The Acoustic Pickup

Collaborations of DJs and pop artists are all the rage right now. If you look at the Billboard Chart, you’ll probably see the likes of Calvin Harris and Rihanna teaming up for a song.

But the days of music with true instruments are not entirely gone. Actually, there’s often an acoustic song rendition in the concerts of pop artists such as Justin Bieber (who also collaborates with DJs like Skrillex). Such renditions are done with the help of acoustic pickups — a music technology that is as enduring as DJ equipment itself (we’re looking at you, Technics SL-1200).

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Acoustic Guitar Pickups

The pickup is the device that gets a guitar’s sound into wires so that the tone and volume can be tweaked using other devices. There are as many of it as there are guitars, and it comes in several different kinds as you’ll see below. There are examples for each type of acoustic pickup at GL Mag in case you’re interested to see them.

Soundhole pickups are probably the most ubiquitous and easy-to-use type right now. As the name implies, they are simply slid into a guitar’s soundhole and its wire may be left dangling.

That said, contact pickups or “bottlecaps” are actually considered less invasive than the type above. Bottlecaps are tiny, passive pickups that only need to adhere to a guitar’s top to work. They can be removed easily without harming a guitar’s finish.

In contrast, undersaddle piezo transducers require drilling on a guitar besides end-pin-jack installation. These “invisible” pickups are installed under the saddle (a piece of white plastic or bone) in the bridgeplate. They are commonly composed of small strips of piezo crystals that convert vibrations into electrical signals.

Another type of pickup that requires invasive installation are the internal mics. As their name implies, they are basically microphones meant to be used inside a guitar.

And last but definitely not the least are the multi-source systems, which are basically just the combination of 2 or more types of pickups. The combined pickups are controlled through one preamp.

Keeping Tabs on Acoustic Pickups

Multi-source systems were just the beginning of the innovations in pickup technology. Now there’s Jamstik+ and A Little Thunder by Andy Alt. With more innovations on the way, the acoustic pickup will likely endure long enough until real instruments are popular again. And that’s something MTab and SSL will definitely keep tabs on.

Crowdfunded Vinyl Projects

Here’s a good news for those of you who have loved vinyl all along — or even those who are just getting into it: Vinyl record sales are on the rise. According to the Recording Industry Association for America, vinyl saw a 28-year high in sales in 2015.

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That might mean a bit more competition for getting that first pressing of your favorite band’s album, but it also means a lot of good things for people who make music, and for people who listen to it.

It also means one more thing: People who want to start vinyl-related projects now have a much bigger audience for their efforts than they may have had in recent years. So in case you’ve been dreaming of building a turntable that will rival the best record player, now might be the time to realize it.

Now, if you need money to kick-start your project, but don’t have the funds to bankroll it, you might want to try crowdfunding instead. Below are examples of vinyl-related projects that did just that.

The Vertical Turntable

As a lover of vinyl records and the gorgeous artwork that are often included with them, you may have lamented from time to time about the fact that your records have to lay down flat when they’re playing. Not anymore! With the launch of the Floating Record Vertical Turntable Kickstarter campaign, you now have the chance to watch your records spinning and floating in space, vertically. Apparently, a lot of people loved this idea because the project met its $50K fundraising goal within a few short hours — and even far exceeded that goal that same day.

Get Vinyl Records Pressed

Plenty of musicians out there are “old school” enough — and savvy enough — to have their own albums available on vinyl. Unfortunately, most of them simply don’t have the funds to have their works pressed. But once again, this is where the power of crowdfunding can come into play.

Qrates: The Current Option

With the crowdfunding platform Qrates, musicians have a viable way to deliver their music in the vinyl format. Musicians can use the platform to design their sleeves and labels, and even choose the color, weight and speed of the record. From there, you’ll get an estimate of how much it will cost. The next step is to solicit pre-orders from the band’s fan base, using the Qrates crowdfunding resource. When the recording artist meets the quota necessary to press the albums, the project gets sent to a pressing service in their area, and voila, they’re officially on vinyl.

Beat Delete: The One that Got Away

There was once another option for having your albums pressed on demand. But unfortunately, it’s no longer available. Beat Delete offered a similar service as Qrates, but company leaders announced in 2015 that orders had slowed down to the point where it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. But with another service out there doing the job, at least all those vinyl-loving musicians won’t have to go without having any option at all.

Come to think of it, replacing Beat Delete might be a good idea for a vinyl project, specially now that vinyl records are again in demand.

Ways to Enjoy Music While Taking a Bath

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Most are not keen on bringing their mobile phone into the bathroom. Whether you’re taking a bath or a shower, it’s just risky business. But there are actually many ways to enjoy listening to music while bathing, and they don’t involve short circuiting your electronics. Now, you may have heard of Haier musical water heaters, and you want it instead of a traditional Noritz tankless water heater and the likes. However, they don’t seem to be widely available.

So what are the next best ways to enjoy some tunes while washing up? Below are some good options.

Bluetooth Speakers

Yes, the world of Bluetooth devices has come very far and it now includes speakers. This means you can be listening to the music that is on your phone while being away from such thing. These speakers are designed for use in moist areas, so you don’t have to worry about the condensation. There are so many options available, it all depends on what you’re looking for. They range from as low as $20 to as high as $300.

Waterproof Phones

Mobile phones have also made leaps and bounds in development as they now come in a waterproof format. This option may not be for everyone, but companies are making them even more attractive to consumers. The Sony brand seems very durable and holds up well in a downpour of rain (we say this with the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua in mind). These aren’t as cheap as Bluetooth speakers, but aren’t all that expensive either. For example, the Sony Xperia M4 is only $300.

Waterproof Phone Cases

These are similar to the Ziploc brand of sandwich bags, but for phones. These are available for tablets as well. And so, no matter what type of device you want to listen to, you can slide it into this waterproof pouch. These are rather cheap, and maybe you can actually just use a ziplock bag itself. They can be as low as $5 if you buy them on Ebay, or as high as $30 if you buy them in a store. Again, it depends on what you’re looking to spend.