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Need advice...Kent Armstrong MM pickup replacement

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by DaveAceofBass, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Dear TBers,

    I need some advice. Many years ago I had a Kinal SK5 bass custom made for me. I love the bass! It originally came with Bartolini J/MM pickups. The J was awful and the MM didn't get the B string, so I had Kent Armstrong build me a replacement set. He used ceramic magnets, and the neck pickup is his "SS", which is a sidewinder design.

    Is my bridge pickup wide enough?

    Fast forward a few years...the KA pickups sound amazing, but I still was noticing a lack of punch from the low B string on the MM pickup...yet it sounds fine on the neck pup. (There is also an issue with the pups blending well passively.) I talked to Kent about this, and we thought that perhaps the pickup wasn't getting enough of the B string in the magnetic field. I tried to raise the pup closer to the string, but I had to take it to my tech to have wood put in to be able to raise it. In the meantime Kent was talking about making me a wider pup. My tech said to wait so we could check it out after it was raised...and Kent said he would make a new one. After talking to my tech, he said that the B still wasn't full all the way up the neck. I spoke to Kent the next day and decided to proceed with the wider replacement, but asked for a pup that gives me more of a jazz bass sound in single coil mode crossed with a stingray in parallel or series. The new pup has Alnico mags (for single coil mode 60s jazz bass position) on the neck side and Ceramic mags on the bridge side. It also may have a little lower DC resistance. I have to have the bass routed to put it in.

    Meanwhile, I've been trying the bass with the old raised pickup this week for a musical I'm playing. The thing is, the B string is significantly better with the raised pickup. I don't hear the same drop out on the B string. We may be close to the edge of the magnetic field, but it's getting picked up. While the new pickup may be better, especially with the Alnico mag combined with Ceramic, I'm a bit apprehensive to carve more wood in my bass. I have a ramp on the bass and the pups line up now, whereas with the new one the MM would be wider than the ramp. I'm also surprised that he didn't wind this one as hot...it says 5.5KT on each coil, where the old one says 6.5KT....not sure what that means but I think that's DC resistance. At any rate I think Kent Armstrong hand wound pickups are the best...right up there with Nordstrands and everything other great pickup. But I'm not sure what to do now.

    What do you guys think? What should I do?
  2. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    No one?
  3. The 5.5 and 6.5k means the pickup was wound 5500 and 6500 times with the wire. More wraps=more output.
    There are so many variables that contribute to the sound of your low B. The neck wood, the string tension, scale length, if the string has twisted during installation, pickup height, and so on. You can read all about it on the Frudua website as well as on TB. I trust Kent. He is a master of his craft and genuinely wants to help you. I'm thinking, though, if you are to the point of rerouting the bass and having another ramp built that seems pretty extreme but that's a question you'll have to answer yourself.
    Hope this helps.

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