I’ve always wanted a Parker guitar ever since I was in high school. This one has a Maple body in Transparent Blue, a composite reinforced bolt-on Basswood neck with a carbon and glass fingerboard with 22 jumbo stainless-steel frets. The pick-ups are custom-wound DiMarzios and the most exciting bit – a Fishman Piezo pick-up in the bridge.
Yep, it’s fitted with a Fishman Piezo just like in an acoustic guitar. You can flick a switch and it sounds just like a nice acoustic guitar. The output can use a TRS jack too, so that you can separate the magnetic pick-ups and send them off to a guitar amp, and send the acoustic pick-up to a nice preamp, a PA or a DI or whatever you’d like to do.
What’s this got to do with a buffer? Well, this model of Parker is passive, so for the piezo to sounds its best it needs an external buffer or preamp to boost the signal. The easy way would be to just run it into a bypassed Boss pedal, but I decided to build my own little buffer.
The layout is very simple – this is the AMZ Jfet Buffer:
Because it’s so small, I got it to fit into a very small enclosure – about 5cm by 5cm.
It works perfectly and powers the piezo pick-up in the Parker to sound pleasingly pleasant (like a little alliteration?)
But, it is only the first stage in my plan…
I want to build a box that you can plug your Parker into with a TRS cable and it splits it into two – one output for the magnetic pick-ups, and one buffered output for the piezo. After researching online, I found a thing called the “Flybob” that almost does what I’d like, but not quite. There is a “Flybob2” project that looks pretty pretty awesome – it even includes a DI with a balanced output, but the thread is from 2007 so I’m not sure if it’s still about. So, I decided to start doing some designs of my own. I haven’t built any of these yet, but I think they should work ok.
This first one is the basic version. It takes a TRS cable from the guitar and passes the magnetic pick-ups straight through untouched, but the piezo pick-up goes to the buffer first and then out. Very simple, but it should do the job.
This second one below takes the first one and adds some more features.
- On the input side, I have added two TS jacks. This is only because I don’t have a long TRS cable, I’ve been using a 20ft insert cable. These inputs allow for that. It also means that you can plug two guitars into it – an acoustic and an electric. This would be handy even to just make use of the mute feature.
- I have included two foot-switches. These are just used to mute the magnetic and piezo outputs respectively. This is way quicker than reaching for the two volume knobs on the guitar. Each foot-switch has a little LED to indicate if it’s muted or not.
- There is a ground-lift switch between the magnetic and piezo outputs to kill any hum or ground loops that may occur.
- There is a “tuner out” that is identical to the magnetic output, other than for the fact that it can’t be muted.
I haven’t actually built any of these designs yet, but they look like they should work ok 🙂
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has tried something similar.