Pick-up troubles

PUTW Dynamic Trio

I did a load of research before deciding on a Pick-Up The World Dynamic Trio to go in my Heiner Dreizehnter Model A. It comprises two soundboard film transducers and an under-saddle transducer. I had it wired in stereo, with the two SBTs wired to the ring, and the UST to the tip. I had it installed by Ken Miller, a luthier from Florida, while I was at Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp in 2005.

Since then, it never sounded quite right. The SBT component sounded boxy and I would have to turn the bass right down and the treble up high. The two elements were inside the x-braces above the bridge plate as per the instructions. I wrote to David Enke of PUTW and he suggested moving the elements to the outside of the braces. So I did that and, while the tone was better, it still wasn’t satisfactory.

After moving it again, the UST element started to cut out. Another player with this rig suggested filing the sharp edges off the bottom of the saddle as this could be pinching the UST and cutting it out. That didn’t work though. Eventually the SBT stopped working too. I took it to a luthier in France and he moved it around and got it working again, but it wasn’t long before it packed in completely.

Here’s where the SBT was after the initial installation:

PUTW #54 – initial installation

I wrote to David again and he said he would send me a replacement system. Bear in mind that I probably effed it up myself and that it costs in the region of US $255. That’s what I call good service!

So I got the replacement a couple of weeks ago and installed the SBT in a rather oddball configuration. The upshot of that was that it sounded boxy. Aargh! I spent a good couple of hours testing it with different gain configs using my PUTW Stereo Power Plug (a stereo pre-amp and blender designed to match the PUTW pick-ups) and a Baggs PADI going into my Ultrasound AG50-DS3 amp. Once again, I had to turn the bass right down and the treble up high, or the mids and presence on the PADI right down.

So tonight I tried a different position for the SBT and it sounds better, but still not ideal. I can get decent enough tone by using the Stereo Power Plug and the PADI so it will do. I might decide to rip the whole thing out and buy a D-Tar Wave-Length. I have one of them in my SCGC Vintage Artist and I plan on getting a Mama Bear in the next couple of weeks. I’ll see how that sounds and, if it’s as good as I’m hoping, I’ll rip out the PUTW and either sell it on or split it up between my Crossroads and Brook Bovey.

Here’s the new position for the SBT:

PUTW #54

Needless to say, it’s no fun taking off all the strings and spending a night with my arm jammed in the soundhole to move the elements. It really is a tricky bugger to get right and I’m coming to the conclusion that it just isn’t the right pick-up for that guitar. The silver lining I guess is that I’ve learned a lot about different pick-up configs and am no longer afraid of tinkering with it myself.

I’m gigging with the guitar out tomorrow night so I’ll see how it goes. I’m taking the Power Plug and PADI so I should be able to get some decent tone with a bit of tweaking. Just got to decide what songs I’m gonna play now!