A Quick Guide to Yamaha Acoustic Guitar Pickup Technology
Options abound when it comes to plugging in.
While it’s great to play an acoustic guitar unamplified, something special happens when you plug it in. With both steel-string and nylon-string instruments, the sound gets bigger, bolder and takes on a new dimension.
Have you ever wondered which acoustic pickup will work best for you when you want to play plugged in? Let’s check out what Yamaha has to offer.
When it comes to acoustic guitar pickups, Yamaha has a long legacy of technological innovation. Their APX line of acoustic-electric guitars, which debuted in 1987, featured hexaphonic pickups that offered a separate pickup for each string. Also included were preamp switches for mono or two different stereo output options.
In 2010, the company unveiled a technology called Studio Response Technology (SRT), which allows guitarists to achieve a distinctive tone by creating a custom blend of microphone and piezo pickup sounds. SRT combines advanced DSP technology with state-of-the-art recording techniques, so you can get studio-quality sound directly from your guitar’s output jack.
Piezo (short for piezoelectric) pickups, which are normally placed under the saddle of an acoustic guitar, only capture the sound of the strings and not the air moving around the instrument. Microphones capture the sound of the air, but the best results are achieved only when high-quality mics are used and the ambient space is carefully controlled, as you would find in a professional studio. SRT gives you the best of both worlds, allowing you to combine the bright, crisp sound of a piezo pickup with the warmth and organic, natural sound of a digitally-modeled microphone (in the case of advanced SRT2 technology, your choice of two vintage mics), along with the ambience of a professional studio environment.
In addition to a Blend knob that allows you to mix between the pickup and mic model, the SRT system includes low/mid/high frequency controls and a Focus/Wide knob to adjust stereo imaging. There’s also a built-in tuner, Automatic Feedback Reduction (AFR) and a Resonance control.
Yamaha acoustic guitars equipped with SRT pickups include:
- A3M / AC3M
- A3R / AC3R
- A5M / AC5M
- A5R / AC5R
- LL6 ARE / LL6M ARE
- LS6 ARE / LS6M ARE
- LL16 ARE /LL16M ARE
- LS16 ARE / LS16M ARE
In addition, all Yamaha SILENT Guitar™ SLG Series models are equipped with SRT pickups.
Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar technology was introduced in 2016 and was first implemented in select L Series models. This revolutionary system utilizes a small metal disk called an actuator, which is installed on the inner surface of the guitar back. The disk vibrates when the strings are played; these vibrations are conveyed to the body of the instrument, and then out the sound hole into the air, enabling the creation of authentic reverb and chorus effects without the need for any external effect devices or amplifiers.
TransAcoustic (TA) guitars are also equipped with a piezo pickup, which captures the sound of the reverb and chorus produced by the actuator, as well as that of the strings themselves, sending the effected signal to the instrument’s output jack.
Because they can be played with or without effects, TransAcoustic guitars are eminently suitable for both live performance and recording. Three simple controls on the instrument allow you to turn the TA system on and off, blend the amount of chorus and reverb and select either Room or Hall reverb. In addition, a Line Out knob enables you to set the level of the piezo pickup.
The lineup of Yamaha TransAcoustic guitars includes:
- LL-TA and FG-TA (steel-string, traditional western-size body)
- LS-TA and FS-TA (steel-string, concert-size body)
- CSF-TA (steel-string, compact parlor-size body)
- CG-TA (traditional, classical nylon-string)
This unique system consists of a trio of elements: a piezo sensor mounted in the bridge, a mini microphone inside the guitar body and a proprietary synthetic sheet transducer underneath the soundboard. The contributions of the separate elements can be easily combined and custom-blended using three knobs on the side of the instrument.
In order to account for differing sonic properties, the piezo sensors on the nylon-string models vary slightly from those used in steel-string models. Specifically, their midrange has been revoiced, and a Treble knob replaces the Bass EQ knob to help accentuate the high frequencies.
Yamaha guitars equipped with the Atmosfeel system include:
- FGX3 / FGX5 (steel-string, dreadnought size)
- FSX3 and FSX5 (steel-string, concert size)
- NCX3 / NCX5 (traditional classical nylon-string)
- NTX3 / NTX5 (nylon-string with a slimmer neck profile and thinner body)
No matter what your musical preferences are, Yamaha has an acoustic pickup system that will suit your needs!
Check out these related blog articles:
Click here for more information about Yamaha A Series guitars.
Click here for more information about Yamaha L Series guitars.
Click here for more information about Yamaha SLG Series SILENT Guitars.
Click here for more information about Yamaha TransAcoustic guitars.
Click here for more information about Yamaha FG/FS Red Label guitars.
Click here for more information about Yamaha NX Series guitars.