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KK Baby Basses; Hot Rodding The Pickups

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Bruce Johnson, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. NickyBass

    NickyBass Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Southern New Jersey
    Wow, this is getting interesting. I owned a KK Baby Bass and thought the pickup sounded pretty good already. Bruce, if you get involved with the design, I'm sure it will be fantastic. The bass that I had was the smallest that KK offers. I only sold it because the string length was a huge switch from my upright and Ampeg BB. I can't offer help with the KK, but if you want me to try something with my Ampeg, I would love to help.
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I'd be glad to serve as a tester, being the tinkerer I am. My KK is getting quite a bit of gig time these days. I'm in the OTHER "LA" though...Lower Alabama. :). I'd be happy to pay shipping costs back and forth.
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I got my hands on a couple more bridges to experiment with, including one from Kris with the slugs, which (I believe) he may be using as his standard design now. So far, I've tried several variations:

    1. Maple bridge, no metal addtions, with the wide feet
    2. Maple bridge, with 1" diameter washers under the feet
    3. Maple bridge, with slugs recessed into the feet
    4. Jatoba bridge, shortened legs, with slugs screwed directing onto the feet bottom (only slugs touch the diaphragm)
    5. Maple bridge with rectangular steel plates under the feet
    6. Steel washers attached under the diaphragm, so that washer surrounds the pole pieces.

    On my bass, the amount of steel added seems to make less difference than the location on the diaphram, in relation to the pole pieces. I get less output and thinner tone if the metal is concentrated directly in the center, as when using the slugs. This is especially true if the feet of the bridge have been reduced to a basic square shape. I get better output from the original maple bridge with wide feet, than with reduced shape and slugs.

    When I tried the options where the steel is more spread out around on the diaphragm, as in using the washers above and below it, that seems to provide the most powerful tone and output. Seems that maybe the pickup senses more magnetic activity in the areas around the pole pieces, rather than directly above it. The option of adding a washer to the bottom of the diaphragm is really interesting to me, but I just haven't figured out how to do it permanently without affecting the flexibility. If I had more diaphragm disks to work with, I could play with this more.

    By the way, I didn't just depend on my ears. I recorded clips of each configuration in my DAW, leaving the input levels the same...so I could see, and hear the differences.
  4. Jbadboy56

    Jbadboy56 Commercial User

    Dec 23, 2012
    Springfield Ma
    owner Music World
    Its been a while since I posted on TB , good to be back.... been busy myself building pickups for BB,s... doing my own research also an trading information with my good friend Carlos Guzman who also builds magnetic diaphragm style pickups. Having acquired either broken pickups or poor sounding ones, I started winding my own bobbins playing with alnico an neo magnets , experimenting with different diaphragm sizes thickness, stiffness of springs, coil resistance series or parallel wiring , values of pots, diff caps, its was like a new hobby..... I agree with Bruce Johnson about the weakness in the KK pickup design the footprint of the bridge is very wide an covers the diaphragm an dampens it too much, the adding of the washer serves two functions increasing the metal mass an decreasing the contact with the diaphragm. The overall system is good , it is really a minor flaw, but really decreases performance. Like putting lousy frosting on a great cake!!!! I find the mistake that many of the Columbian builders make is that they wind the coils to hot an overdrive the input stage of the amps.... along with very poor quality control of bobbin manufacturing, uneven wrap, contact of the lead wires off the bobbins, a accident waiting to happen!! My experience with the KK is that its a nice solid instrument, the scale was 1/2 size on the one I have, only complaint is the thickness of the neck, I'm not sure if they have slimmer neck models... I have been working with 3 partners an we have begun to build our own BB basses made in the USA. My partners have years of experience in building instruments we are hoping to offer a wider range of instruments at all price points. I just had the gut feeling that players would appreciate being able to purchase here in the states without having to wait many months sometimes a yr for a bass to arrive to be disappointed when it final does.... Hoping to get everything together in 2015 !!
  5. RichBauer


    Feb 27, 2015
    Hello Guys
    I just saw this post about "hot rodding the pick up".
    I have the Vintage bass from KK - the waiting time was just over 7 weeks – I thought it was reasonably quick. I was looking at the feet of the bridge – the foot print mentioned in this forum. Both bridge feet on my bass seem to have 2 metal “rings “ somehow installed under the wooden bridge feet, the bridge looks like suspended above the 2 discs – it may be the same think Bruce Johnson describes in his posts about the “metal washers”? Is that what you mean by wider foot print on the bridge?
    I also have sent the question to KK.

    The bass sounds awesome and it seems to have as much volume as my fretless bass. I agree, it is solid, beautifully made instrument.

    Here is how the bridge looks, I tried to take a pic of the rings washers under the bridge - I didnt want to take the strings off.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Jbadboy56

    Jbadboy56 Commercial User

    Dec 23, 2012
    Springfield Ma
    owner Music World
  7. Jbadboy56

    Jbadboy56 Commercial User

    Dec 23, 2012
    Springfield Ma
    owner Music World
    It looks like KK has listened and narrowed the base of wooden bridge an suspended it above "washers-metal discs" above the diaphragms improving the performance of the pickup. :bassist:
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Rich, that looks just like the "updated" bridge that Kris sent me a few weeks back. If you took the bridge off, I'm pretty sure you'd find the slugs, just like the ones Bruce made early in this thread. They're countersunk into the bridge feet, for the most part. I believe he told me that's what he's shipping with all his basses now.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I'm glad that I was able to help! From all I've seen of them, Kris makes fine basses for a very reasonable price. They just needed a little minor fix. I was going to do a better version of the diaphragm and slug assembly to test out, but I've just been too busy with other things.
  10. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Bruce, if you ever make that set available, please let me know. I'd like to purchase it for my bass. I just got my fingerboard planed, which made huge playability difference, and I'd like to work more with my electronics.
  11. bassike


    Apr 24, 2008
    any news on this
  12. Thanx for shareing your experienice :) have I understand you right, that your "best" result is with the biggest washers on the bigger foots like the ones you posted earlier with a picture ? How did you attached them ? with Skrews or glue?
  13. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Right....Best result came from option #2. I found washers with center holes on a little smaller than the screw heads, and countersunk them, so that they sit flat. I guess you could glue them, but I didn't know at the time whether that option would be the best and needed to be able to remove them. And the screw adds a little more metal content.
    jesperhansen likes this.
  14. Thanx....I have also tryed some different options, and got the same resultat as you....happy New year
  15. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    Interesting thread everyone. I had a strange occurence after a gig where I was putting my gig bag on my Ampeg and a few metal discs fell on the floor about the size of the discs with the nipples under the bridge feet. I had no idea where they came from. The bass was strung up and at tension. Maybe they were in one of the pockets in the bag. It sounds like these were the extra discs that Bruce speaks about here. I don't understand where they would have been mounted, though. Under the nippled discs or over them?