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Thread: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

  1. #1
    Registered User crooksj's Avatar
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    Default Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Hoping for some suggestions on how to best install a K&K mandolin twin pickup into a new build. I plan to do the install after the finish is sprayed, so will be starting with a 1/4 hole drilled in the end block (needed for my spraying handle)and a James tailpiece.

    My thoughts were to enlarge the end block hole and the tailpiece opening to 15/32 for the pickup. I expect this will need to be done while the tailpiece is installed to assure alignment, using a stepped drill bit from 1/4 to 15/32 through the mounted TP, then finish with a straight 15/32 bit though the end block? Seem reasonable? What am I missing? A little worried about getting a clean hole on the tailpiece. Thanks!

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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Drill the tailpiece before mounting it on the mandolin. Your spraying handle can be in the mandolin and it will be easy to drill the mandolin thru the tailpiece to the new size.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    I've installed K&K and JJB twin piezo pickups in 4 fiddles and many f and oval hole mandos. You don't install the pickups through the tail block. The best way is to install them during the build. In an already built instrument they go in through the sound hole.

    I use a violin soundpost setting tool to get them in place.

    The most important thing is your output jack. I've used switchcraft switchjacks, screw-in jacks and Tapastring's vintage jack. Figure out what you're going to use and how you'll mount it as this will dictate when you solder up your connections and mount the piezo's.

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    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    I prefer to have the tailpiece mounted when I drill for the endpin jack. It's easy to drill through both the TP and the tailblock with a step bit until you get the TP hole big enough for the jack, and doing it this way insures that the holes are aligned perfectly. Then I'm left with a tapered hole in the block, and my Stewmac tapered endpin jack reamer makes quick, safe work of enlarging that to the perfect size for the endpin jack. Using the reamer instead of a drill bit to do this prevents chipping on the outside of the instrument and blowout on the inside of the end block.

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  7. #5
    Registered User crooksj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I've installed K&K and JJB twin piezo pickups in 4 fiddles and many f and oval hole mandos. You don't install the pickups through the tail block. The best way is to install them during the build. In an already built instrument they go in through the sound hole.

    I use a violin soundpost setting tool to get them in place.

    The most important thing is your output jack. I've used switchcraft switchjacks, screw-in jacks and Tapastring's vintage jack. Figure out what you're going to use and how you'll mount it as this will dictate when you solder up your connections and mount the piezo's.
    Sorry , meant output jack, not pickup. Thanks!

  8. #6

    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Quote Originally Posted by crooksj View Post
    Hoping for some suggestions on how to best install a K&K mandolin twin pickup into a new build. I plan to do the install after the finish is sprayed, so will be starting with a 1/4 hole drilled in the end block (needed for my spraying handle)and a James tailpiece.

    My thoughts were to enlarge the end block hole and the tailpiece opening to 15/32 for the pickup. I expect this will need to be done while the tailpiece is installed to assure alignment, using a stepped drill bit from 1/4 to 15/32 through the mounted TP, then finish with a straight 15/32 bit though the end block? Seem reasonable? What am I missing? A little worried about getting a clean hole on the tailpiece. Thanks!
    I would just get a bigger spraying handle that is 15/32...drill the hole once. very accurately without a step or taper. or wrap tape around your spraying handle to increase its size to 15/32, but again I would line up the tail piece, and mark for all 4 holes. you will notice that it is a very tight fit at 15/32 and you will still need to increase the size so your not struggling getting it in.
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    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    If I understand the question correctly, the hole in the tailpiece doesn't need to be 15/32", because the SwitchCraft jack has a shoulder, and the end fits through a standard tailpiece hole (e.g. James tailpiece). You install the jack and then put the tailpiece over it, and then put the hex nut and strap button nut over the tailpiece. Then, the jack is locked to the tailpiece (you can discard the larger nut that is meant to go inside the instrument). You can install the jack either from the inside or the outside (assuming you've de-soldered the pickup first).

    The StewMac reamer, while expensive, is definitely the tool for the job of enlarging the original hole to the jack size. I prefer to use an initial 1/4" for a spraying handle, because the handle will mar the interior of the hole and the finish will never be perfect right around the hole. When you enlarge the hole for the endpin or jack as a final step, you end up with a nice clean hole and clean finish in that area.

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    Registered User crooksj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    If I understand the question correctly, the hole in the tailpiece doesn't need to be 15/32", because the SwitchCraft jack has a shoulder, and the end fits through a standard tailpiece hole (e.g. James tailpiece). You install the jack and then put the tailpiece over it, and then put the hex nut and strap button nut over the tailpiece. Then, the jack is locked to the tailpiece (you can discard the larger nut that is meant to go inside the instrument). You can install the jack either from the inside or the outside (assuming you've de-soldered the pickup first).

    The StewMac reamer, while expensive, is definitely the tool for the job of enlarging the original hole to the jack size. I prefer to use an initial 1/4" for a spraying handle, because the handle will mar the interior of the hole and the finish will never be perfect right around the hole. When you enlarge the hole for the endpin or jack as a final step, you end up with a nice clean hole and clean finish in that area.
    Thanks, the end dia. of the Jack is stepped down to 3/8”, which will fit through the TP hole, but the length of that section is not enough to make it through the thicker James TP and still allow the strap button nut to seat far enough to allow the male jack cable to fully seat. Looks like a stamped TP would work. The 15/16” dia. Section needs to extend past the rim into or thru the TP, requiring the TP hole enlargement...as far as I can tell. Don’t yet have my James TP yet( due to a delay at his plating vendor) to help me confirm.

  12. #9
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    It works fine with a James tailpiece— no need to enlarge the hole. Just remove all the nuts, and then the shoulder on the jack goes right up against the inside of the tailpiece, and the right amount of the jack extends through the tailpiece to install the two nuts on the outside. I’ve installed dozens of them that way... If you enlarge the hole in the tailpiece then there’s no way to lock the jack to the tailpiece, and you’ll need a nut on the inside of the instrument, which is a big hassle.

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  14. #10
    Registered User crooksj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice needed on K&K mandolin twin pickup install

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    It works fine with a James tailpiece— no need to enlarge the hole. Just remove all the nuts, and then the shoulder on the jack goes right up against the inside of the tailpiece, and the right amount of the jack extends through the tailpiece to install the two nuts on the outside. I’ve installed dozens of them that way... If you enlarge the hole in the tailpiece then there’s no way to lock the jack to the tailpiece, and you’ll need a nut on the inside of the instrument, which is a big hassle.

    Ahhhh...I finally understand. Thank you! I ordered the STewMac reamer.

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