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Old 04-15-2018, 03:20 PM
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Default Fishman Matrix/Ellipse Blend v. K&K Pure Mini

I've just become the owner of a second-hand Collings D2H which had a Fishman Matrix/Ellipse Blend pickup system installed. It sounds very nice plugged through my Roland AC60, but I'm contemplating removing the Fishman and replacing it with a K&K Pure Mini, because...

1) I believe the Fishman adds weight and makes the guitar feel 'heavy'
2) I'm not a lover of USTs, on the grounds that a UST affects un-plugged tone
3) I don't like batteries in my instruments
4) I'm not happy with all the wiring snaking about inside the guitar, and other paraphernalia in the sound-hole
5) All of my other instruments have K&Ks installed

Just wondering if there's anyone who has made this same change from Fishman as described to a K&K and, if so, what observations they can offer?
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:20 AM
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Shall I take that as a 'No' then?
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:23 AM
6L6 6L6 is offline
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I've had two guitars that I swapped out the installed pickups and replaced them with K&K's. For my ears, you can't beat a K&K Pure Mini and I too have them in all of my acoustics.

BTW, one of the guitars I swapped out was a Taylor 214 with their factory system. It made a HUGE improvement in tone when I put in the K&K.
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:27 AM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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It sounds as though you have already made up your mind. I used the Matrix blend for years. I had the earlier version though where the gooseneck would never stay in place, pretty sure they updated that. Personally, I found the mic to be useless so it ended up just being a Matrix system. I don't mind batteries in my guitar and the weight thing shouldn't cause any tonal change. You are going to get better feedback rejection with the Matrix system but if you know the K&K well, maybe stick with it.
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
It sounds as though you have already made up your mind.
About 60/40 in favour of ripping out the Fishman and going for the K&K, so my mind's not really made up. That's why I'm interested in the experiences and opinions of others who have done just that - if a bunch come along saying "No, don't do it!", it will probably sway me the other way.

It's the UST in the Fishman that I don't like, I believe that a guitar's acoustic tone must be negatively affected by a strip of 'stuff' between the saddle and the bridge. So I'm interested to hear about how removing the UST affected things.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:17 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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I don't really think the ust has an adverse effect on the tone, unless it's badly fitted. I've said it before the Fishman's are seriously under-rated. I think they just need to be properly EQ's to get a good sound out of them. My favorite EQ for them is the PARA EQ by Empress.

As for the UST changing tone, I've done quite a few pickup experiments with my oldest Martin, and frankly I've never heard it. And, I couldn't rip the K&K pickups out of my guitars fast enough (they came previously installed in 2 of my guitars, one in my Martin OM15, and the other in my Martin D17M, and I before that I tried one in my Parkwood LE061 and my old Martin), I always found them boxy with two exaggerated mid frequencies that never really reflected what was going on with my guitar top. And before you ask, I have tried every recommended preamp with the right impedance for the K&K, even internally mounting their own Tri-Star (which I felt was the best of all options but still lacking). I have found some magnetic sound-hole pickups, if heavy enough, damp the top a bit, but nothing drastic. I currently have a Matrix infinity combined with a rare earth in the sound-hole of my old Martin, which is extremely lightly built, and even with all that wiring, my Martin still sounds the same when recorded acoustically. I've had this guitar for over 20 years and I'm pretty aware of it's acoustic sound. Here it is...

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Old 04-16-2018, 12:35 PM
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It is possible to get a good sound out of either pickup system. Both require compromise. The Matrix UST itself does not alter acoustic tone in my experience. I did not believe this at first. But, I have experimented with the Matrix. It seems to make no difference. The material appears to be similar density and hardness as the saddle itself. But, the preamp hanging off the soundboard can. The passive K&K is light weight and OK with the right equalization. The advantage of the Fishman is that it is plug and play direct to the amplification. The K&K will take a DI Preamp and you still might not love the tone. It’s a trial and error process. The K&K will take the weight out of the guitar for sure. But the results you want are not guaranteed.
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Last edited by martingitdave; 04-16-2018 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:24 PM
Steely Glen Steely Glen is offline
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I have K&Ks in all four of my guitars. They work exceptionally if you have a good preamp and EQ. I have used a Fireye Red Eye for years and stuck an EQ pedal in the loop to pull out mids and a bit of bass and boost the trebles.

Iíve just transitioned to the ToneDexter and am dialing it in but itís very promising.

Bottom line, the K&K is great. Super light weight and no batteries to hassle with. If you know itís weaknesses and compensate accordingly, itíll deliver stellar results.
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martingitdave View Post
It is possible to get a good sound out of either pickup system. Both require compromise. The Matrix UST itself does not alter acoustic tone in my experience. I did not believe this at first. But, I have experimented with the Matrix. It seems to make no difference. The material appears to be similar density and hardness as the saddle itself. But, the preamp hanging off the soundboard can. The passive K&K is light weight and OK with the right equalization. The advantage of the Fishman is that it is plug and play direct to the amplification. The K&K will take a DI Preamp and you still might not love the tone. It’s a trial and error process. The K&K will take the weight out of the guitar for sure. But the results you want are not guaranteed.
+1 on Dave's comments...the Matrix unlike the braided, squishy Element, has no affect on the unplugged tone. I have a Matrix in my 000-18 and my friend has the newer Blend in his D-18 with the short stiff mic. If you tweak the mic & adjust it facing straight back towards the end pin it becomes much more usable and really sounds nice imo. When he bought it, I took it home and adjusted it and tested it direct thru my Loudbox, it really sounded full and warm. The mounting of the controls is in a very stiff area inside the soundhole and I'm not sure it affects the soundboard that much if at all.

** I have the M80 in my D-18 100% of the time. I've tested the affect on the unplugged tone many times, no difference. It is not a heavy mag like the Sunrise which may dampen a top a little. A well tweaked M80 sounds very warm and articulate with excellent feedback resistance.

*** My other buddy and fellow local full-time musician just bought a D-35, put in a K&K and we tested it out directly into my Loudbox. At lower usable cafe venue type volumes it sounded lovely. However, cranked up to the volumes I play at it becomes squirrelly and needs some out board help like a Platinum Pro or a Q-Strip.

**** You may wanna try the Blend out for awhile and give it a college try, you have K&K equipped guitars so having a Blend may give you some nice alternative options in tone. The onboard controls are very stage-helpful imo.

Best wishes,

eric
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Old 04-17-2018, 03:52 AM
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Thanks for the comments, all very useful and give me plenty to think about!

Quote:
Originally Posted by noledog View Post
...the Matrix, unlike the braided, squishy Element, has no affect on the unplugged tone.......You may wanna try the Blend out for awhile and give it a college try, you have K&K equipped guitars so having a Blend may give you some nice alternative options in tone. The onboard controls are very stage-helpful imo.
Eric, that's precisely what I intend to do. I'll experiment with the mic-orientation as you suggest - pointing it 'backwards' into the lower bout hadn't occurred to me, but I will give that a try. Pointing towards the neck-block, as it currently does, there seems to be very little difference between its sound and the sound from the UST.

FWIW, I have no problem with how the Fishman sounds, it's the battery and other internal clutter that's driving me nuts at the moment, together with my OCD about the UST possibly affecting un-plugged tone (and I guess the only way to lay that ghost would be to remove it, which sounds a bit like 'The Final and Irreversible Solution'!).

Thanks for your help, and if anyone has anything further to contribute, please feel free, it all helps.
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  #11  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:05 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee1404 View Post
Thanks for the comments, all very useful and give me plenty to think about!



Eric, that's precisely what I intend to do. I'll experiment with the mic-orientation as you suggest - pointing it 'backwards' into the lower bout hadn't occurred to me, but I will give that a try. Pointing towards the neck-block, as it currently does, there seems to be very little difference between its sound and the sound from the UST.

FWIW, I have no problem with how the Fishman sounds, it's the battery and other internal clutter that's driving me nuts at the moment, together with my OCD about the UST possibly affecting un-plugged tone (and I guess the only way to lay that ghost would be to remove it, which sounds a bit like 'The Final and Irreversible Solution'!).

Thanks for your help, and if anyone has anything further to contribute, please feel free, it all helps.
There's the other side of though..sometimes removing a pickup can have a negative impact on the tone. I had the Fishman Matrix blend in my Taylor for years but also kept the original ES in there as well. I loved the tone of the guitar. I removed both systems to try the Lyric and then the Amulet. My guitar has not sounded the same since. I am not saying the tonal change was due to the Fishman system but both systems seemed to tame the brightness of the guitar.
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