Which is a better option in terms of sound quality?

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.

Which is a better option in terms of sound quality?

Post by ILTTG » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:01 pm

Hello again. I was wondering, which is superior soundwise: Buying a regular high quality guitar and later adding a soundhole pickup, or buying a guitar with the pickup already installed (with the electronics in the side)? I am most concerned with the sound of the instrument and I have heard the built in electronics in the side are very detrimental to the sound when playing unplugged. Also, I don't like that 95% of classical guitars with the built-in electronics are cutaways, something I don't really plan on using much and that is also supposed to be detrimental to the sound.

On the other hand, I have been told that guitars with the electronics built in sound better plugged in than a guitar with a soundhole pickup.

I guess what it comes down is, which would strike a better overall sound quality balance? A high quality non-electric with a soundhole pickup, or one with electronics built-in/cutaway for the same price?



joel oporto

Post by joel oporto » Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:41 am

The best sound of a CG or SG would be through a microphone, natural and close to what your ears hear. However since your wanting a pickup tells me recording is only secondary to your purposes, but live probably is, then you have to curtail it to the music you want to play. There are usually two types of pickups used on acoustic gtrs, transducer and piezo. The transducer types are usually placed undersaddle and the piezo types are the ones placed in on soundholes.
It is somewhat harder to eliminate the unnatural "amplified" type of sound from transducer types especially in louder forceful playing. the piezo will sound more natural but will also be more prone to feedback.
Good manufacturers sometimes use a blend of both.

My suggestion is that you check out guitars with built-in systems, preferably blended from undersaddle transducers and soundhole piezos. Check their sound when plugged in and also unplugged.

I wouldn't bore any holes on a ramirez just to install a good pickup system whether dean markley, L.R Baggs, fishman or whatever.

Personnally for me, its always a compromise between a somewhat amplified sound or a more natural but feedback prone sound. Some of the best natural-sounding "line-in" guitars are those with very thin bodies, but then they have practically nonexistent sound unplugged.

In terms of recording, I have a really good Dominguez Javier CG for more traditional nylon work which I definitely mic. For Pop music recordings, I have a yamaha AEN which is as thin as an electric guitar and sounds very natural plugged in but has no sound unplugged. For steel strings, again its a musical choice, if its strummed rythm and you want to hear the percussive pick sound, then definitely mic it. but for fingerstyle stuff, then maybe plugged.

I would go for built in systems than those soundhole types, unless its a good lavalier mic.


Post by guitarstudent » Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:19 am

Have 2 guitars, one for live, one for everything else. the live guitar won't matter if it has a cutaway or not. You certainly don't want to use an electro for recording, as Joel points out.

purpose built electros often have thicker sound boards to eliminate piezo feedback and transmit a purer more natural sound (if such a thing can exist in an electro) than fitting a pieco to a decent classical, which is a good way to ruin a good guitar.

I have an electro, it sounds dreadful unplugged (poor boxy tone and no volume, but it has a cutaway too), but incredibly sweet plugged in, for an electro. Plus, with the active pickup's on board EQ, I can control the tone and make it mellow or bright and punchy. It has a very thick spruce top, which I think contributes to its incredible sustain on the trebles. I bought it only for playing live where there is lots of other background sound (pianos, other instruments). Anything with a Fishmand Pro blender (piezo and internal mic) will give you the best possible live sound without puting an external mic near the guitar, but if you do this, get a full depth guitar with no cutaway to get the most out of the mic. However, the internal mic is not great as the sound is projected outside of the guitar, so ideally a piezo with an external unidirectional condeser mic about 12 to 18 inches away is the best possible solution (I tried it and it sounded great in a full hall)

You don't need to spend a lot of money to find a decent electro that is just a decent electro.

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