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  1. #1

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    Ok so I decided to try and switch out the Zoller in my Heritage for a Kent Armstrong 12 pole PAF (handwound, ordered from WD music UK). It just arrived. There is a very detailed wiring instruction for all kinds of situations - "if your lead wire looks like this, use fig. 4"... except my lead wire isn't anywhere :-). Luckily it's obvious how to hook it up to the volume pot.

    But I'm wondering how you guys have attached it to the pickguard. Archtop.com has a detailed instruction recommending to drill a hole and attach a screw... but it's not obvious where it's safe to drill. And somewhere else it says to glue it in place.

    How have you done it and what kind of glue? Pickguard is made of wood. Pickup is some kind of epoxy resin. The wires are attached right at the outer corners of the side "tongue", so it appears one could drill a hole in between, but no clue if/where they meet in the middle... what's the recommended approach?
    Last edited by frankhond; 09-14-2020 at 08:30 AM.

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  3. #2

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    I used 3M double sided tape. It has held really well on the two guitars I have used it on.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    I used 3M double sided tape. It has held really well on the two guitars I have used it on.
    Well that sounds easy... do you have something under the pickup as well to support it?

  5. #4

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    A small block of dense foam attached to the pickup (but not the top) by the same double sided tape.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    A small block of dense foam attached to the pickup (but not the top) by the same double sided tape.
    Could you provide a photo I would like to see?

  7. #6

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    Put a Benedetto S6 floater on a Washburn J600k. Cut and filed a slot on the finger rest for the pup’s tongue but could not get the screw to hold it in place. Used an epoxy. Cut a small, 1/4”?, length of insulation tubing and placed it beneath the pickup to level it.

    That nice pickup is now permanently attached to a less than stellar guitar.

    Would not do it that way again.

  8. #7
    Took off the pickguard to measure and it turns out some bozo had a similar idea, except he/she/it stuck the foam (or some rubbery substance) to the lid... and the paint is clearly affected. Bummer.

    Another interesting fact is the wooden block under the pickguard, apparently the original Heritage pickup is attached with poles or something.

    Not sure what is best here frankly, maybe I just need a new pickguard and leave this one alone. Or should I try to loosen the glue remove the wood block?

    And what to do with the foam... the KA is a couple millimeters narrower than the Zoller, if I mount it right where the neck ends, the foam will poke out.

    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-e24990cf-d3d8-47c1-83ba-f36fe1fb5e83-jpegHow to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-0d8858b6-3fe4-45fd-8c75-d112bb5494c1-jpegHow to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-215c270a-3d23-4bb6-8f3f-6617428a6f0d-jpeg
    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-59490155-3f46-495e-b9bc-b4d0850fb2fa-jpeg

  9. #8
    If I place the KA so it covers the foam it needs to come out away from the neck a bit. Is that acceptable?

    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-4133577f-6293-400a-9dda-cc124b350576-jpeg

  10. #9

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    Compare the pickup locations of the Gibson ES-175 vs. Gibson Johnny Smith and you’ll see that there’s a wide range of acceptable pickup locations. And I don’t think there is a sweet spot relative to a harmonic node on the string—after all, the nodes move around as you fret the strings.

  11. #10

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    After 3 years some of the adhesive seems to be lifting on the spacer but the pickup is still solidly mounted...

  12. #11

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    Is that a Heritage guitar? If yes it’s been done many times before.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    Is that a Heritage guitar? If yes it’s been done many times before.
    Yes that’s a Heritage guitar. But I’m not sure what you mean by “it”?

  14. #13

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    I mean many have mounted the KA on Heritage guitars. Look around you’ll find them. I had a Golden Eagle which had that pup on it. I bought it that way.

    Both members pkirk and Spook410 here have mounted the KA to their guitars. PM then. See this thread for their contact info, and their guitars.

    Kent Armstrong Floating PAF Humbucker vs. Mini-hum

  15. #14

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    Not what you will want to hear, but this is not a simple home enthusiast job.

    For attachment, Gorilla Brand CA (from Home Despot and other sources) works extremely well.

    As KirkP (and stupid-simple physics) note, no there is absolutely no magic PU location whatsoever. Slide it a little north or south if you prefer.

    There will be a general difference in sound as you move closer to or farther from the bridge, but there is no actual “node” location in actual playing use. No.

    Really, no.

    The tricky part is getting the PU height and PU angle right.

    The 12 pole has very effective pole piece adjustment, but you still will notice a difference in sound based on overall height and any slope that puts the PU closer to one E string vs. the other.

    This can require VERY careful cutting away of the underside of the pick guard (or adding very carefully cut shims, that may need to be not flat) to get your desired result.

    In any case, for the adhesive, I have had great and very durable results using the Gorilla CA. Many other CA adhesives will be either too brittle, or they will kick absurdly quickly, which lends a needless thrill to the process.

    I mean the regular Gorilla CA. It is somewhat thicker, but definitely not the Gorilla “GEL” CA.

    There are other medium-viscosity, impact resistant CA adhesives that may work every bit as well. I just have had specifically great results from the Gorilla CA in this exact application.

    This one:

    Access Denied

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Ok so I decided to try and switch out the Zoller in my Heritage for a Kent Armstrong 12 pole PAF (handwound, ordered from WD music UK). It just arrived. There is a very detailed wiring instruction for all kinds of situations - "if your lead wire looks like this, use fig. 4"... except my lead wire isn't anywhere :-). Luckily it's obvious how to hook it up to the volume pot.

    But I'm wondering how you guys have attached it to the pickguard. Archtop.com has a detailed instruction recommending to drill a hole and attach a screw... but it's not obvious where it's safe to drill. And somewhere else it says to glue it in place.

    How have you done it and what kind of glue? Pickguard is made of wood. Pickup is some kind of epoxy resin. The wires are attached right at the outer corners of the side "tongue", so it appears one could drill a hole in between, but no clue if/where they meet in the middle... what's the recommended approach?
    Hi Frank
    What were your issues with the Zoller?
    I had one which was very unbalanced across the strings and honky sounding.
    Cheers.

  17. #16

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    As 2B's noted, I did this some time back.

    I drilled and tapped the pickup ear being careful not to hit the wires inside the potting material. I then drilled and chamfered to get a couple of flush screws holding it on the wooden pickguard. Was very careful not to strip the tapped holes as I'm not sure how tough that potting plastic is. But it's a good solid connection and has been firmly in place for something like 10 years now. There's nothing between the pickup and the top of the guitar except a little air. I adjusted the height of the pickup by re-installing the pickguard at the height needed. Actually I made an aluminum (started with 1" L bracing if I recall) mount for the pickguard that's slotted allowing me some adjustment for pickguard height.

    I'm not all that handy with tools but managed it. Does take a lot of patience to get everything lined up just right. I do recommend practicing on scrap first. And maybe a pickguard that you're not attached to in case you screw it up.

  18. #17

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    Hey Spook, thanks for chiming in. So what you’re saying is if you can mount it anybody can? Me, I’d head for a luthier to mount it and quick!

  19. #18

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    Do not use foam or any other plastic material between the pickup and the guitar top.
    It often has a chemical reaction with the lacquer.

    Use cork or felt instead.
    I have been working through my $5 bag of 106 adhesive-backed felt furniture glides from The Home Depot for several years. The adhesive-backed side goes to the underside of the pickup. And the pieces can be stacked, shaped and trimmed with a razor knife as necessary.

    I use a standard clear 5-minute 2-part epoxy to adhere the pickup tab to the underside of a pickguard for permanent installations. Shaping a space for it is rudimentary woodwork. Plastic pickguards are even easier to work with than wood.

  20. #19

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    I have used BluTack to just stick the pickup to the top. Two small blobs (the size of a pea or even a bit smaller) will do nicely, but do not place them on the magnet. You can pull out the magnet when removing the pickup... speaking from experience. It's just set into the epoxy. The magnet pops right back in, so not the end of the world, but it sure is a surprise! BluTack is grippy stuff. Thus far no damage to the finish on my guitar, but of course I can make no guarantees.

    Way simpler than other mounting methods. Locate where you want it, press down. About three minutes and you're plugged in and playing (not including soldering the pots). Others here have done this.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    Hey Spook, thanks for chiming in. So what you’re saying is if you can mount it anybody can? Me, I’d head for a luthier to mount it and quick!
    Although drilling/tapping is recommended by some I haven't seen anyone else doing it that way. It's an elegant solution but maybe too much work. Would probably be better to have a machinist do it than a luthier.

  22. #21

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    I don't know about your specific need/application, but I have been using the scotch *clear* tabs for years without any damage. They hold strong and will pull off quite easily after a long time.

    Sorry! Something went wrong!

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    Hi Frank
    What were your issues with the Zoller?
    I had one which was very unbalanced across the strings and honky sounding.
    Cheers.
    It just doesn't sound like a nice jazzy floating humbucker, kind of stringy and boring. I can get a pretty good acoustic-ish sound with the right amp setting but doesn't really complement what I think this guitar is meant to do. There are some big names that supposedly used one at some point but looking at youtube, that's not what you see 99 percent of the time.

    I had a teacher with a vintage Epi that sounded great through a Zoller but it wasn't that jazzy humbucker sound either, and that guitar was something very special.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Do not use foam or any other plastic material between the pickup and the guitar top.
    It often has a chemical reaction with the lacquer.
    Yeah and the bozo that put that foam there sure proved the point.

    I'm gonna see if I can clean that up with some naphta. Can't be much worse than it is now.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    Hi Frank
    What were your issues with the Zoller?
    I had one which was very unbalanced across the strings and honky sounding.
    Cheers.
    So I am looking for a LESS honky midrangy thunk sound, instead, want more of a natural acoustic tone. I guest this is not the choice?

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    So I am looking for a LESS honky midrangy thunk sound, instead, want more of a natural acoustic tone. I guest this is not the choice?
    It was explained to me that the Zoller has an "acoustic" sound... but it's really a single coil pickup with some pseudohumbucker properties, something like that will never sound acoustic. It does have less of that jazzy humbucker sound. But to me, on this guitar, it sounds uninspiring.

    My teacher used to blend microphone and pickup sound which gave an interesting acoustic/electric quality. He uses one of those Bose PA's with the tall stick type of speaker and it sounds great in a small space. On a big stage, on TV etc I wasn't much into his sound, it just sounded like a bunch of strings... but that's just my preference, and there are plenty of people who disagree.

    Looking at Hall, or Zoller himself on youtube, they usually play some humbucker that's cut into the top and when it sounds "acoustic" it's often a combo of microphone and playing on the 1/3d of the neck nearest the nut where the sound is less rich...

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    It was explained to me that the Zoller has an "acoustic" sound... but it's really a single coil pickup with some pseudohumbucker properties, something like that will never sound acoustic. It does have less of that jazzy humbucker sound. But to me, on this guitar, it sounds uninspiring.

    My teacher used to blend microphone and pickup sound which gave an interesting acoustic/electric quality. He uses one of those Bose PA's with the tall stick type of speaker and it sounds great in a small space. On a big stage, on TV etc I wasn't much into his sound, it just sounded like a bunch of strings... but that's just my preference, and there are plenty of people who disagree.

    Looking at Hall, or Zoller himself on youtube, they usually play some humbucker that's cut into the top and when it sounds "acoustic" it's often a combo of microphone and playing on the 1/3d of the neck nearest the nut where the sound is less rich...
    Sounds pretty nice here. I've been experimenting with using an "acoustic" amp rather that an electric guitar amp. You'd be surprised at how many pickups have a fairly full range output, but it's the electric guitar amp that doesn't make it happen.



    Now of course, if you want that midrange honky thunk, that's different issue.

  28. #27

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    zoller pickups were designed to have a very even/flat and extended frequency response...they don't emphasize certain frequencies like most pups do...

    thats why they get the "acoustic" tag...but they don't make your guitar sound like an acoustic...they just have a broad frequency range

    with zollers it's all about your guitar v&t controls and amp settings

    you have to dial in your tone...but the skys the limit


    cheers

  29. #28

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    As we gently drift off topic into how pickups sound rather than installation....

    I have never played a Zoller. Not to put words in your text but seems you feel it sounds a bit sterile and who wants that?

    When I run an Armstrong 12 pole through an acoustic rig, it does sound more acoustic. Not as much as a acoustic pickup like a Sunrise and strings matter. When I run the Armstrong through a guitar amp it has a rich jazzy sound. I can get something in between using good EQ and a full range acoustic set up. And then there's the question of the modeler in the mix.

    If you want that jazzy electric archtop sound (e.g. Gibson L5 and 175) you might consider either a Bartolini or mini humbucker to start. Not sure but thinking you might be able to use the same holes as your Zoller. Also you might pitch the whole idea for a bit while you try different strings and amplification settings. Or maybe an amp modeler as they get cheaper.

  30. #29
    The best sound I got out of the Zoller was with the DI amp in NeuralDSP's Archetype Cory Wong, it's some king of Neve console simulator. With my amp I couldn't really dial in a good tone. Maybe an acoustic amp, or some kind of flat response solid state jazz amp would be the ticket... but I'll take my chances with a different PU.

  31. #30

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    FYI, the way that pickup is *supposed* to be mounted is to either glue or screw the tab to the pickguard. I know it sounds scary.

    BTW, Kent offers a version without the tab, with a bracket for neck mount like your Zollar.

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    FYI, the way that pickup is *supposed* to be mounted is to either glue or screw the tab to the pickguard. I know it sounds scary.

    BTW, Kent offers a version without the tab, with a bracket for neck mount like your Zollar.
    The Zoller wasn’t really mounted to the neck, someone just put it there, squeezed the bracket and put that glob under it. The original pickup on these guitars is side mounted.

  33. #32
    Anyway, I cleaned of that foam and it had reacted really badly with the nitro finish.

    So I give up... and submitted the guitar to a trusty luthier at TLL guitars. He’ll fill that up and mount the pickup.

    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-b031ce6d-06e9-43f1-a084-136c36f31dbd-jpeg

  34. #33
    And the guitar is back. The finish repair is all but invisible unless you know exactly what to look for. And the KA sounds great, the guitar has a huge warm tone that becomes more woody/acoustic-ish as you roll off the volume, exactly how I want it. Happy ending :-)

    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-dbe7bdba-7570-47e5-a625-71d68e89f06f-jpg

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    If I place the KA so it covers the foam it needs to come out away from the neck a bit. Is that acceptable?

    How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-4133577f-6293-400a-9dda-cc124b350576-jpeg
    ....FWIW I wouldn't mind that space to pick there at all....and somewhere near this location - toward the bridge -is the natural harmonic.....

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    It just doesn't sound like a nice jazzy floating humbucker, kind of stringy and boring. I can get a pretty good acoustic-ish sound with the right amp setting but doesn't really complement what I think this guitar is meant to do. There are some big names that supposedly used one at some point but looking at youtube, that's not what you see 99 percent of the time.

    I had a teacher with a vintage Epi that sounded great through a Zoller but it wasn't that jazzy humbucker sound either, and that guitar was something very special.
    Thanks. Apart from mine seeming to be faulty in terms of the quiet high E, it did produce a tone similar to the tone on the clip in Woody Sound's post #26. There's something I don't like about the tone of the middle strings when fretted from about the 7th fret and above. Not sure if it's a certain frequency range that's unpleasant to my ears.
    I have temporarily replaced it with an Ibanez, supposedly from their (budget) AF84E on my Fenix FAE8, EER lookalike. I like the idea of the KA 12 pole but I've also thought about the RC1000.How to sidemount Kent Armstriong 12 pole floating PAF-20200607_153107-jpg

  37. #36

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    If the pickup is close to the strings, a very small change in pickup height can make great difference in string-to-string balance and attack. I have a Kent Armstrong HJGS-1 Smooth Sam which is a Johnnie Smith type pickup with no adjustable pole pieces. It sounds good, but it’s always bugged me that the top two strings are noticeably louder than the wound strings, especially the jump between the G and B strings. I realized that the treble side of the pickup seemed unusually close to the treble side of the pickup. Unfortunately, with the pickup glued to the pickguard the only way to correct that is to lower the pickguard.

    I realized I could experiment with this by removing two screws attaching the pickguard to the neck and push the pickguard toward the top while playing it (a tricky maneuver). The string balance and attack were much improved. The bass side of the pickup rests against the guitar top, so the height of that side of the pickup wasn’t affected.

    I wanted to fix the pickguard at a lower height without filling and drilling the screw holes in the neck, so I elongated the holes in the pickguard mount to allow the pickguard height to be adjusted when the screws were loosened. Unfortunately, even a small change in pickguard height required a very slight change in the bend angle of the metal bracket to get the pickup realigned with the end of the neck. I’ve highlighted the two places I had to adjust below.

    This very slight lowering of the pickguard made a very significant improvement in the balance of the top to strings to the lower strings with exception of the G string, which is now a bit too low in volume. I can live with that for a while, but I really want adjustable pole pieces so I can get it right. (Athough I wonder if lowering the treble side of the pickguard a little more might help improve the G vs. B balance—maybe I’ll try that.)

    I’m trying to decide between replacing the pickup with a Johnnie Smith style pickup with pole pieces or a reissue DeArmond RC1100. I already have an RC1100 on a Gibson L-7 and really like it, but I wonder if I’d be happier sticking with a more modern humbucking pickup on the Eastman. Decisions, decisions.

    Edit: After posting the above a played it a bit more and it’s really pretty close to acceptable. I think I should try lowering the pickup just a bit more before I make a decision. My wife asked if I thought anyone but me could hear the difference. I said probably not, but it’s kind of like having a pebble in your shoe. Maybe no one else will notice, but I sure do.
    Last edited by KirkP; 10-03-2020 at 05:21 PM.

  38. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Sounds pretty nice here. I've been experimenting with using an "acoustic" amp rather that an electric guitar amp. You'd be surprised at how many pickups have a fairly full range output, but it's the electric guitar amp that doesn't make it happen.



    Now of course, if you want that midrange honky thunk, that's different issue.
    I think that's the Hofner Zoller signature guitar, guessing that they developed the guitar to be used with that pickup... But to me, that's not a great jazz sound, and not what you see Zoller play and sound like in many of the concert videos. I do hear a midrange honk here, but thinner. Perhaps that guitar has a natural honk and the pickup is thinning it out in just the right way.

    The KA actually doesn't honk much on my Heritage - that guitar is x braced and has a "wide" sound, which translates to a huge tone that I can thin out and shape with my amp by rolling down the bass, or using a different pick.

  39. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    I like the idea of the KA 12 pole but I've also thought about the RC1000.
    Based on the dearmonds one can hear on the web and the KA on my guitar, they seem to be opposites... the dearmond seems to have a thinner sound you would make fatter with your amp and technique. The KA is a fat pickup you thin out.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Based on the dearmonds one can hear on the web and the KA on my guitar, they seem to be opposites... the dearmond seems to have a thinner sound you would make fatter with your amp and technique. The KA is a fat pickup you thin out.
    So do you add bass and mids to fatten a thin pickup and remove bass and mids to thin a fat pup?

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Based on the dearmonds one can hear on the web and the KA on my guitar, they seem to be opposites... the dearmond seems to have a thinner sound you would make fatter with your amp and technique. The KA is a fat pickup you thin out.
    Compared to the KA Slim Sam (a small humbucker) and an Ibanez Custom 58 I don’t consider the reissue RC1100 to be at all thin. It seems pretty versatile too, in the sense that I can find a lot of pleasing tones out of it with with various amp settings.

  42. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    Compared to the KA Slim Sam (a small humbucker) and an Ibanez Custom 58 I don’t consider the reissue RC1100 to be at all thin. It seems pretty versatile too, in the sense that I can find a lot of pleasing tones out of it with with various amp settings.
    I didn't mean "thin" in a bad way - but it's a different, more stringy sound than I'm getting with the 12-pole KA.

    This is a nice video where you can hear that the dearmonds are perhaps more related to the Zoller than the KA.


  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    I didn't mean "thin" in a bad way - but it's a different, more stringy sound than I'm getting with the 12-pole KA.

    This is a nice video where you can hear that the dearmonds are perhaps more related to the Zoller than the KA.

    I think we’re hearing the same thing and using different words. The RC1100 retains high frequencies that humbuckers typically roll off, so it has more of an acoustic or microphone-like character. But it has plenty of lows and lower mids, which is why I don’t think of it as “thin.” There’s always a treble control if it’s too bright.

    That’s a cool video. I’m surprised how much different the two pickups sound there. In previous videos I’ve seen I thought they were closer. That RC1000 is pretty nice. I went for the RC1100 because I wanted adjustable pole pieces, but the RC1000 sounds very balanced without them.

    Here’s the comparison that convinced me to go with the RC1100.
    Last edited by KirkP; 10-04-2020 at 10:53 AM.

  44. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    I think we’re hearing the same thing and using different words. The RC1100 retains high frequencies that humbuckers typically roll off, so it has more of an acoustic or microphone-like character. But it has plenty of lows and lower mids, which is why I don’t think of it as “thin.” There’s always a treble control if it’s too bright.
    Yeah. Actually those videos made me think that it should be possible to put a dearmond on a stick next to the KA...