Capturing that Hollowbody acoustic sound

Moondog Wily

In Tune Wit Da Moon!
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Let me start by saying that I have very little experience in chasing tone, but I do know what I like when I hear it. After getting my first PRS (McCarty 594 HBII in February 2021), and exploring the tones, I have come to want for a particular tone that I would like to capture. That would be the acoustic sound of the hollowbody. I know that the Piezo pick-ups are designed to capture the sound boards vibrations, but the demo's that I have heard do not sound like what I here acoustically or want to capture. Not even close. So I don't think getting a second HBII with Piezo is the answer. Point me to an example recording if you think I am wrong on that.

Initially, I did not like the acoustic sound from the HBII. I think I was a bit annoyed that it was not loud enough to hear the acoustics like an acoustic guitar (which is to be expected but somewhat frustrating). I also think the sound of the electric guitar strings were hitting my ears before the vibrations of the sound board vibrations which muddled my perception a bit. But lately, it has grown on me and I have some material I think I would like to use that tone with.

So the question is, has anybody here ever successfully captured that acoustic sound from a HB? I usually use a pair of SM-81L's in X-Y pairing when recording my acoustic guitars and I think they do a fabulous job of capturing the acoustic sound, but I certainly do not want to be limited (stationary in front of mics) like that with this guitar.

One possibility I was toying with is putting a small mic inside one of the F-Holes. Something like the size of a lav mic. I have a pickup in my Martin J-40 (Fishman Rare Earth Blend Mic) that has the small microphone on it, but I do not like the sound of it at all, so that particular microphone would NOT be an option. Not sure if this option would get me what I am looking for anyway, just a thought.

So any ideas? What have you done or seen others do to capture that acoustic sound from the top on a HB? All feedback appreciated!

Happy pickin'!
MW
 
Putting a mic in the f-hole sounds like a good idea! The only idea, I would think.

They’re all essentially the same though, the acoustic, the magnetic, piezo sounds, direct acoustic mic. Cos they all have the same origin - the vibration of the strings. They just involve different interpreters (mimics). I guess you’re after the latter mimic! (Closest to pure acoustic sound)
 
As I said in the other tread - putting bare bone piezo element in to a Hallowbody is like putting Toyota engine in to a Bentley. Piezo suck and there is no other way to put it. I would do a lot of nasty things to myself or others if PRS would come out with similar, yet simplified approach to what Fender did with Acoustasonic where both piezo and microphone / contact element was put inside the guitar to capture body resonance and all the great acoustic guitar techniques like percussive body taping. Its all powered with customised Fishman Aura preamp with different tonal shades. As much as this is cool I would be totally ok with much more simplified version with one basic yet decent tone with knob to balance piezo with microphone. PRS does piezo with LR Baggs - they have the Anthem line which by itself its a decent option to amplify acoustic guitar. Anthem comes with different versions, bare bone is just a small cube with single potentiometer. Maybe if it would be possible to gut it and rewire (for example) one of the tone controls on HB to operate it? Maybe if the contact element could be wired with existing piezo in HB? Maybe it would all fit in to HB?

To many maybe's - I would rather have that from the factory, tuned to the HB's size and matching it's potential. I'm sure PRS knows how stock piezo suck (like all the rest of piezo world) and I trust they will eventually re-invent it. I see PRS as forward thinking company and if they will go there I will be first in line to buy this guitar. I hope company R&D see it?

Meanwhile - check LR Baggs Anthem line and talk to your guitar tech
 
I have the same guitar, and love what the acoustic space lends to the electric tone but haven’t really thought about using it as a true acoustic. At least not beyond playing it in my living room without an amp. Like a 335, it just doesn’t make that much sense. In my PRS guitars, my Hollowbody Spruce has a much warmer acoustic tone, but spruce is always going to beat maple acoustically.

I have a Taylor T5z that bridges all this together using a under fingerboard sensor, a body (top) sensor, and a stacked bridge humbucker. I don’t think you could replicate that on an HB II, though… or at least I wouldn’t hack mine up like that!

I did have an older Taylor acoustic that had the Fishman blender system (bridge piezo and in-body mic) that was kind of down your alley. Maybe they make the mic part separately.

Good luck on your quest!!
 
s I said in the other tread - putting bare bone piezo element in to a Hallowbody is like putting Toyota engine in to a Bentley. Piezo suck and there is no other way to put it.

That takes courage to say that here, as heavily as the Hollowbody Piezo has been promoted . But speaking truth to power, always does... I won't say they suck , but that they just provide a different tonal quality, that sometimes some say sound "acousticy". I say, please listen to a real, unplugged acoustic, and see what you hear ...;)

I was all hot and bothered about the Piezo, and I still am. But I'm thinking I will use it more as a electric, and for that the standard bridge on the 2 and the Std , with its narly brass saddles will probably provide a better "electric" tone. That said ,Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) is said to have used a guitar with a piezo bridge on it in their latest stuff, to produce some weird but cool effects ... but not necessarily acoustic.

I'm thinking an acoustic simulator comes closer to acoustic tone, and here, the Piezo may have an advantage in generating the input signal into the Acoustic Sim to create a passable "acoustic" tone. I also thought the LR Baggs Anthem pedals you mention above are a "must have" , the one with compression & EQ (Session ?) to dress up the Piezo artifacts ...

I want the HBII for all the above reasons ... But I saw some Piezo's coming back into stock, and they were lookin' plenty flamey/stripey. I could be seduced by the flamey /stripey !!! (I'm such a slut !) ... (There you go PRS, putting the sweetest Kool Aid into the pricey bods) As you can always turn the piezo elements down/ off ? :rolleyes:

And maybe in time, I'd come to like them ...
 
The acoustically loudest, electric guitars that I have played were the old, 60's, thin ES125's. They had a P90 in the neck position and a floating bridge. To capture that type of sound, I scoop the Mids and add such a small amount of chorus, that most people wouldn't hear it. But, I'm used to more of a arched, Spanish guitar type of sound, than a flat top acoustic. YMMV.

 
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If you want a passable acoustic sound out of an electric guitar, whether it's solid or hollow body, your best bet IMHO is a piezo into a processor that uses impulse responses. Some of the Fishman Aura products do this, and the Fender Acoustasonics have it built in. I use one of the two processing paths in my Line 6 Helix and load up one of several Six Sigma acoustic guitar IR's. The advantage over the Acoustasonics or others that use an acoustic guitar style bridge/saddle is you won't be compromising your electric tone or feel. There will always be some compromise to the acoustic tone, as you aren't using thick bronze wound strings or driving a thin spruce top.
 
The acoustically loudest, electric guitars that I have played were the old, 60's, thin ES125's. They had a P90 in the neck position and a floating bridge. To capture that type of sound, I scoop the Mids and add such a small amount of chorus, that most people wouldn't hear it. But, I'm used to more of a arched, Spanish guitar type of sound, than a flat top acoustic. YMMV.

Thanks Slim, understood and all good. I appreciate the feedback!!

If you want a passable acoustic sound out of an electric guitar, whether it's solid or hollow body, your best bet IMHO is a piezo into a processor that uses impulse responses. Some of the Fishman Aura products do this, and the Fender Acoustasonics have it built in. I use one of the two processing paths in my Line 6 Helix and load up one of several Six Sigma acoustic guitar IR's. The advantage over the Acoustasonics or others that use an acoustic guitar style bridge/saddle is you won't be compromising your electric tone or feel. There will always be some compromise to the acoustic tone, as you aren't using thick bronze wound strings or driving a thin spruce top.
Thanks goat-n-gitter, I will look into some of these piezo products. Have not been happy with what I get from my Fishman Rare Earth Mic Blend, but that is a totally different duck than what we are talking about here (both pickup and source wise)! Thanks so much for taking the time to add your two cents!
 
There are a few musts when trying to make a piezo pickup sound good, assuming we're talking about a PRS HB II (non-594m unless you've got a PS version).

1) You MUST use separate magnetic and piezo outputs. YOU MUST. Blending the piezo into the onboard mag output on the guitar is a tried and true recipe for sh!t piezo tone. Don't do it.
2) You MUST use thick enough strings. IMO, don't go lower than .011s.
3) You MUST feed the piezo output into a preamp or acoustic amplifier that is voiced for piezo/acoustic guitar tones. Otherwise, your piezo tone will sound like sh!t. Also, make sure the piezo output IS IN PHASE with your mag-fed guitar amplifier speaker cab. Otherwise, your piezo tone, yep, it's gonna sound like a hollow pile of sh!t.
4) You MUST use a picking style that doesn't clip the piezo preamp. Metal-chugging doth not good acoustic tones make. It just doesn't. It sounds like sh!t.

So if you have a desire to go buy a PRS HB 2 with piezo, the aforementioned will do you no wrong. And I highly recommend one. They absolutely DO NOT SOUND LIKE SH!T. They sound AWESOME, especially with 57/08 pickups, OMG.

Mic'ing your 594 HB2 f-hole? Don't see how that would work very well. You need full spectrum frequency response to render the acoustic tones properly. But if you can get that or anything to work for you, no reason why you couldn't try it. Unfortunately that guitar, as amazing as it is, is not built to tap the acoustic mojo. It's built to ROCK. Bet it has nice cleans too.
 
There are a few musts when trying to make a piezo pickup sound good, assuming we're talking about a PRS HB II (non-594m unless you've got a PS version).

1) You MUST use separate magnetic and piezo outputs. YOU MUST. Blending the piezo into the onboard mag output on the guitar is a tried and true recipe for sh!t piezo tone. Don't do it.
2) You MUST use thick enough strings. IMO, don't go lower than .011s.
3) You MUST feed the piezo output into a preamp or acoustic amplifier that is voiced for piezo/acoustic guitar tones. Otherwise, your piezo tone will sound like sh!t. Also, make sure the piezo output IS IN PHASE with your mag-fed guitar amplifier speaker cab. Otherwise, your piezo tone, yep, it's gonna sound like a hollow pile of sh!t.
4) You MUST use a picking style that doesn't clip the piezo preamp. Metal-chugging doth not good acoustic tones make. It just doesn't. It sounds like sh!t.

So if you have a desire to go buy a PRS HB 2 with piezo, the aforementioned will do you no wrong. And I highly recommend one. They absolutely DO NOT SOUND LIKE SH!T. They sound AWESOME, especially with 57/08 pickups, OMG.

Mic'ing your 594 HB2 f-hole? Don't see how that would work very well. You need full spectrum frequency response to render the acoustic tones properly. But if you can get that or anything to work for you, no reason why you couldn't try it. Unfortunately that guitar, as amazing as it is, is not built to tap the acoustic mojo. It's built to ROCK. Bet it has nice cleans too.


Thanks ViperDoc! I have not personally been able to play a HB of any kind with a piezo, and unless I want to travel to try guitars, I won't be trying one anytime soon. Mine is a McCarty 594 HBII. Maybe in time, I will be able to test some Piezo systems with setting such as you have recommended, but if I read correctly, that involves a PRS Piezo enabled guitar, which I do not have at this time, although I know I could install a Piezo pickup system on it. Anyway, what I am basing my view of the HB Piezo is what I have heard others play in online videos (PRS HBII equipped with Piezo), so take that for what it is worth. I am certain most who make those videos don't have your knowledge or experience to get those proper tones out of any HB. I do get that these guitars were not made for acoustic sounds, but I am saying I have become enamored with the acoustic sounds it produces and would like to capture that. For now, as an experiment, I am going to try and mic it up the way I do other acoustics, two Shure SM-81L's in X-Y pairing. I love the way those sound when recording my true acoustic guitars and I am curious about getting a similar recording level from something on board.

1) Understood on that point and appreciated. I don't know that I would ever forgo control of how those two signals was mixed, I would always want full control of such blend.
2) Had no idea about the string thickness stuff, but when I think about it, it makes sense! Thanks for that tidbit!
3) I have read about that bit, needing to have a proper pre-amp for the Piezo circuit, glad to hear it reinforced. It too makes sense and that is good advice.
4) Not a metal chugger, and when I do hit chords heavy, I am going to be on one of my CU24's or my strat, so no issues there. The stuff that really made me think more heavily about this is a finger picking number I have been working on lately. I am going to up my string gauge for my SM-81L experiment as I can understand why the heavier strings are good for getting acoustic sound projection from both the strings and the soundboard.
5) I do have a desire to try a HBII with Piezo, but there are a few models I will be snapping up from the PRS family before I get a second hollowbody ;~)) Santana, Special Semi Hollow, Silver Sky, McCarty 594 (which is what my first PS spec'd build will most likely be - hopefully get that started later this year)!!! I LOVE my McCarty 594 HBII, and had never heard such great tones out of any electric I had ever owned, and it does rock, but hey, hearing those acoustics from it leaves me wanting to get even more out if it! Thanks for the advice though, it is valued and appreciated!!!
6) I just need Mini Me SM-81L's, one for each f-hole!!! If I can find such a mic, I will let you know ;~))

Your time and knowledge is very much appreciated!

Happy pickin'!
MW
 
If you want a passable acoustic sound out of an electric guitar, whether it's solid or hollow body, your best bet IMHO is a piezo into a processor that uses impulse responses. Some of the Fishman Aura products do this, and the Fender Acoustasonics have it built in. I use one of the two processing paths in my Line 6 Helix and load up one of several Six Sigma acoustic guitar IR's. The advantage over the Acoustasonics or others that use an acoustic guitar style bridge/saddle is you won't be compromising your electric tone or feel. There will always be some compromise to the acoustic tone, as you aren't using thick bronze wound strings or driving a thin spruce top.

Your post made me thinking...

As much as Aura pedal has mixed reviews with solid bodies, the HB is not really a solid body guitar.

How about using multi such as Helix HX Effects or better yet new Neural QC? Both accepting IR's. The second gives option to capture pedals, amps and preamps. Quick google search gives 3sigma audio with wide offer of acoustic guitar centered impulse responses. This + a bit of compression, effective EQing out piezo's clunginess, maybe short few ms parallel delay to add 3D cubicality, touch of reverb and studio mic preamp capture. Maybe that would do? I wish I would keep my HX FX before I went with H9Max
 
ViperDoc pretty much nails it, but I'll pick one nit...

String gauge...

I play my HBII with 10's and a wound G-string (which is key, IMHO)... D'addario carries them...

The wound G is what maintains the "acoustic" sound and feel, but still allows you to play it like a regular electric...
 
ViperDoc pretty much nails it, but I'll pick one nit...

String gauge...

I play my HBII with 10's and a wound G-string (which is key, IMHO)... D'addario carries them...

The wound G is what maintains the "acoustic" sound and feel, but still allows you to play it like a regular electric...
Thanks for that Jamie. I do have some 10's in the house (usually stringing with 9's due to my weakness), but don't have any 11's. I will try with the 10's I have and if I think this makes an improvement in what I am looking for, I will grab a set with the wound G and try those. Very much appreciated!!
 
ViperDoc pretty much nails it, but I'll pick one nit...

String gauge...

I play my HBII with 10's and a wound G-string (which is key, IMHO)... D'addario carries them...

The wound G is what maintains the "acoustic" sound and feel, but still allows you to play it like a regular electric...
That’s actually a very good point. The wound G could be a game changer. Note nonetheless that most “ light” acoustic strings are .011s. Dealer’s choice. I might have to try those...
 
String gauge aside, I'll echo @RickP's sentiments regards the nature of HB guitars as not having "true acoustic" tones. The HB Spruce would allow you something closer to that, because of the mahogany/spruce wood involved. The HBII & HBII Piezo is mahogany/maple, which makes for a brighter tone, not so much the same as a real acoustic with other woods. The SE HB or standard HB Spruce might be what you're looking for. Verify with YT factory videos and try to listen to the HB vs. HBII. You'll hear what delineates the two.
 
String gauge aside, I'll echo @RickP's sentiments regards the nature of HB guitars as not having "true acoustic" tones. The HB Spruce would allow you something closer to that, because of the mahogany/spruce wood involved. The HBII & HBII Piezo is mahogany/maple, which makes for a brighter tone, not so much the same as a real acoustic with other woods. The SE HB or standard HB Spruce might be what you're looking for. Verify with YT factory videos and try to listen to the HB vs. HBII. You'll hear what delineates the two.
Not looking to capture something I don't have. Looking to capture what I already have. Regardless of whether a spruce top hollowbody would sound better, I am loving the acoustic sound that comes out of my maple front and back hollowbody, and am trying to capture that. This is what this thread is about, not what would sound better, but how to capture the sound that is in my hands. As mentioned in one of my posts, I am going to give a try at using my normal acoustic guitar mic setup and hopefully I can get what I am looking for. Thanks for chiming in!
 
Not looking to capture something I don't have. Looking to capture what I already have. Regardless of whether a spruce top hollowbody would sound better, I am loving the acoustic sound that comes out of my maple front and back hollowbody, and am trying to capture that. This is what this thread is about, not what would sound better, but how to capture the sound that is in my hands. As mentioned in one of my posts, I am going to give a try at using my normal acoustic guitar mic setup and hopefully I can get what I am looking for. Thanks for chiming in!

Ah. Didn't quite catch the drift of your original post then. Best wishes.
 
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