic guitars and it’s an ideal application to be use for saddle-mounted pick ups!
Considering the length of the connection from the p/u to the preamp inside the guitar itself, around 4 inches in length, it will help to eliminate signal loss. More wire means more resistance and a drop in quality of the signal. This is very important in retaining that true guitar sound that you are looking for.
I’m not sure which of these he uses, so here’s a little bit of both, the Natural I and the Natural II system.
Acoustic Matrix Natural I is an active p/u meaning it is very sensitive to the vibrations that the strings produce at the saddle. The saddle is on the actual body of the guitar, to the right of your sound hole, if your a left handed player that is;). The lighter you attack your strings, the less of a signal is sent and vice versa. This would be perfect for smaller sized guitars. It is ideal for solo performers who play at a low volume level. If your guitar is very prone to feedback, then the Natural II is the one for you.
The Acoustic Matrix Natural II will compliment guitars that are larger like the big scallop-braced dreadnought with tons of big bottom end that is very characteristic of this type of guitar construction. The Natural II is for playing in larger venues or bands for that matter, when you need to be able to stand out in the crowd.
This delivery system tends to give you that warm, natural acoustic voicing that your guitar has. The bottom bass sound is picked up real nicely. Considering Mr. Cockburn’s love for the bottom end and the fact that his guitar are of the dreadnought construction, you can see why he might use this type of system in his guitars.
The Acoustic Matrix Natural II is basically the same as The Natural I but it empathizes the higher end sounds of the guitar. This is great for those BIG guitars that has that real natural bass resonance to it.
Now we will look at the other hidden p/u system in his arsenal that helps him obtain his distinctive sound.
Now we come to the Audio-Technica internal mic. As for this one, it is a modified Audio-Technica internal mic. I’ve never heard of it before so naturally I’m very interested in it.
Bruce must of stumbled upon it somewhere and just picked up the ball, or should I say mic, and ran with it! It’s basically a miniature condenser mic. This type of mic can be placed anywhere inside the guitar body to capture a much different tonal sound then traditional mics do. Bruce runs this p/u directly through to the board to get that natural, unadulterated sound. If anyone out there has this type of delivery system PLEASE COMMENT on this post! I am more then a little interested in this technology.
So there you have it. I’ve deliberately tried not to go too much technical details with this post. My goal was to expose you, musicians and non-musicians alike, to something a little different in how acoustic guitar pick ups are made and what they sound like. If you find something very interesting while on your journey to p/u enlightenment, please come back and tell us! The worst thing we can do is learn something from each other, right?!
Keep on Jammin’
Here are some other acoustic guitar pick ups that I like.
- Fishman Matrix Infinity – Narrow Pickup
- Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend w/ Narrow Undersaddle Pickup
- Replacement Pickup for Fishman Acoustic Matrix Natural, Wide
- Fishman Aura Onboard Acoustic Imaging Blender Preamp/EQ with Matrix Pickup, Wide
- Dean Markley DM3000 Artist Transducer Pickup for Acoustic Guitar and Instruments