In this blog we will be detailing the process of installing a new pickup system in this Breedlove Oregon series acoustic.
While this model would normally have an electronics system installed the customer had ordered it without electronics so they could pick out their own option later. We will be installing an LR Baggs Element VTC system
The LR Baggs Element VTC offers a wonderful sounding pickup with both tone and volume controls. This is a very unobtrusive system with the controls conveniently and discreetly located just inside the sound hole so there is no need to cut a hole into the side of the guitar.
First step is to remove the strings!
Next step is to remove the original end pin.
Once we remove the end pin, we will need to widen, or ream out the hole to accept the input jack.
We use a special reamer that will allow the final hole to be the exact right diameter for mounting the jack.
Here you can see the reamer being used to widen the hole.
Nest step is to pull the saddle and drill a small hole in the bridge to accept the pickup element.
Time to drill!
An important but often overlooked step is to clean up any burrs left from drilling the access hole. At this point it is also important to verify an absolutely flat saddle slot in the bridge. In the case of Breedlove guitars these slots are usually perfect. In some cases manufacturers are not as careful in prepping the saddle slot and it becomes necessary to rework the saddle slot to make it flat and free from issues that would affect the operation of the transducer.
The pickup system will include: The endpin jack, pickup element, volume and tone controls, and battery clip.
The pickup itself is a braided piezo pickup element that will be installed inside the bridge.
The jack is what will be mounted in the endpin.
The tone and volume control will be mounted and accessed in the soundhole.
Installing the input jack in the endpin.
Endpin jack installed.
Feeding the pickup element through the bridge.
Mounting the volume and tone controls in the edge of the sound hole
The 9 volt battery is located near the neck block.
After everything has been mounted wires are controlled and routed using the supplied clips for security and reliability. It is very important to route and control wire placement so the wires do not cause sympathetic vibrations in the top of the guitar.
A really neat feature of Breedlove guitars is the hand signed top on each instrument! This is done as part of the Sound Optimization process Breedlove utilizes to ensure superior and consistent tone from their US produced instruments.
Next step is to lower the saddle height to compensate for the pickup element.
A disc sander makes quick work of resizing the saddle. It is very important to maintain an absolutely flat saddle bottom for contact with the transducer.
Music Nomad F One Oil is used to condition the fret board before installing new strings.
Just a little on a dry rag and rubbed into the fretboard.
Daddario XS 12-53 Phosphor Bronze strings ready for install. These are some of our favorite acoustic strings.
String it up!
Final step is to plug it in and test it out!