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Author Topic:  Pickup question for 1932 National Tricone Squareneck
Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 5 Aug 2017 10:20 pm     Reply with quote

So I've just gotten this amazing instrument...and I'd like to play it at the amplified gigs I have...but I don't want to deal with a microphone. I've been playing my Blackbeard/Aura at the amped gigs, which is absolutely fine, but the Tricone has stolen my heart....

I'm thinking that just using a National Slimline pickup - a humbucker, but microphonic enough to capture some of the tone - would get me there. I'm not playing to audiences that would hear the difference between that and a high-dollar microphone...

So the question is...how do I stick the Slimline to the instrument without screwing up the finish on it? Just use the double stick tape that comes with it? Or put some velcro on it to put the pickup on only when needed (half my gigs are acoustic)?

Ideas?
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William Hoff


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 6 Aug 2017 3:24 am     Reply with quote

OK, you'll need a 1/4" drill bit, a drill some rusty, dull tin snips. . . sorry I couldn't resist.

I've got a 1930 Style 3 squareneck and I'm afraid to get my finger picks near it. I'm in the same position you are, how to amplify it. One thing I've tried without much success is "The Grip" it's a suction cup, gooseneck mic. I'm having trouble getting a usable place to put the mic thus far. Still playing with it though.
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Ron Ellison


From:
D.C.
Post Posted 6 Aug 2017 4:55 am     Reply with quote

I would ask this world renown expert..
http://www.nationalguitarrepair.com

Marc knows Nats
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 6 Aug 2017 1:04 pm     Reply with quote

He who should not be named used to use the little clip on mike attached to the woven grill area with great results.

Regards Lee
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 6 Aug 2017 3:39 pm     Reply with quote

Lee-
What kind of mic? And who is he who should not be named? (I'm sure it would be OK just this once...)
I'd like to try to get some recordings of him, if he is someone who has recordings available..just to see...

Ron-
I certainly will be checking in with Marc...he is a Highlander dealer, and I've heard some dissatisfaction with that pickup on a tricone, but I'll surely hear and respect what he has to say...I was hoping for an external solution so I could leave the instrument internals untouched, but I'll consider anything...
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 5:13 am     Reply with quote

I have used a small Audio Technica clip-on mic that was marketed for acoustic guitar since late last century. I clip it to the treble side of the handrest and point it towards the edge of the single cone on the treble side. It works okay unless you need to play as loud as The Who. Alternately, a trusty SM57 works well, but will restrict your movement. There are likely better and more modern systems available, but these two options are relatively inexpensive.

Unless your instrument is truly a real beater, don't do any drilling anywhere unless you don't give a rip about preservation for posterity or resale value.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 7:09 am     Reply with quote

And there's this:
https://www.elderly.com/gold-tone-abs-mic-system-for-banjo-or-resophonic-guitar.htm
which sounds like a more modern? tailored? version of the clip-on mic.

I wonder how true the sound of the little mics are? Much better than the National Slimline pickup?

I definitely want minimum modification of the instrument, and minimum fuss (not playing into a separate mic), but I'm curious how real these sound...

-----------------

And someone did respond privately to let me know about "he who cannot be named", and of course I'm familiar with him and his music, and with the reason why he is out of favor now...
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L. Bogue Sandberg


From:
Chassell, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 8:40 am     Reply with quote

Steve,

I've been using the condenser version of the Gold Tone mic for several years. It's worked well in small brewpub settings through an ART Phantom Pro II into a Roland AC-33 or straight into the house sound board in concert settings. It's usually clamped on the tailpiece of my 8 string dobro. The screw on the clamp can scratch your tailpiece if not protected with tape. I also use it on a 1939 brass Dobro. For that one I put adhesive back velcro on the body and on a small aluminum plate that attaches to the clamp.

The sound is pretty true. Since the mic is aimed down, feedback will occur if it's too close to a monitor. I had to put a handkerchief over it once on a very windy stage due to wind noise in the resonator cover.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 12:11 pm     Reply with quote

With a tricone, a close-mounted mic would just get the sound from one cone, right? Not the magic that comes from combining the sound of the three cones...

And...any input on whether the condenser version is significantly better enough to have to deal with phantom power?

??
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David Knutson


From:
Cowichan Valley, Canada
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 12:13 pm     Reply with quote

Steve, I don't have any direct experience with this Tri-cone pickup, but it is one of the options out there. Schatten Design pickups are made in Canada, but I believe they have US distribution. or at least mail order. I have used their spider bridge style pups, and they've given me a pretty good live sound, although I wouldn't call it accurate enough to record with compared to a mic.

http://schattendesign.com/tricone.htm

By the way, our brief conversation about Gretsch plus multibender has led me to decide to just go ahead and build myself another steel. Will it ever end?
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Twayn Williams


From:
Portland, OR
Post Posted 7 Aug 2017 1:52 pm     Reply with quote

The best amplified sound I've heard from a Tricone that wasn't a $900 mic is the Highlander system. Get it professionally installed, use a Fishman Loudbox amp and you're good to go for almost any volume level and a great reproduction of the sound.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 8 Aug 2017 9:41 am     Reply with quote

thanks for all the replies...and since asking the question, I've googled and forum-searched and come up with some thoughts.

First, my original question was: how to mount a National Slimline without marring the instrument?

I'm looking for good tricone tone here, not perfect tone...my audiences won't know the difference, and people who sit close will hear the acoustic tone..

and I'm looking for a non-intrusive pickup at present.

Although there are a few detractors, the consensus seems to be that the Highlander is the best if you are willing to open up the instrument and maybe have to remove some material from under the T-bridge to make it fit right...and they probably have fixed their quality issues that caused a bunch of preamp and pickup failures.

SO HERE'S WHAT I CAME UP WITH - and 2 final questions:
For non-intrusive, the Gold Tone ABS seems to be the best tone for the least impact on the instrument...does that sound right to all of you? I'd use the Dynamic version (to avoid excess mic noise and phantom power need for the condenser version), into a Baggs para DI (the preamp with the ABS seems too wimpy to be useful, according to many).

And how come nobody seems to use the National Slimline? It supposedly is intentionally microphonic enough to blend acoustic tone into the pickup tone - should be better than the Lace that so many folks use, right?
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Twayn Williams


From:
Portland, OR
Post Posted 8 Aug 2017 12:41 pm     Reply with quote

A buddy of mine used the Gold Tone before he got the Highlander, and it worked pretty well.

I'll use a magnetic on mine every now and then, a Krivo Resonator pickup. It adheres with some blue putty that works fine and is non-invasive. You could get in touch directly with Krivo as he's a local Portland guy.

http://krivopickups.com/[/url]
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 8 Aug 2017 2:41 pm     Reply with quote

Well, Marc Schoenberger was quite enlightening... and the bottom line is that Highlander no longer is making the tricone version of their pickup. So Marc says there just isn't a really good alternative available.

I'm in contact with Jason from Krivo pickups - that may be where I end up this time around...
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 9 Aug 2017 9:53 pm     Reply with quote

If you are going down the Magnetic pickup route Krivo all day long although why play a tricone as it will not sound like one???
Lap steel through the Amp & tricone through the Mic, there is no substitute.

Lee
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Jouni Karvonen


From:
Helsinki, Finland
Post Posted 10 Aug 2017 12:56 am     Reply with quote

When no room for stands and for loud playing i have a mike for 'amp to PA' type mike attached to on the grill with a cable tie, also using volume pedal for avoiding feed back.
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Joe Breeden


From:
Virginia, USA
Post Posted 10 Aug 2017 6:49 am     Reply with quote

Have you checked the Meyers P/UP?
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Ted Duross


From:
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 10 Aug 2017 7:30 am     Reply with quote

If you haven't already come across it, Jimmy Heffernen has a demo using the Meyer's goose neck mic on a dobro. Not the same beast as a tricone but at least it'd give you some idea of the sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL8KE5sxyM4
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 10 Aug 2017 10:06 am     Reply with quote

thanks...yeah, the Myers and the Gold Tone ABS are similar - little mics on a gooseneck...have to give them all a listen through headphones, not just laptop speakers...

I realized that I didn't really ask the question well enough...I need to describe the uses for you all to be able to answer it appropriately..

My typical venue isn't a pure concert for music lovers. I play in a swing/gypsy jazz band about once a week, at brewpubs, galleries, and private parties. So people are listening to the music, but it isn't their primary purpose in being there, generally.

They mostly aren't well-versed in what the instruments should sound like (although there are always a few, and it is great to have them there!). And half the time we even just play acoustic only. I care, surely, what the electric tone is, but I try to be realistic and practical about where I'm playing..

So I'm looking for something that captures the spirit of the tricone, and is easy to mount/dismount, but doesn't have to be perfect.

For recording (which I've only done with my Blackbeard), I use 2 microphones blended with the output of the JD Aura...a whole different thing.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 12 Aug 2017 6:36 am     Reply with quote

Just ordered a Krivo....will report back.
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Ron Ellison


From:
D.C.
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 6:47 am     Reply with quote

I don't know if you've read this thread before.
These cats are deep into resos,

http://michaelmesser.proboards.com/thread/7827/highlander-tricone-pick-woes
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 7:06 am     Reply with quote

Thanks, Ron....yeah, it seems that they had a rough patch...but supposedly have got it all fixed...but they no longer make tricone pickups, so it is a moot point for me....I use the Fishman Nashville/JD Aura in my Blackbeard, that one is covered, it is the tricone that is the thing now...harder to capture, and not as many alternatives..

I'm hopeful about the Krivo, I've heard some very good things about it...
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Ron Simpson


From:
Illinois, USA
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 8:01 am     Reply with quote

Have you checked out a piezo pickup? It is a small black disc, about the size of a quarter with a cord that terminates to a quarter inch plug. The disc attaches to the guitar with a sticky surface on the back of the piezo pickup. All tone requirements are handled by the amplifier.

No modifications to the guitar at all.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 13 Aug 2017 8:20 am     Reply with quote

I know what piezo are - it is what my Fishman is in the Blackbeard...which needs the JD Aura pedal to follow it to remove that sickly pure-piezo "quack" tone...not bad by itself, but I just hate the quack...

The Krivo is wound to be microphonic, with almost a single-coil sound, so it may be the bast non-invasive alternative to standing in front of mic...

All of these methods - stick-on piezos/other pickups, clip on mics, internal pickups...have their plusses and minuses...
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 17 Aug 2017 12:52 pm     Reply with quote

Early test is that Krivo is fine.

I'd really need to have someone else play and stand by the PA speaker at a gig to know for sure if it captures the delicate stuff...but it sounds pretty realistic if I aim the instrument away from me and listen to the speaker on the little acoustic amp, and compare to having the amp off...
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