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Combining a J160E magnetic pickup with a Baggs acoustic pickup

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  • Combining a J160E magnetic pickup with a Baggs acoustic pickup

    I have an early 1990s Gibson J-160E, the Beatle acoustic guitar, although it's not the "accurate" reissue with the plywood top (I've played one of those, and I wouldn't have one unless I was in a Beatle tribute band). Mine is a solid-top, great acoustic guitar, really aged now and has a huge sound.

    Of course, being that it has a magnetic (P-100) pickup in the neck, it doesn't sound like an acoustic guitar plugged in. I've lived with that for years, made it as "acoustic" as I could by manipulating the tone control. Plus being that it's a magnetic pickup, it doesn't really work well with regular bronze acoustic strings (I'm currently using monel on it, which helps, best compromise I've found).

    I'm really ready, though, to do something else with this guitar. My understanding ... although I've never really been able to pin anyone down on exactly how you do this; I'd have to get a tech to do it anyway ... is that a lot of folks have modified their solid-top J160E's with an acoustic pickup, while still retaining the use of the magnetic pickup through wiring the pickups to the same jack and replacing the guitar's tone pot with a blender pot where you could switch back and forth between the pickups or even, conceivably, combine them. In other words, you can play acoustic then, if you so choose, switch to the magnetic neck pickup and do John's riff to "I Feel Fine."

    The reason I'm asking this on a Baggs forum is that the I-Beam appears to be the acoustic pickup of choice for this modification. Is it possible to do this with one of those, and if so how much of a pain is it going to be to accomplish? Thanks!

  • #2
    Hey bigg94,
    There are a few ways to make the iBeam work with the magnetic pickup on that guitar. Recently we actually did the same setup on one of Tom Petty's guitars. So it's definitely doable.

    On that specific guitar we actually left the volume and tone controls in-tact for the magnetic pickup, and took the output from the volume and tone and ran that into the Element channel of the iMix preamp. The iMix preamp then allowed the iBeam and magnetic signals to be mixed back and forth or split into stereo from the same output jack.

    You can wire the existing magnetic pots so that they function as the iMix's volume and mix, but that wiring gets really messy really quickly, so I don't recommend it.

    The nice thing about leaving the onboard pots as they are is that you still have individual tone control over the mag pickup.

    The iMix is definitely the way to go for mixing the iBeam with that magnetic pickup.

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