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Piezo for Strat – Recommendations

Fro

Experienced
I’m looking to add a piezo bridge/saddles to my strat, and I was looking to see if anyone had some hands on experience. I know there are several brands out there. I’m most interested in being able to do switch between the magnetic pickups and the piezo while running out of a single mono jack. The ability to blend isn’t essential, but it seems like a lot of them will do that by default when running out the same jack. I would also be up for bypassing any blending option if it simplifies things.

The things I’m concerned with and trying to avoid is changing the sound of my magnetic pickups because of running through the blending circuitry, and also the need to do any routing to accommodate a special jack.

I have a few different strats, a couple 70’s and a couple 80’s, all of which have Dimarzio Injectors in them.

Thanks for the input!
 

fractalz

Power User
I'm happy with my Graphtech Ghost system. It is set up with a stereo output jack that blends when a mono cable is plugged in, and splits magnetic / piezo when a stereo cable is plugged in. I usually use a stereo cable with a Y-cable into the back of the AxeFX.

You will be using the onboard pre-amp if you are blending (mono cable) and that will change the tone slightly. There is an option to add a "kill switch" to go mag-only in case the battery dies or you just want to bypass the pre-amp.

I changed my knobs around a bit:

Volume -> Volume with push-in center "kill" switch
Tone 1 -> Blend Pot
Tone 2 -> Tone with Pull for Bright (this is a function on the pre-amp board)

I need to switch between acoustic and electric sounds instantly, so the Y-cable and scene routing lets me switch with my MFC while my hands keep strumming.

That said, if you just want Mag -or- Piezo, seems like you could set up a toggle with a switching knob or by taking over one of the 5-position switch settings.

product-detail
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
I’m looking to add a piezo bridge/saddles to my strat, and I was looking to see if anyone had some hands on experience. I know there are several brands out there. I’m most interested in being able to do switch between the magnetic pickups and the piezo while running out of a single mono jack. The ability to blend isn’t essential, but it seems like a lot of them will do that by default when running out the same jack. I would also be up for bypassing any blending option if it simplifies things.
It's actually the opposite: running Piezo and Magnetic seperately is easier to do, not harder.

My recommendation is replacing your Mono output jack with a stereo jack and connect the piezo output with the Ring pin and the magnetic to the Tip pin. Both magnetic and piezo ground go to the Sleeve pin.

Then you just run a stereo cable to your Axe (note that the Axe has mono inputs, so you might need a small Y-adapter there) and switch & blend in your preset.


The most simple of all modifications would be to just use a passive piezo bridge and connect it directly to the output jack; then apply all EQ, volume, etc. directly in the Axe. No extra pots, no extra switches needed.

If you want to get a little bit more fancy, you can use an active piezo like the Graphtech Ghost or the Fishman Powerbridge. But after trying them both, I found that both passive and active piezos sound similar with a little bit of EQing in the Axe. Noise level of piezos is extremely low anyway, so I don't really see the need for the additional battery power.
I gotta say, if I compare my EBMM JP6 (Ghost system) with my custom modified Duesenberg (uses a passive Fishman bridge only), then I can pretty much tonematch one to the other without any trouble - the only difference is that my Duesenberg requires no battery at all whereas the JP6 dies every 3 months.

If you are hell-bent to the idea of routing both signals to a mono-jack, then you probably need an active system to match the volume levels (piezos have a little bit less output than magnetics). But if you can convince yourself to deal with having to use a stereo cable, you'll open way for a much better option imho.
 
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Fro

Experienced
Thanks for all of the input so far everyone. The stereo option is intriguing, and I see why a lot of people go that route. The big stumbling block for me is that I need to be wireless for various reasons. I want to avoid running two wireless systems, which I'm assuming I would need to do if I ran with a stereo jack.
 

simeon

Axe-Master
i've used the graphtech ghost system for years and love it. i run a stereo output jack so i can put the mags into the front input of the axe and the piezo into input 1 right round the back, with inout 1 set to stereo. this gives me the ability to process the mags and piezo's separately (within the same preset). i use a volume block at the beginning of each chain with it's "input select" parameter set to "left" or "right" depending on which signal i want to process. this means the axe does the switching for me, so i don't have to bother with a switch and i could probably get away with not using a volume control for the piezos either. i tonematched my piezos to a demo of a nice acoustic on youtube and it sounds amazing.

wireless would be a problem, but the advantages of splitting the output might possibly outweigh that
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
Thanks for all of the input so far everyone. The stereo option is intriguing, and I see why a lot of people go that route. The big stumbling block for me is that I need to be wireless for various reasons. I want to avoid running two wireless systems, which I'm assuming I would need to do if I ran with a stereo jack.
Yeah, going wireless is not an option for stereo output guitars.
For some weird reason, Line6 doesn't see the demand for wireless stereo transmitters...

In that case, I suggest using the recommended Graphtech system; it allows blending, amplifying and switching the signals freely at the cost of ... well ... being active. But I'd still use a stereo jack as output, even if you use it mono. The Graphtech system (if set up correctly) can automaticly detect if you have a mono or stereo cable connected and will change the routing internally based on that.

So you basicly have the best of both worlds and if you happen to change your rig in the future (or get your hands on a stereo transmitter), you don't have to change anything on your guitar.
 
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Fro

Experienced
Yeah, going wireless is not an option for stereo output guitars.
For some weird reason, Line6 doesn't see the demand for wireless stereo transmitters...

Now that I think about it, wireless for IEMs are in stereo. It does make me wonder why someone hasn't at least tried a stereo wireless for instruments. That sure would solve the problem.
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
Now that I think about it, wireless for IEMs are in stereo. It does make me wonder why someone hasn't at least tried a stereo wireless for instruments. That sure would solve the problem.
Who knows? Maybe wireless stereo transmitters exist and I just haven't found one yet? I mean, there are keytars, which are stereo; how would you connect them wireless?

If you happen to find a stereo wireless, give me a call; I'd like to buy one.
 
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