I saw this video on Rick's RingingStrings website:




It sounds so beautiful!


I don't know ANYTHING at all about amps, but I'm very interested in the psaltery/amp combo! 


(I realize the "plug-in" for the amp must be added during the construction of the psaltery and can't be added later.  Correct?)


What kind of amp was used in this clip?

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The Micro Cube is 5 watts, more than enough to be heard across the room. Mandolin players use these all the time to boost their volume above the fiddles and banjos at an acoustic jam. They're not ear-splitting loud, but they are definitely heard. The Micro Cube is as loud as your TV turned up full blast.

If you can't tell the difference between the sound of the amp and the sound of the instrument, that's good. It's exactly what should happen. It should be the same sound, just louder.

If you have the gain control set to zero (all the way counter-clockwise), you won't get anything even with the volume turned to 10. Set the gain at about 10:00 for starters. Turning the gain up too high provides the distortion "Overdrive" effect used by Rock guitarists. It takes a bit of trial and error to get the right gain setting for a good tone without the distortion effect.

If you can hear a thump from the pickup, you should hear sound through the amp. The problem must lie somewhere in this adhesive issue. I checked the Dean Markley instructions (boy do those stink!) for my old pickup, but on those the adhesive is a separate thing. It's like a strip of chewing gum between sheets of waxed paper. It doesn't come already on the pickup. I've always used a piece about pea-sized which, like Donna says, flattens out about the size of a nickel.

When you say residue, how much adhesive is left on the pickup? If it's just a thin film, try holding the pickup against the back of the BP with your hand to see if you can get sound out of the amp.

My first two suspicions are that you have too much adhesive and are dampening the sound, you have the gain control set wrong, or both.

One more really dumb sounding thing, but this happens all the time: Make sure the plug is completely inserted into the jack. There shouldn't be any of the shaft sticking out. Sometimes it takes a firm push to get it all the way in.
I've sent the word out to other friends who use this set up. Waiting for responses.

Don't worry Ziva, we'll get to the bottom of this.
Thanks so much everyone for the advice. I really appreciate it!! I just got home and will start experimenting again.

The connection to the pickup seems solid enough, but I will try moving it around like Rick said to see if there's a sound change.

I don't have any headphones. Just the ipod nano earbuds type and the jack doesn't fit the amp.

(I don't know how to quote prior posts on this forum, so I'll cut/paste)

Tim said: "If you can hear a thump from the pickup, you should hear sound through the amp. The problem must lie somewhere in this adhesive issue. I checked the Dean Markley instructions (boy do those stink!) for my old pickup, but on those the adhesive is a separate thing. It's like a strip of chewing gum between sheets of waxed paper. It doesn't come already on the pickup. I've always used a piece about pea-sized which, like Donna says, flattens out about the size of a nickel."

Although the instructions say: "Remove protective covering from adhesive and press pickup onto guitar."---- there was no adhesive on the pickup. It was just like you said, the adhesive is a separate thing, like a piece of gum between paper. I pulled off a small piece (pea-size) and flattened it on the pickup, slightly smaller than a nickle. Without good instructions (with the pickup) it just seemed counter-intuitive to block too much of the pickup contact. Maybe I didn't use enough?

Will start experimenting with all the suggestions now. Thank you so much!

(Was a different version of the Micro Cube 5 watts? This one says 2 watts (Owner's Manual) with a 5" speaker).
Sorry, my bad. Mind like a steel sieve.
Okay, I just tried again. First, I rubbed a tiny amount of Lemon Pledge on the soundboard (where I planned to put the pickup) hoping that would help the residue issue. I only had the pickup on less than 10 minutes. There wasn't AS MUCH adhesive residue left on the soundboard this time, but still enough that it took a bit of elbow grease and Lemon Pledge to get it off. That makes me not want to experiment with various placements for the pickup----I'd have many places with residue stuck to the soundboard. Cleaning it off all the time can't be good for the finish, right?

I used to be an artist and used various types of artist's tape and 'resist'. But they were for use on delicate hot press illustration board and wouldn't be strong enough to hold the weight of the pickup......

As for the other issue with not hearing the amp.........I think the problem is that I simply can't hear it above the psaltery itself. Since I CAN hear the amp (when not playing the psaltery) by just touching the pickup, I think I will just need to get some headphones to hear the effects. So, it seems that both the pickup and the amp are both working.

Any suggestions for headphones? I hope they're not too expensive! (Another month of soup for breakfast/lunch/dinner *sigh* :D

Meanwhile, I just don't want to damage the finish on the psaltery with the adhesive........
The thing to do is to get the residue off the pickup and instrument, then experiment with placement with it dry. But more importantly, there's something gone terribly wrong. Here alone you have three experienced players who use that pickup with great success. It's an old, established model with thousands of satisfied users worldwide. Donna gets good results with a tiny battery powered amp that is little more than a toy in the amplifier world (sorry Donna), and the Micro Cube should be screaming by comparison. At least as loud as your television or radio.

Another thing is to contact the psaltery builder (I think you said it was a Phantasy?) to find an appropriate solvent for the adhesive. I use rubbing alcohol on my Phantasy with no problem at all, but check first.

Do you have a guitar? I'd try it there with the amp to make sure nothing is electronically faulty. Getting a sound from a BP shouldn't be so hard to do, but a guitar would answer the questions. Don't even bother with putty for now, just get a sound.

At the moment, several expert friends form other sites have suggested that the lack of sound is either an intermittent failure within the pickup (rare but possible), or a faulty input stage in the amp. They asked if you had bought it from E-Bay, as some sellers there deal in factory seconds.
Thanks so much Tim. I have to rush and catch a bus now so have to make this quick.

I don't have a guitar or any instrument, except the psalteries, to check the amp/pickup with.

I did buy the amp on eBay and I have 7 days to return it if necessary (it arrived on wed.)

I was just checking with placement (without adhesive) and still heard nothing. But I have a question about the pickup.

Since I can hear through the amp by touching the pickup, I checked to see if I could hear through the amp if I touched anywhere on the contact surface of the pickup (again, no adhesive). I noticed that I only get a sound from the amp if I'm touching directly over the internal 'chip' (piezo?) which is toward the left side of the pickup (contact surface). If I touch it on the right (contact surface) side---no sound.

Should the pickup be picking up sound from the entire contact surface? Or is it normal for it to only pickup sound directly where the little 'chip' is?

Must rush off.......

I REALLY appreciate the help!!!
From that description, the way I understand what you're trying to say, and the information from other experts in the subject, I am lead to believe you have a defective pickup. Your description is similar to the symptoms they asked about. I think Rick recognised it straight away: A defective pickup.

I'm really sorry that you're having so much trouble the first time out. This is just the sort of thing that discourages newcomers. It's a run of bad luck, nothing more.
I've also contacted Eric and he recommends mineral spirits over rubbing alcohol since he uses shellac finishes. I would go with that despite my success with the alcohol as too much could damage the surface in time.
I should also contact Richard at Omega Strings and see what he recommends for his finish, since it's the Omega that I actually play at the moment.

Thanks for checking with Eric!!
I read this info and decided I needed to return it for an exchange. I wasn't too thrilled at paying for return postage, insurance, plus a 15% "re-stocking fee" (per the company website). The site also said I needed to call before returning an item. So I did, and described what's happening with the pickup. They said it sounds like it's defective, so, no need to return it, they'll send a replacement out on Monday.

Wow! What a great company! (Musician's Friend)

I just expected I'd need to return it, but they said no need to.

What an unexpected and nice surprise! Usually, for me, if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. So, this is a nice break :)
Well, let's all keep our fingers crossed for a happy ending. I'm glad you went with Musicians Friend. They're a big-box company, but they have really great service. I've used them for a decade at least and never had any complaints.


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