Piezo microphone pick ups for lever harp

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    talfryn on #230658

    Does anyone have experience with using Piezo type microphones on a lever harp?
    I play with a local folk orchestra, here in France and this year we have a lot more accordions and also Cornemuse (French traditional bagpipes) and they are loud. It’s ok for performances then I can place a stand microphone next to the harp, but for practice sessions I don’t really want to disturb things while I fiddle around with cables and setting things up. So I am investigating putting some piezo pick ups on my musicmakers belle kit harp which I take to practices. I have a guitarist friend who uses a Yamaha THR5a amplifier for his acoustic guitars and mandolins which runs off batteries so I can borrow this for starters, so no need to find power, hopefully only one cable is needed between harp and amplifier.
    I don’t want to spend a fortune as this is really only to get myself heard in rehearsals, so the dusty strings and accusound systems are a bit expensive. I am considering installing a big twin double piezo from k+k in the US.
    Some questions
    Does anyone have experience with piezo pick ups?
    Will I need to also use a Pre-amp, the Yamaha I can borrow is claimed to have one built in, is this sufficient?
    Any points of view would be welcome, my priority is to get heard, and also I want to keep things clean, with a minimum of cables and set up.

    harpist123 on #230659

    I have installed the K&K Big Twin in both my Pratt Chamber Harp (36 strings) and Dusty Strings FH36S. Both worked beautifully, and still had wonderful acoustic sound. Instead of drilling into both harps I attached with Dusty Strings Jack Clamp. Bought a small preamp which plugs into Jack Clamp with short cord, then a longer cord comes out of the preamp and plugs into the amp or whatever sound system you have available. Great sound, minimal installation to your harp, and very easy to use.

    billooms on #230684

    Lyon & Healy now provides the K&K Big Twin as an option on their harps. I have one on my 85CG and tried it (just to see how it sounds). The sound quality is not as good as a properly placed microphone, but in a situation with high ambient noise I would use it rather than a microphone.

    sroreilly on #230701

    I use a Yamaha ThR to test the dusty strings pickup and it certainly works. Since it is essentially the same technology as the big twin, I think it would work for you. Another option is to buy just the crystal pickup from barcus barry. It has a much hotter output. If you are interested I can check to make sure it works with the Yamaha without the preamp, but I am pretty sure it does as it works everywhere else I’ve tried without the preamps.

    talfryn on #230708

    Thanks for all the feedback here, it convinces me that the piezo picks are the right way to go, in this instance. It’s good to know others are using this pick up and amplifier. I will now get hold of a set and it seems from the comments here and some other advice I have had that I should give it a go without a preamp and add a small inline preamp depending on the result. I am waiting for a reply from k&k at the moment as the standard cables seem a little short and I have made an enquiry for some custom longer leads. I will keep you posted once I have put some on the harp.
    Thanks again

    Molly K on #230767

    SBT-HP Soundboard Transducer for Harp Piano

    I have purchased this pickup for using on my new mikel 38, which has yet to arrive. It’s only 99$ and the reviews are good. I’ll let you know more when I can get it set up 🙂

    talfryn on #232320

    Hello, just an update, I have installed the microphones and tested a couple of mobile amplifiers and I am really pleased. The pick ups from K and K were super simple to install, I used the internal jack and drilled the harp back for this, I glued a plywood disk to reinforce the jack hole on the inside and the internal cables actually run without touching any internals. I ordered custom cable lengths from k+k 29 inch and 12 inch so I have placed the pick ups at 1/3 and 2/3 rds along the string run on the back of the soundboard.
    I have tried Roland and Yamaha mobile amplifiers and was so impressed by the Yamaha thr5a especially the nylon microphone setting that I purchased one, it’s almost like having a new harp, playing around with the settings I can make the sound both big and rich, turning the small harp into something which sounds much bigger. I don’t need any preamp it works just fine plugging straight in.
    So I am still experimenting but it has been a good addition to this harp..

    evolene_t on #232324

    Thank you for the feedback Talfryn, that’s always interesting!
    Could you give an estimation of the price for the whole amplifying gear? (pick ups + cables + amplifier)? Would that fetch in the 100€ range, or 300€, or more?

    This Yamaha mobile amplifier, does it have options other than just amplifying? For example, special effects like reverb or loop?

    talfryn on #232328

    Hello evolene, it’s a bit expensive, but good value, as I can use the amplifier with other instruments. I think the pick ups were a good price especially as I ordered custom cable lengths $110. The. shipping and us customs fees 60 usd. But then I had the pick ups stopped by the Douane,customs in France, who charged 50 euros for the pleasure. So the main profit here was made by the US and French governments. Normally if you order overseas from France and the total cost is less than 140 euros then the douanier don’t stop the package, this time it was slightly over the limit hence the customs cost…
    The amplifier cost just under 200 euros in Cultura, I think you are in France so you may know them as a hobby supermarket. I could find it cheaper online, but the shop let me experiment with several different amplifiers, in fact it turned into a bit of a performance for their customers. The ability to try before you buy is a very good reason in my mind to not buy online. If the shops allow it they deserve a bit extra..
    i haven’t explored all the possibilities with the amp yet, but it has several microphone emulations together with compression, chorus, delay, reverb, I haven’t found any loop function yet, but you can plug it into the laptop which gives a lot more options, which I haven’t explored yet. The main thing for me is that it runs off mains or batteries and is small enough to take to the practices and beat those cornemuses and vielle à roue :), which is why I am pleasantly surprised I didn’t expect it to enhance the different sound possibilities with the harp which it has done…

    Nancy Edwards on #233405

    I’m glad to learn about the K&K Big Twin pick-ups, it sounds like something I’ve been looking to find to amplify my Lyon & Healy Prelude harp. I have a couple of questions:
    1. the K&K website said the pick-ups come with adhesive film for attachment, so I’m wondering if the adhesive doesn’t work well and that’s why Talfryn drilled into the harp for attaching them
    2. what is the difference between the internal and external jack? Is one preferred over the other?
    Thanks for the info –

    talfryn on #233551

    Hello Nancy
    The adhesive seems to work well, it’s very sticky. Its only been on for a few weeks, so I can’t say how temperature, humidity and time affect it. There’s plenty spare tape provided so if they do need to be restuck there’s enough to do it again. It took me only a few seconds to stick them to the back of the soundboard.
    The reason I drilled the harp was to place the jack connector. The internal jack connector is mounted flush into the back of the harp so you need to drill a hole and push the connector through it.
    The external jack connector is easier to mount as it just clips to the side of the sound holes in the back, but I wanted a more permanent look, so chose the internal connector. I have a bit of a personal phobia about wires not being hidden and connectors which seem to be added afterwards.
    That being said, I am thinking about adding the same pick ups to my Camac Korrigan, this time with the external jack connector I don’t want to drill the Camac, also you can move the pick ups from one harp to another easier with the external, so I can also move these pick ups to my pedal harp if I want to.
    Just to be very clear, I only drilled and reinforced the back of the harp soundbox, for the internal jack connector, NOT the soundboard.
    Hope this helps

    Gretchen Cover on #233552

    Nancy, you may want to go to the Dusty Strings website and look at the external jack clip http://www.dustystrings.com. It clamps on the back of the harp. That way you do not need to drill a hole in the harp if you install an internal pick up mic. Personally, I would not drill a hole in the base of a Prelude or any pedal harp. Where you want the jack to go and where a buyer wants it could be very different and therefore, adversely affect your harp’s resale value.

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    harpist123 on #233556

    Yes, good point about resale value! As I mentioned in my earlier post, I used the Dusty Strings Jack Clamp on both my Pratt Chamber Harp and a Dusty Strings 36. I did NOT want to take the chance on drilling my harps. And, in the end, I have removed it from the Pratt. Just don’t need amplification on that harp.

    billooms on #233603

    Earlier on this thread, I mentioned that I had L&H include the K&K Big Twin on my new 85CG harp. Since then I’ve had a few issues. In particular, one of the transducers did not adhere and dropped off the soundboard. Also, the plastic connector on the bottom of the harp was easily smashed (see photo). I had a very helpful talk with John Papadolias at L&H and I’ll share the information he gave me:

    The Big K had leads of 18″ and 36″ to fit the full sized harp. Transducers should be placed about 1/3 and 2/3 the height of the soundboard along the center strip. Prior to attaching, use an alcohol prep pad to clean the surface. John uses double sided carpet tape to attach the transducers.

    We talked about the need for a more solid connector than the plastic connector provided by K&K. John recommends a metal connector (Fishman Switchjack Endpin Jack — available on Amazon) and mounts it in a metal clamp which has a rubber insert (McMaster-Carr part #8981T26). The connector is stereo, but the pickups are mono. Some soldering is required (I’ve done a lot of electronics work, so that doesn’t scare me). I’ve ordered the parts and will report back after I’ve installed it. I’m going to mount the connector much closer to the front foot to provide better protection.

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    Gretchen Cover on #233644


    I have used blue painters tape to hold the transducers in place for five years. Does not mark the wood and you can easily move the mics. I would not have the connector at the bottom of the harp like yours. Too easy to damage especially when you put the harp base cover on and off or set the harp on carpet. Here is what my jack clamp set up looks like on a pedal harp.

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