Adding an under-saddle pickup to a guitar with a through-cut-saddle

I did the final finish work and gluing of a Martin HD-28V kit guitar a couple years ago and amazingly, it turned out better than I expected, especially the sound. Pics of my project guitar:

I've always wanted to add a pickup system to this guitar, but of course in a hidden method (under the saddle pickup) with a hidden on-board preamp. The pickup system I'm interested in adding is the Fishman Ellipse Aura, which includes an under-saddle pickup coupled with an onboard preamp that hides under the soundhole.

My question is, how should I approach adding the pickup under the saddle? The vintage-style saddle is a through-cut saddle so it's not going to be as simple as it could be with just sanding down an original drop-in saddle.

Should I notch the saddle somehow or cut deeper in the bridge? Has anyone had experience doing this? Martin used to sell the equivalent guitar Martin HD-28VE (with Fishman pickup already installed) so I know that somehow it's possible.

Thanks for any help anyone may have to offer.

Tags: guitar, pickup, saddle

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I've done it both ways. It doesn't really matter; you just want to almost eliminate the gap at the ends of the saddle when it sits on the pickup element. These days, though, if you brought me your guitar for the job I would talk you into a K&K Mini if I possibly could.
Ditto, the K&K. Why install a quackstick, if your guitar didn't come with one.
Great replies everyone. Seems to be a unanimous vote against the pickup I mentioned. Interesting that you recommend the K&K Mini. A couple days ago before I became aware of the Fishman Ellipse Aura, I thought the recordings I was able to find of the K&K Mini were pretty good.

I've got a few more questions about this if anyone would be kind enough to answer...

Does the K&K Mini work well for bluegrass flatpicking?

The K&K would definitely be MUCH easier to install. Is the recommendation for the K&K Mini mostly because of the ability to not affect the saddle or does it sound acoustically better (or both)?

Also, I notice on K&K's website, they offer a pre-phase as an additional add-on option to the K&K Mini. On a D-28 install, is this going to be needed to avoid feedback issues?

Thanks everyone!
Absolutely agree with Greg and Jeffrey. Otherwise you'll get some trouble.
I was going to reply earlier this AM but decided not to diss the "F" word pickup but decided to since you 3 did it for me! Good mini mikes are great inside jobs if you get 'em placed in that sweet spot too.
Here's my experience. I've installed the KK Pure Western (not mini) on all of my guitars (and those of some customers, also the classical for nylon strings and the mandolin one), having taken away Fishmans and Shadows. It's powerful, natural sounding, easy to install and not expensive. Just follow the instructions they give. It can have some Larsen effect if you play in front of an amplifier because it's also very sensitive.
I think that's all.
P.S. Check also the McIntyre Feather. I don't know it well but I've read good reports.
My vote would be for the Schatten HFN Artist pickup. I personally find the sound much nicer , more balanced and natural than the K&K's. The sensing elements are built into what looks like a miniature rosewood mandolin bridge. It adheres to the bridge plate and is a pretty easy install. I do not note any change in the guitars acoustic sound either.

Interesting to see so many of you recommend the K&K Mini. I've googled and found a few sample files of this with people doing fingerpicking. Anyone aware of samples for flatpicking bluegrass style (the main style I play on this particular guitar)?
I'd recommend it even more strongly for flatpicking. Driving an undersaddle that hard generally drives it past the point of clipping, resulting in the familiar 'piezo quack'. I cringe every time I hear a good guitar that sounds like a toy because of that!
Get with the times guys, the Fishman Aura and Infinity series are NOT piezos...haven't been for ages they are a fairly advanced Co-polymer conformal affairs which don't 'quack' and simply work to provide a noticeably linear output from the bridge/saddle group. Pretty much industry standard these days for a base line recording and stage environment and when coupled with on board condensor mikes (which are blendable within some of the Fishman series) are very useful and rich sounding combinations. Similarly, onboard electronic tone shaping in the Aura systems is useful for the majority of players who need some tonal versatility out of their acoustic for recording/performing situations. They also install easily, have excellent tonal coupling and are very reliable. I also have no affiliation or vested interest in these things, I just thought it wize to bring sleepy hollow up to date with what's happening and what is out there. Rusty.


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