I recently traded my acoustic/electric Ovation for a beautiful ’83 Takamine acoustic guitar. My new acquisition had no electric provisions so I bought a K & K Sound Big Twin sound system for her and installed it myself. Here’s how it went.
What System To Buy?
My local music store, Orcoast Music, is a dealer for K & K Sound, which is also located right here is Coos Bay, Oregon. Since I had seen them in the store, and done a review of the K & K systems in the past, I decided a K & K Sound system was the way to go. Going online to the Orcoast K & K Sound Store, I was able to save about $25.00 on the cost of a basic Twin Transducer System, prewired to a end pin replacement output jack, as shown at left.
A Description of the Twin Spot Internal
This System is a pre-wired, twin-head piezo transducer system designed to be internally mounted in acoustic guitars and other instruments. By using two transducer heads, a more balanced sound can be attained by positioning the heads at locations to take advantage of the “sweet spots” in your guitar.
The first step is to remove the strings from the guitar. The accompanying pictures show my reinstallation. I didn’t like the sound on my first time around so I had to move the “bass” side transducer over one string to between the 4th and 5th strings. At right is my method for removing the bridge pins. Just a slight pry to loosen them is all you need. I used a folded paper napkin in the picture but anything to protect the bridge will work fine. Use caution not to injure the pins when doing this.
Now you take out the end pin and ream or drill out the end pin hole to fit the jack. I’m just showing the tools I used (I don’t have a reamer) and, since I have already done this part, I’m picturing what I did. You start with a drill bit that is just slightly larger than the endpin hole and work up to the correct size. Use care here so you don’t tear the wood around the hole.
Notice the drill bits at the right. Use bits like the upper one so they will self center in the hole. The bottom bit will present a problem here.
Notice the “step” in the size of the endpin jack at left. The bigger rear portion is the size you need to make the hole.
Once the hole is the right size, you’re ready to install the transducers. The system comes with double-sided tape for the back of the transducer. You can use Super Glue also, but I was afraid of gluing myself to the inside of my guitar so I used the tape.
The back side of the transducer, at left, has the tape applied. I removed it from between the 5th and 6th strings so I can relocate it.
The kit comes with the tape, glue, a golf tee, and a short skewer-like thing. A great tool for the guitar tool box!
Insert the tee in the hole for the string you want to place the transducer next to and slide the skewer into the next hole. Now, reach into the guitar through the sound hole and feel for the two “pegs” you have inserted. Place the transducer up against the two “pegs” and stick it to the guitar with the tape. Place the wire toward the endpin, between the two pegs. Repeat the procedure to place the other transducer.
Now you have to feed the jack through the sound hole to the endpin hole. If you have my arms, this won’t work without a little trick. Make sure you have the flat and lock washer on the jack. Be careful… they like to fall off.
Put the skewer into the endpin hole and skewer the jack as you feed it in from the other way.
Pull it out through the hole. The hole I made is a pretty snug fit so once the jack is in there, it won’t fall out. Slide on the washer and the spin the nut up finger tight.
Holding the jack so you can tighten the nut is an impossibility unless you noticed the convenient hole K&K put in the jack. Slide an Allen wrench through this hole to hold the jack while you tighten up the nut. Not one to use pliers on a nut, I opted for the trusty adjustable wrench because I was too lazy to look for the right end wrench!
Obviously, the method at left is not the right way to use the wrench but wrenching with one hand while snapping pictures with the other is inconvenient at best. Don’t over tighten… good and snug will do.
Spin on the strap button to cover the nut and washers…
… and pad it for protection while you snug it up. Once again, not too tight. Don’t spin the jack.
All done! Looks just like factory.
I plugged Madam Rose into my little Peavey amp and was surprised at how sensitive the transducers are. They pick up every finger squeak, strap creak and a whole bunch of other resonances that your guitar may have and you haven’t heard before. There are many more colors in the sound pallet that was Madam Rose before our electrical awakening, let me tell you! Some of them are not especially pleasing either.
I wasn’t too happy with my first installation as it really popped the bass. Any little mishit on a bass string was blown out of proportion to the overall sound. I moved the bass side transducer over one string (from between the 6th & 5th to between the 5th & 4th strings) and this improved that problem quite a bit.
Having said that, I am very pleased with the end result though. My Madam Rose is a chimer. She rings notes long after they’re gone from the fingerboard and these “chimes” come out really well with this pickup system. The cost wasn’t out of the ballpark either.
The pickup system I chose is really designed to be used with their preamp as there aren’t any active components in it. I didn’t want to spend that much money, to be honest, so I just got the least expensive, basic system. I’m happy with the way it sounds.
Give a listen:
Check out the K&K Sound systems at orcoastmusic.com/K&Kstore, or kksound.com. They have systems for every need and they are made right here in Oregon, USA!