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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Dobro pickup

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livedog00 - Posted - 08/13/2021:  09:53:52

What are the latest recommendations for a resophonic pickup?

I did a search of the forum and read through all of the old posts, but the newest one I could find was several years old. So I thought I would dredge it up in case something new and exciting has come out since the last discussion.

For some background, I generally play in a cover band that is fully electric, or at church, which is fully electric. I would like to install something to be able to plug in and get away from the microphone.

Gear-wise I have a Wechter/Scheerhorn Rob Ickes model and I use an HX Stomp or Helix to run through (including my acoustic guitar).

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/13/2021:  12:28:49

Eric, no doubt you have come across posts in your search about the Fishman Nashville pickup - there is nothing newer under the sun - this is still the state-of-the-art.

Your scenario is similar to mine over the years, playing at church with a full electric band. I'm not playing at church since the beginning of the pandemic, on an extended hiatus, and in  recent years I've played lap steel standing with a strap more often then dobro, but I have logged many hours on the dobro with church bands and occasionally playing with other folks plugged in.

It doesn't come up here that often, I see it more on the Facebook Dobroholics page, members there will recommend  an onboard  mini-mic unit, the Myers is fairly popular. What is often left out of the conversation is the playing scenario - in your case a full electric band. I have never owned a Myers, but it's my understanding that in a full electric band players have had trouble with feedback with the Myers, and the folks who recommend the product when quizzed will typically tell you that they never play in a situation like yours.  So there have been a few accounts of guys with  feedback problems  who end up biting the bullet and springing for the Fishman setup.

I have used the Fishman Aura Jerry Douglas signature pedal in conjunction with the pickup for several years. I have an older Line 6 Floor POD that I've used with lap steel and standard electric guitar - never tried it with a dobro. The newer Helix and related products are really nice, but again, no idea how they would work with a pickup equipped dobro.  

Back to the top - Fishman Nashville is still the pickup of choice. I occasionally wonder when something better will come along that's less expensive and simpler to set up.  Mine is mounted on a Kent Schoonover modular spider in my Clinesmith. The Beard adjustable spider works jus as well. 


LukeL - Posted - 08/13/2021:  15:03:17

I guess I might not want the same sound as you because I’m in a bluegrass band but I recently started using a DPA 4099 clip on mic and a wireless bodypack. The sound reproduction is the best I’ve tried so far and I’ve also used the Nashville pickup. It’s great too.

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/13/2021:  15:59:49


Originally posted by LukeL

I guess I might not want the same sound as you because I’m in a bluegrass band but I recently started using a DPA 4099 clip on mic and a wireless bodypack. The sound reproduction is the best I’ve tried so far and I’ve also used the Nashville pickup. It’s great too.

Luke, alluding to my third paragraph above - have you used the DPA with an electric band and drums?

LukeL - Posted - 08/13/2021:  16:02:38


Originally posted by MarkinSonoma


Originally posted by LukeL

I guess I might not want the same sound as you because I’m in a bluegrass band but I recently started using a DPA 4099 clip on mic and a wireless bodypack. The sound reproduction is the best I’ve tried so far and I’ve also used the Nashville pickup. It’s great too.

Luke, alluding to my third paragraph above - have you used the DPA with an electric band and drums?

No- and I'm not sure how it would do. I keep it very close to the top of my guitar but in really loud environments it likely wouldn't be the best.

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/13/2021:  16:51:34

Again, it's all about the playing situation.. 

Onboard microphones just don't seem to be a good choice when playing with loud electric bands. 

I would love to have someone chime in  that they have been successful with an onboard mic setup for dobro that can hold its own in an electric band. 

The JD Aura pedal seems to continually go up in price to where it's now close to $400. There are alternatives like the ToneDexter by Audio Sprockets, but the price is comparable.  Then there's the price of the pickup, special spider, and professional installation if one isn't capable of doing it on their own - and the vast majority of  players should probably steer clear. 

Fishman could use some competition. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 08/13/2021 16:55:19

docslyd - Posted - 08/13/2021:  18:24:44

....probably way behind the wave, but that's my usual MO. I still use the Schertler Basik. Since they're not so popular, you can usually find one less than $100.00. Playing through the NU-X Optima Air, it really sounds pretty decent. I never expect any pickup to sound as natural as a microphone and we could debate the pro's and con's all day but, with an electric or loud band, the ability to get a sweet and natural tone is less the's to be heard. I like the fact that the Basik is an easy install and, since I service my guitars (pretty regularly) the ability to change if from one guitar to another, change cones, change spiders and bridges means that I can do everything that's needed right here, with no need to seek professional setup. I think, if you're looking for simplicity, economy and less temperamental issues, it might be something to consider. No issues with the pickup system changing the acoustic sound of the guitar and no regrets wishing you had chosen a different bridge material.

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/13/2021:  18:31:10

Eric, how does the Schertler perform in a loud band situation with electric instruments and drums? 

docslyd - Posted - 08/13/2021:  19:21:29

Mark...I think it has its limits, but generally volume isn’t an issue. Hey, even electric solid body guitars can feedback....sometime intentionally, Jimmy. The reso- body is particularly prone to sympathetic vibration by virtue of the cone, bridge, and acoustic construction. I have felt the whole guitar vibrate...but that’s a pleasure for another discussion. I must say, I know that the Nashville is state of the art and I don’t have the experience to compare, but there is an advantage to being able to service what you own...

joeyd - Posted - 08/15/2021:  10:48:50

You may want to explore the Krivo. I have one installed on my D60 and I think it's spot on!

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/15/2021:  12:18:36

That was going to be my next suggestion but Joey beat me to it.

I can't speak from personal experience, but I have listened to some online Krivo demos with a pair of quality Audio-Technica headphones.

From what I have heard I don't agree with "spot on" but I do agree that it's a  good option - simpler and a lower cost  than going through the whole Fishman scenario. 

To my ears in the headphone trials, since the Krivo is still a surface mounted magnetic pickup, I detect some of the magnetic pickup sound. 

But when playing in a loud electric situation, I have played several times at a church near me where they have a bowl of plastic wrapped disposable earplugs in the lobby available if the music is too loud for an attendee's ears. It's like being at a Christian rock concert, and my own church I've played at in the last few years gets pretty darn loud as well. In these situations achieving super accurate dobro tone doesn't really matter anymore than it does when one is playing in a loud covers band. 

The original poster hasn't been back to comment on this topic. But I would be curious as to what are some of the songs he plays in his loud covers band. Is it country music - or are you playing stuff like  AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd on a dobro?

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 08/15/2021 12:25:05

toddborger - Posted - 08/16/2021:  04:34:56

I always enjoy seeing your posts and getting your thoughts on things. I only have experience with the Nashville setup with the JD aura. I also am playing in a church setting, which, while not "I-need-earplugs" loud, is definitely an electric, amplified setting complete with drums and pretty loud bass amp right behind me. I have had zero feedback problems and I have been very pleased with the output.

livedog00 - Posted - 08/16/2021:  04:58:00

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I think the Fishman Nashville system sounds like it might be the best way to go.

Mark said: "... I would be curious as to what are some of the songs he plays in his loud covers band. Is it country music - or are you playing stuff like AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd on a dobro?"

Our band does a little bit of all kinds of Country and Rock. I hadn't played dobro on anything because I don't like hassiling with the mic for just a song or two, so I would play it on lap steel or just slide. But this past weekend we did our first all acoustic gig since I have been in the band. So we just took our normal set list and arranged them for acoustic instruments. The dobro sounded so good on a few of them that the guys want me to bring it around more. Also, like I say, I play it at church when I can, but the sound guys isn't great so we fight feedback a lot so I just don't end up taking it.

So, back to the Fishman system, Would all I need to buy is the pickup (not including the Aura at the moment), and then have it installed? Or are there additional pieces I'm not seeing that need to be included?

toddborger - Posted - 08/16/2021:  13:32:38

You will need at least the pickup, and I think the opinion here will be that you have it professionally installed by someone who has done it before. There have been a few horror stories here of luthiers who are otherwise unfamiliar with the pickup and who break some part of it while installing it.

About the JD aura, I think many or most here will say it is a necessary component. There are some alternate methods of shaping the sound that others vouch for, but which I don't know about. Without anything you will get the infamous piezo "quack." I for one can hear it, but it is subtle. The other issue is whether you will need some sort of preamp if you don't have the aura. I confess I am still confused and ignorant about those issues, so perhaps others will pitch in to explain that.

If you get the Nashville and get it properly installed, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Edited by - toddborger on 08/16/2021 13:33:24

gzerninplatz - Posted - 08/16/2021:  16:48:29

The Krivo is as good as a fishman without an Aura.,...a fishman with an aura is better. I use both. Krivo on my Tricone, where there is no Fishman, and Fishman on the dobro, with an aura - the difference was worth it.  the aura eliminates the piezo quack and adds the nasal dobro nuances....I also just use a Fishman Spectrum, with the bluegrass image, as a grab 'n go has tuner, DI, a cool anti-feedback automated thingie, more...but doesn't sound quite a good as fishman with Aura....

as pointed out, any of those are just fine for a loud band, where the finer nuances are below the noise floor...

Edited by - gzerninplatz on 08/16/2021 16:50:58

Phaedrus - Posted - 08/17/2021:  08:28:33


Originally posted by docslyd

.... . I still use the Schertler Basik. Since they're not so popular, you can usually find one less than $100.00.

Back near the turn of the century I bought a Beard Res-O-Phonic, had it custom painted to match my MA6 and asked the folks at Beard if they would install a Schertler Basik in addition to the Lance PU that came standard, which they graciously did. I already had a Schertler Unico amplifier, which I assumed would handle the Basik well... and I was not disappointed. My intent at the time was to achieve a Ry Cooder sound, and between the Basik and the Unico I was able to dial in a pretty fair facsimile.

The Roadie is the only instrument I own with an integrated PU, so I'm not much use commenting on PU's other than the Basik... And for what I need it's more than adequate. Other than that I'm more than happy to cozy up to a Shure 57 or 58...  

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/17/2021:  16:51:49

Jason, I'm a little confused by your post - I guess you're referring to the Beard Road-O-Phonic? And I think you mean a Lace pickup? And as far as the Schertler Basik, that didn't come out until around 2005. I know this because when Todd Clinesmith built what is still  my main reso in 2004, the best thing going for an internal spider bridge pickup was the Fishman "donut," which is actually terrible and a waste of money, but I had him install it in my guitar. A year or so later the Schertler came out, wish I had it,  but I didn't want to spend the money at the time. 

I'm a huge Ry Cooder fan going back to his first album in the early '70s when I was about a sophomore in high school and have seen him play live a number of times, including one of the evenings when he recorded his first live album in late 1976 in San Francisco at The Great American Music Hall, then again at GAMH 35 years later in 2011 when he recorded his second live album, and my son was with me, 24 at the time -  who wouldn't even be born for another 11 years when I was at the '76 concert!

I'm trying to figure out which Cooder sound to which you're referring. Ry rarely plays a roundneck resonator, when going acoustic with a bottleneck slide it's typically on a vintage Martin or Gibson. 

Interesting sidebar in this thread below. 

When Billy Cardine had the Biscuit Burners going, they did a west coast tour for 3-4 years and played each time  here in Sonoma County. Along with being a fine player, Billy is an avid gear freak. We were messing around with his gear after a show, at the time he had a Schertler Basik in his Scheerhorn which he combined with a mic. He had just purchased a Fishman JD Aura pedal. We tried all the different mic images, but the marriage of the Schertler Basik and the Aura pedal just wasn't really happening - wrong tool for the job. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 08/17/2021 16:54:23

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/17/2021:  19:03:35

Eric/Livedog - I was almost done posting the basics of what you need for the Nashville pickup and my computer glitched out on me and lost it. Damn!

Maybe I will try again later tonight or tomorrow.

Phaedrus - Posted - 08/17/2021:  20:04:48


Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

Jason, I'm a little confused by your post - I guess you're referring to the Beard Road-O-Phonic?

Having reread my post I can see why.  It's been over ten years since I even cracked the case on the Roadie, my memory has blurred greatly since then. While the "Res-O-Phonic" was a true senior brain fart, the "Lance" faux pas was total collapse of neurons. So, a picture being worth a thousand words, here are the twins. The MA6 is serial #14... I have no idea what the Roadie serial number is and I don't feel like taking it apart to find out. I bet it's in the single digits though...

The next picture shows the two jacks for the PU's... The external Lace and the internal Basik. I had hoped that one jack would service both PU's through a toggle switch but Beard couldn't;t do that for some reason.

There's a picture showing the Lace somewhere in that collage. Can't show the Basik naturally. 

Somewhere in that photo mess there's a picture of the control panel for the Schertler Unico Amplifier.  There's enough there to dial in some pretty decent sounds using either the Lace or the Basik... or pretty much any mic for that matter.

To clarify my Ry Cooder comment I meant that I was looking for... oh, I don't know... that haunting, eerie Louisiana Bayou vodoo sound he's well known for. I figured that the sound could be dialed in with the Unico amp if there was a decent PU involved. There wasn't much to choose from in those days,and I hedged my bet on the Basik. That, and a few pentatonic lics pretty much got me into the ballpark.


MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/19/2021:  14:22:42

@livedog00 aka Eric - what is needed for the Fishman Nashville pickup to follow.

Ideally you want one of the two specialty spiders on the market for optimum installation of the pickup inserts. The Beard adjustable spider (black background) from Beard Guitars has screws on the side which are driven into the base of the pickup insert. The Schoonover modular spider takes a different approach, the screws attach to the base of the pickup. Because of this, Kent Schoonover has his own modified version of the Nashville pickup. Either choice works great. I have the Schoonover in my Clinesmith. 

In the early years of the pickup hitting the market, the inserts were designed differently, with metal "bars" sandwiched between the top and base. Many players felt this negatively effected their unplugged sound. Around 2013 Fishman redesigned the pickup and eliminated the metal bar and just a very thin strip of the ceramic piezo element runs through the middle. My guitar sounds great unplugged with the updated version - no complaints. 

There are two companies of note who install the pickup insert without one of these specialty spiders or something similar. I'm not familiar with their techniques. The companies are Gretsch, who include the pickup on their budget Bobtail model, and National, where the pickup can be ordered with one of their Scheerhorn guitars made here in California, aka Nati-horn resonators. 

If you don't want to hassle with packing and shipping your guitar, one can order the pickup already mounted in the spider from either Beard or Schoonover after careful measurements are taken so that there is adequate clearance under the palm rest. A hole needs to be drilled in the base of the guitar for installation of a 1/4 inch jack. If you're handy with a soldering iron you can connect the leads.Or have a qualified luthier do it. There is also installation of a ground wire which involves drilling a small hole next to the cone shelf that is hidden when the coverplate is in place. NEVER drill a hole for the ground wire at the edge of the resonator cone!

I'm not real handy with a soldering iron, I've rarely used one since I was in high school electric shop - a long time ago. This is why I made a road trip to Oregon combining business in Portland (industry trade show) and dropping off my guitar with Todd Clinesmith on the way up so that he could do the the install for me and freshen up the guitar's setup. 

It's a 7 1/2 hour drive from my place, pit stops not included to Clinesmith in southern Oregon. To combine with a business trip, along with vising family in  western Washington was the only way I could justify the drive.

I checked out where you live in Indiana, according to Maps it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive to one of the best luthiers and setup men in the business, Frank Harlow, outside of Dayton, Ohio in Vandalia.  Frank has said in recent years that at some point he will go into full retirement but AFAIK he's still active. I have no idea if he does Fishman pickup installs. Maybe someone here who is in the know will chime in.  If Frank does do this kind of work - he's your man!

This was just an overview to get you going - it's not a complete set of instructions, but it gives you the gist of what's involved. 


Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 08/19/2021 14:23:23

livedog00 - Posted - 08/20/2021:  04:56:08

Wow, Mark, thanks for all of the great info! Lots to chew over for me now :)

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 08/20/2021:  15:57:13

You're welcome Eric. 

Here's another tip.

Below on the right is the current version of the Fishman Nashville pickup insert. The original version which was on the market for ballpark five years had the metal bar "sandwiched" in the middle. When Fishman came out with the newer design, they didn't change anything in the description and call it something like "Version 2.0" as a software company might with the latest iteration of a product. 

I'll come across these pickups occasionally for sale online as slightly used or New Old Stock.  You want to avoid  the old version. The year the update came out I called Fishman customer service and the fellow told me that in the new version, they found the sound transfer to be superior when plugged in, more even across all the strings. It didn't even occur to him that the unplugged tone was also better - he might not have been an actual dobro player. 

As an aside, several years ago at a local music store I played a Nashville equipped  Gretsch Bobtail. It's a decent starter instrument when played unplugged, but when plugged into an acoustic amp the pickup brings it up to another level. They had a Roland acoustic amp in the store, and on the amp was a button marked "Piezo" that when depressed it reduced the dreaded piezo "quack." Not in the same league of course as running through the Aura Jerry Douglas pedal, but I could hear a notable difference. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 08/20/2021 15:59:54

Biggfoot44 - Posted - 09/16/2021:  08:08:52

I'm late to the thread , and semi threadjacking.

The Bobtail is available with actual Nashville pickup ?

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 09/16/2021:  10:20:56

The Bobtail  has been spec'd with the Nashville since it hit the market a number of years ago. No pickup in its almost identical sibling, The Boxcar.

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