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Standard Telecaster

September 23rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Standard Telecaster

Face it even James Hetfield looks like a wuss when he picks up an acoustic guitar. So what makes you think you have a snowball's chance in hell of retaining your dignity when you strap on your prized dreadnought? Instead, try slipping one of these to discreet piezo bridge systems onto your Tele, Strat or Strat-style guitar. You'll get not only convincing acoustic tone but an array of exciting new voices as well-including the shouts approval from your band and audience.

L.R. Baggs X-Bridge

The X-Bridge is designed to replace the two-post tremolo unit and the American Standard Strat. (L.R. Baggs also makes hard-tail and vintage six-hole trem Strat replacements.) The X-Bridge is our review Strat-a budget model of the "hecho en Mexico" variety-looked like a U.S. standard trem until you got close enough to see the piezo-filled saddle indents and the Wilkinson-style arm. The other modifications for the bridge electronics-a stereo output and piezo master volume that replaces the center tone control-were totally discreet.

Our X-Bridge Strat was complemented by L.R. Baggs Ctrl-X onboard mixer, which allows the passive magnetics to be combined with piezo bridge pickups. While it requires small but permanent modifications to your guitar-installation of a larger stereo jack and two small switches-the Ctrl-X allows you to select the magnetic or piezo pickups or both, adjust their levels with separate volume comtrols and select a combination mono or split-stereo output. The under-the-pickguard 9-volt battery powers the buffering circuitry for the piezos while leaving the magnetic pickups totally passive.

The X-Bridge not only made our review Strat sound acoustic-it made it sound a lot better than an entry-level guitar. Running the piezo and magnetic signals together produced a dense, stereo wall of tone. Shuddering electric riffs were under-pinned with tight acoustic clarity, and flowing piezo chords had a dark undercurrent. The X-Bridge is the fourth Strat pickup that you have been waiting for.

Fishman TSV Powerbridge

The TSV Powerbridge is almost indistinquishable from the original American Standard Strat replacement bridge. (Fisherman also makes vintage Strat and vintage American Standard Telecaster versions.) The trem unit's push-in arm requires no cosmetic changes, and only the included stereo jack and piezo volume control (which replaces the lower Strat tone control) need to be substituted for the original components. The optional Fisherman Powerchip includes a "Smart-Sensing" stereo output to differentiate between blended mono and split stereo leads and an active piezo volume control. The Powerchip fits most guitars and requires no modification other than the installation of a battery under the pickguard.

Our test Strat also came with Fishman's optional Powerblend pedal. In addition to allowing smooth and silent mixing of the piezo and magnetic signals, the Powerblend provides dedication piezo conditioning, eq and four outputs that allow the signal to be sent to single or multiple destinations.

The tone of Fishman piezo was a little more powerful and zesty than Baggs. The eq on the Powerblend helped remove some top-end clatter and provide balance to the two signals, and the results were particularly convincing. In general, the Fishman has the more modern tone of the two units reviewed, and also benefited from less handling noise during us of the tremolo unit.

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