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Added K&K Western Mini Pickup to my Martin D18 GE and love it!

I just wanted to post about the pickup I had added to my Golden Era. The K&K pure western mini sound so natural and has a lot of output for a passive system. Ellie and the fine folks at Artisan Guitars in Franklin TN recommended this pup and installed it for me. I had a RBII in a Gibson J45 that was nice, but still had a tab bit of the under the saddle brittleness/crunch, way warmer than most, but I wanted to take it to the next level for a purer sound and I think i have it here. I played this am with a full band and cut right thru.

For teh past year I had read a lot of posts and reviews about the K&K western mini and wanted a pup that did not require me to mess with my saddle.

well worth the $150 investement and now my guitar has a great acoustic sound and plugged in to match!

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Comment by Wesman Todd Shaw on May 25, 2009 at 10:17am
Cool.

Those D-18GE's are so loud already!
Comment by Mark Stultz on June 4, 2009 at 7:58pm
Hi Bill, I considered the IBeam as well, but didn't want the added mass to my bridge or the built in preamp. I wanted a passive system to plug into my LR Baggs Paracoustic DI or my DTar Solstice preamps. I actually used in on Sunday with no preamp direct into a passive DI and it had a surprising amount of output. I got lots of unsolicited compliments on the tone.

The only other system I have personal experience with is the LR Baggs Ribbon Transducer. I put it in a Gibson J-45 and an older model D18 that I used to have with great results. It's under the saddle, but was very warm and to my ears did not have any of the typical crunch one associates with an under the saddle transducer type system. It has a preamp built into input jack tube. http://www.lrbaggs.com/html/products/pickups_ribbontransducer_html.shtml

I personally think the K&K is more natural sounding and true to the actual acoustic guitars sound, but the Baggs is still a great 2nd option. The K&K is also less imposing on the guitar and does not require drilling thru the bridge and recutting the saddle height to compensate for the transducer thickness. Artisan guitars here in Nashville can't hardly keep the K&K in stock, they install them almost weekly.

good luck, hope this helps
Mark
Comment by Bill Ward on June 4, 2009 at 7:59pm
Hey Mark, I am finally ready to bite the bullet and install an internal mic into my 67 D-18 so I can plug in as well. I have resisted to now but am tired of not being able to hear myself well enough and see the band struggle as well to hear me on leads. I am just now exploring different options and this one sounds really nice. Obviously I don't want to change the natural sound. Did you consider any other kinds of internal amp systems? Bill
Comment by Mark Stultz on June 4, 2009 at 8:04pm
Hey Bill- another thought for you. i saw the Greencards here and they had all instruments plugged in, but to take a solo they walked up to a hot mic on stage and had a real nice boost in volume and natural tone for their solos, it was a cool concept. Then no matter how much they moved around their rhythm volume and tons was consistent. I have also boosted my acoustic with a Fulltone FatBoost with great results. ...Mark
Comment by Bill Ward on June 4, 2009 at 8:55pm
Hey Mark, thanks for your comments! I can tell I will have to study and research this a fair amount. Having never really considered this seriously until now I just don't know much about these systems. It seems there are pluses and minuses to the different options. - I'll let you know what I end up doing. Thanks again! Bill
Comment by Ray Leeds on June 7, 2009 at 9:43am
Hey Bill, I'm also new to this magazine. I have had a lot of different pickups in my guitars and I've been a sound engineer for many years. When you plug in an acoustic instrument it will feel like a different instrument to you. Be Ware! My advise to you is only plug in if you have to. Run the volume just a little louder than your used to. Let the rest of the band here you more in their monitors if they need it. Get away from the drummer if you have one. Spend your money on a good mic to step up to when you do your solo's. If you watch any professional on a big tour you will see they plug in for just enough rhythm sound and step up to a nice mic for solo's. They will never make a guitar pickup that sounds as good and natural as you are used to hearing so don't waste your time and money trying to find it. If you see really big names playing with just a pickup I'd like to hear it. If your playing western swing most of the time maybe you should play electric ? Check out Asleep at the Wheel or Sons of the Pioneers. Classic fender amps, super 400's and so on. Acoustic Guitars are always hard to hear. Stay away from Bass players also. They can kill your low end on your guitar and make it hard to here. Anyway having both plugged in sound and mic capability is the way to go. Control of everyones volume and dynamics on the stage is paramount. Some people may not agree and probable because they have to convince themselves they spent their money wisely on their latest pickup. The proof is in the pudding! Ask a studio if they have found anything better than a microphone to get the pure acoustic sound your used to. Get something to plug into that works and let the mic do the rest. Don't get caught up in the mess of pickups out their. Spend your time playing and getting better. Trust Me!! I've swam in the mess.
Comment by Bill Ward on June 7, 2009 at 4:44pm
Hello Ray,

Thanks for your comments. I am leery of modifying my guitar so I and the rest of the band can hear it but I am also desperate to be able to hear myself better and for the rest of the band to hear me better too. I actually had a very tough gig today when I couldn’t hear hardly anything I was playing, particularly the lead stuff. As a result, I got very sloppy as I was trying to really hammer the strings to get some volume out. One thing you said caught my attention. Our base player was right next to me and he has some kind of new pickup on his bass and it was very, very loud! I am wondering if that was throwing me off. We were in a small room today and tried playing with no monitors. Most of the time we try to avoid playing with monitors as we have been challenged with feedback with them. I could generally hear the filddle and mandolin pretty well but couldn’t hear myself to save my life! I am definitely very frustrated right at this moment.

Bill
Comment by Mark Stultz on June 7, 2009 at 8:00pm
Good points Ray- Like I said in my earlier post (on June 4, 2009 at 8:04pm) I saw the Greencards in Charlotte, NC at McGlophon Theatre where all the good roots acts play and sound is excellent. They were plugged in for rhythm and stepped up to a mic for solos. I have used that technique and it works well. I've also used a volume pedal with a minimum setting (Ernie Ball nmakes one) Forward is solo, back is rhythm.
James Nash from the Waybacks uses this method with his Santa Cruz acoustic with no mic, but he's got a sweet preamp system to help dial in his plugged in sound.
Comment by Bill Startz on June 8, 2009 at 5:11am
I installed a K & K in my D 28 CW a few years ago.. I love the sound.
Comment by Ray Leeds on June 8, 2009 at 8:38am
Hey Bill, This K&K is reasonable priced and is getting good reviews. Get one installed and then just get used to it. No matter what people say about the next greatest pickup to come out. Just get used to what ever you purchase. Don't spend your time experimenting with a bunch of different pickups. Your splitting hairs with most of these products and probably not addressing the bigger problems. Being familiar with your sound is the best way to get comfortable on stage. Also in a small room the bass player probably didn't have to plug in. Bass frequencies build up in small rooms and the high upper midrange of the fiddle and mandolin will always cut thru. The guitar will always loose the battle for volume no matter what room your in. It would have been a perfect blend to just have you coming thru one monitor just enough to balance the band. This is a delicate balancing act. When you get a pickup plug it in and slowly turn the volume up until you can just start to hear it but can still hear your real guitar. This blend between artificial and real guitar sound is the best most natural sounding and feeling. When you get the amplifier to loud your guitar will start sounding and feeling different to you. You'll See. Also practicing with this setup every time you play will get you used to It. If the band likes this setup and everyone can hear themselves. Don't mess with it. Just because your in a bigger room the next time don't turn up. Let your ears adjust to the room. Every room accents or eats up frequencies making you think you have to change something about your eq or volume to compensate. Ever notice that the second set is usually better and you thought is was just the beer you had that loosened you up. Its not just your hands and mind warming up. It's your ears getting used to their new environment. Give your ears a chance to warm up to the room before changing what works. One guy turns up or changes something then here we go off into uncharted territory. Don't spread out to far just because your on a big stage. Your no longer a group when you do this and you will need monitors. Let the sound man worry about the audience hearing you. Just focus on being a tight band and entertaining. Sorry I'm so long winded about this. I no what your going thru. Having to play your guitar as hard as you can and never playing as well as you can. Throw away anything tasty you might play and forget about sustaining a note. Just keep moving and get thru your solo. Sound familiar? The rest of the band should be sympathetic to this problem and no it's not just you. If they really want to sound better as a unit they will help you and sacrifice some of their volume if need be for the greater good.

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