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  #1  
Old 12-12-2021, 12:47 PM
sashapak sashapak is offline
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Default K&K Mini vs LR Baggs Anthem

Hi again guys,

So, I want to upgrade my Eastman E10SS K&K Mini pickup.

A couple of options I considering based on reading some posts on this forum and also watching Youtube reviews.

1. Take out the K&K and install Full Anthem
2. Keep the K&K and buy some extra equipment to make it sound better

Keen to hear your thoughts about which way you'd go for the best sound.

Below are my high level thoughts and concerns with the options.

OPTION 1:

How easy is it to take out K&K if done by a professional technician / luthier? Will it cost more than just installing a Full Anthem into a new guitar. Will K&K still be in reusable condition if I wanted to use down the line or sell it?

How much better sound can I expect with Full Anthem compared to K&K Pure mini.


OPTION 2:
I read some things about Grace Alix (Felix, Bix). Would it improve my K&K sound to Full Anthem level?

One thing I'm missing with K&K is ability to adjust the volume on the guitar itself. I'm looking at the LR Baggs Gigpro belt pre-amp. Would this be a good option to for?

Thanks in advance
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  #2  
Old 12-12-2021, 01:08 PM
kevinplarson kevinplarson is offline
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Can’t recommend highly enough the LR Baggs Voiceprint. Just by using your phone, you sample an IR that makes your K&K sound like your sound hole. You would benefit even if you did end up with an Anthem.
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Old 12-12-2021, 01:22 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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I think it would help if you told us what you don't like about the K&K. There's the volume issue, but what else? I personally would try an external pedal to improve the tone vs. ripping it out. The Tonedexter or Voiceprint would be great options.
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Old 12-12-2021, 03:44 PM
sashapak sashapak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
I think it would help if you told us what you don't like about the K&K. There's the volume issue, but what else? I personally would try an external pedal to improve the tone vs. ripping it out. The Tonedexter or Voiceprint would be great options.
Good question. Here are the things I don't like:

- I seem to get very low volume out of it even if I run it through my Zoom A1 Four. I run into feedback issues even with a feedback buster

- I seem to get better sound in my in-ear monitors when I play the guitar at home, but when I play it outdoors via my Bose S1 Pro I don't get a feeling that it sounds that great

- I want to have a volume control knob easily accessible by hand, so that I can adjust the volume on the go without having to bend down and mess with controls on the pedal or the speaker, e.g. when I run into feedback issues or if I'm switching from strumming to fingerpicking
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  #5  
Old 12-12-2021, 03:45 PM
sashapak sashapak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinplarson View Post
Can’t recommend highly enough the LR Baggs Voiceprint. Just by using your phone, you sample an IR that makes your K&K sound like your sound hole. You would benefit even if you did end up with an Anthem.
Thank you! Yeah, I had a look at them before.

Can you please elaborate how and why it'd be useful even with Full Anthem. I thought Full Anthem does a pretty good representation of the acoustic sound of the guitar
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  #6  
Old 12-12-2021, 08:15 PM
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ljguitar ljguitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sashapak View Post
Hi again guys,

So, I want to upgrade my Eastman E10SS K&K Mini pickup.

A couple of options I considering based on reading some posts on this forum and also watching Youtube reviews.

1. Take out the K&K and install Full Anthem
2. Keep the K&K and buy some extra equipment to make it sound better

Keen to hear your thoughts about which way you'd go for the best sound.
Hi sashapak…

I played K&K Pure mini plus internal mic for about 15 years through external preamps. I've heard Anthems in both average mid-grade and high end guitars, and K&K single and dual source rigs the same.

Two yrs ago I bought a ToneDexter which is a sophisticated external unit through which I recorded samples of my guitars and it converted them to IRs, which I can still effect blend between the pickup and IR, EQ, Feedback control, plus it has full direct box capability output (XLR/¼" out). It has an adjustable boost, mute, and tuner built in.

It makes use of only your internal pickup to combine with the samples. You can easily playback only the samples (IR) partial pickup combined or 50/50.

One main difference between the ToneDexter and Baggs Voiceprint is the Voiceprint needs the phone to be able to make adjustments to the signal. They both cost $300.

The ToneDexter is a free standing pedal type unit, and from my perspective, my guitars sound the most like my guitars when played through amps or PA systems of any rig I've ever used for live play (been playing it now for nearly 2 years).

The inventor, James May, frequents this forum and answers questions, and makes suggestions a lot.

He & his company have also updated it many times since it's introduction (3 major updates in the 2 years since I bought mine). It is updated by the user via the SD card slot in the unit, and Software updates downloaded directly from their site.

It works with many different types of pickups. Samples can be pulled using anything from a simple SM-57 to studio mics.

For what it's worth, when I upgraded to the ToneDexter, I left the internal K&K mics in the guitars as a backup system should the ToneDexter fail me.

Since the K&K Pure Mini is installed, I can pull the internal mic back into position and plug it into one of my 3 external two channel preamps in about 5 minutes or less.

The K&K dual source system sounds great, but in an effort towards sounding even more guitar-like I acquired the ToneDexter (it was a gift from my wife), and it does sound even better.

Three Significant points about your system sounding more like your guitar:
  • You need to have a guitar that is good enough sounding on it's own to want to make it sound like itself through amps/PA systems.
  • Any changes/upgrades you make to your amplification system are VERY likely to go un-noticed by listeners.
  • Just having a better sounding guitar doesn't assure that you are making better music.

One more thing about K&K and Anthem and similar pickups…they ALL can be made to feedback easily on a loud stage despite their claims. Trying to get one's acoustic guitar to sound both natural, and loud enough to keep up with a band is a challenging situation.

Audiences are very un-picky. They just want to hear music and enjoy it and they are not focused on gear. Better sounding guitars don't make better sounding music.

Once you have a decent rig, pickup choices or changes we make are pretty much for ourselves.

The Baggs Anthem is a dual source system which was created to compete in the same market as the K&K dual source, and I've never heard anything compelling from one being played to make me want to switch.

Comparing the K&K Dual source rigs to Anthem, when you move on to another guitar the Anthem can go with you. When you remove it from the existing guitar, you will affect the action because you are removing the under saddle pickup of the system from the saddle slot. There is a 50/50 chance of damaging a sensor on a K&K Pure mini removing it from the bridge plate.

The Anthem is comprised of an under saddle pickup, plus a mic installed on the bridge plate, plus the control unit installed inside the guitar, plus a 9v battery bag inside the guitar.

Hope this adds to the discussion…and I own my opinions





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Last edited by ljguitar; 12-12-2021 at 08:20 PM.
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  #7  
Old 12-14-2021, 04:35 PM
sashapak sashapak is offline
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Thank you very much ljguitar!

I'm reassessing based on your input and experience whether I indeed need a full anthem.

The guitar I have does sound good acoustically. I am not a great guitar player, I'm probably a late beginner, early intermediate in my own classification. Hence also why I want to improve the sound of the guitar so that the base start is good at least while I work to further improve myself.

Based on your feedback, I am thinking of trying an IR again. I once purchased NUX Optima Air, but then decided it wasn't generating enough of discernible difference compared to Zoom A1 Four. However, that time I don't remember clearly if I'd tested both plugged in or I just tested them via my in-ear monitors.

Will keep you posted on what I end up doing.
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  #8  
Old 12-15-2021, 06:34 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sashapak View Post
Good question. Here are the things I don't like:

- I seem to get very low volume out of it even if I run it through my Zoom A1 Four. I run into feedback issues even with a feedback buster

- I seem to get better sound in my in-ear monitors when I play the guitar at home, but when I play it outdoors via my Bose S1 Pro I don't get a feeling that it sounds that great

- I want to have a volume control knob easily accessible by hand, so that I can adjust the volume on the go without having to bend down and mess with controls on the pedal or the speaker, e.g. when I run into feedback issues or if I'm switching from strumming to fingerpicking
I can only offer a suggestion on the last issue, but it may help with the feedback as well. The K&K Pure preamp has a volume pot, and low, mid and high eq pots, and it clips to my waistband, making volume or eq adjustments on the fly quick and easy. Sometimes an eq or volume adjustment can suppress feedback. I've used my K&K Pure for many gigs over the years - it's rugged, works well and is simple to use. I like the sound I get from my Redeye better, but the features in the K&K are worth looking at. The price is nice too.
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  #9  
Old 12-15-2021, 08:02 AM
fwphoto fwphoto is offline
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Default Ultra Tonic K&K Conversion

I converted my K&K equipped OM-21 to the James May Ultra Tonic UTP V3.2-CK:

http://jamesmayengineering.com

This is a very straight forward conversion that fixes most, if not all, of the problems associated with the K&K. String-to-string balance is very good & the boomy low end that causes feedback in loud band situations is totally eliminated. I needed a soundhole cover before the Ultra Tonic & have removed it after the conversion. Also, the 500 K Ohm impedance means no impedance matching issues.

The Ultra Tonic just improves the K&K in every way.

Frank
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Old 12-15-2021, 08:37 AM
capefisherman capefisherman is offline
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I have used both. After going down just about every rabbit hole in Pick-Up Land (although I have not tried the James May system) and more electronic enhancers than I can even remember, I keep coming back to the K&K, which I've used in at least three dozen guitars over the last 10 or so years (multiple Martins of various sizes and materials, Taylors, Gibsons, Larivee's, others....). BUT, it became quickly obvious years ago that while the sound of the K&K is passable when run direct into an amp or PA, using a pre-amp is (IMO) vital to get the best possible sound, and yes, I am one of those who is probably MUCH to critical of what I hear. More than once I have left a venue with some guy wailing away on some poor defenseless Takamine plugged into a crappy PA.

Over the 10+ years I've been using K&K-equipped guitars I tried many pre-amps. The one made by K&K is just too harsh to my ears but I do still use one on occasion because I play lots of outdoor gigs in the summer.....beach weddings are a big thing here on Cape Cod. Used a Red Eye too for many years; better than the K&K pre-amp but still not *quite* the natural smooth sound I was seeking. There were various Baggs boxes that came and went and others I can't recall.

Then I bit the expensive bullet and bought a Grace Alix. Wow. It took me a while to dial in the sound I was seeking but finally found it: clear, clean treble end and mids, no more of the boomy bass that is something that must be dealt with using a K&K, rugged as a tank. Unless there is no power available, I cannot imagine performing without it!!

FWIW, I use a pair of Bose S1 Pro's and play a Bourgeois OM, Martin M-36, and a Martin Custom Shop Seth Avett D-35. These are all rosewood bodies but my most recent mahogany guitar (recent Martin D-18) also sounded fantastic with a K&K and the electronics listed above.

Yes, the Grace Alix is expensive. Yes, it requires AC power. And yes, there is a bit of a learning curve. But for me anyway, it is so, so worth it. At my regular cafe gig I get compliments but about every week from listeners and other musicians on the quality/fidelity of the sound. If there is any way for you to try out your guitar with an Alix, I strongly urge you to do it! Or even buy one from a place like Sweetwater who has a no questions asked 30-day return policy.

Good luck! Those rabbit holes can be very, very deep.....

Gene
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  #11  
Old 12-15-2021, 08:59 AM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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If you haven't already, try putting the guitar channel of the s1 pro on the mic setting.
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  #12  
Old 12-15-2021, 09:18 AM
ACOUSTICDEWD ACOUSTICDEWD is offline
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The K&K is perfectly paired with a Source Audio EQ2. It's expensive, but impedance matched and has the most surgical EQ possible plus a built in limiter and 80hz roll off. This is the 2nd edition of the pedal used by John Mayer, etc. I use the second channel to hit a Boss OC5 for bass



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Last edited by ACOUSTICDEWD; 12-15-2021 at 09:33 AM.
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  #13  
Old 12-15-2021, 10:21 AM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sashapak View Post
Good question. Here are the things I don't like:

- I seem to get very low volume out of it even if I run it through my Zoom A1 Four. I run into feedback issues even with a feedback buster

- I seem to get better sound in my in-ear monitors when I play the guitar at home, but when I play it outdoors via my Bose S1 Pro I don't get a feeling that it sounds that great

- I want to have a volume control knob easily accessible by hand, so that I can adjust the volume on the go without having to bend down and mess with controls on the pedal or the speaker, e.g. when I run into feedback issues or if I'm switching from strumming to fingerpicking
The Zoom A1 Four probably isn't your best preamp option for the Pure Mini. Its input impedance is a bit on the low side at 470 Kohms. (The K&K folks claim that 1Mohm is ideal.) Neither does the A1 Four have a phase inversion switch, a tool which can often be helpful for discouraging feedback.

The A1 Four definitely does have some good EQ tools available, but you need to be somewhat experienced with EQ to use them effectively. The Voiceprint and Tonedexter both have single-knob anti-feedback dials which are very easy to use. They also have phase inversion switches if/when needed. Moreover, both devices have a reputation for working well with soundboard pickups like the Pure Mini. (I suspect that the A1 Four's modeling was designed to work best with undersaddle piezo pickups or mag pickups.)
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Old 12-15-2021, 10:47 AM
tadol tadol is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fwphoto View Post
I converted my K&K equipped OM-21 to the James May Ultra Tonic UTP V3.2-CK:

http://jamesmayengineering.com

This is a very straight forward conversion that fixes most, if not all, of the problems associated with the K&K. String-to-string balance is very good & the boomy low end that causes feedback in loud band situations is totally eliminated. I needed a soundhole cover before the Ultra Tonic & have removed it after the conversion. Also, the 500 K Ohm impedance means no impedance matching issues.

The Ultra Tonic just improves the K&K in every way.

Frank
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Old 12-15-2021, 11:24 AM
erniecaster erniecaster is offline
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Hi,

since I have a MiSi Trio Air in my Eastman, I am happy. UST plus Mic - watch and listen to Aarons Youtube-Video.

cu

erniecaster
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