Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dean Markley Artist Transducer Acoustic Pickup


It can be a daunting task to figure out how to modify your acoustic instrument (guitar, violin, etc.) so that you can plug it into an amp or the mixing board. Many of the options on the market are expensive, and a lot of them require modifications to you axe that might not be easy to undo. On easy way I have found to make this happen is the Dean Markley Artist Transducer acoustic pickup.

Surely you have heard of Dean Markley before, as this company has been selling strings since 1972, and in the years since they have branched out into picks, strings, cables, DI boxes, tuners, and pickups. Markley started making these pickups in 1980, and they have been one of their more popular products.

The Dean Markley artist transducer acoustic pickup has to be the easiest pickups on the market to install. When you take it out of the box, there is a small puck with an integrated cable that has a ¼-inch male connector on the end. There is a gooey adhesive on the puck, which allows you to stick it wherever you need to on the top of the instrument, and it can be easily removed and stuck on something else if you wish. As the adhesive is re-usable, the pickup can be pulled off the top pretty easily, so it is a good idea to route the cable so that your guitar strap supports it so that the adhesive portion does not support the entire weight of the cord. A strip of gaffer’s tape might come in handy here.

The pickup itself is housed in a maple wood housing and through use of a lead differential weight, the piezo reacts through compression rather than just bending like all other Piezo pickups. The sound is passable, but it does not really have the pass the full character of whatever you are plugging it into. It is a good idea to try it in different location on the top to reduce feedback and to try to get the best sound. At some point you will find a passable sound, and you should probably not spend much more time on this, as it will probably not get very much better. As Voltaire said, the better is the enemy of the good.

In practice, I have tried out the Artist Transducer on my Takamine EF341 guitar and on my Kala SMHS soprano ukulele, and the results were mixed. The Tak has an amazing onboard pre-amp that is very transparent, so the crispness of the sound comes through it beautifully. With the Markley, the basic sound comes through, but the sound is similar to most any lower-end acoustic. The uke is a different story, as its nylon strings do not punch through quite as well, so it does not matter that the output with the transducer is a bit muddier. The overall output is adequate, but it is not terribly loud due to the nature of its construction.

Overall, I think the Dean Markley Artist Transducer acoustic pickup is pretty cool, and is a simple and cheap way to electrify your instrument. It installs in seconds and only costs around $25 (with a 5-year warranty), so it is a great way to plug in your guitar, mandolin, violin, or whatever. You would be hard-pressed to find an easier way to get your instrument into the gig, Check one out for yourself and see what you think!


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