Journey FAQ’s

1. General Questions

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.

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 a quick and affordable fix for feedback on an acoustic guitar, you can try a sound hole cover – aka “feedback buster.” This is what we recommend most, and sooner or later you’ll come into a “feedbacky” environment and this will save a ton of time and headache.

For a more versatile but more expensive approach, you can try a preamp with a phase switch and notch filter included. This gives more customization for tone, and lets you dial out the offending frequencies.

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.

4. Electronics FAQ

This is rare, but the sound imbalance could be due to a number of factors including: inconsistency in thickness of glue applied to the piezo, location of piezo position, the density of wood in that section, a gap between the saddle and soundboard, unevenness at the bottom of the saddle, unevenness at the bottom of the saddle slot, or possibly slight sensitivity difference of the pickup – or a combination of many of these factors. As a first step we recommend you first remove the saddle and check the evenness of the bottom of the saddle and the saddle slot – this is frequently the culprit. Then make sure there is no gap between the saddle and soundboard. If you need to remove the piezo and reposition it, or replace it, see this FAQ: https://journeyinstruments.com/journey-faqs/?Display_FAQ=8664

We currently don’t install HyVibe systems on our guitars, but there are several guitarists who have done so. The sides on all of our current wood guitars are laminate (back and soundboard is solid), so this makes cutting into the side much less risky than if it were an all solid guitar. Here’s a Youtube video showing the HyVibe installation process and a demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MsUDZ9Eviw

It’s important to note that you must first have a JourneyTek EP001, EP004 etc pickup to plug into this module. So to start, make sure that your passive piezo unit is functioning properly.

Firstly, make sure you have switched to the new updated output jack that’s included with the EPS001 kit. Some of the older EP001 pickup jacks aren’t compatible, so we include a new one in the active pickup kit.

Secondly, check your battery power and confirm the cable from the battery to the main module is fully clicked-in. If you’re low on power, the unit won’t function properly.

Thirdly, with the “v” volume wheel turned up, check the wheel position for “P” for “Pan” between the mic and piezo channels. If the pan setting is set fully towards the microphone, you’ll only pick up the microphone and not the piezo. If it’s turned fully toward the piezo, you’ll only hear the piezo and not the microphone. If it’s in the middle you’ll get both signals.  Plug the unit in, and dial this knob from left to right and see if you get signal from both piezo and microphone channels.

Finally, there are two connections you need to double check:

1) Double-check the connection from the 3 piezos to the main module (press in fully, and twist a little).

2)  Check the connection from the main unit to the output jack (both at the main unit, and at the output hack – check connections at both locations. This internal cable is a stereo cable and if it’s not fully connected, it will not function properly.

After you’ve double-checked these connections, go back and increase the volume dial and turn the Pan dial back and forth. This usually solves 99% of connection issues.

Occasionally we get questions regarding the modification of our pickups for specialty use (such as removing, adjusting, splicing, or adding piezo elements into our pickups or other pickup systems). While we’d love to be helpful, we’re unable to provide clear assistance or instructions on such modifications because there are a multitude of variables and result preferences that are beyond our control or ability to access. If you’d like to modify your pickup, you will be doing so at your own risk. So, we recommend you reach out to an experienced engineer – or if you are adventurous you can search for instruction on YouTube or other platforms.

The vast majority of acoustic guitars should use the EP001K. The EP004K is designed for classical guitars, or guitars with fan bracing that have a center brace. The extra 4th piezo on the EP004K will not provide a significant benefit in terms of volume or frequency detection in comparison to the EP001K. A center brace blocks proper placement of the middle piezo element of the EP001K – so the 4-piezo model lets you place one piezo on each size of the center wooden brace. In general, we recommend using the EP001K for any 6-string guitar that does not have a center brace. For more details about piezo placement you can visit this page.

Our pickups are designed primarily for use with the instruments for which they’re advertised, and our installation procedures are based on these applications. However, we’ve discovered musicians are using our pickups on a number of other instruments. Because every instrument is different, your installation may be different from our instructions. We recommend you first evaluate the installation on your instrument and consider our pickup specs with reference to the number and diameter of piezos, cable lengths, and output jack size and location. As a general rule, for optimal performance it’s best to place piezos directly and evenly under the saddle on the bridge plate with no more than 3mm of overhang (the actual ceramic piezo element is slightly smaller than the visible metal piezo plate you glue against the bridge plate). You may also glue the pickups to other locations on the bridge plate or soundboard, and you should still get a natural amplification, however the volume will likely be slightly weaker and the tone will be more rounded the further away they are placed from bridge saddle on the bridge plate.

Strap Button Threads: 3/8-32 standard (if you need to replace the strap button)

Inner socket Threads: M12*0.75 metric (If you need to replace a nut for the pickup inner tube threads)

The EP004K is designed for use with guitars that have pinless bridges and/or a center brace. (like a Torres classical guitar) If you have a 6 string guitar that does not have a center brace and regular pin holes, we recommend the EP001K as it’s easier to position the piezo elements, and the additional sensitivity from the extra piezo on this model is minor.  If you’re using the 4 piezo model on your guitar with no center brace or with a pinless bridge, however, we recommend positioning the piezos equidistant along the bridgeplate under the saddle so that on the 1st and 6th strings the piezo element extends about 4 mm beyond the center of the strings. If this extends beyond the bridgeplate or you don’t have room, you can simply line them up as evenly as possible on the bridge plate so that they fit. You can allow for a maximum of 3 mm overhang if your bridgeplate doesn’t have enough room. It’s impossible for us to give  precise positions on this because there are so many variations on bridge plate sizes and string spacing. For detailed instructions, click here: https://journeyinstruments.com/pickup-installation-manuals/

All piezos are wired in parallel to the 2.5mm mono jack that plugs into the back of the endpin guitar cable connector. (and can also plug into the EPA01 volume control wheel)

Simply put – You can install the piezo on the metal plate attached to your bridge plate, but we’re not sure about the impact this will have on the tone of the amplified signal. Our piezos are designed to bond to the bridge plate wood so that energy transfer is maximized and the natural tone of the guitar goes directly to the ceramic elements. If you have a metal plate installed on the underside of the bridge plate, this will impact the the transfer of energy – but we’re unsure as to what degree because there are different materials, shapes, and thicknesses in the market regarding these metal plates.

The EP003K can work with mandolins, but the installation is a little tricky. Firstly, you’ll need to remove the tailpiece and the bridge (and use masking tape to mark the bridge position on the soundboard after you install so you can position it correctly. You’ll need to bend a coat hanger or nail in order press the piezo and hold it in place against the soundboard until the glue dries). Click HERE for a Youtube Demo video on how to do this with a passive piezo.

This little headphone guitar amp is phenomenal! You can stream-in you favorite tunes with bluetooth to play along. You can create a custom sound and select from 10 custom amps and 10 IR cabinets; then adjust tone, gain and volume. You can add Chorus/Phaser effects and a hall reverb. You can even add a custom Delay with adjustments for time, feedback, and mix wet/dry signal. This little headphone preamp can work with acoustics, electrics, or hollow-body guitars to give you a crunchy metal sound, sweet bluesy tone, smooth jazz sound, a clear acoustic sound and more. And you can output straight to your DAW via USB3 or 3.5 microphone input for recording and editing. (IOS devices need the Apple lightening to USB camera adapter – but if you record with your IOS device you already know that 😉 )

Currently we have no electronics with stereo output.

Our Active EPS series pickups (any pickup with EPS as the first 3 letters such as EPS001-05K) are dual source pickups with a standard mono output.

Our Passive EP series pickups (any pickup with no “S” as in the product ID such as EP001K, EP002K etc…) are mono output only.

Step 1: Unplug the wire from the active module main unit to the guitar jack inside the guitar. We recommend you remove this wire entirely or tape it to the side of your guitar to prevent rattling.

Step 2: Unplug the wire from the three piezo elements to the main active module unit, and plug this back into the guitar jack inside the guitar.

Your pickups will now passively amplify your guitar’s natural sound with no volume or tone controls.

The phase button changes the polarity of the electrical signal, which can be helpful to remove feedback in certain situations.

The EPS001 sound hole control unit is designed to be ultralight and have minimal impact on soundboard resonance. To achieve this, we do not add a metal or plastic cover to the control unit. However, this may cause you to encounter a slight hum when pressing the PHASE button, or when touching the metal connectors on the surface of the control unit. This is normal and should not cause concern. The EPS001 unit should have a very transparent sound and low noise floor when you are not touching the controls.

The red light indicates your battery power is low and you need to replace your battery. In most circumstances, if the red light is illuminated then the power to the microphone is cut off to conserve power.

Our newer EP001K passive pickup is not only upgradable, but it uses an improved German-made Piezo element that sounds phenomenal and is compatible with the new dual-source active modules EPS001-05K for normal sound hole steel string guitars and the EPS001-15 for our OF660 offset sound hole guitars.

If you need to remove our previous pickups, we recommend you use a razor blade scraper tool, or a putty knife with a 2-4cm flat edge.

Simply pull down on the wires leading to the piezo elements and use the scraper or putty knife to slowly unwedge the piezo. GO SLOW. Don’t be in a hurry. If you do not bend the elements you should be able to use them with another instrument if you wish.

After you remove the piezos, take a piece of fine-grit sandpaper and make sure the surface is nice and smooth for affixing the new pickups.

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 picture below shows these as type A (which have no sleeve), and type B (which have a sleeve); both of these can be unplugged and upgraded.

The older non-upgradeable connectors (depicted below as type C) 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 a quick and affordable fix for feedback on an acoustic guitar, you can try a sound hole cover – aka “feedback buster.” This is what we recommend most, and sooner or later you’ll come into a “feedbacky” environment and this will save a ton of time and headache.

For a more versatile but more expensive approach, you can try a preamp with a phase switch and notch filter included. This gives more customization for tone, and lets you dial out the offending frequencies.

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 and it should work with most 12-string guitars as well. 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. First make sure the strap button cover is flush with the socket for the guitar cable. If the guitar cable socket is too far recessed then this will prevent you from making a secure connection to get signal. To evaluate if this is the case, just remove the strap button cover and plug the guitar cable into the socket. If this gives you a signal, then you know you need to adjust the screw and washer positions on the pickup jack so that the button is flush when fully assembled.
    2. 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.
    3. 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. The saddle material has inconsistent density
    • If the saddle material is natural bone, it may have inconsistent densities that can impact the transfer of energy to the piezo elements.
  4. Incorrect or poor positioning of the piezos on the bridge plate.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. It’s important to note that many of these issues will present problems for any pickup (like uneven saddle, inconsistent saddle material, uneven saddle slot, etc.) so it’s important you deal with the root issues, otherwise these tonal issues will be present with any pickup you try to install.

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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