about fiddle Pick ups...
Through trial and error most fiddle players find a pickup that they like well enough to stay with. We are always looking for something that sounds better. My search has been no exception. I started gigging in 1990 and have gone through many pickups, amps and bows. I've talked with and heard many fiddle players throughout the Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas areas. Always taking note of what equipment was being used and the tone I liked or did not like, as well as analyzing myself and asking other musicians and fiddle players what they liked or did not like about my tone. Piezo pickups seem to be the most cost effective and available. These are my findings that I have gathered first hand over the past 30 years.
Fishman V100- Good tone can be achieved with the right amp. It is portable and dependable. It requires a lot of EQ. But a great tone can be achieved it is just a little fickle. I have gone back to performing with this one. But a solid choice.
LR baggs(there is only one)- Good woody tone and balanced. Fairly clear tone and as good as any piezo and better than most. It is sufficient and most players agree. The sound quality is preferable than the wing slot fishman(v100 or v200). However the drawback is the permanent install with the bridge.
Zeta Strados- I like this pickup on my acoustic fiddle because it is very clear. Two piezos under each string is the way to go. I don't like this pickup because it has a slight metallic undertone to it. I've learned to ignore because I love the clarity so much.
Zeta Acoustic Pro- This is the ultimate pickup. Two piezos under each string, its a regular wooden pickup, no metallic tone. Its nice and clear. Unfortunately...
I've only played one that belonged to a friend of mine. I don't own one. They are expensive to obtain and now hard to find. I wish I could just buy the pickup.
K&K- Good tone. It requires two sensors to be placed under the feet of the bridge. That could be a deal killer for a lot of fiddle players. But if you are ok with that I think this is a good value. Very similar to the baggs. They have came out with one now that also has a sensor that goes in the middle slot of the bridge as well as the sensors for the feet. I haven't heard this one. I believe the more sensors the clearer and more focused the tone will be.
Barcus berry bridge slot: Decent a portable. Eats in the bridge a bit over time. Not a bad choice. Just not real clear. I think is because it is too far from the strings. The closer the piezo or piezos are to the strings the more clear and stronger they are.
Also Dale Morris has an interesting article on fiddle pickups on his website. Talking about the old barcus berry pickups. www.texasfiddlemusic.com
Piezo Film vs. Ceramics- Piezo film is a good technology but weak compared to ceramic piezo. I've experimented with both of them and find the film works best when it is very close to the strings (directly under them) or under the feet of the bridge. I don't think that the piezo film is superior in any way, just that it could be an alternative because of the way it can be installed or used. I may continue to experiment with them when time permits.