Going Wireless!

With a lot of new really inexpensive wireless guitar options on the market now I thought it was to solve the mechanical problems of hardware mounting to be able to run the electric bassoon with a wireless transmitter that was actually viable.

Since the Little-Jake requires a preamp that most people mount to their belts, it would be fairly trivial to add a wireless belt pack next to it and get away from your pedalboard.

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Wireless belt systems are the norm for most guitarists, and usually they don’t attach to the belt of the player, but to the guitar strap.

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This lets the player freely take the guitar off, the wireless pack is attached to the instrument, so the player isn’t entangled into anything else. Really easy to switch to a different instrument, or just take a break. So if you have the belt clip (or two) attached to your hip, being wireless is nice in that you can move around the stage if you want, but for us it didn’t offer any real freedom for setting the instrument down quickly.

Paul Hanson and I have suggested to many people to attach the preamp to the music stand in front of you. This way, your instrument is tethered to the location, but if you have your bassoon stand right there, you can quickly set the instrument down next to the music stand and be free of any entanglements. But the Little-Jake cord is short, and gives you very little freedom of movement from that position. You can see Paul doing this here (with a custom version of the Little-Jake, no you can’t have one, don’t ask).

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But there are a lot of new wireless Dongle systems available on the market now. Not belt packs. Just something that plugs directly into the output jack of a guitar. Much more convenient for us, as it saves us a belt pack. But going wireless from the music stand doesn’t help us. We need to get wireless in a viable way so that it’s attached to the instrument. I’m guessing most of the wireless belt packs available aren’t appropriate to flat out replace the preamp we’re using, so adding one of these dongles to the Altoids preamp or the L.R. Baggs GigPro is probably the way to go. So how do we get it on the horn?

Aside from the top of the bell, there are very few places on most bassoons where there isn’t keywork just all around. My best thought was to attach it around the top of the boot, but there’s at least one key linkage there, my instrument has three, and if you get it between you and the instrument above your thumb that could be uncomfortable. I figured mounting something permanently to the wood (like a new crutch bracket) was out of the question for everybody. But eventually I found this clamp at Home Depot.

It’s about $6. I came up with this placement, which seems to work really very well, and puts the controls of the preamp within hand’s reach. Simply mount the clamp to your balance hanger

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I added the zip tie as a fail safe in case the way I have the preamp clamped on the bar comes loose, so it won’t jerk out of place. Ideally I’d like to have the bar screwed into the preamp, to completely prevent any risk of it coming out, but clamping it into the casing screws seems to work pretty well. I put a good deal of torque on it and can’t get it to slip out. I tried to drill a hole where I would want it to be able to secure it in, but that bar is made out of tougher stuff than I can cut (heat treated steel!). Those of you with the Altoids box will probably have to reinforce it somehow. My own personal Altoids box came without a belt clip so the one I have added is surely different than what anyone out there is using.

The wireless works OK. I’ve found that depending on the lighting in the room I can get a great deal of excess electronic noise from the wireless dongle when it’s attached to the active preamp. I can reduce this by putting the wireless on an extension cable and put it in my pocket, but that doesn’t feel very convenient. At any rate, this position of the pickup really works well for wired use too. It puts the cable farther away from your feet than if it were clipped to your belt, and it’s more directly in front of you and slightly to the right, which is more like where electric guitar pedals usually want the cables anyway.

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