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by Reagan Cole

Originally published as Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #54, 1977

The purpose of this particular article is to project one man’s opinion about the theoretical whys and wherefores of the transducer for acoustic instruments. This is not a consumer’s report analysis of commercially available products. Anyone interested in this information may consult the series which is currently running in Mugwumps Instrument Herald. A full market report and commentary has been promised. I have never had the money to run out and A-B all the stuff that crops up in the pages of Guitar Player; anyway, I have never used any of the commercial units since I build my own systems.

There seems to be several major camps regarding the amplification of acoustic instruments. These I would categorise as follows: (1) Only microphones should be used. These devices are, after all, an electrical analogue to the human ear, so if the mike is good all will be well. Absolutely nothing should be attached to an existing acoustic instrument. (2) Transducers are a necessary evil. They do allow musicians playing acoustic instruments to compete in an electric or an electronic ensemble. At any rate, if they are used they should be easily removable, leaving no trace. (3) The acoustic-electric is yet another evolutionary phase. The performance of the instrument transducer system is of paramount importance; It may be necessary to modify the instrument or even to design a new type for acoustic-electric use. I don’t believe that there are grounds for a serious feud lurking in any of these arguments; all are correct from their own frames of reference.

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