Certainly one of the coolest and most inexpensive devices I've stumbled upon over the last couple of years! Pick-up the World pickups are technically contact microphones. (Contact mics were originally designed for medical and military purposes.) A thin piece of polymer film works as the contact element. It's so thin that it excels at picking up transients. The pickup typically runs to a standard 1/4'' TS jack through a thin cable. Frequency response is totally flat from 2 Hz on up. I first tried one on a banjo, a challenge to amplify or mic properly. The mere sight of a banjo can oftentimes chase people out of the room, but my Pick-up the World equipped banjo always garners high praise from the audience for its sound. The flexible film element works ideally for clean, accurate reproduction, especially in hard to mic environments. In eight years of testing every damn piezo/transducer/soundhole type product in the marketplace, I've heard nothing else that provides such realistic reproduction. I now have Pick-up the World pickups installed on my octave mandolin and archtop guitar as well. Instead of relying on close mics, I could see mic'ing a whole drum kit with these things (in conjunction with overhead and room mics)-they're that good. Latex caulk or 1 mm thick, 3M double-sided tape is recommended for installation. I used silicone, with a small piece of tape to hold the pickup in place while the silicone dried. [Pickups from Pick- up the World's new Air Core series include contact adhesive, so there's no longer any need for DIY application of caulk or silicone. -Ed] You can reach designer/owner Dave Emke at pickups@mindspring.com. ($100-$240, www.pick-uptheworld.com)

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