Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by idrankthebeach » Mon Feb 19, 2024 5:14 pm

Did you by any chance get the Kinmans? I’m in the same boat as you are with the noiseless thing. I have a 62 avri and swapped out the bridge with a Novak stealth. It doesn’t sound bad by any means, it just sounds more like a PAF than a jazzmaster pickup.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by GilmourD » Tue Feb 20, 2024 6:50 am

Funkybot wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2023 10:57 am
OP here: I really wasn't expecting that much of a consensus! Sounds like Kinman's are the answer.

I'm pretty much ruling out the Thickmasters as I've got a P90 guitar, and they're just not my favorite. So a P90-inspired JM pickup is out.

I'm thinking Fatmaster neck and the Fatmaster Extra bridge. Though the Surfmaster sounds promising too based on how they describe the middle position sound. I agree that the Fatmaster description sounds more in line with what I've heard about the Antiquity I/50's JM pickups, whereas the Surfmaster sounds more 60's, but their description of the Surfmaster having piano like tones and a classic middle position sounds like what I'm after. Going to have to give the demo videos a good listen. Thanks for all the input!
This thread got bumped, but I'm curious what you ended up with.

If it were me I'd probably go with a Surfmaster neck and a Fatmaster bridge with 1 meggers.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Funkybot » Tue Feb 27, 2024 12:40 pm

I FINALLY just pulled the trigger on Kinman's two days ago and didn't receive them yet. I just ended up going with Surfmaster neck and Surfmaster Extra in the bridge.

Obviously I have no opinion on either yet as the order is still being processed but it sounded like those would have been closest to the Duncan Antiquity II's I already had. I thought the Fatmaster might've been too far away from a stock JM pickup tone and ultimately played it safe. Plus, they say the new Surfmaster Extra negates the need for a Fatmaster in the bridge to get similar output volumes.

I'll post back with my thoughts once I receive them and get them installed.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Dollywitch » Sun Mar 03, 2024 7:27 pm

are there any worth getting in the affordable range? Like under 100. Esp. Jazzbuckers like on some of the G&L stuff.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Mar 04, 2024 6:22 am

Funkybot wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2024 12:40 pm


I'll post back with my thoughts once I receive them and get them installed.
Please do, I think you'll be very happy with them.
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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by daysleeperjeff » Tue Mar 05, 2024 8:46 pm

I just finished a build with Kinman Fatmasters. I love them so much I decided to build two more models to try all the Kinman Jazzmaster pickups. Just ordered a set of Surfmasters for my next one. Thickmasters will go in the third. My search is over for Jazzmaster pickups based on the Fatmasters alone.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by RIORIO » Wed Mar 06, 2024 11:47 am

Kinmans are the undisputed champs (:

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by dropthebeat » Wed Mar 06, 2024 1:51 pm

Just put a set of Thickmasters in one of my MIJ JMs. For what it's worth, I wouldn't describe them as sounding P90ish - they don't have the midrange presence. They're voiced basically like a Jazzmaster pickup but their output is closer to a PAF (comparing, very anecdotally, with Burstbuckers & SD 59s in a couple of other guitars). As a non-purist I'm really, really happy with them.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Sweetfinger » Wed Mar 06, 2024 5:29 pm

PlayWithPride wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2023 9:25 pm
"Don't overthink it. Kinman uses a low-strength alnico grade to reduce string pull, and designs his pickups around that."

Don't overthink it indeed. The "string pull" think is a complete myth. And that's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Huh? I can SEE as well as hear string pull on an analog strobe tuner. With a guitar on the bench, you can hold a Fender style pickup with your hand and as you move the pickup in close to the strings, you'll see the fundamental shift away from the upper harmonics as the magnet pulls on the string. If you're fretting a note on a guitar experiencing string pull problems, the warble is the sound of the fundamental being out of tune with the harmonics. You're hearing two (and more) slightly out of tune notes from the same string.
I don't know that there's a huge difference on a Jazzmaster but you will absolutely experience more sustain on guitars outfitted with low string pull designs.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by thekip » Sun Mar 17, 2024 7:43 am

Fatmaster / Thick master combo!

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Kinman Surfmaster First Impressions

Post by Funkybot » Sun Mar 31, 2024 9:55 am

Ok, I sent the Jazzmaster to the tech to get the Kinman's installed and a bunch of other work (fret level/crown, shielding paint had no continuity so that's fixed). Here are my first impressions (got them Friday afternoon, today is Sunday).

Background
  • Went with the Surfmaster/Sufmaster Extra Volume bridge combo
  • Was replacing a set of Duncan Antiquity II's
  • Was looking for noise-free pickups that sounded similar, maybe a little more beef in the bridge pickup
  • With the Kinman's, I went with a Reverse polarity wiring on the neck pickup because that's what the Duncan's did and I loved the mid position on the Antiquity's. EDIT: changed this back to normal wiring for both pickups. See below.
  • Guitar is a CIJ Q serial Jazzmaster, strings are D'Addario 10's (rounds), Mastery bridge, Stay Trem collet on an AVRI trem
Initial Impressions
  • The Sufmasters are dead silent - literally, the quietest pickups I've ever heard. You only hear the self-noise of the amp. This is impressive.
  • The Surfmasters are BRIGHT! There's a lot of top-end there and I'm rolling the tone down so it doesn't take my head off. I was not expecting them to be this bright as I was always told the Antiquities II were like the brighter, 60's JM pickups. The brightness on the Surfmasters go beyond that. They are strident and spikey sounding. Way closer in tone to my Jaguar than the Jazzmaster with Duncan's.
  • I would describe these as having a tight bass response, scooped mids, and bright, extended highs. Very kind of hi-fi sounding.
  • Compared to the Antiquities, the Surfmasters are very touch-responsive; this makes them not very forgiving as mistakes are amplified. But the extra dynamics are nice and can be a plus. Increased touch sensitivity doesn't suit every player and I suspect I'm one of those for whom it does not.
  • As wired, with the reverse polarity on the neck, the middle position is now completly AWFUL sounding. Next string change (if not sooner), I'll try the normal polarity wiring on the neck pickup. I pray that sounds better. EDIT: The normal polarity wiring is MUCH more like the Duncan's in the middle position (even though the Duncan neck is reverse polarity). I guess these are voiced for the mid position to sound like a traditional JM middle position with both positions wound in normal polarity mode.
  • And yes, I've played around with the pickup heights, starting with the 2.5mm Kinman suggests with the 14th fret held down, and adjusting up and down from there to taste.
This is supposed to be the honeymoon phase, but being honest, I'm quite disappointed. These don't sound anything like my idea of 60's Jazzmaster pickups. Yeah, I can roll back the tone and dial the amp in for the increased brightness, but I was really thinking these things would be on par tonally with the Duncan's and they're not.

Let me also just add: Kinman's web experience is awful. Both versions of their site are buggy, the order process is tedious, they send a lot of emails/pdf's but the stuff you actually need (install guides) is buried on their site. For example: they email you a PDF about how to install the pickups, but the PDF is just a set of instructions telling you where to go on the website to find the actual install guides. And those are hidden behind a login page instead of just being on the product page. At the very least, they should start from scratch on the website (again) and look at other pickup manufacturers' website and go for a much simpler experience. This website reminds me of the e-commerce experiences you'd typically find back when I was using AOL in the 90s. And yes, I know there's a new version of their site and you can chose between both, but the new one is just as bad and in some ways worse. If anyone at Kinman were ever reading this, I really mean this to be constructive.

In hindsight, I probably would've skipped the Kinman's all together and gone with Fralin's or something else, even if it meant a little more noise. I'd consider going back to the Duncan's but I do like playing with gain enough that the noise bothered me. But...I'm still holding out hope the Kinman's will still grow on me. Don't be surprised if you see these for sale on the marketplace in a few months though. They just might be for someone else.

And I'll try to post a response to this in a few weeks/month once I've had more time to live with them. I might even change the neck polarity wiring today to try it the other way. I think I talked myself into pushing the timeline of that forward after writing this all down. EDIT: made the wiring change for neck polarity back to normal and I'm now MUCH happier with the middle position sound. Maybe these won't be so bad. Will keep playing with them.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Mar 31, 2024 11:29 am

You aren't wrong, they are bright, aggressive sounding pickups with a ton of dynamic range to them. There's a lot there to like and there's also a lot to control. Remember you can drop the pickup height down a bit, Kinman pickups can change a fair amount based on how you set them.

As you say, live with them for a few months or so. You'll probably adapt and come to like them. If not the resale value is decent.

And yeah, the website experience is bizarre. Really 20th century stuff there. AOL on compact disc there.
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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Funkybot » Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:14 am

Thanks Larry for the encouragement.

After rewiring the neck pickup and posting that, I ended up plugging in a big muff and riffing away. Ended up writing and recording a riff that turned into a song demo (sounded kinda like Siamese Dream era Pumpkins, though I'm not a big fan of theirs overall). So that's always a great sign with a new piece of gear. And being able to use my Jazzmaster with a Muff was a big part of the reason I went with the Kinman's in the first place.

So my opinion is improving. Seems I quite like them for distorted tones. The key so far is keeping the tone rolled back a bit. You may just be right in that I need more time to adjust to them. It was quite a dramatic difference and the extent of that caught me totally off guard.

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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:29 am

Funkybot wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:14 am


So my opinion is improving. Seems I quite like them for distorted tones. The key so far is keeping the tone rolled back a bit. You may just be right in that I need more time to adjust to them. It was quite a dramatic difference and the extent of that caught me totally off guard.
Yeah, I'm noticing as time goes on that Kinman pickups are just hot- just out and out explosive pickups. As you've noticed this doesn't come at the expense of either high end (except by design) nor dynamics.

The reason I've been noticing this is, well, I have a lot of guitars with them but also I have a Gibson Firebird with Fralin noise free AlNiCo P90s, kind of like Jazzmaster pickups. I also have another guitar with Kinman "staple" pickups, which again are AlNiCo P90 shaped pickups that again are a lot like Jazzmaster pickups.

I don't like the Fralins, but I was playing both guitars trying to like them better against the other guitar with Kinmans. And the Fralins just sound dull and lifeless in comparison.

The flip side, though, as you are noticing, is that the Kinmans are just so powerful you have to account for that.

Honestly, I don't play my guitar with the Surfmasters a whole lot, I'll pull it out today.
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Re: Noiseless Jazzmaster Pickups: Options, Opinions Favorites

Post by andy_tchp » Mon Apr 01, 2024 6:02 pm

Why did your tech wire them out of phase initially? A somewhat confusing review.

This is not the same thing as reverse wound/reverse polarity pairs (which probably isn't a requirement with truly noiseless pickups anyway).
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