ToneDexter II Support
Pickup Guidance

Pickup Guidance FAQs

This Guidance applies to the original legacy ToneDexter and the new ToneDexter II

Please check out the User Guide for detailed info on how to use ToneDexter.

ToneDexter only works as intended with piezo pickups (all types and mounting locations). Magnetic pickups will sometimes give pleasing results, but they won’t sound nearly as natural as with a piezo.

Creating your own set of WaveMaps is essential to get a great sound with your full-bodied acoustic instrument, and ToneDexter makes that very easy to do. However, in cases of solid body instruments that don’t have much sound of their own, such as the Yamaha SLG200 silent guitar and Solid Body Electric Violins, we offer some pre-made WaveMaps that were created on good sounding acoustic instruments.

It is also possible to modify the tonal balance of your own custom WaveMaps by recording and playing back tracks from a DAW.

Guitar Pickup Guidance

ToneDexter works well with most commonly available piezo pickups. These come in two basic types: under saddle transducers (USTs) and sound board transducers (SBTs). Both types can be either passive or active with an on-board preamp. The piezo material can be either crystal or film; both work well. Electret film types also work.

Another common configuration is a dual source blended system which adds an on-board microphone that gets mixed into the piezo signal to get a more natural tone. While ToneDexter will train with the on-board mic signal, better results are usually obtained by turning off the mic signal completely, or as much as possible.

Passive pickups tend to be SBTs and work very directly plugged into ToneDexter’s built in high quality preamp circuitry. It has a 1MΩ input impedance. Most USTs are active, and will work without issue. Make sure the battery is not depleted, and it is advisable to set any volume control to a nominal (mid-way) position. If there is a tone control, set it to flat or wide open during training. You can always use it during playback to shape the tone to your liking.

Magnetic soundhole pickups, such as the L.R Baggs M1 or M80, the Fishman Rare Earth series, Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio Virtual Acoustic or Black Angel and similar WILL NOT work properly with ToneDexter, and are not recommended. You may or may not get usable results. Even if you do, they will surely be less natural sounding than if you use a piezo pickup.

Guitar pickups that work well
  • James May Engineering
  • K&K Sound
    • Pure (or Pure Mini or Pure Western) – SBT discs, passive
  • Fishman
    • Matrix Infinity – UST, active, with volume and tone controls
    • Powertap Infinity – UST with SBT blend, active. Not tested, but expected to work without issue.
    • AG Series – UST, passive
    • Thinline – UST, passive
    • Sonicore – UST coaxial, also used in Presys on-board active system
    • SBT – SBT disc, passive
    • PRO-ARC-TOP – UST, passive
  • LR Baggs
    • Element Active System (EAS) – UST film, active
    • Anthem – UST film (Element), plus on-board mic, with volume and tone controls. Note the Anthem SL is different and has issues, see below.
    • iBeam – SBT film sensors, active, with volume control
  • Taylor
    • ES2 – UST, piezo, active
  • Highlander
    • iP1 – UST, active
  • Seymour Duncan
    • Wavelength – UST film, active
  • Pick Up The World
    • #27, #54 – SBT film
    • I/O UST – UST film
  • Dazzo Pickups
    • Single or Double – SBT, passive
  • Trance Audio
    • Amulet – SBT, active
  • McIntire
    • Feather – SBT film, passive
  • B-Band
    • AST – SBT, electret film
    • UST – UST, electret film
  • Schatten
    • HFN – SBT with integrated rosewood arch, passive and active versions
  • Headway
    • HE4/G.FEQ – UST, coaxial, active
  • Dupont
    • Bigtone – UST, passive, with bridge for Gypsy guitars
Guitar pickups that can work with caveats
  • LR Baggs
    • LB6 – UST piezo, passive. G and B strings are out of phase with the other 4. During training, the G and B must not be played. It’s recommended to slacken them.
    • Lyric – sound-board mic, active, with volume control. Has some non-linear compression that hampers the ability to train optimally. Some users have reported success, some have had problems. Not recommended.
  • Barbera
    • Soloist – UST piezo, passive. Every other element is out of phase. Training only works if playing on E, D, B or A, G, E strings. The former is recommended.
Guitar pickups that don’t work
  • LR Baggs
    • Anthem SL – UST film (Element), plus on-board mic, with volume controls. Has crossover that can’t be defeated, and interferes with training to some degree. The mic level above the crossover point can be adjusted, but there is no UST above it. Below the crossover it’s just UST no mic. Some users have reported success, others not.
    • Session VTC – UST film (Element) and sound-board mic, active, with volume and tone controls. Due to internal compressor and crossover that can’t be disabled, does not train properly.
    • M1 or M80 – soundhole, magnetic
  • Taylor
    • ES1 – SBT, magnetic, active
  • Fishman
    • Rare Earth series – soundhole, magnetic
    • Neo-D– soundhole, magnetic
  • Seymour Duncan
    • SA series – soundhole, magnetic
  • DiMarzio
    • Virtual Acoustic– soundhole, magnetic
    • Angel series – soundhole, magnetic
    • Super Natural Plus – soundhole, magnetic
Upright bass pickups
Upright Bass Pickup Guidance

Upright bass pickups can be broken into 4 main types based on mounting location:

  1. Body contact – mounted to the top of the bass, usually under or close to the bridge foot
  2. Bridge wing – nestled in the crook of one of the two bridge wings
  3. Bridge adjuster – wedged between the adjuster and bridge, or taking the place of the adjuster
  4. Bridge face – one or more discs mounted on the face of the bridge, usually close to the strings

Of these, ToneDexter works best with bridge wing and adjuster pickups, and can work fairly well with body contact pickups. Bridge face pickups do not usually work well enough.

Upright Bass pickups that work
  • KNA (Kremona North America)
    • DB-1 – bridge wing
  • K&K
    • Bass Max – bridge wing
  • Fishman
    • Full Circle – bridge adjuster wedge
  • Upton Bass
    • Revolution Solo – bridge wing encased in spruce biscuit
  • Schatten Design
    • RB-1 – bridge wing, passive or active
  • David Gage
    • Realist Lifeline – bridge adjuster wedge
  • Yamahiko
    • CPS-DB – two sensors that take the place of the adjusters. Either or both may be used. May work better connecting just the bass side. Has weak bass into 1MΩ.
  • Schertler
    • Stat B – electro static mic, mounts in bridge wing hole. Customer tested.
  • Underwood
    • Bass Pickup – bridge wing, passive. Two folded brass wedges, one for each wing. May work better using just the bass side wedge. May have weak bass into 1MΩ.
  •  Ehrlund
    • EAP – piezo/mic combo that mounts to body. Customer tested.
Upright Bass pickups that may work
  • Headway
    • The Band – contact disc mounted with elastic band around waist of bass. Not tested.
  • Wilson
    • K1, K4 – 1 or 4 brass sensors mounted to bridge face. Not an ideal location, but some users report excellent results nonetheless.
  • David Gage
    • Realist SoundClip – clamps to various locations on the bridge. Untested, may or may not work very well.
Upright bass pickups that don't work well
  • David Gage
    • Realist – copper tab under bridge foot. Does not put out much high frequency content, resulting in WaveMaps that are hissy. Results will have an elevated hiss level.
  • Fishman
    • BP-100 – two discs that clip to bridge face
  • K&K
    • Double Big Twin – four discs that mount to bridge face
Cello pickups
Cello Pickup Guidance

Cello pickups can be broken into 2 main types based on mounting location:

  1. Body contact – mounted to the top of the cello, usually under or close to the bridge foot
  2. Bridge wing – nestled in the crook of one of the two bridge wings

Of these, ToneDexter works best with bridge wing pickups, and can work fairly well with body contact pickups.

Cello pickups that work
  • KNA (Kremona North America)
    • VC-1 – bridge wing
  • Fishman
    • C-100, C-200 – bridge wing
  • Schertler
    • Stat-C – electro static mic, mounts in bridge wing hole.
Cello pickups that may work
  • Headway
    • The Band – contact disc mounted with elastic band around waist of bass. Not tested.
  • David Gage Realist
    • SoundClip – clamps to various locations on the bridge. Untested, may or may not work very well.
Cello pickups that don't work well
  • David Gage
    • Realist – copper tab under bridge foot. Does not put out much high frequency content, resulting in WaveMaps that are hissy. Results will have an elevated hiss level.
Violin pickups
Violin Pickup Guidance

Violin pickups can be broken into 2 main types based on mounting location:

  1. Body contact – mounted to the top of the cello, usually under or close to the bridge foot
  2. Bridge wing – nestled in the crook of one of the two bridge wings

Of these, ToneDexter works best with bridge wing pickups, and can work fairly well with body contact pickups.

Violin pickups that work
  • KNA (Kremona North America)
    • VV-1, VV-2, VV-3 – bridge wing
  • Fishman
    • V-100, V-200 – bridge wing
    • V-300 – bridge with integrated transducer
  • LR Baggs
    • Violin– bridge with integrated transducer
  • Barcus Berry
    • 1320– bridge with integrated transducer
  • KNA
    • VV-1, VV-2, VV-3 – bridge wing
Violin pickups that may work
  • Headway
    • The Band – contact disc mounted with elastic band around waist of bass. Not tested.
  • David Gage Realist
    • SoundClip – clamps to bass side f-hole. Untested, may or may not work very well.
  • Schertler
    • Dyn-C – dynamic contact mic that mounts with putty to body below bridge
  • Skyinbow
    • S1 Pure Acoustic – 1/8″ element glued into hole in bass side of bridge below wing. Untested.
Violin pickups that don't work well
  • David Gage
    • Realist – copper tab under bridge feet. Does not put out much high frequency content, resulting in WaveMaps that are hissy. Results will have an elevated hiss level.
Mandolin pickups
Mandolin Pickup Guidance

Mandolin pickups come in two basic types: integrated bridge transducers, and sound board transducers (SBTs). SBT’s can be mounted on top, usually with adhesive putty, or glued to the inside.The piezo material can be either crystal or film. All of the above work well with ToneDexter. Maximum feedback immunity will be achieved with a bridge transducer, but the added benefit may be minimal compared to an SBT when using ToneDexter, since it has feedback mitigation built into the WaveMaps.

 

Violin pickups that work
  • K&K
    • Twin Spot – SBT consisting of two piezo discs glued to inside
  • Fishman
    • M-100, M-300, M300 – bridge with integrated transducer
  • LR Baggs
    • Radius – piezo film contact sensor that mounts to top with adhesive putty
  • McIntyre
    • MF-200 Feather – SBT consisting of pliable piezo film, glued to inside
Banjo pickups
Banjo Pickup Guidance

Banjo pickups fall into these main categories:

  1. Head mounted – piezo discs taped or glued to the head, either on the bottom inside or outside on the top.
  2. Bridge mounted – either integrated into the bridge, or clamped onto it.
  3. Magnetic – inside the body, may have pole pieces extending through the head.
  4. Microphone – senses the sound inside or outside the body, close to the head.

Of these, ToneDexter works best with head mounted and bridge mounted piezo transducers. Bridge mounted will usually have much more feedback immunity than head mounted, but they will not sound as good by themselves as head mounted. With ToneDexter, both types will sound spectacular. Microphone pickups will work with ToneDexter, but they will require their own dedicated preamp, either onboard or external, to supply them with necessary power. Magnetic pickups may work and may give an improved sound, but they do not yield the natural sounding results that piezo pickups do with ToneDexter, so they aren’t recommended.

Banjo pickups that work well
  • K&K Sound
    • Banjo Twin – Piezo discs, passive, mounts inside under bridge feet
    • Definity – Piezo sensor, passive, mounts on top under middle foot of bridge
  • KNA
    • BP-1 – rectangular piezo that glues to head below center foot of bridge on inside.
  • Schatten
    • BJ-02 – rectangular piezo that glues to head below center foot of bridge on inside.
  • LR Baggs
    • Banjo Pickup – bridge with integrated pickup
Pickups that won't work well
  • EMG
    • ACB-5 – Dual coil magnetic system with that attaches to rails.
  • Fishman
    • Rare Earth – Magnetic system with that attaches to rails.
  • Gold Tone
    • SMP+ – Sliding, rail mounted magnetic system