How to Operate the Electronics of an Alvarez System 600T Mk II

By Matt McKay

The Alvarez 600T Mk II is an active guitar pickup and preamp system, available on select Alvarez acoustic-electric guitar models. A 9-volt battery powers the under-saddle piezo pickup and on-board preamp. The preamp also allows the use of an optional condenser microphone or magnetic sound-hole pickup. An integrated tuner, four-way equalization, auxiliary and piezo gain controls, master level, notch and phase filters, and auxiliary input pad control, round out the versatile control panel. A standard quarter-inch end pin jack allows convenient hookup to amplifier or sound system.

Getting Ready to Play

Unscrew the two flat-head retaining screws at the top and bottom of the preamp. Gently lift the preamp housing to expose battery compartment. Install the battery, lining up the positive and negative terminals. Push preamp housing back into guitar and tighten screws. When the battery runs low, a red indicator light on the preamp will begin to glow. To extend battery life, unplug the guitar cable when not in use.

Using an amplifier or sound system with volume at "0", plug in the guitar using a quality quarter-inch to quarter-inch shielded guitar cable. Turn up the amplifier volume to a low setting. Turn the guitar preamp "Master" level control all the way off. Set other rotary and slider controls controls to the middle position. Press "Notch," "Level," and "Phase" switches to the "Out" position. Turn the "Master" level up while strumming, until sound is heard. Adjust the "Master" level and the volume on the amplifier until a comfortable volume is reached. No audible distortion should be heard, even when the guitar volume is turned up fully.

If using the optional sound-hole pickup or microphone, turn the "Aux" level control up until a change in sound is heard. If the sound-hole pickup or condenser mic is used, set the "Level" switch to the -20dB position. If using a dynamic microphone, set the switch to the 0dB position. If an odd "mid-phase" sound is heard, press the "Phase" switch until balanced, clear sound is heard. Use the "Aux" gain control to balance sound between the built-in piezo pickup, and the auxiliary pickup or microphone.

When a comfortable volume is set, fine-tune the equalizer to achieve desired tone. The "Treble" slider adjusts high-end sparkle, the "Bass" slider adjusts low-end and depth. Midrange control works in two ways. The "Midrange" slider will add or cut overall midrange frequency. The particular frequency range is controlled by the "Mid Freq" rotary control. If feedback occurs when the desired setting is realized, press the "Notch" button in or out, to help filter problem frequencies. Note that the equalization only controls the piezo input signal, and have no effect on auxiliary microphone or pickup.

The Alvarez 600T Mk II features a handy built-in chromatic tuner. Press the "Tuner" on/off button, and the preamp will shut down to allow for silent tuning when amplified. The tuner may also be used without plugging in, by pressing the on/off button. After three minutes, the tuner shuts down automatically to save battery life. With the tuner on, pluck the string you wish to tune. Red arrows on the right and left will light up to direct you to tune the note up or down. When the green center light is lit, the string is in tune.

Tip

Since the equalizer offers so many sound choices, experimentation is encouraged.

Write down settings you like for future reference.

Unplug the guitar cord when not in use. This will save battery life.

Warning

If the instrument will be stored for long periods, remove battery to prevent possible leakage.

References

About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.