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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Hi Ziva, You can buy an inexpensive external mount pick-up with the plug to use with any psaltery. I have used this one in the past - http://www.bluestarmusic.com/KK-Sound-Big-Shot-External-GuitarMando...

I figured out a way to add an internal pick-up to my psalteries after they are built, but I use an round soundhole without any type of rosette blocking it, so I do have some access.

The external mount pick-up can be moved to different psalteries to amplify them. I would recommend using some kind of temporary adhesive. I have used poster putty and even masking tape. Another plus to an external mount is being able to move it around on your psaltery to find the placement that sounds the best. I like it on the soundboard just in front of the bridge on the left side.

I use a Roland AC-90 amplifier. It is really more powerful than I need and could have been just as happy with the smaller and cheaper AC-60. The AC-60 is 10"x 10"x 15" and weighs just over twenty pounds. I've never had the volume control turned up over half way. They come with a really nice carrying case with a shoulder strap. I was using the built in chorus effect when I played that tune, I like the lush sound it adds.

I used it this weekend at a craft demo at the visitors center at the Cumberland Gap National Park. I had it hooked up to one of my baritone psalteries. Sounds great when playing a double bow version of an old tune like "Goin' Home".
I use a thing called a Beercap Pickup to get the sound from my psaltery - it's a piezoelectric thing that does indeed appear to be made out of a real bottle top and sticks on the body of the instrument with some sort of adhesive tack (can be stuck on and off as many times as needed). I also find the position Rick describes to give a good sound. The problem I have with it is the psaltery is so resonant that it acts like a microphone for external sounds - there's a recording I made with the beercap pickup a couple of weeks ago in which you can hear my daughter talking in the background! This might cause trouble with feedback if I were to try it with an amp.
Some builders are offering rear soundholes on their psalteries that can be used with microphones. Some players prefer the sound of a mic over the contact type pickups. As the others have mentioned, you can add an external contact pickup to any psaltery and even use it for different instruments. There are a ton of these to choose from. If you're after a perfect reproduction of the instrument's sound, mics work great. If you want to explore special effects, then a contact pickup is the choice.

The type of amplifier is an important choice. For the most part, players of acoustic instruments prefer 'acoustic amplifiers' for the purpose. Acoustic amps are essentially small, self-contained PA systems that are designed to give a very natural sound to reproduce the acoustic instrument faithfully. Nearly every major amplifier manufacturer makes a number of these, but the Roland products do come out at the top of the list for popularity. The Roland AC-60 that Rick uses is a very powerful amp. It can play to large crowds. For those wishing to explore the idea of special effects like chorus and reverberation at home, a smaller version is actually better. Roland makes a full line of acoustic amplifiers. One of the more popular small units is the Roland Micro-Cube. It offers all the special effects in a size that's appropriate for home use. If you intend to play out, such as at church a nursing home as many here do, then a larger model would be in order.
Once again, thank you to everyone for all the great advice. I love this forum!!

I wasn't clear in my OP, so to clarify---yes, it's the special effects I'm interested in, more than just amplifying the sound.

I've looked around online, and it looks like the AC-60 would be out of my price range. The Roland Micro-Cube sounds like what I should get for now. Especially just to experiment with since I have no experience with amps/special effects. Also, the Micro-Cube can run on batteries and we loose power ALOT here during the winter.

So, other than the Micro-Cube, I just need an external mount pick-up, correct?

I really appreciate all the help and info!!
Well yes, and maybe no. It depends on the pickup you choose. Some types can plug directly into the amplifier while others need a 'pre-amplifier' to match them up with the rest of the equipment. Once you've shopped around a bit let us know which ones you're interested in and we can go from there. I'm sure that some of the other members will chime in with their favorite pickups. Until then, let us know what your budget is and we can help narrow the field for you.

A favorite basic pickup. Not the world's best one, but very affordable, time-tested, and plugs right in:

Thanks Tim! Just got home, having high winds and rough seas. Power is flickering and may go out soon so will have to make this quick.

I'm looking at your suggestion of the Roland Micro-Cube:


And Rick's link as above:


(Not sure if that link came through, but it's the one Rick posted above)

Do I need something in addition to the two items in the links?

Sorry for needing to rush..........
Hope you got through the storm OK.

I can't tell from the sketchy specifications listed for that pickup, but it may need a preamp. Most piezo disk pickups do. Ask Rick if he needed to use one with it. Every pickup benefits from a preamp anyway, so you might consider one for the future even if it works fairly well without one.

You'll also require a guitar cord to connect the pickup to the amp. Reserve $20 for that. If you need a preamp you'll need two cords. One from pickup to preamp, one from preamp to amplifier. That's why I like the Dean Markley. You only need it and the Micro-Cube.
For Ziva's use with the small Roland amp and the Dean Markley would most likely be best. I do use a preamp, but have tried it without and it still works fine, but the Roland AC series has an adjustable anti-feedback control. The preamp does give me more control over treble and bass and used to give me an extra volume control, until I knocked it off in the floor this past weekend and broke the knob off. I'll be tearing into it and wiring in another.

Having the built in cord is a really big plus!!

So, I would agree with Tim's recommendation. I have used the Dean Markley for recording and it works great. The one I used was very quiet with no buzz. The recording engineer liked it because of that. Some pick-ups can be a little noisy, not enough to bother when using for amplification, but not something you want to deal with when recording.

That's a really good price on it at Elderly. Once you have the pickup you can try out lots of amps at the larger music stores, Guitar Center or Sam Ash. I've seen those small roland amps set up out in the main room of the music stores, so might be hard to hear when the rockers are plugged in and trying out equipment. That's why I went to the acoustic room, nice and quiet. They would probably let you take one in there to try out.
One other thing I'll mention about the Micro Cube amp. It comes in a number of colors, but I'd get black if I were you. If you end up not liking special effects, or like them so much that you want to trade up to a more advanced amplifier, the black ones are easier to sell on the Internet. Most musicians' stuff is black. That makes it conveniently easy to trip over things on a dark stage. :)
I have a Dean Markley pick up and though I've only used it a couple times I like it. I use the sticky tack stuff you can get at hardware stores to attach it to my psaltery. I also attach it just above the bridge, slightly to the left of the middle of the psaltery. Actually I like it better attached to about the same spot on the back of my psaltery, unfortunately the sticky tack stuff can't hold it there.
I have one of the tiny HoneyTone amplifiers (1 amp) which is intended for practice I guess. It's fun to play with and only cost $20.00. It also runs on batteries and can clip to a belt. It's not for performing or anything but fun for at home. You can get special effects pedals for it as well.
Okay, I took everyone's advice and ordered the Dean Markley from the link Tim gave. (I didn't find it cheaper on eBay or Amazon).

Now, for the Roland Micro Cube. I am definitely getting the black!!! Even if I don't ever try to re-sell it, I just didn't like the look of the red or white ones. Black is my favorite (until they come up with something darker).

Was out-bid this morning on eBay, but bidding now on a different MicroCube. Will have to keep my fingers crossed until thurs..........
Good luck with your bidding. It's fun to experiment with the instrument and electronic gadgets : )


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