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Ex202
10-31-2011, 12:20 PM
I just discovered this forum, so hello LRB forum folks. Hope you don't mind a question from someone who (at least currently) doesn't own any LRB gear … but I’m considering making a switch.

Like many of you, I’ve tried practically every combination of pickup/preamps, etc. that I could afford. Maybe, I'm old school, but my ears and hands tell me that overall the most satisfying pickup system I've owned is in an old Takamine I played for years. Nope, it wasn't perfect and it doesn't sound like “my guitar, only louder.” However, with a little eq work, I thought is was very musical and very responsive to my playing style.

My pattern is this: after living with a particular rig for a while, I always find myself a bit dissatisfied and searching for the sound of the old Tak but with some warmth added. The closest I've heard is Tommy Emmanuel’s Maton … for me, pretty much the holy grail of live acoustic sound. I suppose that's because I'm a fairly traditional fingerpicker for the most part.

So why don't I just get a Maton or at least a Tak? Maton: can’t afford. Tak: acoustically they are average, at least the models in my price range. Anyway, I really love my Larrivee OM..

So now I'm wondering if the venerable LB-6 would be headed in the right direction. I know it's been around for a long time, but I've actually never heard one live except James Taylor in concert and that's not quite a fair comparison considering the sound gear I use. (If I can't afford a Maton, I certainly can't afford a Pendulum pre.) Plus, I can't find any YouTube videos in which you can clearly hear an LB-6 … except JT.

Concerns: I understand that a couple of the piezos in the LB-6 are internally out of phase so it doesn't play well with other pickups such as SBT's. Would that also be true of internal mics that might warm up a system? Anyone have experience combining the LB-6 with something else ... but then again, maybe I would need to?

Sorry to be long-winded, but thanks for any insights from those who have had experienced with the LB-6.

Bryan McManus
11-01-2011, 12:02 PM
Hi Ex202,

Thanks for your inquiry. The LB6, while also not "your guitar, only louder," it does have a unique response characteristic that many players appreciate. JT's live sound is phenomenal and it is a combination of the LB6 and his external gear, which is awesome and somewhat rare.

Also, without intent to bash anybody's product, our thought is that the magic of Tommy Emmanuel's live sound is mostly from Tommy Emmanuel and that the pickup system is good but not as stellar as it sounds when he's playing.

The LB6 is a tricky pickup to install. If the installation conditions are not optimal, you can have unbalanced output from string to string. We highly recommend the saddle slot be re-cut to ensure a flat slot floor to ensure consistent contact between the pickup and the bridge. It's not difficult to get wrong so we recommend you have it installed by a skilled instrument repair person or luthier who is experienced with LB6 installations.

Ex202
11-01-2011, 03:34 PM
I'm sure you are right about TE. The magic is certainly him, not the gear. I understand that. But I do recognize some dimensions of his sound from the years that I played a Tak, which seems to have a very similar pickup, although I have no idea how the Maton pre might compare.

Sounds like LB6 is not amateur friendly. I've done lots of installs, but I don't have the tools or know-how to do the level of install you recommend and I would imagine it would not be an inexpensive install. Any further recommendations based on my first message?

Bryan McManus
11-02-2011, 12:34 PM
Perhaps it's best for you to read over the LB6 installation instructions and decide if it still seems like more work than you prefer - http://www.lrbaggs.com/Manuals/lb6_series_manual.pdf

The LB6 is the most likely in our product line to give you that classic JT-like sound. That said, I can't guarantee it will sound like what you're used to hearing from the Takamine or from TE's Maton.

I wanted to mention that Phil Keaggy has also used the LB6 in many of his guitars over the past 10 or more years. He uses a discontinued system called the Duet that pairs the LB6 with a mini electret condenser microphone mounted inside the body. The nearest equivalent in our current product line is the Dual Source(DS) system which can be requested with the LB6. Here's a link: http://www.lrbaggs.com/dualsource.htm

The Element is among the easier-to-install pickups and does not necessarily recommend re-cutting the slot floor as the LB6 does.

The most natural-sounding and most accurate to the instrument it's installed into is our newest Anthem system. How that compares to your reference for amplified sound, however, is unknown until you have a chance to hear or play one.

bheind
11-10-2011, 05:55 PM
The first time I saw Tommy Emmanuel in Chicago years ago he started talking about his system on stage and he said he used a very cheap Radio Shack condenser mic which in his opinion sounded better than some of the other very expensive mics he has tried and used over the years. From what I understand from my local guitar tech, Matons aren't that great and I think Tommy is just a great player. Since he spends most of the time touring, I doubt that it matters that he has the best possible guitar with him especially when he's flying. I've never heard an Anthem system but in theory it would be seem that system would be closer to what Tommy uses than a LB-6.