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Thread: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

  1. #1

    Default K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Hello, I apologize if this has already been covered... I looked but couldn't find anything. I've got an Eastman MD514 (oval hole, not f hole), and i have a K&K pure xlr preamp i can use with it. I've been looking at pickup possibilities (mostly on forums here) without luck... here's the breakdown:
    - I'm not that certain on drilling out an end pin, so I've been looking at carpenter jacks
    - Baggs radius seems to get bad reviews (even though that's an MD514 in their promotional picture) mostly for excessive body noise and poor sound
    - AKG C411 needs phantom power, which can be kind of a pain in the a$$.
    - K&K Twin seems to be the one that everyone here loves, BUT ... seems to be set up for an F-hole ... nothing in the manual about what to do for an oval hole. issue #1 is whether it even works with the bracing setup (parallel braces longitudinally on either side of the oval hole). Issue #2 is how the cord would enter the oval hole and still get the pickups to their assigned spots... it appears nicely out-of-the-way for an f-hole, but it seems like i'd have to tape the cord in place or something to get it out of the way for an oval hole.
    - haven't heard much for positive reviews of snake-neck-condenser style mics... and they seem to be more expensive, so...?

    So it doesn't appear that there is much choice for a carpenter jack and an oval hole... any suggestions? I've read about someone attaching the K&K twin pickups on the outside of the mandolin, which might work (and be ugly) in this case... any help or suggestions appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    You can add a K&K twin or JJB single ($20) to an oval hole mandolin just fine. It is kind of annoying to install on a finished ff-hole mandolin, too. About the same with an oval-hole mandolin. The AKG Pro 35 snakeneck mic will work, but will be closer to your pick and more likely to get in the way. I'd go with an internal soundboard piezo.

  3. #3
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    If the jack and some wiring will be external you may as well have the pickup(s) on the outside, too. I would get the piezo of your choice and mount it using low tack putty where it sounds best to you. For me that location is near the bridge feet. IME external pu's and jacks are noisier and uglier than a nice clean internal installation, but I get that not everyone wants to take a drill to their instruments.

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    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I had a Pick-Up the World with a carpenter jack on my oval for several years. It worked fine, but it wasn't particularly attractive, and I was always afraid that I would step on the cord and the pressure from the carpenter jack would hurt the mandolin. Never happened, but it worried me.

    One day I finally took it to a luthier and had an internal K&K installed. It was totally worth the money to me, and I wished I'd never put the carpenter jack on.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I have a Schatten piezo with Carpenter jack that I've used on several mandolins, including an F2 with good results. Putty to apply it to the top; search for that "sweet spot" on each instrument. Most have been just behind the bass foot of the bridge. It is not a permanent installation and as Austin Bob noted, it doesn't look particularly attractive, but works well and can be switched around when your MAS kicks in and your stable of mandolins increases...

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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    If you use a Tapastring jack, they are pricey, but you will not have to drill, it's a tapered end pin and used a mini plug. I have been using several for years, I do make my own cords and use right angle switchcraft for quality plugs. Then you can mount internal and not drill.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I have 2 piezos [same tech as K&K] on my oval hole [well it's technically a small D] as well as the floating humbucker.

    Trick with K&K types is to double-sided tape the pickup on the top of the instrument, moving it around until you find the sweet spot. Then you glue them inside the instrument.

    I prefer a Les Paul style output jack, but an endpin jack is relatively non-intrusive.
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    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    My Taran Springwell oval hole has a K&K internally-mounted that works beautifully. I prefer an endpin jack but, as others have noted already, if you don't want to fit one, a Tapastring jack will also work well. I use a clamp-mounted condenser mic plus belt-mounted power supply/preamp with my Nava. I've fitted K&K inside a fair number of instruments and have been very happy with them.

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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I put a K&K into an f-hole mandolin, and it went in easily; K&K provides the "special deluxe" tool (a bent nail), and it just goes right there within each hole. Now that I own an oval-hole, I have the same issue as the OP - how do you get pickups thru that small oval? I have small hands which barely get into a guitar sound hole. I imagine that one could come up with something similar to the bent nail, but longer on the requisite sides. Still seems tricky, which led me to an external mic and clip. Not perfect, and I may break down and have a luthier do the K&K installation.

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I would think that installing a K&K in a oval hole would be much easier than in a an f-hole due to accessibility. As to the K&K supplied two-sided adhesive, it failed at a gig and I had to have it re-mounted with CA. It's permanent, but it won't happen again.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Marty mentioned the JJB alternative to the K & K. I have just installed a pair of the JJB PPS200 twins in one of my mandolins and an octave and am very happy with the result. The PPS200 is supplied with a pre-wired jack socket but is available with an end-pin jack as an alternative. The service I got from Jessie Vallad at JJB was excellent and I got both packages here in Scotland from the US in less than 10 days by USPS with no additional costs. I am using the pickups through my SansAmp DI but recently played a noisy pub gig with the mandolin straight into the PA and my fellow players were very impressed with the sound, if not the playing! I have no financial interest in JJB products - just a happy client.
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I like the sound of the tape, it mellows the pickup sound some. I don't trust the tape so I glued the tape in, added another piece of tape and glued that to the first, then glued the pickup to that. Sounds great, has not come out in years of widely varying weather circumstances. I am very pleased.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by CelticDude View Post
    I put a K&K into an f-hole mandolin, and it went in easily; K&K provides the "special deluxe" tool (a bent nail), and it just goes right there within each hole. Now that I own an oval-hole, I have the same issue as the OP - how do you get pickups thru that small oval? I have small hands which barely get into a guitar sound hole. I imagine that one could come up with something similar to the bent nail, but longer on the requisite sides. Still seems tricky, which led me to an external mic and clip. Not perfect, and I may break down and have a luthier do the K&K installation.
    I use an S-shaped soundpost setter, with putty holding the p'up on the tool. And a small inspection mirror.

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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I use an S-shaped soundpost setter, with putty holding the p'up on the tool. And a small inspection mirror.
    Thank you! Yes, that looks like it would do it.

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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ostrander View Post
    I would think that installing a K&K in a oval hole would be much easier than in a an f-hole due to accessibility. As to the K&K supplied two-sided adhesive, it failed at a gig and I had to have it re-mounted with CA. It's permanent, but it won't happen again.
    The f-hole is easy because K&K has you put each pickup just inside each hole where the notch is. I forget the directions exactly but they are pretty good, so the rest of the procedure was straight-forward. (I complicated things slightly by using the Tapas end pin jack. The only really tricky part there was soldering such thin wires.)

  17. #16

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Thanks everyone for your input. Some good insights and thoughts here. I'll do a little more research, but it sounds like i might just have to suck it up and talk to my luthier about drilling out the endpin and going with an internal setup. I appreciate having such a supportive online community!

  18. #17

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    One note on using an endpin jack - I've found them a PITA when playing sitting down, which I do from time to time. In my experience, a side mounted, Les Paul style jack works best for keeping cords out of the way when playing standing or sitting.

    To each their own and YMMV but that's my experience.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Pick guard can hide the wire coming out, if you want a Carpenter Jack..




    BTW, I Use a 90 degree cable end , in my end pin jack , and it makes playing seated and plugged in
    No Problem..
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I also use 90 degree plug (mini) and if it seems to be in the way seated run it thru your strap first then plug in. A lot safer than in the thin side where, should it get pulled, it can break the side.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  21. #20

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I've used 90 degree plugs with endpins and they do work better, but they are not always available.

    I've not had or heard of any issues with side breakage from side-mounted jacks and don't agree it's an issue. If anything, I've heard arguments that the extra routing required for an endpin jack can compromise the instrument's endblock.

    I use Vox amplugs a lot, especially when traveling, and they are not at all friendly to endpins

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    To each their own - more for the OP to consider.
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  22. #21
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    I've used 90 degree plugs with endpins and they do work better, but they are not always available.

    I've not had or heard of any issues with side breakage from side-mounted jacks and don't agree it's an issue. If anything, I've heard arguments that the extra routing required for an endpin jack can compromise the instrument's endblock.

    I use Vox amplugs a lot, especially when traveling, and they are not at all friendly to endpins...
    90 degree plugs are always available. I have several 90's that I've made myself and more that I've bought directly. I also have a few adapters that make any plug termination a 90.

    I've mounted end pin jacks in many instruments, including 3 fiddles. I need to use a right angle plug to keep my Adam's apple from getting poked by a straight plug. You really challenge credibility with the statement "extra routing required for an endpin jack can compromise the instrument's endblock." I'm not a luthier (just a mechanical engineer with more than a little background in statics, strength of materials and design) but I cannot see how enlarging and existing hole to a 3/8" - 1/2" diameter can significantly compromise an endblock.

    OTOH I can easily see how applying a force perpendicular to a straight plug inserted into an unsupported jack mounted in the side (rib) of a mandolin or fiddle could create an applied moment capable of tearing the whole jack out.

  23. #22

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    You really challenge credibility with the statement "extra routing required for an endpin jack can compromise the instrument's endblock." I'm not a luthier (just a mechanical engineer with more than a little background in statics, strength of materials and design) but I cannot see how enlarging and existing hole to a 3/8" - 1/2" diameter can significantly compromise an endblock.
    Stretch credibility or not, I've seen, and other luthiers will report, endblocks being split while drilling for an endpin jack. Especially when putting in one of those endpins with built-in electronics.

    Play nice. We're just giving the OP some insights and options.
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  24. #23
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    I have drilled many many endpins and never cracked one. If you do you are doing something wrong. I would never put an endpin with electronics in a mandolin, where would you put the battery. I have however repaired a lot of guitars where someone drilled the side out and put in a jack. I am with Mandobart with this one. I don't mean to not be playing nice, but I would not like to see the OP damage something. If a jack goes into the side it should be reinforced and on a small instrument like a mandolin that would be a hard thing to do. Once the jack is in the endblock there is a reinforcing of structure.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  25. #24

    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Hey All,
    Thanks again for all the valuable input! Just as a summary, in case other people with a similar question end up here:
    I was wondering about an external mount (carpenter jack) for an oval hole mandolin... the consensus piezo setup seems to be the K&K, but upon looking at it, it was obvious that the run from the jack to the "sweet spot" for the piezos was actually a lot longer and more difficult for an oval hole than for an f-hole, AND it seemed to me that the cord going from the jack to the hole was actually more likely to be in the way than it is for an f- hole.
    Many great responses to the question and some great ideas - and some things that i didn't even know about, like tapastring jacks.
    In the end, here's my take (and just my opinion!)
    - me trying to use a carpenter jack was mostly out of laziness and not wanting to get a luthier involved
    - the better setup is internal (and it keeps luthiers employed), and i just have to trust the installer to obsess about the "sweet spot" for the pickups as much as i would (not likely, but you never know...)
    -as for endpin hole versus bout hole... I have a POS Ibanez mandolin that came with installed electronics with a bout hole... it's a piece of metal with 4 screws surrounding the jack itself and seems very sturdy, so a bout hole can definitely work - but the whole argument about endpin versus bout seems to revolve around how it works when you're sitting, and i have to say that if i am sitting, I'm using a microphone, so it doesn't really matter...
    - in the end, I think going with a K&K with an endpin jack will be the best bet... it addresses both of my major concerns (see beginning of post and it will make me trust and pay a luthier.
    Hope this helps if you're experiencing the angst I felt before these fine mandolin folk helped me out with kind and wise opinions.
    Thanks!

  26. #25
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: K&K Twin for an oval hole?

    Tapastring does not need end block Reaming,

    still have to get out the dental Mirror and weird DIY tool to stick the pieces to the underside of the soundboard



    I got an external Schertler Dyn M a decade ago, I put it on my oval hole soundboard as needed
    and put it back in the box when It's Not.

    1 pickup solves the needs of the mando Familia, here..
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