Acoustic guitarists who wish to amplify their instruments have more choices than ever when it comes to aftermarket pickup systems. As companies such as Fishman, L.R. Baggs, K&K Sound, and Highlander continue to refine their systems, others, such as Skysonic, have entered the acoustic pickup world.
Founded in China, Skysonic has recently made its way stateside via the Allen Eden Guitar Co. Their top-of-the-line offering is the Pro-1, which combines a dual-coil magnetic soundhole pickup with an onboard mic and an under-saddle piezo pickup. Each element has its own volume control wheel, which allows you to blend as much of each source as you want. The three-element combination should provide many sonic possibilities based on a player’s style. For example, a player who taps and uses soundboard percussion may want to dial in more of the piezo to amplify the body sounds; or someone who is playing with a group in various-sized rooms can dial in the right amount of each element to suit the acoustics of the situation.
My favorite sound was achieved by dialing in equal amounts of the magnetic pickup and mic and bringing in the piezo at about 30 percent of volume.
Our review Pro-1 came mounted in a Ranch PG T-C-3 Grand Auditorium-sized guitar. I played the guitar through a Fishman Loudbox Mini amplifier. I started with 100 percent soundhole pickup, with no mic or piezo. The sound was crisp and clear, but weighted in volume towards the treble—you can adjust each of the six screw poles to compensate for this. However, rather than get out the Allen wrenches, I decided to dial in more of the mic and piezo to hear if I could achieve a better balance. Sure enough, boosting the mic provided more warmth to the treble strings. Adding in the piezo was a bit trickier. Turning it up to 100 percent was too bass-y and had my amp verging on feedback. My favorite sound was achieved by dialing in equal amounts of the magnetic pickup and mic and bringing in the piezo at about 30 percent of volume. This gave me the clarity combined with warmth I wanted.
One concern I had was the volume-wheel adjustments. Two of the wheels are mounted on the magnetic pickup and I can imagine a heavy strummer, after adjusting the volume balance, hitting them unintentionally with the strumming hand and knocking the sound out of balance.
Also, you have to reach inside the guitar to adjust the piezo volume wheel, which would make on-the-fly changes difficult.
The Skysonic Pro-1 also features switches mounted on the underside of the magnetic pickup that allow you to go from mono to stereo, and a phase switch for more tonal variation.
I have used piezo and mic blend systems in my guitars for years and have always enjoyed the flexibility of being able to blend the sound based on the acoustics of the room. The Skysonic goes one step further and gives you a third element making the possibilities seem almost limitless.
At-a-Glance: Skysonic Pro-1
Magnetic, dual-coil soundhole-mounted pickup with built-in active mic and piezo pickup
A phase switch allows for more tonal variation
Mono/stereo switch allows for stereo breakout to a mixer and separation of the soundhole and piezo pickups.
Easy or mountable installation
Up to 46 hours of battery life
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.