May 9, 1996

Q: Hello from Tokyo. I am interested in Mr John McLaughlin's nylon string acoustic guitar. Can I ask you a few questions?

  1. Recently on GuitarPlayer magazine, I found a microphone in his guitar built by you. What is this and do you recommend it to get better sound than piezo? Can I purchase it? Please tell me how to get it if possible.
  2. Please tell me about the 6 independent pick up system on Mr McLaughlin's guitar.
  3. On his guitar, how far do you set the strings from the frets?

A:The microphone is a Crown GLM-200 miniature hypercardioid mic. I buy them from Fishman Transducers, 340-D Fordham Road, Wilmington, MA 01887, tel:[508] 988-0770. List price is approximately $150. This mic requires 15 volt phantom power which can be supplied through a Fishman Blender or amp. The mic signal is warmer sounding than the transducer signal, but it's much more prone to feedback, so it is typically mixed in only to augment the transducer. John uses a Fishman SBT transducer, which is mounted to the inside of the soundboard with pressure sensitive adhesive. The precise location is critical; I suggest starting about 1" back from the bridge, on the treble side. It can take several tries to get the best sound. I actually prefer the Fishman Matrix [hot] transducer for nylon strings. The Matrix uses a flexible transducer film that mounts under the saddle, but in John's case this location is used by a Photon hex pickup.

The 6 independent Photon pickups used by John McLaughlin were developed by Mark Dooley, but are no longer available. I have started using the RMC system pickup in it's place and am fully satisfied with it. I am currently replacing the Photon system in one of John's guitars with an RMC. RMC systems are available from Richard McLish, 1739 Addison #15, Berkeley, CA 94703, tel:[510] 845-9130.

The distance from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the 1st string is approximately .080". The 6th string is set at approximately .095". This is lower than my normal jazz nylon setting of .090" for the 1st, and .110" for the 6th.