JJB Prestige 330

Soon after purchasing my beloved Taylor GS Mini I started thinking about ways to record it. Sure, a nice mic at the 12th fret is great, but I wanted something simpler (and cheaper). I hate the way traditional under-saddle piezo pickups sound and they require some routing in the bridge, so I quickly ruled those out. There are many awesome sounding systems (like the Maton AP5-Pro) but they also cost a lot and in some cases require routing. Then I came across piezo-based systems that mount directly on the sound board and require no routing or permanent modifications to the guitar while still sounding natural.

The first system that came up was K&K Pure Mini which fits all my requirements, but is still a bit too pricey (around 100 USD) to put on a relatively cheap guitar. Finally, I came across JJB electronics that make a similar product, but at half the price! Moreover, they offer a model that features a drop-in replacement endipin jack for my GS Mini, so no modifications or additional parts are needed for installation. So I decided to give it a try and got one Prestige 330 system with 15mm transducers for GS Mini (make sure you specify that you want the GS Mini endpin jack!)

What is (not) included in the kit?

The kit includes three piezo transducers, each with its own lead, output jack, some solder and a piece of heat shrink tubing to isolate the jack once it’s soldered.

Besides that, you’ll need a hex screwdriver, a soldering iron (20-40W would be ideal) and superglue gel (make sure that it’s gel, not the liquid kind). I used double sided adhesive tape to fix the transducers to the jig and recommend using something similar. Finally, you’ll need a small mirror (those small makeup mirrors every woman has in her purse will do) for inspection.

Installation

There are several different installation instructions floating around. I decided to go with the one that uses the bigger jig to glue all three pickups at the same time. We made the trapeze shaped jig out of soft wood marked all pins, drilled holes for the outer two pins and pulled screws through them that will serve as guidelines. To make sure they don’t wiggle inside the pin holes, we used electrician’s tape to make them fit snugly. Then I marked saddle position and drew rectangles where each pickup should sit.

To temporarily fix the pickups to the jig we used paper sticky tape used for holding guitar binding in place. There are many ways this can be done, but it’s important not to glue them too strong because jig needs to be taken out after pickups are glued to the top. Use just enough to keep them in place, but not more than that. Also, super glue is though to remove. It’s important to protect the top of guitar against it. I used kitchen foil for that and put a piece of paper inside the body to protect the back of the guitar (which is not visible anyways).

I cleaned all metal surfaces on each pickup with naphtha and applied a generous amount of super glue gel on each of them. Gel is much more suitable here because it gives you precious 30-60 seconds to get the jig in the guitar, pull the screws out through the outer two pin holes and set it in place. Firm pressure is applied for few minutes just in case and than it’s safe to take the jig out.

And that’s it! All that remains to be done is to solder two wires to the output jack, isolate the connection with the heatshrink tubing (remember to put it on before the soldering!) and screw the endpin jack back.

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    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.