Journey FAQ’s

1. General Questions

Firstly, every airline has their own policy, so be sure to read the policies of the airlines on which you fly.

Secondly, when traveling by plane, there can be situations in which airplane staff can force you to check your baggage, regardless of it’s size – so the best perspective to have is one of risk mitigation. For example, some airlines have a rule that if they run out of overhead space, they will require all unboarded passengers to check in all carry on luggage. (So we always recommend you go to the front of the line at check-in if you travel with any instrument)

Thirdly, you can check out our Collapsible Guitar Size & Spec Comparison Here.

In General, all our instruments fit in the overhead bins on medium and large sized airplanes like the Boeing 737, 747 and the Air Bus. For smaller propeller planes and jets with 4 seats across or less, we recommend the Overhead or Puddle Jumper models, but keep in mind every airline has their own guidelines. You can search the website for your flight and the plane used and determine the overhead bin dimensions as well.

For Frequent International Travel:

If you plan to travel around the world, we recommend either our Puddle Jumper (PJ410N), Overhead (OF660, OF420, OF310 etc), or Overhead+ (OF312, OF422 etc) sized guitars. These guitars were designed for overhead carry-on dimensions for most major airlines and we don’t have a single report of these not traveling on the overhead bin. The Puddle Jumper is the smallest guitar we make, and can fit under most airlines seats – so it’s the safest bet if you want the smallest guitar possible. The Overhead line, however, has the best sound/scale/bag feature set – if you want a guitar that feels most like a full-sized guitar that can be safely carried on board under most circumstances.

For Domestic US Air Travel:

49 U.S. Code § 41724.Musical instruments states if your instrument can fit in overhead bins or under your seat, you can bring it on board even if it is larger than the airline’s carry-on size limit. However, if the overhead bins are full, you may be required to gate check your instrument along with all the other passengers who must gate check their carry-on luggage also.

The smaller Puddle Jumper, Overhead, and Overhead+ guitars are safe on any airline.

If you want a larger guitar sound, you can try our First Class Guitars (FF412C, FP412, FC522 etc) and you should have no problem on domestic USA airlines, as long as your cabin is not full. We have several professional artists who travel with the FF412C First Class GA sized guitar in the US with no problems.

The FP412 Parlor and FC522 Torres Classical models are about ½ inch wider and taller than most airlines carry-on guidelines – however we’ve never had a report of these not being brought on board. These both have a full-sized guitar sound and come with a roller-case, which is very nice.

For Local Travel:

For Local around-town travel and gigs the Journey Junior or RoadTrip models are great. They’re much smaller than most competing guitars, and they sound great plugged in. We have several artists who play the FF412C at local gigs simply because of the wheels and storage capacity of the roller case. (Great if you don’t want to carry a heavy guitar on your back)

For general smudges and fingerprints, we recommend saline solution and a clean microfibre cloth.

If you have deeper scratches or dings, you can use polyurethane-friendly buffing compound or polish like you’d use for a boat or car. You should double-check the compound you use is nonreactive with polyurethane finishes.

The above approaches work for both our carbon fiber and wood guitars as all our finishes are polyurethane.

For cleaning fretboards on our wood guitars, we recommend the traditional lemon oil treatment. (Just search “how to clean a guitar fretboard” on YouTube.)

With the exception of a few models which are clearly stated as not having electronics (PJ410N, JF410 etc), we don’t offer any guitars without a pickup. However, our installed pickups are passive, non-intrusive, and easy to remove should you wish to remove them or upgrade to another pickup of your preference. If you wish more advanced controls, all of our newer guitars can be upgraded with our EPS001-05K (or EPS001-15K for our carbon guitars) active dual-source modules.

Our Warranty, Shipping Policy and Terms of Conditions are listed at the Shipping, Returns and Warranty section below.

“B-Stock” refers to a new instrument that came in from the factory with minor surface blemishes. Sometimes these will be a smudge in the finish, a pimple in the carbon fiber, some slight oxidation in the finish, or a small scratch. None of these blemishes affect the playability, but they are merely cosmetic issues that prevent us from sending these instruments to our dealers.

All “B-Stock” units come with the same warranty as our standard instruments.

2. Collapsible Guitar Questions

For general smudges and fingerprints, we recommend saline solution and a clean microfibre cloth.

If you have deeper scratches or dings, you can use polyurethane-friendly buffing compound or polish like you’d use for a boat or car. You should double-check the compound you use is nonreactive with polyurethane finishes.

The above approaches work for both our carbon fiber and wood guitars as all our finishes are polyurethane.

For cleaning fretboards on our wood guitars, we recommend the traditional lemon oil treatment. (Just search “how to clean a guitar fretboard” on YouTube.)

After assembling the neck, our collapsible wood guitars are usually less than a semitone off pitch. We recommend pulling on the strings before tuning to pitch to help them settle. Here’s a good video to show the assembly process:

However, here are a few things to clarify:

  1. If you’ve recently removed the neck, then assembled it, it’s usually much closer to being in tune than if you’ve removed it a month ago and just assembled the guitar.
  2. Our carbon fiber guitars are VERY close to being in tune after assembly, while our wood guitars may take 5-15 minutes of playing to settle fully after assembly. This is because carbon fiber is very consistent in all temperatures and humidities and is more precise material.
  3. For all collapsible guitars, usually after you’ve played a guitar for a bit, the strings have settled and intonation should not change significantly. Remember, you’re removing the neck of a guitar – so the strings go slack. When you re-assemble the neck, the strings loose some tension around the tuning posts, which is the main reason for the pitch to go down after they have been played for a while.
  4. Some of our newer models have locking tuners – these really help minimize the amount you need to retune after assembly. This is because part of the reason the guitar is out of tune is because the strings become loose around the tuner posts when removing the neck. Since a locking tuner requires less than a single wrap around a post the string is tight around the post and the tone doesn’t change much.
  5. If you’re playing live, we recommend you play for 15 minutes and adjust the tuners before playing live to prevent any need for retuning during your performance.
  6. If there are big swings in temperature or humidity, you can expect the action to change, so you may need to retune or re-tighten the neck joint. Note – all wood guitars will experience changes in neck relief under large variances of temperature or humidity.
  7. Our necks are also adjustable – you can use the knob on the back of the guitar to adjust the neck angle to raise or lower string height. However, keep in mind that this will slightly affect your intonation as it would with any neck adjustment.

If you’re experiencing undesirable action (string height) on your collapsible Journey Instruments Travel guitar, this can be addressed quickly with one of the first two steps in most cases.

1) Firstly, please check to see that the knob on the back is fully tightened. Fully tightening the main knob on the back will resolve 95% of any high action issues. To tighten fully, there’s two effective methods:

a. Placing the body of the guitar between your knees, Twist the knob with one hand while pressing the headstock downward against the guitar body – this makes it easier to twist fully.

b. Alternatively, you can grab the neck of the guitar near the headstock and angle the guitar soundboard facing down at about a 45degree angle against a floor, table, desk, chair or flat surface. Now tighten the knob while applying downward force against the guitar back until it’s tight.

c. If you experience high swings of humidity and have kept your collapsible wood guitar assembled during this time, it’s likely that the bolt may be very tight. Apply force to the neck in one of the above two methods while twisting the knob to loosen the bolt. (this is not an issue for carbon models as the material does not swell and contract with humidity or temperature changes.

2) Secondly, check your truss rod adjustment. After confirming the neck mechanism is fully tightened – if you still find string height is too high or two low, this may also be due to changes in temperature or humidity causing changes in the neck of the guitar. Usually in high humidity and a wood guitar neck will have a more forward bow (causing high action), and in low humidity it will have a backward bow (causing low action and buzzing). Here’s a great video by Tony Polecastro that clearly explains how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFlIFN8oPDw

a. Start by evaluating the neck bow. There should be a very slight neck bow (nearly flat) to achieve proper string height.

b. If the neck bow is high, causing high action – remove the truss rod cover and use the included hex wrench to tighten the truss rod. Turn the truss rod clockwise a quarter turn and then evaluate the neck curve. Repeat this process

c. If the neck bow is backward or too low, causing low action – remove the truss rod cover and use the included hex wrench to tighten the truss rod. Turn the truss rod counter-clockwise a quarter turn and then evaluate the neck curve. Repeat this process

*Note OC660 carbon nylon neck has no truss rod.

3) Thirdly, you can file down the saddle. Here’s a great video from StewMac that shows how to file down the saddle, change nut slot depth, as well as adjust the truss rod. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DpLRfbv9ok

4) Fourthly, we can provide you with precision shims to adjust the neck angle if needed. This is rarely needed, but can be done within 5 minutes if needed.

From our experience, tightening the neck fully and adjusting the truss rod if necessary usually fixes 98%+ of string height issues. Steps 3 and 4 are rarely needed.

Sustain: Actually sustain is better on our guitars than on a normal traditional acoustic guitar. The main reason is that we use premium grade Mahogany for our necks, and we embed stainless steel latch and bolt components. The neck plate connector is also stainless steel. As energy transfer is primarily horizontal (from nut to saddle through the neck), our design makes for very efficient energy transfer, hence prolonged sustain.

Intonation: Our guitars have intonation in line with premium brand guitars in the US market – which is very good. Moreover, because our necks are detachable, you can quickly add shims behind the neck connector plate to compensate for any intonation issue that may occur over time. (Though we don’t have a single report of this being done to date)

Our shim kits are basically 2-3 shims of wood that are laser cut to fit the slot of our collapsible guitars, and are used to adjust the neck angle. Before you consider installing a shim kit, we recommend you first 1) make sure you’ve fully tightened the main bolt on the guitar. 2) Adjusted the saddle if needed and 3) Adjusted the truss rod if needed. If you’ve done these things and your string height (action) is still high, you can use a shim kit to quickly lower the action. Here’s a link to the FAQ with pictures on how to do the above steps.

Shim kits can be installed permanently with all purpose wood glue, or temporarily. Here’s a link to the installation process.

Here are the links to our shim kits if you need one. Please note the shim kits are precision cut for the necks of the corresponding model, so make sure you order the shim kit for your precise guitar.

Shim Kit for Puddle Jumper

Shim Kit for Overhead and First Class Parlor

Shim Kit for First Class Grand Auditorium

Nope. We’ve been producing our collapsible guitars for years and our guitars are played by some of the best guitarists on earth. We’ve personally been on hundreds of flights with our collapsible guitars. Not a single complaint to date about string life.

HOWEVER, if you play your guitar daily, and you’re a tone freak, you should change your strings at least once every 3 months or every 300 hours – whichever comes first. This assumes you’re using coated strings, and is recommended for all acoustic guitars – regardless of if they’re collapsible or not.

There is no crack in your string retainer (the plastic component above the neck that holds your strings in place when you remove your neck). Our string retainer is made from two parts that come together like two jigsaw puzzle pieces. We designed the retainer in two components so that a luthier or guitar technician can remove this piece and have access to file down the nut without removing the strings. Click the image below to order a replacement. NOTE: We have Two sizes one NARROW 1 11/16″ and one STANDARD 1 3/4″. If your Guitar ends in the letter “N” you need the narrow version, otherwise you can order from clicking the image below.

Click here to see a picture of this component, or to order one if yours is broken.

You can keep your Journey Instruments collapsible guitar either packed away in its case or assembled.

For our wood guitars, you should keep your guitar stored in moderate temperatures and humidity levels. (Humidity 40%-60% and Temperatures between 65-80 Fahrenheit (18-27 Centigrade). If you have big swings in temperature and humidity (over 15 degrees or 15%) wood guitars will expand or contract accordingly. This is common for all wood guitars. This means in big variances in temperature and humidity you will likely need to adjust your truss rod and saddle. (Additionally, if you’ve assembled your collapsible wood guitar before a significant rise in humidity, you will likely find the bolt to be very tight if you disassemble your guitar in the higher humidity level.)

For our collapsible carbon guitars, you can keep them fully assembled or disassembled with very little change. As these are entirely carbon fiber, they are extremely stable and can handle most any temperature or humidity swing without any noticeable change. However, we recommend against keeping your guitar in extremely hot environments for a prolonged period of time.

We recommend the following strings for our bass guitars. To install, we recommend assembling the guitar, installing the entire untrimmed string (through the string retainer), and making 2-3 wraps to tune to pitch. After tuning, then trim the strings.

Flat Wound: D’Addario ECB81S Chromes Bass Guitar Strings, Light, 45-100, Short Scale
Round Wound:D’Addario EXL170S Nickel Wound Bass Guitar Strings, Light, 45-100, Short Scale
Tape WoundD’Addario ETB92S Tapewound Bass Guitar Strings, Medium, 50-105, Short Scale

We recommend the following strings for use in our instruments:

For Collapsible Steel String Guitars (All Carbon and Wood Overheads, Carbon RoadTrip, First Class) we use:
Elixir 80/20 Phosphor Bronze 12/53 Lights

*For collapsible wood guitars, we recommend only light gauge strings. Using medium or heavier gauge strings on our collapsible wood guitars will void the warranty. Our carbon fiber steel string guitars (OF660, RT660) can use up to medium gauge strings.

For Journey Junior and Puddle Jumper Series we use:
D’addario EXP16 Coated Phosphor Bronze Lights

For our Classical Guitars: All OC520, OC522, FC522, JC520, OC660M we use:
Savarez 520 White Card Traditional Series classical guitar strings for our OC520, OC522, and FC522.

*we do not recommend high tension nylon strings on our collapsible wood classical guitars, but they can be used on the OC660M carbon model.

Here’s a concise overview of our collapsible classical guitars and their main differences:

  • OC520 – solid top only, matte with sound port, full scale, backpack case that fits on all airlines, even prop jobs. 80% of a full-sized classical sound.
  • OC522 – same as OC520 but with solid top and back. 90% of a full-sized classical guitar sound with great sustain.
  • FC522 – solid top/back, all gloss, standard Torres size, full scale (not short scale like the one he demoed), figured binding, arm bevel, gold tuners, and a roller case. Fits in most airlines, but maybe not smaller pro-jobs. I’ve compared this to $2000 Alhambra and Yamaha classical and it sounds just as good and way more comfortable.
  • FC522LTD – same as FC522 but with the figured American Redwood top.
  • OC660M – All carbon fiber with no truss rod, same body format as our OF660M, and same scale as our OC520 but with a narrower nut.
  • JC520 – our budget travel classical guitar with standard classical scale and nut width, solid top, wedged body.

Here’s a good summary of which models are best for which purposes:

  • If you want this for just a nice holiday guitar – go for the OC520.
  • If you want it for lots of travel and like best tone with no risk – go for OC522.
  • If you want a guitar that travels great with wheeled-carry-on, and sounds and plays like a standard classical go for the FC522.
  • If you want premium guitar with the eye candy, go for FC522LTD.
  • If you want a go-anywhere with no-stress classical guitar and don’t mind the narrower nut, go for the OC660M. Sounds great on stage with the passive or add-on active pickup as well.
  • If you want a smaller travel-friendly classical with a narrower nut, try the JC520 Journey Junior – this guitar sounds great for its size, has a full scale, and is super comfy.

All of our classical and nylon gutiars come with our passive piezo system preinstalled.

Firstly, it’s a way to increase the volume inside the guitar which give a little louder and deeper sound. Secondly, it’s super ergonomic. The design angles the guitar against your body so that when you strum, the movement of your arm is more ergonomic and causes less fatigue on your shoulder. It’s also a bit easier to play barre chords as it causes the fretboard to be more naturally angled – which helps gravity add a little extra pressure with your barred finger on the fretboard – the weight of your arm naturally adds more force against the strings. For guitarists with shoulder issues or injuries, this asymmetrical design makes guitar playing much more comfortable.

3. Carbon Fiber Guitar Questions

There are countless situations in which acoustic guitars are played live or amplified, so it’s beyond the scope of our expertise to go into each one of these. So Firstly, we recommend you educate yourself on the factors that contribute to feedback, and some of the most common methods to deal with them. This will help you tremendously for future live events, regardless of the guitar you’re using. Here are a few guides we’ve found useful:

There are numerous videos on YouTube as well, so you can do a simple search on “guitar feedback” and see dozens of great videos as well.

For our carbon fiber OF660 guitars and OB660 basses, you can also try our YKG004 sound hole cover that’s custom designed for these sound holes. This is the simplest and most reliable solution for dealing with feedback on these models. IMPORTANT: This sound hole cover only works with the second generation of OF660 – see description for details.

If you’re using our EP001 upgradeable passive piezo pickup, you can try upgrading to our EPS001-15K dual source active module for our OF660 and OB660 sound holes, or the EPS001-05K module for traditional sound holes. These include a phase button and the ability to pan between two pickups as well as adjust treble and bass volume. Note that this is a powered unit.

NOTES: 1. You must use the newer upgradeable model that has a removable 2mm connector from the piezo elements to the pickup jack. 2. The EPS001-05K and EPS001-15K modules are not complete pickups, they require the EP001K, EP004K, or other passive piezo pickup to be previously installed or to be purchased and installed at the same time.

For general smudges and fingerprints, we recommend saline solution and a clean microfibre cloth.

If you have deeper scratches or dings, you can use polyurethane-friendly buffing compound or polish like you’d use for a boat or car. You should double-check the compound you use is nonreactive with polyurethane finishes.

The above approaches work for both our carbon fiber and wood guitars as all our finishes are polyurethane.

For cleaning fretboards on our wood guitars, we recommend the traditional lemon oil treatment. (Just search “how to clean a guitar fretboard” on YouTube.)

  1. Our carbon guitars use pre-impregnated carbon fiber fabric, which translates into 10-20 times the amount of carbon fiber found in guitars that are injection-molded. There are a number of low-budget injection molded plastic guitars with around 5-7% carbon fiber.
  2. All of our core components are made from pre-impregnated carbon fiber materials: the body, the neck, the fretboard, the bridge
  3. Our carbon fiber guitars have dual-action adjustable truss rods to let you fine-tune curvature for maximum playability.
  4. Our hardware is stainless steel and our mechanisms have been cycle-tested for 4000 assembly processes, so they’re super precise and reliable.
  5. Our collapsible model necks are adjustable on the fly. With the OF660, with the twist of a knob, you can go from ultra low fingerstyle action, to heavy-handed cowboy strumming and maintain maximum comfort and playability for each style.
  6. Our patented soundboard technology provides the tone of a full-sized acoustic guitar.
  7. The benefits of pre-impregnated carbon fiber technology with our patented designs are:
    1. Longer sustain: The higher carbon content of our guitars make for a more consistant transfer of energy and thus a significantly longer sustain.
    2. General Durability: Injection-molded guitars are likely to crack in extreme cold temperatures, and warp under hotter temperatures. Our guitars have been played in Antarctica, the Sahara, and the Rain Forest, and we have a proven track record of durable, quality carbon guitars.
    3. More Stable Necks: injection-molded necks lack the reinforcement offered by actual woven carbon fibers and will warp over time. Using pre-impregnated carbon fiber in both the neck and fretboard makes our guitar necks the most stable in the business.
    4. Secure Components that don’t delaminate: Because all of our components are actually carbon fiber, our fingerboards don’t delaminate, and our bridges don’t pull off. Competing carbon guitars with wood or plastic bridges will frequently suffer from this problem as temperature and humidity will affect the different materials in various ways.
    5. Ultra Comfort: We conducted 2 years of research and testing in designing the ergonomics of our guitars and the result shows. The bevels, wedged body, and geometry of our guitars make them the most comfortable guitars you’ll ever play.
  8. Transparent, Premium Quality Electronics: We spent years researching the best components for a transparent, reliable pickup that’s maintenance free and perfect for recording. Consequently the included EPS001K passive 3-piezo pickup provides one of the best clean sound reproductions of any pickup in the market. And our new EPS001-05 and EPS001-15 active modules give dual source capability with EQ and Phase adjustment as well. If you’re looking for a gimmicky, reliable pickup that sounds phenomenal, you’ll be satisfied with our electronics.
  9. Ultra-portable Design: You simply won’t find a more portable travel-friendly guitar that feels and sounds like a real acoustic guitar.

We use medium jumbo white brass frets on our carbon fiber guitars. We chose this material over stainless steel because it helps the guitar have a softer tone. Our fretboard is all carbon fiber.

You can re-fret our guitars, but the process is a bit more involved because you must use epoxy resin and a jig to press and hold the frets in place. If needed we have clear instructions for this that have been used by a few luthiers already.

Nope. Carbon fiber guitar necks have a hollow foam core, so if you file down the carbon fiber, it’s possible you’d file down to the foam core. If a neck were solid carbon fiber it would be significantly heavier than wood – and impossible to achieve relief adjustment with a truss rod.

4. Electronics FAQ

To evaluate if your guitar’s pickup is the newest upgradeable version, you’ll need to get a mirror and a phone or flashlight to look into the sound hole. Position the mirror so that with the use of a flashlight or phone, you can clearly see the pickup connector on the inside of the guitar. You can even try to just use a cell phone by using the movie function with the light – if the focus is good enough, this will work as well.

The newer upgradeable pickups will have a socket with a 2mm connector that you can remove from the back of the pickup jack. This connector can be removed and re-routed to the active pickup module for upgrade.

The older non-upgradeable connectors have heat-shrink tube where the connector jack and the 3 wires going to the under-saddle piezos connect. This pickup can’t be upgraded because the wires are soldered directly to the pickup connector.

There are countless situations in which acoustic guitars are played live or amplified, so it’s beyond the scope of our expertise to go into each one of these. So Firstly, we recommend you educate yourself on the factors that contribute to feedback, and some of the most common methods to deal with them. This will help you tremendously for future live events, regardless of the guitar you’re using. Here are a few guides we’ve found useful:

There are numerous videos on YouTube as well, so you can do a simple search on “guitar feedback” and see dozens of great videos as well.

For our carbon fiber OF660 guitars and OB660 basses, you can also try our YKG004 sound hole cover that’s custom designed for these sound holes. This is the simplest and most reliable solution for dealing with feedback on these models. IMPORTANT: This sound hole cover only works with the second generation of OF660 – see description for details.

If you’re using our EP001 upgradeable passive piezo pickup, you can try upgrading to our EPS001-15K dual source active module for our OF660 and OB660 sound holes, or the EPS001-05K module for traditional sound holes. These include a phase button and the ability to pan between two pickups as well as adjust treble and bass volume. Note that this is a powered unit.

NOTES: 1. You must use the newer upgradeable model that has a removable 2mm connector from the piezo elements to the pickup jack. 2. The EPS001-05K and EPS001-15K modules are not complete pickups, they require the EP001K, EP004K, or other passive piezo pickup to be previously installed or to be purchased and installed at the same time.

If you want to install our pickups and you’re working with a pinless bridge (as used in ukuleles, Breedlove or Takamine type guitars), you can search on YouTube for “under bridge pickup instal on pinless bridge” and one of the top results show how you can drill into the saddle slot to use a jig for positioning the piezos on a pinless bridge.

Also, check out the instructions at the bottom of our installation guide here.

With the exception of a few models which are clearly stated as not having electronics (PJ410N, JF410 etc), we don’t offer any guitars without a pickup. However, our installed pickups are passive, non-intrusive, and easy to remove should you wish to remove them or upgrade to another pickup of your preference. If you wish more advanced controls, all of our newer guitars can be upgraded with our EPS001-05K (or EPS001-15K for our carbon guitars) active dual-source modules.

No. No bridge ground is needed in any of our passive pickup systems.

The three EP001 pickup elements are 20mm in diameter, so as long as the bridge plate has more than 60mm of width, and about 18mm between the bridge pin holes and the sound hole-facing edge of the bridge plate, and there is no bracing crossing the center of the bridge plate, the EP001K should be fine. You can allow for about 2 mm overhang off of the bridge plate with negligible degradation in acoustic transfer. If you’re using a classical guitar with a center brace, we recommend the EPS004K with 4 piezo elements.

Our Passive Pickups:

Guitar – EP001K, Classical – EP004K, Bass – EP002K, Uke EP003K (click model to see specs or order)

In all of our instruments that use pickups, we use our in-house developed passive piezo pickups as our base pickup. These pickups use german-made ceramic piezo elements that are bonded to the bridge plate inside the guitar using cyanoacrylate (like super glue gel).

The advantages to these pickups are as follows:

  1. They have efficient transfer of transparent tone. When installed properly, these pickups amplify the ACTUAL sound of your guitar. Since we make instruments that sound great to begin with, this is a great match for our instruments.
  2. The unadjusted tone is much better than most under-saddle piezos. Our pickups sound more natural and less compressed than most under-saddle pickups – and they don’t sound metallic or compressed.
  3. They require no battery and are virtually maintenance free. This is great for travelling when you come to a situation where you have no access to batteries. It’s also great for high humidity environments as they are resistant to corosion as compared to pickups with traditional circuit boards.
  4. They are discrete. The natural instrument is a thing of beauty and cutting a “barn door” for a preamp or huge soundhole magnetic coils detract from the aesthetic beauty of a guitar.
  5. We get rave reviews from customers like this one. We increasingly find guitarists buying our pickups for installation on vintage and boutique guitars that cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Our Active Pickup Modules

Our Active pickup modules are used with our upgradeable passive piezo pickups above. Please note – these are not stand-alone modules and must have one of our passive pickups installed in order to use.

We recently developed these battery-powered modules for artists who want more control over their tone when playing live. They comprise an additional microphone that can blend with the passive piezo elements already installed. This module has a dual source preamp with wheel controls for bass, treble, pan from microphone, master volume and a phase switch.

The Advantages of our active pickup modules are:

  1. Super-easy tool-free installation. You can install this in around 5 minutes on a guitar that has our passive piezo pickup already installed.
  2. Great transparent amplification with full control of your tone.
  3. Discrete access to all controls. Since the control module is around the edge of the soundhole, you preserve the guitar’s natural aesthetic beauty, while maintaining easy access to control the tone and volume to your preference.
  4. Ability to switch back to a passive pickup if your battery dies and you can’t find a replacement. You can re-route the passive elements to the pickup jack in a matter of minutes and still play amplified if your battery dies.

For more information, check out the specific model pages.

You can see our installation procedures here: https://journeyinstruments.com/pickup-installation/.

Simply put, we have no idea. There are so many on-board preamps on the market, and their specifications all vary. Even if the plug is identical, the volume and balance may not work well with your existing onboard preamp.

If you need an onboard preamp, we strongly recommend our EPS001 series – we’ve benchmarked it against systems that cost hundreds of dollars more and our system offers amazing tone and control for the price.

The EPS001 unit has a socket that’s mono output, and the lead from the EP001 passive piezos is a 2.5mm mono connector which either plugs into our EPS001 preamp or the actual output jack.

We recommend going directly from our passive pickups, such as an EP001 or EP004 into a quality recording interface such as a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Audient ID4, Steinberg UR22C, or TC Helicon GO Guitar Pro with an apple device (double-check IOS requirements). You can also use our EPS001 active pickup if you want to adjust sound, but for a cleaner signal we recommend re-routing the piezo pickup directly to the guitar cable jack for a completely passive signal, and then making adjustments in your DAW (Ableton Live, Cubase, Garageband).

We test all our pickups twice before shipping so there’s a very low probability this will happen. But just in case, here’s a short checklist to help you troubleshoot:

  1. Check your battery. You can use a voltmeter or do the “tongue test” if you’re feeling gutsy.
  2. Pull your guitar cable out by 0.5-1mm. We’ve tested dozens of guitar cables with our guitar cable connectors and there are about 5% of guitar cables that need to be backed out by 0.5-1mm.
  3. Check all the internal connections on your pickups:
    1. For EP001 and passive piezo units (EP001, EP002, EP003, EP004) , our newest versions have a 2.5mm mono male connector that plugs into the back of the guitar cable jack inside the guitar. Make sure this connection is secure.
    2. For EPS001 series (dual-source pickups) check:
      1. 2.5mm connection from piezos to the preamp unit
      2. 3.5 mm connection from cable jack to the preamp unit and 2.5mm connection from this wire into the cable jack.
      3. the battery connection
  4. If you’re upgrading your existing passive pickup to an EPS001 module, please note that we’ve upgraded the connector connector you plug your guitar cable into. YOU MUST SWITCH THIS OUT. The previous connector works only with the passive pickups. Be sure to upgrade your connector to the new one included in the EPS001-05K and EPS001-15K kits. If you purchased EPS001 modules along with your EP001 or other passive piezo modules, this is not necessary.

If you’re getting an uneven signal from your pickups (some strings are louder than others), this could be caused by several factors. We recommend you troubleshoot in this order:

  1. Poor connection:
    • Make sure the 2mm male connector from the piezos is is fully plugged into the guitar jack female connector inside the guitar body, and that your instrument cable is plugged in properly.
  2. The bottom of the saddle is not even.
    • If the bottom of the saddle is not evenly pressing against the base of the saddle slot, this can result in a reduction of energy transfer to the pickup located under the section of the saddle that is not flush with the base of the saddle slot. To check for this, remove the saddle, place on a flat surface, and check for unevenness from both sides of the saddle. If you see a section that is not flush with the flat surface, you’ll need to sand down the saddle to make the entire base of the saddle even. This may mean you’ll need to replace the saddle if you’re not able to get the strings to your ideal height.
  3. Incorrect or poor positioning of the piezos on the bridge plate.
  4. Poor adhesion to the bridge plate or soundboard.
    • There are several factors that can cause poor adhesion, but most common causes are:
      1. The surface of the bridge plate or soundboard where you glued the piezo is uneven or rough. To solve this, you’ll need to remove the piezo, and re-sand the area and glue again. Make sure the area is sanded evenly and there are no rough spots.
      2. There is insufficient glue applied between the piezo and the bridge plate, so that signal transfer is limited. To solve this, you’ll need to remove the piezo, and re-sand the area and glue again. Make sure surface is smooth and glue covers the entire surface of the piezo when applying.
  5. Defective or damaged piezo or wire.
    • If a piezo is bent or damaged, or if a wire has poor connectivity it can lead to reduced signal transfer. This is a rare event, but if this is the case, we will replace the piezo free of charge.

For balanced tone, we recommend placing the piezos under the saddle on the bridge plate under the guitar – as shown in our installation manuals. However, since each guitar has a different tone, you can try experimenting with different placement of the piezos inside your guitar. By positioning the piezos closer to the treble side of the bridge plate (towards the thinner strings), you’ll get a brighter tone, whereas positioning them on the bass side of the bridge plate (towards the thicker strings), you’ll get a darker or deeper tone. There are some artists who like to use preamp to further alter the tone. We recommend either the EPS001-15K for our OF660 guitars, or the EPS001-05K for guitars with traditional sound holes.

Our very first version of the EPS001 had a design flaw in which the output cable and jack from the preamp module was mono, but should have been stereo. There were only a handful of these first versions, so it’s unlikely that your unit has this issue. To check, you can look at the wire that goes from the preamp “Out” socket to the guitar cable socket. This wire should be a stereo wire as shown as wire “A” (which features two black bands on the male connectors) in the picture below. If your wire has only one black band on the male connectors as shown in wire “B” then you need to replace this cable along with the guitar cable jack connector shown below. Simply reach out to us on our contact form and request for the cable and connector and provide us with your address and phone info, and we’ll send the replacements at no charge.

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