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Guitar World Acoustic 04/2005

Hellacious Hybrid

B-Band A2.2 Preamp, AST Acoustic Soundboard Transducer and UST Under-Saddle Transducer

By Emile Menasché

It's one of life's happy ironies that while the "modern" electric guitar still relies on 50-year-old technology (or digital recreations thereof) to be heard, amplification of the "old fashioned" acoustic guitar is as cutting edge as the iPod. Manufacturers, it seems, are beginning to look at the pickup system as part of the guitar, not a mere appendage stuck on to make it louder.

The B-Band A2.2 system is very much a product of this new approach. The A2.2 comprises three well-integrated components: the AST Acoustic Soundboard Transducer, the UST Under-Saddle Transducer and the A2.2 dual input mono-output preamp.

I had the B-Band retrofitted to an old Gibson J-50. Once mounted, there's very little to give away the system's existence. The preamp is positioned inside the soundhole, its controls out of the way but eminently accessible, and is unobtrusive to the point where it is barely noticeable to both player and audience.

Like most hybrids, the B-Band enables you to blend two sounds: the articulate string tone you can get only from a bridge-mounted pickup and the more resonant "body" tone produced by the top and the hollow innards of the guitar. And that's where the B-Band shines. If you've ever used a mic-based hybrid, you know that body-mounted mics, though effective, are prone to feedback, while a poorly placed mic can focus too much on a guitar's sweet spot, turning it into a resonant black hole. The beauty of the AST is that it offers much of the mic's character, but over a broader frequency range, without the harmonic dips and peaks caused by internal body resonances, and with less feedback. In the studio, the old Gibson amplified by the B-Band sounded very much like its awesome acoustic self. "Air", "wood", "space" - all those elements were present in abundance.

If my J-50 could talk, it would plead with me to permanently fit it with an A2.2 system. And given the pure Gibson tone the B-Band was able to transmit, it would be impossible for me to say no.

Price: $259.98