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Old 04-30-2019, 11:28 AM
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fazool fazool is offline
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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.
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Last edited by fazool; 04-30-2019 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 04-30-2019, 02:40 PM
JackB1 JackB1 is offline
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Nice work!

I am considering installing one of these myself. Was it your first time installing a pickup of any kind?

Why do they make the end jacks on these bigger than the original size jacks?
The no drilling/reaming would be necessary. What did you use to drill out the end pin hole? Would a demmel work?

p.s. good choice on the K&K. Lots of folks gere have been tauting the HFN passive lately, but the K&K sounds a lot better to me in every video I have listened to. The HFN sounds too bright and the finger squeak sounds are really bad.
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Old 04-30-2019, 03:24 PM
martingitdave martingitdave is offline
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Congrats! You may find that the GigPro is unnecessary if you use your pedal board and have a tuner pedal with a 1M Ohm input impedance. It cleans up the signal nicely. Otherwise, you found what a lot of us have discovered. K&K is one the of the best solutions if you want to keep next to nothing inside the guitar.

I have K&K in my D-28 Marquis, because I want as little as possible in that guitar. I have the Schatten HFN (MiSi Active) in my 12 string because I need more high end response and resonance. Although, I may switch that out for an active K&K system in the future. I have a HD-28E Retro with the Fishman Aura Plus system for gigs because it's the most "bullet proof" system I've used on stage.
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Old 04-30-2019, 05:27 PM
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fazool fazool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
...Was it your first time installing a pickup of any kind?

Why do they make the end jacks on these bigger than the original size jacks?
The no drilling/reaming would be necessary. What did you use to drill out the end pin hole? Would a demmel work?
....
No. I generally just play unamplified but have done a few pickup install/repair/replace.

To have room for the contacts and shell of the 1/4" jack, the diameter needs to be larger. They do make a semi custom version that replicates a tapered pin with a 1/8" jack but it's quite a bit more money.
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Old 04-30-2019, 07:42 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Hi Fazool, an excellent job of covering the installation and the use of the GigPro!

I've installed at least a half dozen K&K Pure Minis and never held or waited 10 minutes for each transducer attachment (using gel CA). The instructions say to hold for 30 seconds, but I hold them 60 seconds before moving on to the next step.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:34 PM
JackB1 JackB1 is offline
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What tool do I need to make the end pin hole larger? Is that really all there is to it? Enlarge the hole and stick on the transducers?
Could I somehow use my current Fishman Sonitone connection and make it active and work with the existing volume / tone knobs?
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
Hi Fazool, an excellent job of covering the installation and the use of the GigPro!

I've installed at least a half dozen K&K Pure Minis and never held or waited 10 minutes for each transducer attachment (using gel CA). The instructions say to hold for 30 seconds, but I hold them 60 seconds before moving on to the next step.
They say to hold it for 30 seconds, then let it sit undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. I let it sit the full 10 minutes. I didn't hold it that long though.
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Old 04-30-2019, 10:16 PM
BigTim BigTim is offline
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Very good review. I did not know that little pre amp was out there. I was going to go with a K&K mini myself but went a different route. However I think you did a great review of the products. Thanks for sharing!!
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:57 PM
ozanbilgin ozanbilgin is offline
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Default LR Baggs Gigpro is magical

I have 3 guitars with different LR Baggs pickups. One with an I-Beam, one with an RTSII and one with a Lyric. They are all different and nice, but when you add Gigpro, it changes the equation completely. There's no guitar/pickup combination that Gigpro doesn't work. It gives you great control with few dials and buttons. And the battery lasts very long. It is a simplified version of famous Para DI. Regardless of your pickup, get an LR Baggs DI system. You will thank me later
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Old 01-24-2020, 08:34 AM
jamison162 jamison162 is offline
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I agree, the old-school LR Baggs ParaDI, Gigpro, and for dual sourcing (i.e. K&K Trinity) the MixPro are still some of the best sounding preamps made.
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:55 AM
JustMunkee JustMunkee is offline
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Please nobody take this the wrong way - the OP does say he installed it in a cheap guitar...

Does anyone have any experience with this pickup in an expensive guitar? My Lakestone needs some method of amplifying for Open Mic nights etc, and I'm loath to make any obvious mods to it... This seems an ideal solution?
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:05 AM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustMunkee View Post
Please nobody take this the wrong way - the OP does say he installed it in a cheap guitar...

Does anyone have any experience with this pickup in an expensive guitar?
Plenty of people here have installed K&Ks in much fancier guitars. It's a tried-and-true pickup at a very good price. Do a forum search... people have even tried much more expensive pickups and then gone back to a K&K Pure Mini. And a good preamp, K&K or not, will help any UST or SBT pickup.
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:07 AM
tadol tadol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackB1 View Post
What tool do I need to make the end pin hole larger? Is that really all there is to it? Enlarge the hole and stick on the transducers?

I included some pics with my installation of the UltraTonic by James May in my Santa Cruz baritone - itís basically an improved K&K design, and the install is just as easy. Just takes a little more time to tune the pick-up to the guitar, but its great once its done -



Tapered reamer designed for this job from Stew-Mac -

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Old 01-25-2020, 04:11 AM
JustMunkee JustMunkee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipotle View Post
Plenty of people here have installed K&Ks in much fancier guitars. It's a tried-and-true pickup at a very good price. Do a forum search... people have even tried much more expensive pickups and then gone back to a K&K Pure Mini. And a good preamp, K&K or not, will help any UST or SBT pickup.
Thank you!
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:20 PM
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MichaelD23 MichaelD23 is offline
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Thanks to the OP for a thorough review of the Gigapro. Just about to spring for one of these. Gonna match up with my Huss and Dalton OM and Sunrise pickup.
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