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Jerryc41
06-05-2019, 01:30 AM
I'm getting a used Fluke in a couple of days, and it has a K&K pickup. I doubt I'll ever have need for it, but how does the K&K compare to other brands?

Cluze
06-05-2019, 02:56 AM
K&K makes two different ukulele pickups as far as I can tell. (See products here: https://kksound.com/instruments/ukulele.php) I am by no means an expert in on the subject of pickups and amplification. In fact, for the most part I prefer a microphone to a pickup for ukuleles. I find most pickups to sound pretty same-y, if that makes sense? With that being said...

There has been exactly one ukulele pickup that I really liked, sound-wise. I recently saw Danielle Ate the Sandwich (her site here: http://danielleatethesandwich.com/) at Mighty Uke Day 9, in Lansing, MI (more info here: http://mightyukeday.com/). She was playing a Mya Moe (specifically this one: https://www.myamoeukuleles.com/uketracker.php?trackingNumber=1571&submit=Track) with a K&K Twinspot and it sounded incredible. It was like listening to an acoustic instrument in your own living room, rather than the sort of artificial sound that I hear from most pickups.

Some caveats: It may have been the instrument. This was a Mya Moe... It may have been the specific combination of that pickup with that instrument. She was using a pre-amp, so it may have been exactly how she had those settings adjusted.

I liked it so much, I had to talk to her after the show to find out more! I am in the queue for a Beansprout (https://www.thebeansprout.com/) later this year from Aaron Keim, who used to be at Mya Moe and did work on Danielle's instrument in fact. He uses K&K pickups, and I am considering getting him to install one if he uses the Twinspot. That's how much of an impression it left on me.

Osprey
06-05-2019, 03:32 AM
I have a K&K Aloha Twin in my Baritone. I like it a lot. In most cases you will need a pre-amp to get the benefit of its full potential.

bacchettadavid
06-05-2019, 04:07 AM
When properly installed, the K&K Aloha Twin produces a close approximation of an 'ukulele's acoustic tonal character. Unfortunately, it is also feedback-sensitive (especially in more responsive instruments), difficult to install in some 'ukuleles (even with the right tools), and preamp-dependent in most rigs, making it a relatively fussy and expensive option.

If I am being completely honest, it's a PITA at higher sound pressure levels, but it's my preferred pickup for nicer 'ukuleles. For flexibility, I pair mine with a Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre preamp; simpler preamp options include the Orchid Electronics Muting DI, JJB Electronics J2, Fire Eye Red-Eye, and various offerings from K&K.

In comparison to other brands, it's microphonic and sensitive to extraneous sounds (arm rubbing on soundboard, fingers on fretboard, sympathetic rings induced by nearby sound sources, etc.). If you're going for that "acoustic tone, but louder" sound, it's a strong contender; otherwise, you may wish to consider other options.

bacchettadavid
06-05-2019, 04:18 AM
I liked it so much, I had to talk to her after the show to find out more! I am in the queue for a Beansprout (https://www.thebeansprout.com/) later this year from Aaron Keim, who used to be at Mya Moe and did work on Danielle's instrument in fact. He uses K&K pickups, and I am considering getting him to install one if he uses the Twinspot. That's how much of an impression it left on me.

K&Ks can pick up a lot of background noise. You may want to speak with Aaron about your amplification needs and musical settings before asking him to install a K&K in a banjo uke that already functions like a condenser microphone.

Cluze
06-05-2019, 05:07 AM
K&Ks can pick up a lot of background noise. You may want to speak with Aaron about your amplification needs and musical settings before asking him to install a K&K in a banjo uke that already functions like a condenser microphone.

Good advice, thanks.

Also, not getting the banjo variety Beansprout, but the more traditional ukulele style. :)

Jerryc41
06-05-2019, 08:41 AM
There has been exactly one ukulele pickup that I really liked, sound-wise. I recently saw Danielle Ate the Sandwich (her site here: at Mighty Uke Day 9, in Lansing, MI (more info here: with a K&K Twinspot and it sounded incredible. It was like listening to an acoustic instrument in your own living room, rather than the sort of artificial sound that I hear from most pickups.

Thanks. I saw Danielle playing that uke in PA.

I believe the one I'm getting has the Aloha Twin.

Jerryc41
06-05-2019, 08:42 AM
When properly installed, the K&K Aloha Twin produces a close approximation of an 'ukulele's acoustic tonal character. Unfortunately, it is also feedback-sensitive (especially in more responsive instruments), difficult to install in some 'ukuleles (even with the right tools), and preamp-dependent in most rigs, making it a relatively fussy and expensive option.

If I am being completely honest, it's a PITA at higher sound pressure levels, but it's my preferred pickup for nicer 'ukuleles. For flexibility, I pair mine with a Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre preamp; simpler preamp options include the Orchid Electronics Muting DI, JJB Electronics J2, Fire Eye Red-Eye, and various offerings from K&K.

In comparison to other brands, it's microphonic and sensitive to extraneous sounds (arm rubbing on soundboard, fingers on fretboard, sympathetic rings induced by nearby sound sources, etc.). If you're going for that "acoustic tone, but louder" sound, it's a strong contender; otherwise, you may wish to consider other options.

I guess I won't start shopping for amps, then. : )

bacchettadavid
06-05-2019, 10:29 AM
Definitely wait until the uke arrives with pickup installed before you start investigating amplification options. There is a LOT to consider in the world of amplifiers, and you'll need a clearer idea of your intentions before you can go amp shopping effectively.

As for the preamps...the same thing applies. If you go the acoustic amp route, you may be satisfied enough with your direct sound to forego a preamp. If you want to plug into the back of a PA or mixer, you'll almost certainly want a preamp.

Martinlover
06-05-2019, 11:42 AM
I have a K&K Aloha Twin in my Baritone. I like it a lot. In most cases you will need a pre-amp to get the benefit of its full potential.

I’m getting the same pickup installed on my Pono baritone next week. Can’t wait.

ksiegel
06-05-2019, 01:06 PM
I have a K&K Twinspot in my Donaldson uke. When I gig, I use both the internal K&K (really a transducer), AND I mic the instrument. It gives me a better range of tonal variation, and since I run my own sound, I can vary it. The only time I've had feedback was when someone running the sound board boosted the mic, not the K&K.

I'll agree, the K&K Twinspot does capture a lot of extraneous sound - anything that taps, brushes, slides against, or otherwise makes contact with the sound board. That's its job- it is a transducer, and the whole soundboard becomes the pickup.

I have a K&K Pure pre-amp, but I've discovered from a few open mics that using a passive DI box boosts the signal sufficiently that I can take care of the EQ and gain at the mixer - and I don't need to worry about the battery dying.

Also, the only real difference between the K&K twinspot and the K&K Aloha is the length of the cable.



-Kurt

Martinlover
06-13-2019, 05:16 PM
I have a K&K Aloha Twin in my Baritone. I like it a lot. In most cases you will need a pre-amp to get the benefit of its full potential.

My Pono baritone just got fitted with the K&K Aloha Twin and I tried it tonight for the first time. Wow! It sounds amazing. I have a Mya Moe with tenor with a K&K twin spot, it is very sweet sounding plugged in. Another K&K on a Mya Moe concert resonator, a Misi on a Clara, and an aNueNue pickup on the Moonbird tenoróBut this baritone plugged in is such a transformation. Hammer downs, strumming, picking, string bending, and the blues just rock. I loved the sound of my bari before but now I feel like itís alive.

Jerryc41
06-14-2019, 12:18 AM
My Pono baritone just got fitted with the K&K Aloha Twin and I tried it tonight for the first time. Wow! It sounds amazing. I have a Mya Moe with tenor with a K&K twin spot, it is very sweet sounding plugged in. Another K&K on a Mya Moe concert resonator, a Misi on a Clara, and an aNueNue pickup on the Moonbird tenor—But this baritone plugged in is such a transformation. Hammer downs, strumming, picking, string bending, and the blues just rock. I loved the sound of my bari before but now I feel like it’s alive.

Bring it tomorrow with the amp.

hollisdwyer
06-14-2019, 05:11 AM
When properly installed, the K&K Aloha Twin produces a close approximation of an 'ukulele's acoustic tonal character. Unfortunately, it is also feedback-sensitive (especially in more responsive instruments), difficult to install in some 'ukuleles (even with the right tools), and preamp-dependent in most rigs, making it a relatively fussy and expensive option.

If I am being completely honest, it's a PITA at higher sound pressure levels, but it's my preferred pickup for nicer 'ukuleles. For flexibility, I pair mine with a Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre preamp; simpler preamp options include the Orchid Electronics Muting DI, JJB Electronics J2, Fire Eye Red-Eye, and various offerings from K&K.

In comparison to other brands, it's microphonic and sensitive to extraneous sounds (arm rubbing on soundboard, fingers on fretboard, sympathetic rings induced by nearby sound sources, etc.). If you're going for that "acoustic tone, but louder" sound, it's a strong contender; otherwise, you may wish to consider other options.

Iím surprised to hear that review of the K&K Uke pickups David. I had a K&K pure western pickup ( which has 3 pickups) installed in a Larrivee Parlour Guitar and found the sound quality and lack of feedback problems impressive.
Being passive puís though I agree that a preamp is mandatory.

All my Ukes though have active puís but I still run them all through LR Baggs preamps/DI boxes into acoustic amps( my newest being a ZT Acoustic Lunchbox).