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Old 04-30-2019, 11:28 AM
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fazool fazool is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 15,096
Thumbs up K&K Pure Mini and LR Baggs GigPro mini-review

Part 1: the $99 pickup
I considered replacing my cheap Ibanez AC240 with a cheap Ibanez AC340 (that has a pickup). But I have my 240 set up so perfectly the way I want it and didn't want to risk getting a dud with cheap guitars. So, I decided to put an aftermarket pickup in my guitar.

I knew I didn't want a piezo under saddle transducer. I know Takamine does fantastic job with these (as do some other manufacturers). My guitar is set up so perfectly, for me, that I didn't want to change a thing at the saddle. And, knowing how much I abhor quack, I just decided to totally avoid UST's.

I didn't want a mic because I was concerned about feedback (and cost).

So I decided on a soundboard or bridge plate transducer. I looked at the LR Baggs iBeam and backed away at the last minute when I saw some detailed and informative reviews.

I landed on a K&K Pure Mini which I installed this week.

I found the installation to be trivially easy. Their instructions and included placement jig made things so easy. The only thing you need to provide is CA gel glue. You could use thick viscosity CA but I recommend using gel CA.

The first time I did it, the temporary holding putty stuck a little (I used too much putty and had a little cleanup afterwards). The next two (of three) discs mounted very cleanly. So, you might use less putty than you think you need.

Next time, I would make a little bridge clamping fixture (with a soft pad so you don't crack the crystals) just to hold it for ten minutes.

The project took about this long:

- 15 minutes to unbox, familiarize myself with everything, read the instructions and get my tools out
- 5 minutes to unstring my guitar
- 10 minutes to cleanly drill out the endpin hole and clean up the sawdust
- 5 minutes to do a practice placement
- 5 minutes to apply glue, place and hold disc #1
- 10 minutes waiting
- 5 minutes to apply glue, place and hold disc #2
- 10 minutes waiting
- 5 minutes to apply glue, place and hold disc #3
- 10 minutes waiting
- 10 minutes to test, measure, adjust the nut placement for the endpin depth
- 5 minutes to install endpin
- 15 minutes to restring guitar

So, the whole project of installing a K&K mini took me just over an hour and a half of "touch time" and just under two hours total "clock time". Or in more common measurement - it was a one-beer project.

Part 2: the $73 pre-amp
I knew the volume-only active version wasn't enough control over the tone, especially phase-shifting for feedback cancellation and notching for EQ refinement (again around feedback etc.).

I knew I wanted an outboard system but not a pedal.

So I looked at belt rigs and selected an LRBaggs Gigpro. I got an open box model.

Controls on this were easy to use and really gave excellent tonal control.

Part 3: a great combination

The K&K Pure Mini is a very high output pickup. On a 1980's (metal era) Gibson, I have a pair of zebra open coil Dirty Finger humbuckers which are about the highest output OEM p/u out there.

The K&K mini (totally different technology) rivals those screamers in output level.

So, the pre-amp really was not needed for output levels. It did, however, add a very important level of control and shaping.

Without the pre-amp the output was very high but the sound was somewhat flat and, frankly, a little uninspiring. It sounded a little thin and lacking richness.

But once I put the pre-amp in line, it came alive!

Now, being such a hot pickup, I had to dial the gain way down to around 10%-15%, but this gave me a beautiful rich and full sound. I tweaked the 2 band EQ (treble and bass). There is a trim control (adjustable low pass filter) which I didn't need to change.

They claim this pre-amp will be the quietest thing in your signal chain and I believe it. With the output volume maxed out (they recommend this) there was not one bit of sound - no hiss, no hum, no pops, nothing, just pure silence. Their amplifier design is beautifully made and perfectly noiseless.

The sound this started making as a system was amazing.

Then I put a feedback buster on and piped it through my pedalboard, with a little compression, and into my Fender Acoustasonic 15 with a tiny bit of chorus.

The sound was glorious!

This was such a fantastic sound result I just didn't want to put it down it sounded amazing.

I could not be happier with how good this thing sounds. And such a great price, good quality, ease of installation.

I give this setup my highest recommendation.
Fazool "The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter"
Taylor GC8 / Taylor GS7 / Taylor GA3-12 / Taylor SB2-S / Taylor SB1-X / Ibanez AC-240

Last edited by fazool; 04-30-2019 at 10:21 PM.
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