The Little-Jake

Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup

Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup

The Little-Jake is a high quality, hand-built pickup for the bassoon and other woodwinds. Little-Jake sounds incredibly natural with warm and full bass response and works extremely well with guitar effects and amps. The cable is very lightweight, flexible and just the right length to go to the preamp clipped to your belt, avoiding any danger of accidentally pulling the pickup out of the bocal adapter.

Buy Now Button $99 Little-Jake threaded pickup only. Shipping included for US orders. International customers click here for additional installation and shipping information.

Also available in complete packages including preamp and bocal adapters through Forrests Music and Midwest Musical Imports. Used by bassoonists and other woodwind players all over the world! Who’s using the Little-Jake? If you use the Little-Jake, tell me and get included on the list

For best results, use with an L.R. Baggs GigPro or similar high impedance input preamp.

For bassoon a brass adapter must be made and soldered to the bocal. For clarinet, tap directly into a plastic barrel, no adapter needed. For alto, tenor, or bari sax, a brass adapter can be attached to the neck, or tap directly into a plastic or hard rubber mouthpiece (more details on this procedure are in the comments below). I will modify your barrel or mouthpiece at no extra charge if you send it to me. This is a permanent change, and I cannot be responsible for how the modification will affect the characteristics of the mouthpiece or barrel.

The threading is SAE 10/32 and 1/4″ deep. For Telex style fitting please order through Forrests Music. They can also make the appropriate adapter for you. Designed to work with your existing “Telex” bocal adapter. Forrests provides a preamp especially designed for use with the Little-Jake.  You may also use the L.R. Baggs GigPro for a preamp.

For Best sound results

To get the most out of your Little-Jake, treat it like “active pickups” from a bass guitar.  If you don’t know what that means, the guys at your local guitar shop will.  On some amps you might find the bass response a little too strong, so you can try trimming the bass level and boosting the mids and highs for a brighter tone.  Here’s a sample EQ pedal setting, or you could also simply use the EQ settings on your amp to achieve an appropriate sound:

eqsetting

Leave a comment

37 Comments

  1. Hey Trent,
    What has been your experience with this pickup? Is this what you use?

    You have a feed for this blog so I can get it in my reader?

    Reply
  2. trentjacobs

     /  November 26, 2008

    Let’s say that this has been a learning experience! Designing something like this takes a lot of experimentation, trial and error and a bit of luck, especially for someone with no formal electrical training.

    But yes, this is what I use all the time. I feel it’s a much more natural sound, more controllable and way better with effects than the Telex. Paul Hanson and Michael Rabinowitz agree with me.

    https://trentjacobs.wordpress.com/feed/?feed=rss2

    Reply
  3. John Ingram

     /  July 1, 2009

    Hi Trent. I’m a sax player in search of a pressure transducer pickup for my horn, and this seems to be just that. I’ve got a great bell mouted mic for the natural tone, but am looking for something to run through effects to a guitar amp without alot of feedback. Natural tone is not an issue. A couple of questions… 1) is this a pressure transducer? 2)any idea if this would work for a soprano sax on the neck?
    thanks!!! John

    Reply
    • trentjacobs

       /  July 11, 2009

      John, this is not a pressure transducer. The conception for this pickup was based on the woodwind FRAP, which is a pressure transducer, and I tried multiple things out when designing this, but found that the pressure transducers that would be economical were incredibly noisy. They added a great amount of hiss and white noise to the audio signal. Technically they worked, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin attempting to clean up the sound.

      That being said, there is no reason why this wouldn’t work on a soprano sax neck that’s been modified. I’d suggest getting a “Model H” if you do go this route, as the interface would be much more secure for you. This would also make your modified neck compatible with a FRAP if you ever find one (good luck with that). There’s another microphone maker in California that has designed something for this same interface as well – but that will have a street value of nearly $1000 so I don’t know if you want to go that far!

      Finally, if you use this with a Sax I would recommend using a preamp with a gain control, as I expect the louder dynamic of a saxophone would need to be tamed in a different way than the preamp that’s being sold with this from Forrests handles that. The LR Baggs Gigpro would be perfect for you in that regard.

      Reply
  4. Hi Jake,

    Wanted to say I got the updated version of the Little Jake with the pre-amp and
    used it for the first time with The
    Charles Mingus Orchestra gig in NYC last monday.

    The new lip allows it to fit snugly on the
    mount (which was originally designed for the telex).

    The engineer at the gig found a great balance between the pick-up and the AMT
    mic and I have never been more pleased with the quality of sound.

    I wanted to thank you for your success in
    designing a great pick-up. I will continue to use it and recommend it bassoonist that want to electrify.

    It made more sense for me to keep it on the bocal all the time rather than detaching it. I wrap the wire
    neatly around the bocal and put in carefully into a felt lined padded bocal sheath that came with the new case I use.

    Until I use it for a couple of years I won’t be able to comment on how durable it is but it certainly the best out there.

    Michael Rabinowitz

    Reply
  5. martin Fahrni

     /  May 1, 2010

    hi
    strange question i know but i am a great fan of the old frap pickups. i am an acoustic guitar and weissenborn guitar player in switzerland. because the fraps are nearly impossible to find (i own one from the 70ties) i ask myself if it would be possible to modify your little jake so it can be mounted to the guitar bridge (flat surface). do you have experience in that and do you know if it would work well? many thanks for your kind answers, martin fahrni, switzerland

    Reply
    • trentjacobs

       /  May 1, 2010

      Martin, the actual technology used in the FRAP for guitar isn’t much different than a high quality Fishman or Barcus Berry pickup. The technology used in the woodwind pickup was much different, but mine is not really like the FRAP in that way. You would get much better results from one of those systems than you ever would from mine since they are designed to work with the guitar from the ground up in terms of size of the element and the circuitry that comes with it.

      Reply
  6. Dear Trent,

    I have been through several different solutions for the clarinet and then I saw your video on youtube:

    Going through the POG2 no less! Excellent taste. I tried some Barcus Berry equipment, but got lots of feedback. I recently saw this guy in Malaysia ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F57o1vGBbWQ ) playing something similar.

    I am based in Bangkok, Thailand via the USA and play clarinet on a few songs in a Thai rock band. The Model H Little Jake seems like a good solution. I assume I’d have to drill a hole in my spare barrel (not a problem). What’s your opinion on it as a clarinet solution (I’d put it through some effects).

    Thanks so much! -Nathan in Thailand

    Reply
  7. Trent —

    Stumbled on this site looking for wind instrument pickup information. Interesting stuff.

    How well would the Telex or the Little Jake work on a trumpet? I have several Kelly mouthpieces (polycarbonate) and am willing to sacrifice one or two of them to the drill press for a shank-mounted pickup like the old Barcus-Berry and Conn installations.

    Assuming both would be suitable, which one would be “better” for a live trumpet sound? Which would be “better” for use with effects?

    Thanks for your time.

    Reply
    • Trent

       /  January 30, 2012

      I think I replied to this in email form a while ago. My ultimate suggestion for brass is to use the Yamaha silent brass mute series. It picks up the sound very well, and since I don’t know how the LJ will do in the leadpipe of the trumpet, it’ll probably be fine, but I don’t want to encourage anyone to be a Guinea Pig. Although if you want to, I’m happy to work with someone to see if it’ll work… I can’t be responsible for what you choose to do on your own instrument though.

      Reply
  8. Adriano Dias Pereira

     /  January 30, 2012

    Hello Trent!

    I have bought a little jake from forests and now I’m debating on how to assemble it. Should I make an hole in the barrel all the way thru the barrel wall till the air chamber or should I make a hole just deep enough to screw the little jake, not drilling till the end so the pick up just captures the vibrating body of the instrument!
    It would be perfect if you could give me an answer as soon as possible because I have a gig on the weekend which I would like to preform already using the little jake!

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Trent

       /  January 30, 2012

      I’d suggest using a plastic barrel, but you can probably use a wood one if you are very careful, but if you really want to use a wood barrel I’d suggest getting a plastic insert made, because I don’t know how well the wood will keep the threading over the long term.

      But what you do is this:
      drill a pin hole (3/64″ or 1/16″ at the biggest) all the way through the center of the barrel, into the bore. The LJ MUST have access to the air column directly or it won’t really work. The body of a woodwind instrument doesn’t vibrate enough to excite a microphone element, it’s very different from using a pickup on a violin, guitar, or upright bass that way.

      After making the hole, drill another hole halfway through the wall of the barrel using the pinhole as the pilot. You’re not going all the way through with this, just halfway through the bore. Use a 5/32″ bit for this part.

      Finally, the 5/32″ bit size is the proper size to begin tapping the threads for the pickup. (You did buy the threaded version, right?) Use a 10/32 BOTTOMING tap to set the threads in the larger hole. Follow proper tapping instructions to make sure the threads are clean.

      You should then be set. I recommend leaving the pickup hanging off the right side of the instrument so it doesn’t get in the way of your left hand, but it doesn’t really matter. You also want to make sure your back Bb key on the clarinet is silent, as the LJ may pick up some key noise from that key since it’s so close to the pickup.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  9. Julia Kingrey

     /  March 28, 2013

    Hi Trent! I got my Little Jake a couple of weeks ago and it sounded great when I tested it in my friend’s studio. Last night I had a gig in a 300-seat theater, and the sound engineer told me that the sound was cutting in and out and was super buzzy. He said this could be because the pre-amp wasn’t powered, and thus it just didn’t have the strength to get the signal to the mixer. I am totally new to the world of amplification — I never imagined bassoon pick-ups would be available commercially! — so most of what the engineer was saying was pops and buzzes to me.

    So … 1) do you have recommendations for maximizing sound output in a theater environment, and 2) is the sound dropping / buzzing something I should worry about (do I need to return this puppy?), or do you think it’s just a setup issue?

    Reply
    • Julia Kingrey

       /  March 28, 2013

      Hmm, I did a little more reading and it sounds like the Forrests-issue pre-amp-in-an-Altoids box might be the issue. I’m hesitant to shell out another $100 on the quest to go electric — this is turning out to be an expensive project! — but it looks like that may be my best option.

      Reply
      • Trent

         /  March 28, 2013

        If you plug the pickup directly into a guitar amp you can see if it still produces the pops and clicks. It will probably be awkward, but it’ll give you an idea if the preamp is the issue or the pickup itself. It could be either, or it could be how it was interfacing with the mixer. Cutting in and out and sounding buzzy does not sound like what would happen if the pickup itself is faulty.

        The Altoids preamp is powered, it should have a 9v battery in it. If you don’t have a good battery (and an alkaline 9v will last for MONTHS in one of these things) it won’t work right, it might not even pass signal. Keep in mind it’s meant to interface directly with the same equipment you would plug an electric guitar into. I don’t suggest plugging it directly into a mixer, it won’t sound as good and the output won’t be right. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to send a solid signal over 50 feet of audio cable to an amplifier or direct box though, so that isn’t the issue in and of itself.

        Again, the pickup is designed specifically to interface with guitar equipment. If you’re in a theater situation you’ll at least need a direct box of some kind, don’t plug directly into the mixer. Have the sound engineer interface with you in the same way he would interface with an acoustic/electric guitar. Ideally you should plug into an acoustic guitar amp or a keyboard amp, and take the Direct Out of the amp into the house sound system. That’s how I get the best results.

        Reply
  10. Julia Kingrey

     /  March 28, 2013

    This is really helpful. Thanks so much! I will print out your comments and share them with the engineer. I’m sure he’ll appreciate communicating (albeit second-hand) with someone who actually has some knowledge about this topic!

    Reply
    • Trent

       /  April 9, 2013

      How’d it go? Did you resolve the issues?

      Reply
      • I did! Thanks for checking in! It must have been issue with the setup because lately the pickup has been working fine. Last week I used my Little Jake for a gig in a very resonant band shell. The sound engineer set us all up with higher levels than usual, and the bassoon was incredibly loud. Being so audible was a weird feeling for a bassoon player, but also awesome.

        Reply
  11. Hi Trent-I just wanted to say that I toured with Brian Blade, Cuong Vu, Joel Harrison, and KErmit Driscoll and the pickup I used for the entire tour and subsequent album we recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley CA was the Little Jake. I’m extremely happy with how it sounded on tour. So happy now that all bassoonists have a great way to go electric. It made me give up using my FRAPs which says a lot. Thanks again. PH

    Reply
    • That is so incredible Paul! Can’t wait for the recording to hear what this thing can do with your skills as a player and with some world-class engineers behind the board. Thank you for your support.

      Reply
  12. What’s a coincidence is that the trumpet player on the tour/recording (Cuong Vu) used a Fish & Chips EQ in his pedalboard-and that is the same one you use in your pedalboard. I should get one and I will. Basically if I don’t turn up the LL Baggs pre amp too far I get a very warm sound. I’d like to experiment with inexpensive EQs as well my Avalon U5.

    Reply
  13. Hi Trent,
    I’m looking to get a bassoon pickup just to amplify the sound and be “heard” better in a crowd, but still preserve the natural sound of tue bassoon… ..not looking to play with electronic effects. Can I assume that’s what the pickup with or without the pre-amp will do as long as I’m not running it through a board?
    Thanks!
    Brian

    Reply
    • Brian,

      No bocal mounted pickup will ever sound like the natural sound of the bassoon in a room. Think of it a bit like the difference between an acoustic guitar and an acoustic/electric guitar through an amplifier. They’re very very similar sounds, but the amplified sound will be missing some of the “woody” quality you would get if you just put a really high quality compressor microphone in front of the sound hole of a guitar. It’s similar with a bocal mounted pickup on the bassoon. You’ll miss a bit of the “woody” quality.

      Whenever you introduce a pickup (or even a microphone, as studio engineers will tell you) and amplifier to a sound source, a large component of the quality of the final sound is going to be in the pickup and amplifier. In an electric guitar very little of the sound of the instrument you hear is the wood of the guitar. An electric guitar player’s sound is 50% the guitar (and that probably at least 75% of that sound is the pickups and only 25% the body of the instrument itself) and 50% amplifier. That is further colored by any effects.

      So likewise with an amplified bassoon situation, picking an amplifier that sounds good, and EQing it right, is critical to getting the most natural bassoon sound you can. I have really be loving my AER Compact 60 acoustic guitar amp in combination with the Little-Jake. At lower volumes it simply supports the natural sound of the bassoon. You almost don’t know it’s on, except that you can hear it even when the drummer and bass player are playing!

      Regardless of amplifier, you should really still use a preamp with the Little-Jake. There are technical electrical reasons why you will get better results with the preamp.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  14. Yes, I like the “dry” sound that you played first in your video (before added effects). It doesn’t sound too terribly electric to me. Are you using the pre-amp in that clip, or just the little jake by itself? We have several Amps laying around so I’m not worrying about the other variables…
    Thanks!
    Brian

    Reply
  15. Thomas Meitzler

     /  June 28, 2014

    Hello Trent,
    I received my LIttle-Jake bocal microphone and preamp and am very pleased with its performance along with the acoustic amp that I have. Question…Suppose I actually WANT to get feedback out of it ie. Hendrix, what do you recommend?
    Thanks,
    Tom

    Reply
    • Use a high gain Fuzz effect. I personally like to use a bass fuzz because those usually maintain low end better than guitar oriented fuzzes, and often have a “clean blend” which will add depth and body to the sound by preserving your clean sound underneath the fuzzy sound. Many multi-effects units will have several options available. My favorite is the “Deus Ex Machina” fuzz by Blakemore effects.

      Reply
  16. Sam

     /  July 8, 2014

    Hi Trent does this pick up comes with the adapter cheers..

    Reply
    • If you buy from me I do not provide an adapter. You can have your own made (they are really quite simple for a good repair technician) or buy a pre-made one from Forrests Music or Midwest Musical Imports.

      Reply
  17. Hi Trent. I’m a longtime user, (basically since it’s commercialisation) of Little Jake + Altoïdes pre-amp purchased at Forrest Music to amplify my bassoon. I play in many different groups using close to natural sound, or effects, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes directly to guitar amp, sometimes through Direct box to sound console. I’ve become so dedicated to it’s use that I’m panic-stricken at the thought of it breaking down just before a gig. This sense of powerlessness is augmented by the fact that the module is rendered tamper-proof, (and fragile), by the presence of glue in the jack and in the pick-up. I’ve already had to cut out a little section and resolder the lead in order to eliminate a bad contact somewhere close to the jack. I see in the above visual of Little Jake that the jack looks equipped properly with rubber sheathing so that one could hope it would be demountable and/or interchangeable. Also the model I purchased has the lead coming out of the back of the pick-up, instead of out of the side as in the above visual. This would also be a good feature because the lead out the back is more vulnerable to bending around and producing bad connection one day, it seems to me. I’m ready to purchase a spare Little Jake but I’d like to think it would be possible to demount it for maintenance. What do you say? Ideally if its not initially equipped with tug, twist, yank, and bend proof dispositives at both ends, I’d like to think it would be possible for me to modify the little joker…
    Anyways, thanks for a great, (and relatively inexpensive), bassoon pick-up, don’t know what I’d do without it. I used to have a Barcus-Berry contact mike attached to the reed with elastics… Talk about Rock’n’Roll!
    Incidentally, I also use the seven band equalizer setting you illustrated, but, from BOSS, the other version, (Danelectro), seemingly no longer available in France. Another question: you seem to talk about the LR Baggs Gigpro pre-amp a lot. Do you consider it better than your own Altoïdes system???
    Thomas, (Dizzy), Pearce
    Paris, France

    Reply
    • Thomas,
      Glad you’ve become such a dedicated user! The LJ is definitely designed to be tamper-resistant, if not tamper proof. I’ve actually done much better at this since some of the early models. Since there is actually a small circuit inside the jack I have encased those in epoxy in order to stabilize them and make sure they don’t short ever. The heat shrink tubing is not nearly as stable for this purpose. I think a whole 20 units were made with the heat-shrink tubing (my personal one has the tubing but I’ve since filled it with epoxy as well).

      As for where the lead is coming out: I originally did a few screw-in type with the lead coming out the side this way, but there is no way to predict the angle the pickup will be in the bocal: the wire could come out the side which would pull it loose, or out the top causing extra stress. You’d get lucky to get a bocal adapter matched to your pickup with the threads lining up perfectly. So I go out the back directly to make sure the stress is equal. Having used my personal Little-Jake the longest, I can say that I have never had an issue with mine being overly stressed, even after a few accidental tugs on the cable over the years. The legacy fitting models, for use with the Telex adapter, still come out the side, as those don’t need to line up so specifically (I make very few of those).

      The Little-Jake is small, and lightweight. With that comes a bit of delicacy. There’s only so much I’m able to do to stabilize it. I do warranty my product though, so if you find it fails on you, send it to me and I’ll fix or replace it as required.

      As for having a second one on hand: I keep a spare, and Paul Hanson has two. Just like keeping a spare 9v battery for your preamp.

      And speaking of preamp: I do not make the Altoids tin preamp, although I did set up the relationship with the person that does make them, and it was my first preamp that I got the LJ working with. I talk about the Baggs a lot because it’s what I have used for the last 4 or 5 years, and what I consider an upgraded option for those more serious users that might want more flexibility in the sound going into the rest of their gear. When you purchase a pickup from me directly I don’t sell a preamp, and don’t provide the Altoids box one, so when I talk about them here, I talk about the Baggs preamp, as it’s readily available from dozens of online stores.

      Reply
      • Thank-you for your exhaustive reply, Trent.
        I ignored the presence of a circuit in the jack, so now, the epoxy filling seems more logical. Still, a little rubber sheathing out the hilt of the jack softens the angle of the lead when stressed… (nit-picking me again).
        As for the pick-up lead, a hundred percent in agreement! The aspect of the side exit being unpredictable only occurred to me after posting my inquiry. Rubber sheathing at that spot would probably be complicated…? Better to be very careful. It is true that it’s received quite a few tugs so far without faltering.
        I will be ordering a spare LJ for my nerves.
        Thanks for the pre-amp info.
        Another anecdote that might interest: when I got my bocal adapter from Forrest I was surprised they hadn’t foreseen a plug system for use without the LJ. As in Europe the threads are not the same, (so complicated to make it myself), they kindly whipped one up in their workshop and delivered it without extra cost. Nice retailer to customer relations!
        Bonne continuation!
        Thomas.

        Reply
        • Pearce

           /  March 17, 2015

          Hey. A little question. When using the LR Baggs pre-amp should the phantom switch be on or off? I had one to try the other day and I couldn’t get a sound out of it!
          Thomas.

          Reply
  18. Marcelo Rocha dos Passos

     /  January 9, 2015
    Reply
    • It would be possible, however I don’t know how well it will work, as the SPL inside a trumpet is probably even higher than a bassoon. It might overload the element. Not sure, haven’t tested it at all.

      It’s really unnecessary, as getting a microphone on a trumpet is really really easy, all the sound always comes out of the same place, which you can mic with a shotgun mic for lots of isolation. Or you can use one of the Yamaha Silent Brass mutes to plug directly into effects units. I’d go that route first.

      Reply
  19. Michael

     /  August 5, 2015

    Hey Trent , I’ve been using the little jake for some time now but I’m getting this weird ground humming. I’ve tried different cables and can’t seem to figure it out, would the little jake possible be broken. It seems to only happen when I plug it into my board and not with a microphone. Also if I have the jake in and touch either a cable connection or switch on the board it goes away. What could this be?

    Reply

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