24 October 2011

"The Band" Vs. Fishman v100 Violin/Fiddle pickup

For a number of years now I've been using the fishman v100 pickup for all my gigging. I say ALL my gigging but until recently I was only using it at the odd Plastic Acid concert or once perhaps occasionally for a fiddle jam.

fishman v100 with custom mount

Now that I'm playing at least a few times a month I've been anxious to learn how amplified fiddle works and how it could work better for me.

There's nothing wrong with the fishman v100. It's pretty much the cheapest pickup you can buy and it delivers all its value. I even created a custom mount for it so it looked better than the zap-strap mount it came with.

fishman v100

That being said, I've been a bit frustrated with the tone it's been giving me. I compare it to the sound of angry bees. Everything I play using this ends up coming out sounding over-cooked and frizzled.

Also, as you can see, the pickup uses a mono TRS connector which is flimsy and hard to deal with on stage. That's when I heard about The Band.



The Band, by Headway

The Band is a new kind of pickup made by Headway Electronics.  The first thing you'll notice is how it looks. Dorky, in my opinion but definitely really different from other pickups out there. It Wraps around the entire instrument, presumably to pick up a more authentic sound.

When a violin string is plucked or bowed the vibrations are translated from the string, through the bridge to the top of the instrument and then, again, through the soundpost to the back of the instrument. The sound you hear is mostly from the front and back of the instrument vibrating together with a resonating cavity, like a drum.  It sounds amazing (or not) because every component that transfers the sound was specifically designed for its acoutstic properties.

This is why I've never been a fan of bridge-mounted pickups. If you're just taking a sample from the bridge you're really missing out on all the wood-y resonance your instrument has to offer. You can try to make up for it using reverb and effects but I prefer the real thing when I can get it. The Band supposedly picks up vibrations from the top of the instrument itself so you'll notice right away that it sounds better.

I've been told that professional fiddlers very often only play with external microphones or combine the sound of a pickup with that of a microphone. I am not a professional fiddler but maybe someday I'll give this a try.

I'm going to get really nerdy in a future post and do a audio spectrum analysis of the two pickups vs. an external condenser microphone but for now let me say that I really REALLY like the band, for what you get it's really not expensive at $145 CAD (Long and McQuade).

If you've tried it and you have your own opinion, let me know.

Filed in: Music  

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