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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / K&K Mini question


Cincinnati, USA

Feb 23rd, 2012 07:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm thinking of installing the K&K Mini sensors on a new (to me) guitar. Maybe just the sensors only, wired direct to the jack with no preamp nor even the passive volume control.

My current use is in a quiet church setting, playing with another guitar, piano and violin. The two guitars plug into an acoustic guitar amp, although when it was on the fritz we used a BF Princeton Reverb. It's a small sanctuary and all we are trying to do it get a good mix with the piano. If the piano wasn't so loud, we would probably just play unplugged.

I don't anticipate playing at a loud stage volume or with a drummer.

Is anyone using the K&K Mini sensors without a preamp? Do you find the Mini sensors by themselves have enough output?

My old guitar has a LR Baggs Deluxe Acoustic EQ built in so I'm accustomed to having onboard access to EQ and volume control. I'm afraid I'll miss having an onboard volume control.

Has anyone started with the Mini sensors and then found the need to add the onboard preamp later?

Tom B.

Norman OK

Feb 23rd, 2012 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I had a K&K mini installed in my daughter's Martin 000-15. I play at church but I have not used her guitar there. Based on the output without preamp, played through an acoustic amp at home, I seriously doubt there would be any problems at all, especially in a small sanctuary. I'm sure someone here can answer your question with the direct experience you're seeking. Good luck.

Contributing Member


Feb 23rd, 2012 01:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have basically that setup on my old Gibson Mandolin...works just great without a preamp.

Contributing Member


Feb 23rd, 2012 01:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have it that way on my HD-28.

Plenty of bass and output IMO, although I tend to run it through a bass amp.

Contributing Member

The older the violin

the sweeter the music.
Feb 23rd, 2012 01:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Is anyone using the K&K Mini sensors without a preamp?"

Yes. I've got the Mini in all 3 of my acoustics, with no preamp or volume control on board. When I was gigging, I went straight into the PA. I no longer have the PA, but now have a Crate Durango acoustic amp, which can go plenty loud.

To kick up the volume for lead work, I use a Barber Launch Pad. The pedal works better than anything else; I used to gig with a Guild DCE-5 with on board controls, but it wasn't easy to get to the volume knob and back quick enough, sometimes.

I did the install of the K&K on all three guitars, except for the drilling out the hole for the jack. That was done by a luthier, no charge as it took him all of 15 seconds.


Cincinnati, USA

Feb 23rd, 2012 02:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yeah, I would probably have plenty of signal without the preamp. But I think it's too risky to not have a volume control. There's a five minute silent prayer during the service and I'm afraid I'll accidentally ruin the moment if I can't turn down.

To add a volume control, K&K's three options are (in ascending price order): passive volume, preamp with volume and phase switch and preamp with gain and eq controls but no phase switch.

The pre with gain and eq requires adjustment with a mini screwdriver so I think that's too much trouble. But the one with a phase switch might be good if I play somewhere where feedback is an issue.

But based on the comments here, I probably should save my money and just get the passive volume control.

Thanks all!

(edited because I always need to)

(This message was last edited by amphead4 at 02:54 PM, Feb 23rd, 2012)

Contributing Member


Feb 23rd, 2012 02:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Or just pass it through a volume pedal.

Contributing Member

I am not a complete

idiot - I have several pieces missing!
Feb 23rd, 2012 02:58 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I run the minis on my D-18 Golden Era. They are amazingly faithful to the guitar with lots of subtlety and plenty of signal for short runs. I go straight to the amp or PA with a 10' or shorter cord. If I have to be farther away I use a Baggs Gigpro DI.

Contributing Member


Feb 23rd, 2012 06:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have the minis in my HD-28 and Guild GAD30, and I go straight into a Roland AC90. I use for church in a similar situation as you, and I get amazingly natural tone with this setup. I have tried lots of other systems, and this is it...and it also happens to be the cheapest :-)

Vic Vega
Contributing Member


Happy to be at the top of the food chain
Feb 23rd, 2012 07:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

K&K recommends a preamp of some kind, but as you see, not everyone feels they need one to get a good sound.

I use a LR Baggs Paracoustic DI and a Visual Volume pedal. It works and sounds fantastic.

Contributing Member


Feb 24th, 2012 08:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Taylor makes a guitar cable with a built in volume knob on one end. I think I paid $25 for mine.

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member

Merrill, Wisconsin

Dangit! Hot weather.
Feb 28th, 2012 09:29 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Piezo pickups of any kind will sound different depending on the impedance they are plugged into. Most need to see a very high impedance...around 5-10 meg ohms. Plug these into lower impedances and you lose low end and volume.

The larger the mass of the piezo, the more low end it will have. K&K minis are meant to be plugged into 1meg ohms. Most acoustic preamps are much higher. Plug into a 10 meg input preamp or input and you will likely need to trim quite a bit of low end off the pickup.

K&K mini preamps are 1 meg ohm input impedance. This impedance loads the pickup down some and tames the low end. Fortunately, most standard guitar amps and effects pedals are 1 meg ohm input impedance.

The "high" impedance inputs of mixers and PA's are not very high...usually around 50k ohms...20 times lower than the 1 meg the K&K's want to see. High to low impedance transformer equipped adaptors (female 1/4" jack to 3 pin XLR) are even worse. The high impedance end of these are usually around 10k or 20k. 10k-50k input impedance is fine for most line sources, but are too low for passive instruments.

The tone and volume of a passive piezo will be affected by the input impedance. Even a long cable will affect the tone and volume. The best thing about using a preamp or buffer on ANY piezo pickup is you will have consistent tone and volume after the preamp/buffer, regardless of the input plugged into, or length of the cable.

Contributing Member

Northeast IL

Not very bright but does lack ambition
Feb 28th, 2012 01:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

My K&K Mini experience is in an ABG, but the same comments apply.

I never had any issues with the output, but if I were gigging with it I would definitely want a kill switch or volume control. The K&K picks up everything - rubbing your hand across the top, the noise from setting the instrument in a rack, whatever.

FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / K&K Mini question

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