Some Pro Setups
AG = Acoustic Guitar Magazine
FG = Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine
Unattributed descriptions are from Chris Proctor's "The Amplification
Maze" article, Part 2, in AG Jan/Feb 1993.
Keaggy's setup is ever-evolving; I've seen him at least a half-dozen
times, and each time there is at least one item altered or
added to his rack. Here
are two fairly recent descriptions of his setup; he is now endorsing
the L. R. Baggs Micro Duet, and recent pictures show he has removed
the Sunrise from his Olsons.
From "Out of the Mainstream" AG May/Jun 1992 (Dave Urbanski):
Phil Keaggy plays two cutaway acoustic guitars handcrafted by James Olson...
he also plays a Takamine classical guitar.... For guitar amplification, Keaggy
blends the output from a Sunrise soundhole pickup, an L.R. Bags saddle
transducer, and a Fender M-1 internal microphone. To get his signature
sound, he has a fairly large rack that contains an O'Neal Custom Equalizer,
an Alesis Quadraverb, a DBX compression unit, a Roland SDE-3000 Digital
Delay, a Furman PL-8 Power Conditioner and Light Module, a TC 1210 Spatial
Expander and Stereo Chorus/Flanger, and a Carver Professional PM-300
Magnetic Field Power Amplifier.
From "Phil Keaggy Tried and True" FG #4, 1994 (John Schroeter):
Keaggy's guitars are outfitted with a Sunrise soundhole pickup, an L.R. Baggs
under the bridge, and a Fender M1 internal condenser microphone. Greg Gualteri,
of Pendulum Audio, built for Keaggy a custom preamp for combining the
three signals. From time to time, Keaggy uses effects, such as an SDE3000
Roland digital delay, for getting into the "playmate" mode, locking in a
particular rhythmic pattern and playing around it.
From "Martin Simpson: A Work in Progress" FG #3, 1994 (John Schroeter):
In my main Stefan Sobell [Sicilian model] guitar, I have a Highlander. I've
not had anything that I've liked as much. It's a soft transducer---it doesn't
"quack" like many transducers do. It has its own preamp. When you plug
it straight into the system, and watch the sound man's face, you know
it's the right stuff. It has great response on the treble strings, and it's
fantastic for playing slide. Like any transducer, though, you've got to be
careful with the balance. It's got to be installed right. I have a wooden
shim underneath the saddle, and that immediately sorted out the balance
For stage work, I frequently play an [Ithaca Guitar Works] Oneida guitar,
equipped with a Highlander and an internal mic. It's a small-bodied guitar,
which is great for playing while standing. Played through a PA head and
a Daedalus speaker cabinet, it has great tone, an it's loud!
He confesses that some time ago he gave up on amplifying his nylon-string
guitars with microphones. Instead he uses a Baggs piezoelectric saddle
pickup, a Demeter tube direct box, and a reverb unit before sending his
signal to the house sound system.
Barenberg mixes his own AKG stick-on piezoelectric pickup with whatever
high-quality condenser microphone is available at the venue he's playing.
He prefers AKG 451 or 460, Shure SM81, and Neumann KM84 microphones
and uses a custom-built preamp/parametric equalizer to get the pickup
sound right. He plans on experimenting with internal microphones to see if
he might be able to replace the external one he now uses.
Alex de Grassi
[de Grassi] uses a combination of a Baggs saddle pickup with an internal
preamp, and an AKG 460 external condenser mike. His pickup runs into
a volume pedal, a T.C. Electronics 2290 effects unit, and a Lexicon LXP-1
reverb unit, then to the house.... De Grassi also indicated a desire to
experiment more with the newest internal microphones.
From "Tuning In" AG Nov/Dec 1994 (James Jensen):
David Wilcox plays a concert-size guitar with a cedar top and rosewood
back and sides, made by Jim Olson (11840 Sunset Ave., Circle Pine, MN
On stage Wilcox utilizes a Pendulum stereo preamp to mix the sound
coming out of the two pickups in his guitar: one is an L. R. Baggs
saddle pickup chosen for its bass response, and the other is an Acoustech,
which he feels really helps with the mid and high frequencies. Wilcox
also travels with two microphones, an AKG 535 for his vocals and an
AKG 460 for his guitar, which he mixes with the pickups at 50 to 60
percent, depending on the venue.
From "Words and Music" AG Nov/Dec 1992 (Jim Ohlschmidt):
Leo Kottke records and performs primarily with his Taylor signature
12-string and a concert-sized six-string built by Minnesota luthier
Jim Olson.... As for amplification, Kottke says, "I used to be frustrated
all the time. What's happened for me is I now have a system that works
great with a piezo setup, a system that works great with a magnetic
setup, and I've found three guitar mikes that I like a lot, and I just
bounce from one to the other. Which one I'm using depends on what
month you run into me." [He uses a Sunrise soundhole pickup (although
he somewhat prefers the no-longer-available Bill Lawrence) with the
Sunrise tube preamp; a Fishman piezo pickup through a Pendulum Audio
Guitar Preamp; and a Shure SM-57, AKG 451, or Beyer M-201-N microphone.]
"What I'll do sometimes is take everything on the road, with the Pendulum
and the different modules, because some systems will not work with
a piezo, while others won't work with a magnet. Most of my guitars have
two jacks in them, so I can decide when I get there which one I'm going
to use. It all depends on how 'live' the room is. If it's one of those
washed-out, lively rooms, the magnet is great because it has such a
strong fundamental. If the room is deader than a doornail and it's
like playing inside a sock, the piezo is the thing."
From "Walking on a Wire" AG Nov/Dec 1993 (Henry Kaiser):
Richard Thompson performs acoustic shows with his well-worn, cedar-topped
Lowden L-32 C.... Thompson uses a SUnrise electromagnetic pickup (mounted
in the soundhole) wired through a Sunrise tube interface box. He says,
"It gives plenty of gain. It sounds pretty acoustic. For me, I'd rather
have that faint metal edge that you get with a SUnrise, that faint electric
guitar edge, than the kind of piezo edge you get with the other kinds of
acoustic pickups." He runs the signal through a T. C. Electronics
parametric equalizer, a Demeter Tremulator, and a Boss DD-3 digital
delay. He depends upon his soundman to mix in other subtle digital effects
from the mixing board.
From " Picking Power" AG Nov/Dec 1993 (David McCarty):
Instrument: 1935 Martin D-28
Live setup: External mic: AKG C452EB condenser with a built-in bass roll-off
to reduce feedback.
From "In The Moment" AG Sep/Oct 1993 (Colin Harper):
Jansch uses an acoustic-electric Yamaha LT24 for most of his live
performing. In a band setting, he uses only the built-in pickup and
preamp. Solo, he adds an external mic. He uses a Peavey Pro-Fex
for effects on stage.
From "The Daily Planet" AG Sep/Oct 1993 (Steven J. Givens):
John Gorka performs with six- and 12-string Larrivee guitars.... Both
Larrivees have L. R. Bags pickups mounted under their saddles,
although Gorka also mikes his guitars in performance, usually with
a Shure SM 57. "I know there are better ones," he says, "but [SM 57s]
are durable." In concert, he sings into an SM 58. He uses a rack-mounted
Pendulum preamp and parametric equalizer.
From "Testimony" AG Jul/Aug 1993 (Simone Solondz):
Ferron plays a Martin D-35 from the '70s... [and] a Schoeberg Soloist....
She uses a Fishman pickup onstage.
From "The Sounds of Simon" AG Jul/Aug 1993 (Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers):
Paul Simon performs with custom-made Yamaha acoustic guitars....
These guitars come to him with pickups and volume and tone controls
installed, but he's been adding internal mikes for amplification.
From "Blues Across Borders" AG Mar/Apr 1993 (Steve James):
Taj Mahal has lots of guitars.... He is emphatic, however, about his
present preference for guitars by Matt McPherson.... Onstage he
eschews ambient miking in favor of the signal from an L. R. Baggs
pickup system. That signal is preamped and altered by a number
of outboard effects including chorus and digital delay before being
fed to a conventional tube guitar amp, which is miked through both
mains and monitors.
From "Shed A Little Light" AG Jul/Aug 1992 (Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers):
James Taylor plays three guitars by James Olson. Two have an SJ
body shape, one with a cutaway, one without.... The third is a dreadnought....
He also has a reliable, good-sounding Yamaha and three sizes of guitars
by Martin Whitebook.... Taylor's Yamaha has Yamaha electronics for
amplification; the Olsons have L. R. Baggs pickups. Taylor does not mike
his guitar on stage. He runs the pickup output through a Pendulum preamp,
and he says that the preamp's notch filter helps him get the best results
from the piezo pickup; he can zero in on and cut the worst-sounding
parts of the midrange, then add "crispies" and a little bit of bass.
From "State of the Heart" AG May/Jun 1992 (Holly Crenshaw):
Mary-Chapin Carpenter raves about the two main acoustic guitars
she plays, both of which were made by John Greven (1108 E. First,
Bloomington, IN 47401).... Carpenter also praises the reissue Martin D-28
herringbone she bought in the early '80s. And she says of her most recent
purchase, "I just picked up an interesting little number called a Guild
Songbird.... It's like a little hybrid acoustic-electric, one of those
thin-body electrics. It's real fun...." On stage, all her guitars are equipped
with Andy Adams transducers [which she runs through a Brooks DI box].