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Thread: Problem with B-Band A11 Sound System on my Cort Sunset NY

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    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Problem with B-Band A11 Sound System on my Cort Sunset NY

    Hello friends...

    I just opened an account with Acoustic Guitar Forum and opened a thread there. I don't know if I'll get any help over there so let me try this site too.

    Is anyone familiar with the B-Band A11 Sound System? I just bought a used Cort Sunset NY classical guitar and the preamp is very noisy (there is a very loud hiss). I know what grounding hum sounds like- this isn't it. I don't know if these guitars are all this bad or if there is a fixable issue.

    I like the guitar and am open to swapping out the preamp system with something else. If anyone has ideas, I am open.

    Thanks, Tom
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCarlos View Post
    Hello friends...

    I just opened an account with Acoustic Guitar Forum and opened a thread there. I don't know if I'll get any help over there so let me try this site too.

    Is anyone familiar with the B-Band A11 Sound System? I just bought a used Cort Sunset NY classical guitar and the preamp is very noisy (there is a very loud hiss). I know what grounding hum sounds like- this isn't it. I don't know if these guitars are all this bad or if there is a fixable issue.

    I like the guitar and am open to swapping out the preamp system with something else. If anyone has ideas, I am open.

    Thanks, Tom
    Hi Tom

    Some of the b band preamps are hissy especially when the treble control is turned up past the midway point. It's just how they are. Occasionally you can find one that's a bit quieter. Do check that there is not a problem with the pickup strip itself, they can have issues where the pickup is balanced but the output low so that the signal to noise ratio is wrong. Try replacing the pickup itself, or and make sure it's properly seated. Remove the saddle carefully lift out the pick from the bridge slot and put it back in again. Make sure the saddle is not to tight in the bridge. I've fitted loads of b bands and most of the problems come from (issues?!! ) with the pickup strip. When working correctly they sound quite good.

    Cheers

    Andrew

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  3. #3
    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrew....

    The pickup strip itself is very flat and thin... almost looks like the ribbon cable itself! The bridge also has a white shim. The shim seems to be sitting snugly in the bridge. The ribbon cable then goes to a 2 conductor, (long) rectangular molded connector that has female ends. That slips onto the male ends of whatever is soldered onto the preamp box.

    So if you had to replace a piezo strip like this (with a similar type), I wonder how on earth you'd do it. With the small opening of the body, it seems like you can only do it if the bridge is not attached to the soundboard. Because you have the connector at the other end, you can only go from the bottom of the bridge up!

    By the way, assuming one is good at splicing the thin wires, how much difference is there in these piezo pickups (from an impedance matching perspective)? I know they all have tonal differences. But I am curious if this ribbon piezo can be swapped out for something else.

    I am thinking the last alternative is something like this... I get a Fishman Presys 101 that is an onboard unit. I remove the board from it's casing. I figure out the values of the Volume, Treble, and Bass pots, I don't bother with the Middle, Phase, or Tuner buttons. I hard wire the external pots, battery, and end jack. So in essence, I am retrofitting something totally different in the body cavity.

    But I will try to reset the B-Band piezo first.

    Tom

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    Is B-Band now using piezo? I think they used to use capacitative strips. The strips wouldn't last very long and eventually the signal would drop. You may have one with a weak signal where the self-noise in the preamp is all you are hearing. It looks like the strip can be pushed up onto the saddle slot from inside the guitar as opposed to the normal way. I don't think the B-Band preamps will be compatible with other piezo under-saddle transducers unless they have switched to a piezo driven system.

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  5. #5
    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Thanks David... that is good info to know! I will look into the "capacative strips."

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCarlos View Post
    Thanks Andrew....

    The pickup strip itself is very flat and thin... almost looks like the ribbon cable itself! The bridge also has a white shim. The shim seems to be sitting snugly in the bridge. The ribbon cable then goes to a 2 conductor, (long) rectangular molded connector that has female ends. That slips onto the male ends of whatever is soldered onto the preamp box.

    So if you had to replace a piezo strip like this (with a similar type), I wonder how on earth you'd do it. With the small opening of the body, it seems like you can only do it if the bridge is not attached to the soundboard. Because you have the connector at the other end, you can only go from the bottom of the bridge up!

    By the way, assuming one is good at splicing the thin wires, how much difference is there in these piezo pickups (from an impedance matching perspective)? I know they all have tonal differences. But I am curious if this ribbon piezo can be swapped out for something else.

    I am thinking the last alternative is something like this... I get a Fishman Presys 101 that is an onboard unit. I remove the board from it's casing. I figure out the values of the Volume, Treble, and Bass pots, I don't bother with the Middle, Phase, or Tuner buttons. I hard wire the external pots, battery, and end jack. So in essence, I am retrofitting something totally different in the body cavity.

    But I will try to reset the B-Band piezo first.

    Tom
    Hi Tom

    If you need to replace the pickup you'll probably have to take the battery box out to give you access to the bottom of the bridge and push the pickup through from there. If you don't have access to the base of the bridge (the hole where the pickup comes through) a trick I use is to tape a thin piece of flexible wire onto the end of the pickup and pull the pickup out through he body, don't pull the wire through the bridge as you'll need it to attach the replacement pickup to the end of it to pull it through. If you choose to replace the pickup with a B-Band one check the width they do a 3.2mm A29 and a narrow A22 2.2mm pup (check that, i'm not at work at the moment) The pickup should be replaced with the small moulded arrow on the connector facing up from the circuit board, you'll need to remove the cover by removing the small screws. The preamp will work with another piezo but you'll have to solder the pickup onto the input pins on the preamp as the connector on the original can't be attached to a normal piezo. The latest revision of b-band pickups come with a braided shielded cable (just for your information) You can normally check the existing pickup by rubbing it between finger and thumb while it's plugged into an amp, it should be quite loud, put it back in the saddle slot and start to string the guitar up and see how the signal is. Sometimes if you put pressure on the saddle pushing the top towards the bottom/endpin end of the guitar the signal will increase, if it does you'll have to check your saddle fit. Sorry if this sounds a bit long winded (it is) I normally just replace the pickup as the time involved in trouble shooting is uneconomical. Good luck. Ps. Try to see if b-band will send you a replacement strip from goodwill.
    Cheers

    Andrew
    [/I]

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  7. #7
    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrew....

    Your reply makes perfect sense. Here is the info I found on the transducer.

    "The transducer material (Emfit®) is a permanently charged film with microscopic gas bubbles trapped inside and produces signal in a completely different way than other materials used for pickups. As vibrations are fed to the pickup they pass without multiplying the output signal but with a very wide frequency response and dynamic range resulting in a more natural reproduction of the instrument's sound with none of the dynamic problems that other materials impart. Even when hitting the strings hard the sound will remain clear and free of synthetic tone. When playing softly all the subtle dynamics and nuances of the performance will be heard. Also the pickup has a natural resistance to feedback that enables performances in loud environments."

    I am a step ahead of you. I opened the preamp. It uses a single TLC2262 preamp. I was able to identify the incoming (+) and ground points on the input. Yup, I have an Artec PR 607 piezo pickup that will fit in that saddle. While waiting to see if I can get a replacement 29R transducer, I am going to (1) disconnect the existing transducer and listen for the noise, then (2) tack in the Artec and see what this sounds like.

    I should get extra credit if I could eventually trace out the B-Band A-11 preamp circuit!

    I will report back....

    With my appreciation.

    Tom

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    Well we are all learning a lot here so that's good! I remember first telling Bill Bartolini about the B-Band stuff and he replied without missing a beat, "Oh, they're using a PFM pickup, -pure fucking magic".

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    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Hey Friends....

    I want to close the loop on this post. I received a new 22R transducer today. The "active" area is noticeably longer than the original transducer. So you need to fold it into the slot and through the feed hole. The pickup and preamp work. But still, compared to my Breedlove that uses a piezo with an LR Baggs preamp, the B-band has tons more hiss when you take the treble control higher than the center detent. So I looking at this from the entire system perspective. The transducer will only work with this preamp and vice versa. It's annoying and I am not impressed with the results.

    So let's consider this one as "done."

    Thanks for the previous replies.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCarlos View Post
    Hey Friends....

    I want to close the loop on this post. I received a new 22R transducer today. The "active" area is noticeably longer than the original transducer. So you need to fold it into the slot and through the feed hole. The pickup and preamp work. But still, compared to my Breedlove that uses a piezo with an LR Baggs preamp, the B-band has tons more hiss when you take the treble control higher than the center detent. So I looking at this from the entire system perspective. The transducer will only work with this preamp and vice versa. It's annoying and I am not impressed with the results.

    So let's consider this one as "done."

    Thanks for the previous replies.

    Tom
    Hi Tom

    Just a quicky. the b-band pickups are very fussy on how the saddle sits on them, I normally sand the bottom edges of the saddle so that about a 1/3d of the saddle thickness makes contact with the pickup. Some b-band preamps are noisy. I have seen fishman pickups wired into b-band preamps and they worked ok. For me the best pickup system at the moment is the LR baggs anthem system with piezo and mike, they sound very good although some customers say the output is low compared to other systems such as Fishmans. The Baggs feedback threshold is quite high on the mike which means you can play loud with virtually no feedback problems. Only problem is that they are a bit pricey.

    Cheers
    Andrew

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    Thanks Andrew....

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCarlos View Post
    Thanks Andrew....
    Your'e Welcome

    Andrew

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    Andrew,
    I'm curious if you have any experience with K&K pickups out of Coos Bay Oregon. The founder is from Germany I think. Other interesting pickups you might have valuable experience with would be Schertler in Switzerland and MiSi out of Quebec.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Andrew,
    I'm curious if you have any experience with K&K pickups out of Coos Bay Oregon. The founder is from Germany I think. Other interesting pickups you might have valuable experience with would be Schertler in Switzerland and MiSi out of Quebec.
    Hi David

    I've fitted quite a few K&K trinity systems in steel string guitars. They work well without a preamp although I do find that the treble response to my ears is a little low. I know that in England they are popular with pro players I think Ralph Mctell has them on some of his guitars. I would recommend using the K&K preamp with to set the eq. although as I said they have enough output to use without preamp (always nice to have something that doesn't need a battery) The schertler stuff I tend to steer clear of as I find the stuff over/under engineered (open circuit boards and no screening seems bad engineering practice in hi impedance circuit design, although that may have changed since I last looked) and had problems with the pickups themselves. The MiSi system looks ok. The idea of rechargeable batteries looks good so long as it's well implemented. Iv'e had no chance to try them out. In all honesty none of the systems are rocket science. A high impedance preamp is fairly old hat these days and when one looks at the prices for piezo cable per metre someone must be making a killing. One of the most important things with acoustic pickup systems apart from the sound is that the systems are straight forward to install and reliable. I have spent many wasted hours balancing up pickups that should just work straight out of the box. The companies producing these systems are happy to sell them but would never reimburse me for my lost time trying to get their systems to work. I have little heart trying to explain to the customer that it took 3 hours to get a system working that should have taken 45 mins. I normally swallow the cost myself as a service to the customer (bad buisness practice I know but i'm old fashioned.)
    Cheers
    Andrew

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    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    2 plus years later, I found this old thread on the Cort Sunset NY guitar project. So let me add the Epilog.

    As I mentioned in #3, I had a plan for replacing the B-Band preamp with a home brew. And that is what I did. I got me a cheap Fishman Presys, opened the case, retrofitted the Vol, Treb, Bass pots that to to the body (with the correct values for the Fishman, mounted a new Artec Piezo in the saddle (one for a classical guitar), and voila, it all worked. I thought it might be helpful to post some pics of the Fishman as I hacked it up and dropped it into the preamp cavity. As I mention above, I left the Mid pot on the board and in the center position. I did not want to drill another hole on the guitar body. And no need for the tuner or power light. Anyway, the end result was a nice guitar that doesn't sound that bad (considering it was made from misc parts).

    I really like this guitar. Nice size, neck, playability, etc. If you can find one, just make sure you get it with the stock Fishman preamp system!!
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