Hello.  I'm new to the group.  I'm just a casual player but like to do my own guitar setups and improvements.  I'm working on a Fender electric acoustic 400CE which has a Fishman Isys III under saddle pickup/transducer.  As I like to improve cheap guitars for myself I'm wanting to change the stock saddle to an unbleached bone.  I'm also changing the stock tuners to Shaller GrandTunes, going to slot the bridge for the strings, perhaps a zero fret, etc.  Questions:  I've done a lot of reading on saddle to bridge coupling when I was upgrading a non-electric acoustic that I have and employed what I learned when putting in a new saddle on it.  Real believer of good saddle/bridge/string coupling to bring out the best sound.  Seems to me that an under saddle pickup if one wants to play in an 'unplugged' mode is contradictory to good sonic coupling at the bridge.  I'll probably experiment with a sacrificial saddle with the UST removed to see if I'm crazy or not.  Before I switch to a bone saddle to get rid of the plastic one, I'd like some opinions about bridge coupling with a UST.  From what I can tell, to get the best of both worlds (plugged in/unplugged) it would be better to use a different type transducer perhaps mounted under the bridge plate but I'd like to use the original preamp.  Thoughts?   

Tags: UST and Bridge Coupling Delema

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Rusty I also did time in RAAF , mostly on Mirage fighters , Hercs and 707s , hated it tho , got out after 9 yrs and started playing music , I was a radio tech and started fixing guitar amps which then led me to guitars (Piers Crocker took me on) . Can possibly answer a few tube mysteries if needed .

Hi Len,

I started out in 1970 as an apprentice Instrument Fitter, the rest is history - ended up with 5000 hours Orion P3B/C and a bunch of other stuff.   I met Piers sometimes back, nice bloke. 

Regarding amps, I  was recently told to get a hobby to take my mind off the guitar stuff so I'm presently building a Plexi to clone my original 1979 Marshall JMP SLP(Metropoulos hand wired job).    Just spent two days in Baltimore with Mark Bartel checking out his absolutely stunning new amps (after he created Tone King amps he has now moved to another level with his Bartel Amplification amps).   Mark is inspirational and his craftmanship and technical excellence is way north of brilliant. Gotta love this job.


I just added a K&K Pure Mini bridge plate pickup to my Martin HD-28V. To me, the sound is much better than an under-saddle pickup. I chose this because I really did not want to install a battery or preamp into the guitar. In the past I have always done my own work, but this is my first guitar of this quality so I had a local luthier do it. The installation instructions are very clear, and if it was one of my lesser guitars I would have done it myself.

Thanks Patrick.  I did similar but used a three 15mm bridge plate mounted transducers ganged to a mating plug fitting the existing on-board preamp (Epiphone/Shadow Esonic).  I chose JJB Electronics which is just as good in quality as K&K and much less cost (small family business).  Although the preamp input impedance is specified 4.7K Ohm which many of us think is incorrect but Shadow Electronics wouldn't confirm or deny, and the happy spot as said by JJB is 1M Ohm, my initial test with just a slaved in saddle (not really fitted properly) was like night and day.  The guitar with older strings at the moment sounded like it had fresh strings with the difference between UST and the new rig.  SO MY KINDLY ARGUING WITH RUSTY WAS CORRECT!  I PROVED MY THEORY! That being good coupling between all the components at the bridge.  I HOPE RUSTY IS READING THIS.  As I am going to do the same with other guitars and to make the mounting of the bridge plate transducers more precise gluing multiple sensors at one time, I made a clamp (basically two aluminum plates with screws that go thru the E peg holes and knurl knobs).  One clamp screw is slotted to adjust for different peg hole spreads.  There are some other parts (plastic glue plate on the lower aluminum fixture, ferrules on the screws to make it peg hole friendly, and a felt pad beneath the top plate).  The procedure involves making a thin cardboard template of the peg holes, saddle orientation, and transducer(s) location.  Then trace the pattern to masking tape on the clamp glue plate, use temp putty to hold the sensors, then mount all of them.  Works great.  Regards, Greg     

It looks like the JJB three-transducer unit is about half the street price (and a third of the retail price) of the K&K Pure Mini. I might try this to replace the under-saddle pickup on my Martin Shenandoah D-2832. I should mention that the K&K does come with an installation jig that looks like it would make the job pretty straightforward. I just didn't want to try it for the first time on my HD-28V! You can see the jig they supply here:

I researched the K&K Pure Mini before deciding which way to go and say their jig.  The difference between what they have and what I did is they mount each transducer individually where my jig does all three at one time.  If I were to make a new improved jig I'd use plexiglass versus aluminum like the K&K jig.  After doing the first guitar having some more visibility inside the body would have been let's say comforting.  If you go the JJB route I'd suggest that you go with their 20mm transducers perhaps only needing two if you have enough space on your bridge plate.  I chose three 15mm sensors because my bridge plates were small and I slot my peg holes for strings and I didn't want to risk things getting messed up. 

I'm just catching up on my reading:  its not a competition here Greg and there is good reason why a lot of the formally trained, very experienced and accomplished senior people  who have been there done that and run or work in large operations no longer actively engage on the forum.    Well meaning newbies often get overenthusiastic and forget that the advice we give is general in nature as we have no way of validating what if anything is actually happening out there in web/forum land where voodoo and BS reigns supreme and unsubstantiated.   I adopt the policy of not really getting too excited about an amateur self-reporting that he cracked the atom or inventing a cure for cancer (or in this case in point made a baseline cheap guitar with a crap UST sound better by installing a higher quality pickup). Just talking about stuff and comparing apples to oranges proves little in our environment,  And don't "capitalise"  please - you only draw attention to your statement and this is not a forum where newbies flame other members, not this one anyway. 



Did not by any means want to offend you Rusty.  Apologize if taken that way.  In short all I was saying was I was pleased with my results using the information from you as well as others and trying to share the experience.  Non of this was meant as 'flaming' another member especially one of much greater skill and experience.  Hopefully you as well as others will accept my apology as I wish to learn as well as share my experiences for the good of all.  Greg

Apology accepted Greg, I'm not the enforcer here nor do I think I know much more than anyone else, but we are here to pass on as much of our knowledge and processes as possible to ensure that our hard won and real information  is not lost in the maelstrom of BS that surrounds our industry, trade, hobby  and pastimes. To do this over a long period is challenging and I'm getting cranky like an old cat, so please allow me to apologies for my lack of patience.     We are here for all levels and while this forum is somewhat hierarchical, it is for good reason.

Thanks Greg, I like your blind jig for "in the box"  installation and I look forward to hearing your findings as we go on,



Rusty, I meant to reply sooner but have been busy at the day job.  Your acceptance of my apology means much to me and hope all is well.  Anyway, looking around on the forum for some acoustic sound board repair as I made an error that I'm learning from trying a 'floating' pick guard approach similar to an arch top guard mounting. Greg 

This is what worked for me


Good idea on having the grooves for the wires.  I'll have to take a picture of the installation jig I made and send along.  As I wrote before my jig is basically two aluminum plates with screws that go thru the two E bridge pin holes.  The plate that holds the sensors has an additional plastic (ABS) shoe attached which I made several of different profiles/sizes to fit multiple guitars.  As far as pinching the wires I didn't have any trouble since I used temporary mounting putty to hold the sensors while gluing (Thick enough for hold while also giving wire clearance).  Having the wire grooves would provide more stability which was something I wrestled with.  I noticed your mention of T88 epoxy.  Assume your talking about the adhesive for the transducers to the bridge plate.  I used gel super glue which seemed to work fine .  Both K&K and JJB recommend the super glue.  If one wanted to remove the sensors the super glue may be less damaging to the bridge plate with care versus an epoxy.  I'm not sure what would make a transducer fail needing to replace them.  Funny you mention the carpet tape.  I tried using that to temporarily hold the sensors but it didn't work nearly as well as the putty.  Doesn't work so hot for carpet either but works great vinyl plank flooring (a project that has taken too much of my time).  Regards


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