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Guitar World Acoustic #58

From the article: Finnish Line, B-Band transducers and preamps

By Jeff Colchamiro, Guitar World Acoustic #58

Finnish Line, B-Band transducers and preamps

When played through an amp or PA system, an acoustic guitar is only as good as the microphones used or pickup systems capturing its sound. Even the finest high-end instrument will sound thin and brittle when paired with a cheap piezo pickup. I recently checked out several new products from B-Band, a Finnish company that manufactures preamps and transducers that feature a patented high-tech electret film different than that used in standard piezo-electric pickups, and I'm happy to report that the results were anything but thin.

I first examined a Larrivee L-05 that featured a built-in B-Band A-6 sidemount preamp, UST (Under-Saddle Transducer) and AST (Acoustic Soundboard Transducer). While the L-05 can be purchased with this system already installed, all of the B-Band components included are sold individually as well.

I plugged the guitar into Tech 21 Bronzewood 60 acoustic amp and the results were dazzling. The sound that streamed from my amp was remarkably similar to the natural tone produced by the guitar-full, balanced and not the least bit harsh. And that was before I even made any adjustments to the system. The A-6 preamp has a three-band EQ, a balance control to blend the two transducers, a notch filter to fight feedback (I didn't encounter much, except at very loud volumes) and a phase switch. Even with the treble cranked, the sound never had that harsh tone associated with piezos. The EQ did a great job of highlighting different aspects of the guitar, and different settings worked better for different playing styles. But it always sounded warm, natural and-there's no other word for it-acoustic.

I also tested B-Band's A-1 endpin preamp with the UST and the AST units (each one separately, as only one transducer can be connected to the A-1). The sound was impressive, though certainly less remarkable than that produced by the A-6 system. While the UST delivered a nice tone, it was a little on the bright side, and the A-1 preamp doesn't have any controls to alter the sound. If you have a good acoustic amp (or outboard preamp), however, you can use the outboard controls to eliminate some of the high end and customize your tone.

The AST sounded warmer and emphasized the guitar's midrange more, though it wasn't quite as punchy and defined as the UST. After hearing how well they complement each other, it was hard to settle for just one, though each performed admirably on its own.

If you have a problem with the sound of piezo pickups, why buy one and then try to fix its sound with EQ and effects? Look into B-Band's line of products - you won't "B" sorry.

Jeff Colchamiro

© Copyright 2003 Guitar World Acoustic
Reprinted from the No. 58 issue of Guitar World Acoustic.
Reprinted with permission from Guitar World Acoustic.
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