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A leap from dissatisfaction to Strat sonic perfection.

A leap from dissatisfaction to Strat sonic perfection.

This is a story for everyone who uses modeling devices and other Fx in their signal chain.  A good customer recently purchased a set of Blackmore Strat pickups and wasn’t happy with them and he asked for a Return Authorization. 

I said no problem and then we got talking about the issue he was having, that of upper frequency harshness on the plain strings.  I told him the upper frequencies of the Blackmore set are pure and notably lacking any tendency for icepick or anything that can be described as harsh. He wondered if the old Kinman K9 harness was the cause but I dismissed that and then he went looking at his signal chain, which included a modeling device.

Here’s what he said:  I run my strat thru a rack mount modeler and it has the option of selecting a simulated output ranging from 22 ohm - 1M ohm. With the darker, smoother, sounding Woodstock's I almost exclusively used the 1M setting which brightened it up a lot (I love that strat snap). I backed off that setting, tweaked the pickup heights, lowered my presence and treble and it is strat Sonic perfection. I am smitten! Thanks for the timely and detailed responses! Chris should be proud to have use of your talent!

At the time I didn’t know about the modeling device and that he was accustomed to our Woodstock pickups.  Perhaps knowing that would have caused me to ponder my experience with an AXE-FX version 1 modeling amp we bought some time ago.  It has 10 million sounds and in my estimation very few good ones even though there was so many parameters that could be tweaked, one could mess around for weeks and not achieve a single good sound.  I know the sound our pickups produce when plugged straight into a decent amp but the sound became unrecognizable and nothing I found restored it to anything that resembled the great sound I know and love.  I love Strat snap and that was gone, I felt a huge disconnect between the pickups I knew so well and what I heard back from the speakers.  I got the overwhelming feeling that the pickups were fighting me by not responding to my inputs, a giant lack of dynamic response which I knew was false,

These two experiences open a whole new world of diagnostics that should be considered first when customers report dissatisfaction, thankfully that doesn’t happen often.

Moral of the story:  If you are not over-the-moon when you receive your new Kinman pickups and you have gadgets in your signal chain that can change the way pickups sounds try plugging direct to the amp to hear their true sound and then go looking for setting that prevent it.

More than a few players have told us they stopped using Fx pedals when they installed their new Kinman’s.  Now there’s a thought!!!