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What do you think of this K&K install?


sbpark

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SO a little backstory...I had some warranty work done to a Martin I purchased new in 2014 and took it to a local, authorized Martin repair person. Guy is also a luthier and did an incredible job on the Martin. The work was so good that I decided to take some other guitars to him. Had my AJ Plek'dand gone through and had a full setup, and it came out great. Next, I took my J45TV to him and had a basic set-up done (didn't need any fretwork or leveling, etc.) and a K&K installed. I had agonized for well over a year about what pickup to put in my acoustics after trying many other "non-permanent" options and decided to go with a K&K after playing an old 70's Sigma that the luthier put a K&K into and enjoyed how it sounded. I really don't play out much or need the guitar amplified much so it's only used sparingly but am working toward performing live more often. Felt and heard a slight rattle inside the guitar and suspecting it was the endpin jack I decided to check it out. Couldn't get my hand that far in the guitar, and the endpin was secure from the outside, so I broke out the iPhone camera and took this picture:

 

BTuc25s.jpg

 

I was pretty bummed at the install. I emailed the luthier and asked him for his take on this install, and I mentioned the obvious, that the contacts were not evenly spaced, and obviously the K&K template was not used and the install was not don't correctly. His reply was "Is there a problem with the amplified sound? I do not always place them perfectly evenly spaced based on a feeling about the bass/treble balance." The guitar sounds decent, maybe lacking a little in the low end compared to the unamplified sound, but I can't really notice any problem with the sound of the B & E strings, and it sounds decently balanced. I'm just wondering if he's just messing with me and trying to cover his tracks. My concern is if I ever decideded to sell this guitar, I'd have to disclose the fact that the pickup was installed incorrectly in good faith and it would pretty much keep this guitar from being sold (I can't lie to someone about something that was enough of an issue to bother me, that's just not cool).

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My concern would be with the slight rattle sound you mentioned and if it's still there having the installer find and fix that. The other stuff is other stuff to me and I agree the only thing that matters is how it sounds. It's not like it's a flaw in the guitar and different luthiers likely approach installation differently and since I assume it sounds like he intentionally took responsibility for its intentional placing, and consciously seems to know what he's doing, I wouldn't worry at all. If there's a rattle and he won't fix it or something that would put a different light on the matte and him. Just my two cents.

 

But, regarding basing its placement on how it sounds if it sounds good, I am someone who uses Rare Earth Humbucker sound hole pick up with the cord hanging out from the soundhole on my acoustics with no factory installed pickups because I like the sound of the Rare Earth Humbucker soundhole pickup, switch it between whatever guitar needs it, and do not care how the cord looks hanging out from it as it's the sound that matters to me.

 

Just my approach...

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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He obviously hasn't used the 'template' 'jigger ' thing that comes with the pickup

But that's just a guide and different guitars will require it placed in different places

 

He's either brilliantly fussy or lazy

Only the sound of the guitar plugged in will determine which

 

 

Maybe he has fiddled and found the perfect placement for the little pads ?

 

 

 

 

I fitted one of these to a HD35 myself , used the manual guidelines and it sounded fantastic

But perhaps your guitar needed a bit I tweaking with the placement ?

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My concern is if I ever decided to sell this guitar, I'd have to disclose the fact that the pickup was installed incorrectly in good faith and it would pretty much keep this guitar from being sold (I can't lie to someone about something that was enough of an issue to bother me, that's just not cool).

 

From what you have mentioned, your history with this luthier is nothing but stellar, and you like the way everything sounds. The template is a suggestion from K&K. I'm sure if many of us were to look inside our guitars, the installation may not follow the template. I really don't think you would ever have to disclose that the installation was done "incorrectly" because it really wasn't IMO. And this is coming from a guy who always downgrades the description of the condition of his guitars for sale out of an abundance of caution.

 

The most important question as bbg noted...did you find out the source of the rattle?

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From what you have mentioned, your history with this luthier is nothing but stellar, and you like the way everything sounds. The template is a suggestion from K&K. I'm sure if many of us were to look inside our guitars, the installation may not follow the template. I really don't think you would ever have to disclose that the installation was done "incorrectly" because it really wasn't IMO. And this is coming from a guy who always downgrades the description of the condition of his guitars for sale out of an abundance of caution.

 

The most important question as bbg noted...did you find out the source of the rattle?

 

You make good points. This guy really did a great job with the Martin I had warranty work done to, but after that it's been a little downhill. You have a good memory since you've mentioned that I have had a less than stellar history with him, but really didn't want to mention that here so it didn't influence people's replies. But yes, he is the one who "lost" my Advanced Jumbo for well over a month, then it suddenly appeared. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he actually filed the saddle a bit too low on the AJ, otherwise it was great. I just said, "screw it", and made my own saddle for it and it came out great. The J45 set up was just ok, but again, he filed the saddle too low and I had to file some of the nut slots that were ridiculously high. I just didn't want to deal with him anymore and could have easily taken it back to address the concerns but at this point I think I'll just be moving on and find someone else when the need arises. I know he has been going through a lot lately since the building his shop was in was shut down (lots of these warehouse buildings were shut down here in Oakland after that Ghostship fire and the city shut off the power for a lot of co-op spaces in town until they were gone through by inspectors. He owns a lot of huge power tools, saws, planers, etc, and because the power was shut off, the freight elevator was obviously not working, so he couldn't move his stuff out until the power came back on) and I could tell he was stressed, but I figured that I was at least bringing him business (3 guitars in a short period of time) and even offered to help him move his stuff out of the old warehouse and into the new space once he got things figured out. He seemed to be annoyed with my guitars so I just look at it as a disappointing experience, and will move on.

 

FWIW, I don't think I'm half bad at this stuff, if I do say so myself. Here's a picture of the replacement bone saddle I made for the AJ. It's hard to see, but I polished it and it's as smooth as glass, and is perfectly contoured with the same radius as the fretboard, and the nation across the board is perfect. Also made the replacement nut (guitar suffered a neck break in the hands of the previous owner and they replaced the nut with something that wasn't bone, looked like Tusq to me).

 

RAIugdW.jpg

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where is the nut and washer on the inside? Shouldnt there be as such by the endblock? or are my eyes off?

 

This was my guess as well. I couldn't see a nut on the inside as you are describing. When I hit the guitar with the palm of my hand I can hear the rattle. Looks like that nut is missing. I'm still waiting to hear back from him after my last email to see what we're going to do about it.

 

My other theory, albeit a stretch is the cable is making contact with the guitar in that loop that's made between the contacts and endpin, and that's what I am hearing vibrating around.

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Look at it with your ears not your eyes...I had a Martin D18 that had a similarly installed K&K and it sounded incredible plugged in. K&K themselves say you may need to deviate from the template/jig to find the sweet spot, and IMHO the luthier who installed this probably knew where to find it.

 

If you're used to working with your fingertips (as all luthiers are), it would be hard to install it this way by mistake. I'm far from being a luthier, but I'm a guitar tech and I've installed K&Ks and JJBs by feel alone and have got them bang on in the one-to-two spacing with the pins in. I'd wager anything that this install was entirely intentional and sounds terrific plugged in.

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Look at it with your ears not your eyes...I had a Martin D18 that had a similarly installed K&K and it sounded incredible plugged in. K&K themselves say you may need to deviate from the template/jig to find the sweet spot, and IMHO the luthier who installed this probably knew where to find it.

 

If you're used to working with your fingertips (as all luthiers are), it would be hard to install it this way by mistake. I'm far from being a luthier, but I'm a guitar tech and I've installed K&Ks and JJBs by feel alone and have got them bang on in the one-to-two spacing with the pins in. I'd wager anything that this install was entirely intentional and sounds terrific plugged in.

 

Thanks! Much appreciated!

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