E Bootcamp

Everything you need to know to pick the right gear for you and sound your best on stage

How To Choose an Amp

Advanced effects concepts

Of all the video requests we get, what is the "Best amp" is always one of the most popular.

As you might expect the answer is a little bit tricky, and there is really not one magic amp for every player and performance style SO rather than just disingenuously recommending a few brands or touting what we play, in true Pickup Test tradition, we decided to make a video that would arm you with powerful STRING SPECIFIC principles to make the decision that is best for you.  Along the way, Jacob will help you cut through the Technical Jargon and marketing speak that can confuse and mislead string players like:

*Do you really need an ACOUSTIC amp?
*Tubes vs. Solid state
*What the heck is impedance and should you care?

*Do more Watts mean more volume?

And so much more!!!

I wish I had these simple tips in mind when I started my journey years ago and now I'm excited to share them with you!

See You backstage,

How I Approach "Acoustic" Cello Amplification

Advanced effects concepts

Wanted to make this quick and dirty video to share my current approach to amplifying and monitoring my acoustic cello rig. As usual, rather then (recommending specific brands so you can just copy me) I'm trying to share principles that you can apply to creating and or improving your current setup now and in the future.  You'll learn about:

-My approach to amplification

-The Gear I use to amplify my acoustic in a classical/world setting (IE no effects and trying to reproduce the natural sound as much as possible.  

-How I approach monitoring issues

And so much more!!!

I wish I had these simple tips in mind when I started my journey years ago and now I'm excited to share them with you!

See You backstage,

Effects Fundamentals


So excited to announce our newest release.  A string effects class filled with real, practical, string specific information that every player needs while not just recycling the same old information you'd find anywhere else.  

This 90-minute class covered:

*Tone Fundamentals
*Pedalboard concepts
*The biggest gear mistakes string players make
*Finding your own sound with effects

AND so much more!!!

Whether you are a beginner or seasoned pro this video is an absolute must-watch. 

NEW: Boutique Tone Series

Advanced effects concepts


We all own and know how to use effects like Reverb, EQ, Delay, etc., so instead of reinventing the wheel, we created this series of short effects tutorials with advanced concepts for string players that you won’t find anywhere else.

We prerecorded a loop of my cello to eliminate any "real cello" sound in the room and worked on dialing in a useable clean cello sound. This seemed like the best place to start as it's the foundation for all of us no matter what style you play in or how many crazy effects you might use. Listening to Noah speak about these effects and the sonic decisions he makes will  inspire you to conceptualize your live sound in a new way by learning to notice the distinction between what may be the most realistic or "pleasing" sound in a solo context versus what is the most "useable" sound. I really believe these pearls of wisdom will help you reconsider how you've been using EQ, Reverb, Compression and Delay in the past.

Also, like the other videos on this site, be sure to listen to these classes on a good pair of headphones to really capture the subtleties of what Noah is doing. Hope you like them.  - Jacob

Vol 1: EQ   On the first stop on our tour, we'll be discussing the most important part of your chain: EQ  Whether you are using individual pedals or a multi effects rig, understanding EQ is critical to your sound and while we have all used this effect before, very few string players know how to really do so effectively. Watch on!

Vol. 2 Compression This is the least understood of all effects musicians commonly use. Many string players star clear of compression all together, but when we really learn how to use compression, it can become a staple of our tone shaping arsenal.

Vol 3a:  Reverb  Reverb is the core of every string players sound.  In this video, Noah offers some incredible helpful insights on how to get more out of this effect as well as a dual reverb approach that will inspire you to think of this effect in new ways.

Vol. 3b:  Delay  In this context we'll be talking about delay, not as a spacey effect but in the context of dialing in a compelling live tone.  Noah has some really helpful points here, including the idea that delay may be an effective compliment or even REPLACEMENT for reverb in a live setting.

Choose Your Weapon

The definitive 3 part series for choosing the best gear for you!


Vol. 1:  Pickups Vs. Mics   Not sure if you should buy a pickup or a mic?  In Vol. 1 of this series, The Pickup Test Guys show you how to choose.

Vol. 2:  Choosing The Right Pickup   Decided to go with a pickup?  The Pickup Test Guys guide you through the factors to consider in choosing the one that's best for you.

Vol. 3:  Blending Pickups and mics   Not sure if you should blend a pickup with a mic?  In Vol. 3 of this series, The Pickup Test Guys help you figure out if this unique approach is right for you.

What Pickups Do Your Favorite Players Use?
See Below!
Genre Artist
Gypsy Jazz Ben Powell  DPA 4099
Didier Lockwood Schertler Stat V (sometimes blended mic)
Tim Klhipuis DPA 4099
Jazz/crossover string quartet Mark Summer (Turtle Island)  LR Baggs Bridge + Bartlett Audio Mic
Kronos Quartet   countryman Isomax mics
Other link for Kronos Quartet
Bluegrass/Fiddling Rushaad Eggleston Realist/with Senheiser Dynamic microphone
Mike Block  Realist
Nat Smith Realist
Alex Hargreaves LR Baggs
Jeremy Kittel Schertler Stat V
Darrol Anger  Aceto Violect
Hip Hop Paul Dateh Realist
Modern Jazz Christian Howes Yamaha VNP-1 Bridge pickup(currently discontinued) and Silent Elec.
Luis Mascaro Aceto Violect
Regina Carter AMT microphone
Zack Brock Aceto
Mads Tolling Yamaha VNP-1
Jacob Szekely DPA 4099 with Realist or Fishmann C 200
Rob Thomas String Amp
Stephan Braun Schertler stat C
Rock Boyd Tinsley Zeta Electric violin
Paul Cartwright Schertler Dynamic
Steven Sharpe Nelson Realist and Chinese Electric cellos (brand unkown)
Lindsey Sterling Yamaha Silent Electric

Dialing In

Learn The Pickup Test Guys' Ninja Secrets for Finding Your Sound Onstage!


Vol. 1:  4 essential tips for playing live! In volume one of the dialing in series, the guys dive into the top 4 tips for amplified string players when playing live.  An absolute must listen!

Vol. 2:  How To Talk To Soundmen The ultimate guide for dummies!  Learn to communicate with sound guys who have no idea what bowed strings are supposed to sound like.  This episode is a must listen for "non technical" players and gear nerds alike.   COMING SOON

Stage Survival Guide


Stage Survival Vol 1: In the first installment of this tutorial, Jacob shows you the one pedal every amplified string player needs!

Stage Survival Vol 2:  The 2 Channel Method In the 2nd volume of our series, Jacob shows you a simple recipe for curing combating the biggest problem string players face of stage when playing amplified.