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A Mic Instead Of Pickups


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Okay, so I just started work towards making a see-through, semi-hollow electric guitar. The plan is to take a piece of strong wood, shape it to the desired body shape, then cut out everything from the middle to about an inch from the edge of the body. Sort of like making a "frame". Then I'd use two pieces of plexi glass - one in front, one in back - to cover up each side of the frame, essentially creating a see-through guitar body.

For pickups, I was going to use a couple of humbuckers, but then I remembered that the guitar will be mostly hollow, so it might have more of an acoustic sound in terms of volume. Then I came up with the crazy idea to use a microphone+preamp setup instead of pickups. This would either make it sound absolutely horrible, or it'd make it sound incredibly unique. At the same time, it would make it more aesthetically pleasing, and would probably confuse the hell out of people when they see my guitar making sound without pickups.

So, my main question is: is this a horrible idea? Is there any possibility in this sounding any good, or is it bound to ruin the whole project? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

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The short answer is it depends exactly on how are going to do things. A cheap mic and preamp will sound terrible, but a decent mic, good preamp and good guitar acoustics might make it sound awesome. Here are a few of my thoughts after reading your post:

1 - It might not sound anything like an acoustic in terms of tone or volume, especially if you don't have any kind of soundhole. This is because the enclosed air mass inside the body acts like a spring, so the body's pieces can't expand or contract very much, resulting in very little difference from a typical solid body sound. If you put in a sound hole, that may or may not be different, depending on body design.

2 - If there isn't much acoustic excitation, a mic is a bad idea, because the signal to noise ratio will be so low that you will be amplifying all the noise and your signal could sound like crap. However, if there is a good sound, and the mic and preamp are of high quality, you just might be able to get it sounding decent. I don't see how that is aesthetically more desirable, however, as the mics would look like strange little dots.

3 - This has more to do with the body itself, but if you are going to use plexiglass or acrylic, why not try making a mold and casting it using waterclear epoxy resin? Total materials cost wouldn't be much more than using good quality woods if you shop around and don't waste a ton by practicing on full size pieces. That way, it would be clear, you wouldn't have the (what I would think) mismatched aesthetic of the wood and plexiglass body. Of course, that is just my two cents there.

4 - Another note on the electronics, I would still do pickups, but you could combine them with a piezo bridge signal or a contact mic on the body if there is enough excitation. Then you could blend the signals together with a blend pot or something and have a huge range of sounds as opposed to a single gimmick. I have a bass with a piezo bridge and two pickups with blend pots. Having the continuously variable combination of the three different signals gives me the ability to get a whole world of sounds. Again, my two cents there.

Hope those thoughts help.

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Yeah, that was another worry that I had with the absence of sound holes, so I had considered drilling a large one, or maybe multiple small sound holes on the rear plexiglass piece.

And I chose to do a wooden frame for a few reasons, one being that I'm far more comfortable working with wood. Plus if I were to paint the wood a nice dark shiny black, I think it would blend well with the look of the clear plexiglass. Plus, as one might expect, I have full intentions on loading this thing with multi-setting LEDs, and I think having the emitting light come to a dead stop at a black frame would kinda neat.

And I'm diggin' your point #4, which is probably what I'll ultimately end up doing. Especially since I could pretty much go ahead with slapping on a couple pickups, and if I really felt like I needed it, I could easily do some re-wiring later and throw a mic into the mix. It'd just be a nice touch to give the guitar some form of uniqueness beyond its looks.

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ok so baiscaly your wanting to build a hollow body with plexi front and back. simimlar to what Guitarnut did on his tell http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/index.php?showtopic=42121 or thats what i understand. to be honest i dont thing your gonna get that much acoustic tone just go play a hollow body unpluged imagine trying to mic that without getting a lot of interference.

what i would do is use a peizo bridge its proven technology that will get you close to the sound and look you want.

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No idea what it may sound like but my gut reaction is feedback. If you get it loud enough for 'you' to hear , it'll ( possibly )be loud enough for the mic to hear and that = feedback.

Tim "pigpen" , our old drummer used to use a pair of headphones as a bass drum mic. He had these big hi-fi headphones from the heyday of cheesy hi-fi and he put them on the drum like it was a human head and ran it to the PA. Very clear ,deep precise bass drum sound. No feedback ever. Maybe incorporate that 'technology' into your build. Use a pair of headphones as a mic , make sure they have foam surrounds that block out external noise to fight feedback.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes !

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