Onboard pickups are a good option if you will be playing amplified very much. In some environments, they are almost a necessity, like in church bands where the sound pressure from other instruments is high. Then it is difficult to mic a hammered dulcimer and turn them up high enough to be heard without feedback. Our stereo onboard pickups solve this, being feedback resistant. The dulcimer sound can be out front where it belongs.
Our system is not an off-the-shelf one bought somewhere else and just installed. We hand build them in-house and they were engineered specifically for our dulcimers. We believe they are just better. Our system is stereo because it gives greater output as well as being able to individually control each pickup for the best balance. The whole system is also completely shielded so it is studio quiet.
Output is a 1/4″ stereo jack on the far left of the lower rail, out of the way. We include a stereo patch cord with the system. The way we intend for it to be connected is from the jack into a stereo preamp (one with 2 channels) and then mono into an amp or soundboard or whatever you will be running through. There are several good stereo preamps on the market, and if you have one already, great! If not, we can supply the Schatten Mini Pre 2 which is a nice unit, it is stereo in, and mono out to the amp. We are Schatten dealers. Alternatively, you can get a stereo to mono adapter and run the signal from the dulcimer into a mono preamp and then into the amp. Running only one channel will work, but output will be slightly less, and you won’t have the option of individually controlling the pickups. Another alternative is to split the signal and run into 2 separate mono preamps, and then into 2 channels of the amp or board. This would be more costly, but would give you ultimate control of your sound.
Electric pickups allow for more creativity
Another fun thing about onboard pickups is you can do things with them that you may never have thought of. Guitar effects pedals are now a possibility, and there is a world of new sounds out there to be explored, some of which have never been heard before. The things that you can do with it! Check out the video, it’ll give you ideas!
Installation of electric pickups
We can install our systems in any Songbird instrument, old or new having found retrofit to be the best option even with a new build. It involves making 2 small access ports in the back with cover plates. It will not affect the acoustic sound of the dulcimer at all, and except for the jack in the rail, and the two small access ports, you won’t even know it is there. So if you have an older Songbird dulcimer, and want a pickup system, no problem! It’ll be just the cost of the system plus shipping both ways. Contact us for a quote. Thanks!
Pricing Onboard Electric Pickups installed $200. Contact us to order
SB2 Hot Rod Pickups
The pickup sensor material is installed within the side rod that the strings pass over, and runs the length of it. Since the side rod is solidly sitting on top of the pin block, the sensor is picking up mostly what the strings are doing, not the rest of the dulcimer. The sound is strong, natural, very usable, and very feed back resistant. Completely new, these aren’t available anywhere else, and won’t work on anyone else’s dulcimers. The center of the side rod is the only place on the dulcimer that the sensor material will work properly, and no one else builds their dulcimers with them.
We like to wire these in stereo for greater control of your sound. Mono will work, but the signal form each pickup may intrude on the other and cause phase problems. Completely shielded so the system is studio quiet. Unless you already have good preamps, we highly recommend the K&K Dual Channel Pro ST preamp. It is stereo in, but has two outputs, so you can run it either mono or two separate mono outs to keep the output from each pickup separate. Run the outputs into two separate channels, then to two separate speakers, and the sound is just huge!
If you are going to have these wonderful pickups, you’ll also need our Reverse Action (piano style) dampers which are quiet. These pickups are so sensitive they won’t work well with Standard American Dampers, there will be mechanical noise picked up when you depress the pedal. You will also find that you want to do most of your playing with the dampers on the strings and only lift them occasionally. This gives you the opportunity to totally shape your sound how you like using various effects and processors. Undamped, hammered dulcimers have way too much sustain to play electrically without dampers, and the Reverse Action dampers are definitely the best. They are available on the Dampers Page.
The very best pickups made!
Pricing: $350 installed. Contact us to order
We are a Schatten dealer, and have the Schatten Mini Pre 2 stereo preamp which we get to go with our onboard stereo pickup system. It is a nice little unit with a separate gain control for each channel as well as adjustable trim pot inside for each channel. Runs on a 9 volt battery, which comes on when a plug is inserted in the output jack. Input is 1/4″ stereo, and output is 1/4″ mono.
Pricing: $110 Order Here
You can add a Schatten Mini Pre 2 stereo preamp to your purchase in the shopping cart.
We are also now dealers for K&K Sound and have their Dual Channel Pro ST preamp which has some advantages. It has 2 outputs so you can either run mono into an amp or each channel separately into 2 different channels of your system. True stereo is possible if your system has 2 speakers. It also has treble, mid and bass trim pots for both channels.
Pricing: $150.00 Order Here
We also have the K&K Preamp Power Supply which will work with either their preamp or the Schatten preamp. It is very nice, studio quiet, and can be plugged in to power almost anywhere in the world! No more changing batteries, it plugs right into the battery clip of the preamp. To use with the Schatten preamp, the only modification is to cut a very small notch is the cover for the power supply wire to pass through. Just a pen knife or something will make quick work of it.
Pricing: $40.00 Order Here