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Ibeam Active or K&K PW Trinity for J-45?


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Does anyone have experience with both of these products side-by-side in a J45? This weekend I pulled the Baggs Element UST and made a new bone nut, just to see how much of an improvement I would see with the acoustic tone. I was sort of hoping that I wouldn't notice a difference, because I was reasonably happy with the Element plugged-in tone.

Unfortunately, the difference is pretty pronounced. It wasn't just a small difference in tone; even my wife, who takes great pride in NOT noticing these differences, said it sounded like a different instrument (without me prompting her).

So the UST will stay out. Now I have to decide on a bridgeplate transducer, and I'd like the ability to add a bit of mic when possible. I have read a lot of positive comments on the K&K, but when I listen to sound samples on the internet I have to admit that I like the recorded sound of the Ibeam a bit better.

Would appreciate any advice. The instrument is a 2008 J45 modern classic, mahogany back and sides. I play it with medium strings, probably 80% fingerstyle with a thumbpick and 20% strumming. When I play out, it's probably 80% solo gigs at coffee shops or open mics, and 20% with bands.


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Just to clarify- I actually started by making a bone saddle for the guitar with the UST in. It did make a pretty noticeable improvement over the factory Corian saddle. I also wanted to try it without the UST and needed a taller saddle, so I made a 2nd one. Believe it or not, I think removing the UST actually made a bigger improvement to tone than switching to a bone saddle.

That Schatten looks interesting- I guess I'll have to throw that one into the mix now too.

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What is the problem with using the bone saddle with your existing L.R. Baggs Element?


Bone saddles tend to make USTs sound dull, or imbalanced volume wise from one string to another. Either way, when amplified, Tusq sounds a hell of a lot better with most USTs.


I am going to put a K&K Pure Western Mini in my SJ200 soon. It'll make for a nice comparison to the Baggs Element in my Hummingbird.

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Schatten has an active transducer pickup you might want to consider. Otherwise' date=' you can't go wrong with a KandK Mini Western - but get it installed with double sided tape or putty, NOT the super glue!


Here is the link for Schatten


I wonder is your warning about the glue due to it's effect on tone or the effect on the guitar itself? I have similar interest in finding the best pickup.

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An update, in case anyone was actually interested- I decided on the K&K Pure Western Mini passive.


- When I checked the bridge plate of my J45, I found that a roughly 1/4" hole had been drilled, right between the 3rd/4th strings about 1/2" in front of the bridge pins. Just about where the middle sensor belongs.

- I spoke with the people at K&K, who recommended that I fill it with wood filler. I've worked with wood filler before and I was worried that it wouldn't stay put. They also recommended a pre-amp with 1M input impedance, rather than 10M.

- I then spoke with the people at Gibson in Bozeman- the hole is used during one of the body assembly steps. They recommended that I dowel and glue it. I asked how I do that through the sound hole- they referred my to a guitar tech in Nashville, who supposedly does it a lot.

- I spoke with said guitar tech, who basically said not to bother- just install the middle sensor a little closer to the sound hole and forget it. After installing about a hundred, he said he didn't think it would make much of a difference. If I did want to dowel and glue the hole, I would have to remove the bridge (!) and drill through the soundboard from the top. He also said that most of his customers prefer the Baggs PADI pre-amp over the K&K due to its flexibility.

- I ordered the K&K PWM and PADI. I installed the PWM yesterday with the included superglue gel. It was an easy install. I only had to move the middle sensor about 1/4" forward of it's normal position.

- Plugged into the PADI and into my PA system, EQ'd flat and totally dry. All I can say is- WOW! I'm really impressed with the sound, especially by comparison to the Element that I had taken out. And I liked the Element quite a bit.

- A little bit of tweaking on the PADI, and it sounds even better. This pre-amp has a ton of flexibility, and really lets you tailor your sound. It's also awesome for taming feedback, which I didn't need to deal with until ear-bleeding volume levels.

- As an experiment, I tried the DI on my Peterson Strobostomp instead of the PADI, which is a 1M input impedance. Still nicer than the Element system, but not nearly as nice as the PWM with PADI- even with flat EQ. I'm sure the K&K preamp is nicer than the Strobostomp DI, but I am really smitten with the PADI.


I hope someone can learn from my experiences. It may have been a disaster if I had tried to fill that hole in the bridge plate, and in the end it didn't matter anyway.

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Yes- Doug Young's samples were very helpful in my decision process. Oddly I didn't care for the sound of the PWM in his tests. I do love it in my guitar; it does really emphasize to me that, unlike the UST or the magnetic pickups, the sound is highly dependent on the instrument itself. I ended up buying it due to all the good recommendations that I had heard from trusted sources.


The youth group performed at my church yesterday. The kid playing guitar had an Olympia (Tacoma sub-brand), playing it through the PA system. It sounded awfully good for what it was; certainly not as good as a "pro" level setup, but surprisingly good.


I also heard James Taylor yesterday on Oprah (my wife was watching it on the DVR). His sound is indescribably perfect. I'm not sure what his setup is but for his style, it sounds amazing.

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