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K&K distortion?!?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by tww001, Aug 18, 2003.


  1. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    the output jack on my K&K double big twin and the input jack on my pure preamp seem to be having troubles. It seems as if the jacks are loose, for the crappy sound is intermittent. A majority of the time, the sound WONDERFUL...the sound I fell in love with (thanks Bob!) but everynow and then it'll start get all scratchy and staticy :spit: I'll jiggle the jack and it'll go away, but come back. it was especially bad today at a gig I had. I couldn't get it to go away. I got so mad i just stopped playing and stormed off the band stand! I've tried tightening the nuts on the outside of the jacks, but no difference. what should i do?

    As a side note, it seems as if I get a better sound from the double big twin without the pure preamp when i turn on the 9-band EQ on my hartke HA3500.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    By "pure preamp", do you mean a K&K preamp or something else? It sounds like you are getting a squirrely connection between your cable and your input/output jacks. While there can be many causes of this, the fact that it happens on both sides of the signal chain is suggestive, and points to your cable. Different patch cable manufacturers have cable end diameters that vary by (mostly) small degrees, and sometimes the ends that are too narrow can cause the connection to fail.

    Try a variety of different patch cables, and see if the problem persists. I've had cables before that would work for many applications, but would be problematic with certain pieces of gear. You can also try cleaning your cable ends to remove any FUNK barriers (technical explanation) which may impede conductivity. And always be sure that your battery is fresh, as a tired battery can cause all sorts of weirdage. Good luck.
     
  3. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    yes, it's the K&K Pure Preamp I bought from Bob Gollihur. I will check with a new cable, thanks, but the cable is brand-new, as is the battery
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The fact that the cable is new probably rules out the "dirty contact" possibility, but says nothing about the diameter of the ends. If possible, eyeball the jack diameter of the cable you've been using against that of other cables (a micrometer would be a better option, but not many people have one lying around). I own two K&K preamps, and the only problem I've ever had with either has been due to a cheapo cable (in my case, a cheapo stereo cable) that wasn't making full contact with the internal jacks of the preamp.
     
  5. I use, and really like, the K&K Bass Max. Had a situation where my sound suddenly became crackly and intermittent (mid-ballad w/female vocalist, of course), then died entirely. Turned out the wire had separated from the piezo element in the pickup. Talked to Karla at K&K, returned the bad pickup, they replaced it free of charge, no questions asked. Fast, professional service (just like Bob G.) Sounds like you might have the same problem.
    I don't particularly like the Walt Disney jack mount that the Bass Max and so many other pickups use. It's too easy to dislodge the female jack from its position between the strings, and possibly yank on the wire in the process. Bending the flanges of the bracket in a bit further helps, I wish they'd provide enough wire to mount the thing securely to the tailpiece.
    And if the mounting nut comes loose, a little dab of Loctite will keep it tight.

    BTW, don't mean to lecture or anything, but don't get mad and storm off the stand if your gear malfunctions. Shut off the amp, finish the set acoustically, fix the problem between sets.
     
  6. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Not to be too much of a curmudgeon, but this is exactly what happened with mine, and Dieter blamed it on abuse and offered only a discount. Granted, it was out of warranty, but I still didn't like that answer, as it had spent the majority of its life in a drawer, as I only used it on big band gigs. Added to the fact that it crapped out when trying to show it to my teacher in an effort to convince him to use it rather than his Fishman didn't impress me too much. Also, this was apparently a problem on 3-5% of their Bass Max pickups, which I believed was a design flaw that should have warranted replacement of faulty products regardless of warranty, similar to a recall problem on a car.

    I compared that with Schertler, who took back the 10" woofer because I didn't like it, and who replaced a guy I know 9 year old Stat B (old design with 2 elements) with a new one.

    In the interest of fairness, K & K did fix the floppy gooseneck problem they had on the golden trinity, and I've found dealing with Bob great, but I don't care for K & K itself and have no desire to use their products any more.

    Monte
     
  7. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    The fact that the jack on both the pickup and preamp are encountering problems does point to the cable as a suspect -- the two jacks are of a completely different type, one a barrel-type and the other a circuit board-mounted unit. The 3-5% failure figure you quote is not correct, perhaps some confusion on the phone with Dieter (his English sometimes gets mangled); I asked him and he said that is not the case. They began using different jacks on all their units quite some time ago, and they are not generally a problem.
     
  8. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Not to be argumenative, but he did say that they had trouble with 3-5% of them, which was the reason they changed. He tried to back off of that later, but it was in an e-mail to me. I have no doubt that they have a failure rate much less than that AFTER they changed the design.

    Why would you change the design if there was no flaw was my question to him.

    Again to all reading; Bob's cusomer service has always been excellent, so please don't mistake my problems with K & K for problems with him.

    Monte
     
  9. dvmweb

    dvmweb

    Apr 20, 2002
    Atlanta MI 49709
    I have had a bass max pick up for about a year and a half. I found that if I didn't use a good quality cable it would intermittently short out and cause a crackling rattling sound. I thought for sure something was loose in my bass. I bought a cable (90 deg/straight 1/4" 25ft)from BGollihur. It fixed it. If I used a $35 planet wave cable, it was ok too. But, if I used a discount cheapie cord it would shrot and crackle. BTW I have stored electrical equipment for long periods and have found that moisture and corrosion will cause them to perform poorly. Dry and cool works.
    Walt MI/US
     
  10. Me too. I prefer the type of jack the Underwood uses, wrapped in rubber tubing and connected with a zip-tie. It's more secure yet easily removable. Chris (or anyone else who has one), what is on the jack end of your "Double Bass Max"? Also what is the sound difference between it and the Underwood? Do you suppose the rubber sheathing on the piezo part has anything to do with it, as a dampening agent?
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    The jack end of the Double Bass Max on my backup bass is a jack just like the Bass Max jack, only stereo. The one on my regular bass ends in a 1/4" stereo plug, which I blend to mono and mix with the K&K Trinity mic. I made the other half of this pickup out of two elements of an old Double Big Twin, some electrical tape, and some two-sided foam tape with help from (ALL HAIL) Bob Gollihur on the phone between two gigs. It doesn't look so great (photo on my site on the gear page if anybody wants to see it), but it sounds so good, I figure why mess with it?

    The sound - there's a live recording of "Sometime Ago" on the site on which the bass sound was recorded as part direct, and part mic on the speaker cabinet that could give you a much better idea than the description, but the tune is long and the download is too. But if I had to describe the sound, I would say warm and round and with oodles of sustain, and there's definitely some "wood" in there as well.

    I've also never had any problem with the between the strings mounting, and I much prefer it as it never rattles itself, and holds the cable far enough away that the cable never rattles either. But that's just me. :)
     
  12. JonB

    JonB

    May 27, 2003
    Indianapolis
    I, too made a "double Bass Max" to go with the Golden Trinity mic, but soldered the two piezo outputs together at one terminal of the stereo jack. The mic goes to the other. In doing this I was able to eliminate the 1/4" mono jack, shorten the wires and put on some shrink wrap so it looks a little better. The mono jack had been troublesome and noisy for me too, as had a cheap stereo wire. I replaced the stereo wire with one of Bob's industrial strength wires and have had no problems at all since.
    I used the K&K preamp, mounted on the tailpiece for a long time, and it worked fine, but have recently replaced it with the Raven Labs PMB II.
    Hope this helps.
     
  13. Thank you both for the info. JonB, did you also use part of a Double Big Twin for the soundpost side, or did you use 2 Bass Max's? Just curious.
     
  14. JonB

    JonB

    May 27, 2003
    Indianapolis
    2 Bass Maxes
    BTW, wedging them in with maple shims seems to sound better than the prescribed sax reed or spruce shim.
     
  15. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    yes, it seems as if the Belden cable i purchased from Bob G. is to blame. I used a friend's Planet Earth cable and it sounded great.

    Any ideas as to why the DBT sounds just as good (if not better) without the pure preamp? is the 9-band EQ on my Hartke enough to balance the signal?
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Some amps have an input impedance that is fine for piezoelectric pickups, and some don't. If I knew enough math to understand the formula for impedance matching, I'd just check the specs. The old fashioned way, of course, is to just plug 'er in and let'er rip and ask questions later. I'd still keep the preamp in the bass case though, since you never know when you might find yourself playing on someone else's amp whose input impedence is a terrible match for your p/u, in which case it's nice to have the option of not sounding like **** all night. :)
     
  17. My understanding is this. If the signal from your p/u has too high an impedance for the input, the full spectrum of frequency will not be represented (usually the lows will be cut). Maybe this is providing the right EQ for the sound you're after.

    On the other hand, I'm not crazy about my K&K preamp, either. I prefer the sound when I use my Fishman preamp with either the Bass Max or Underwood - I get a nice fat bottom without boominess. The Fishman has an input impedance of 10M ohms, compared to 1 for the K&K.

    As always, your results may vary, void where prohibited, etc. etc. etc. Hope that helps.