TK Smith CCII Pickup
Posted by Gretschman59 on
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- This topic has 29 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 6 months ago by Gretschman59.
- July 27, 2014 at 9:41 am #1009
I just got my CCII pickup from Tk Smith the other day. Man it is awesome. It is a very addicting pickup to play. I have tried a lot of pickups out and found that with most all of them if they had a lot of pop for single note lines, they lost some clarity with chording. On the other end if they worked well with chord melody, they did not have some of the pop with single note lines to really jump out in the mix with out some volume adjusting. I found that the TK does not have any of these problems and gives you the best of both worlds. The pickup is also very responsive and dynamic. I guess this can good and bad on how you look at it because when you are on you sound amazing, but I found that the pickup is so clear and responsive you do not have much to hide behind. So you play bad it is heard very well. I guess even that is a good thing because it makes you become a better player. I attached a little demo video I sent to TK. I try to play a few different types of styles to show how versatile the pickup is. I do some single note jump kind of lines, a Chet Atkins type thing, and then some jazz chording and chord melody stuff. Unfortunately my camera does not quite display how dynamic the pickup is, but it will show you how well it picked up my mistakes. (Ewwhh!!)
July 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm #1011GrezParticipant
Hey Gretschman, did you install it yourself and did you have to take a router to the body to make it fit?July 28, 2014 at 11:50 pm #1012DanParticipant
Cool, I have cc2 sitting here waiting to go in a rutters body when it shows up. You do have route the body to take the pup Grez the dimensions are on tk’s site. I have my tele over there getting some of his c.a.r pole pups and a neck cant wait to get it back.July 29, 2014 at 3:55 am #1013
Grez. I did have to do just a small amount of routing. Like Dan said you can get the dimensions of the pickup on his site, and he will send cut out templates for the body route and pickguard route with the pickup. I routed it with the front of the pickup (neck pocket side) flush with the existing route. I then took it out about a 1/2 in on either end, and brought it down 1 in. from the preexisting top route. I also went about a 1/16 in. deeper than the preexisting route to help sit the pickup height adjustment screws a little better. Mine were slightly longer than the Tele pickup screws. Routing the pickguard, I routed it slightly bigger than the template suggested, about a 1/16th. This is because the template gave you the tightest fit possible for the pickguard, and made it harder to get the pickup in. I found with a slightly larger route it was a breeze to get the pickup in, and you do not notice it being larger the way the pickup covers it up adjusted to height.
I did have a brain fart lining the pickguard up to the body route, and marked where the pickup would mount to the body wrong so I had to cut it again which why you can see some gap on my pickguard. I broke the rule I was always told building furniture with family, check twice cut once. I could have left it the way it was, but it put the pickup closer to the neck than I wanted it so I cut it back further.July 29, 2014 at 7:02 am #1016
I have a Lollar CC pickup in a tele, and got to compare it with the TK CC pickup that Tommy had for a while in his red Dan Dunham guitar. While they were slightly different, we both agreed that when set at normal height they both sounded like great strat pickups–neither of us care for strats. Raising the CC pickup closer to the strings (even small adjustments) really made huge differences.
Typically with the CC pickups, the magnets are big cause they are weaker. This allows you to get the pickup closer to the strings without the magnets pulling on the strings. Doing this we both thought (on both p/ups) that it took some of the silveriness out of the tone and increased the decay a little bit more–things common with that old school tone.
Try raising up your pickup and see what you think. Hell, make a video of different height positions. The adjustments, even small, are hugely noticeable. Tommy can pontificate when he gets to town.
My Lollar CC sits uncharacteristically high–and so does the Duncan Quarter Pound bidge that pairs with it.
July 29, 2014 at 7:39 am #1019
- This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by Craner.
Craner, Thanks for the tips and information. I will definitely have to mess with that more. It was on the list of things to do. I remember Tommy telling me about how much he messed with the height to get what he liked, so I am waiting to here back on how he set his up. When I made the video I just set it at a reasonable sounding height and made the video right fast when I got it in to see what it sounded like. I am sure Tommy and I will do some nerding with it here in the next week. I will try and remember to make a video of the process.
Tommy’s wife had a video at one point of me playing Tommy’s at the house, and at a gig with him, and it was cool to hear how different the two of us sounded playing the same rig and settings. It really brought out the differences in that I am predominantly a finger player vs. a pick player like Tommy. The pickup really brought out our differences in attack, and way of playing. It was depressing to hear how much better Tommy made it sound after me. LOL.
I agree with you that the Lollar is definitely different, but not in a completely different sound kind of way (like some may take that statement). To me I was able to get pretty much the same sound, but felt they had slightly different characteristics. I do not remember now since has been a while since I played the Lollar and then Tommy’s, but I remember one being much clearer chording while the other had much more oomphh playing single lines. Correct me if I am wrong but I am thinking it was the TK more articulate with chords, and the Lollar popping more with single note lines.July 29, 2014 at 9:36 am #1021
I think you’re right from what I remember playing mine next to Tommy’s. The TK used a9 magnets and I think 40 gauge wire. I remember us both thinking it had a different presence–similar to your findings. The Lollar uses a5 and thicker 38 gauge wire.
I remember the day Tommy first started using the TK pickup. He had disassembled the guitar and sent it to TK and TK installed the pickup in the body and sent it back. Tommy hadn’t made any adjustments to the pickup, just put it back together and played. We both thought it (like I remember the first time I heard my newly installed Lollar) sounded like a great strat pickup–which we weren’t nuts about.
After discussing with him my height experimentation, he busted out a screwdriver and turned maybe a quarter turn–MAYBE. It made all the difference. Something to do with the magnet layout and wire gauge really effects to height adjustment tolerances.
I’ll get a picture of mine up here if you want. The bar ain’t too far off from being even with the fretboard–it’s way up there.
I think Lollar’s site suggest a starting point of the top of the pickup cover being flush with the pick guard. I have mine where the base of the pickup cover is just above flush with the pick guard.
July 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm #1024
- This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by Craner.
Here is a video of different pickup heights being compared. I start with the bottom of the pickup cavity flush with the top of the pickguard. I will make adjustments by turning the height adjustment screws a 1/4 turn each time until eventually making one full revolution. I will describe some other land marks through out the video so you can have some visual type references. Since it is sometimes hard to hear changes in small increments, I return back to the starting point and play again at the end of the video so you can hear the total change that was made back to back. Also since it is hard to hear the differences when there is down time in between I marked the time points of the start of the playing examples at each adjustment in the description. This way you can hear the adjustment differences closer together, or skip through the video faster. Hope this helps.
Base point 1:56
1/4 turn 2:56
1/2 turn 4:26
3/4 turn 5:22
Full rotation 6:45
Back to Base Point 8:18July 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm #1025GrezParticipant
That’s interesting and let me preface all this with IMHO, I thought the first video sounded just a touch thin for a neck position, but assumed it was the camera mic rolling off a little. In this video, I like the single note lines better and better as the pickup gets higher, but for chords, all the way up goes too far and seems a bit muddy. That’s alot of change for one turn of the mounting screws. It should be mentioned that one turn on say a soap bar P90 is very different from a humbucker because of the thread pitch.July 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm #1026
The first video was done on a different amp. The camera position did also have it sound a little brighter than it actually was also. For a reference the starting point on this video was the same set up as the first video as as starting height. I agree that the single notes get better as you go higher and at the highest point in the video the chords get a little muddy. I find the best middle ground is between a 1/2 and 3/4 rotation on my pickup. Also the chords are not quite as muddy as the recording made them at the highest setting, but were getting too muddy for my taste.July 29, 2014 at 8:05 pm #1028
Without even reading your comments I thought somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 sounded like the landing spot. Really quite a difference just one turn can make. You really can hear more body in the single notes as you raise the pickup (not that I didn’t expect that, but sometimes you wonder how much your internal geek effects your senses). Great methodically approached video primer on pickup height.July 30, 2014 at 8:00 am #1029
Thanks for queuing me into to that information about the pickups. Messing with that combined with different amp settings, I have been able to find some cool tones. The geeking is on.July 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm #1030
I always try to use my ears for this stuff, but when I first installed the Lollar CC I thought, “Man this sounds like a great strat pickup–I don’t like that. And this is too much money for a great strat pickup, even if I liked that.” I set out to find the possibilities of this pickup. It just seemed too wrong to me for a CC pickup to sound so straty. So off the mark of what I imagined a pickup builder would imagine when thinking about making CC pickup.
The tele my CC is in also has a dual load bridge to run the strings top load, and while we can debate the physics and science as to whether or not string-through vs topload impacts the string tension differently, I feel it does–even if it only for the break angle. The CC pickup is responsible for the mod. Adding to this Thomastik round wound strings and the guitar really has some slinkiness to the strings–which is one of the key ingredients to the archtop/CC tone according to Tommy’s buddy and master fender pickup winder Don Mare. I remember Tommy talking about how Don repulses the idea of the CC pickup in a tele (or and other 25.5 scale) guitar. He feels that the scale length directly prohibits that pickup from sounding anything like what the majority of CC pickup buyers are looking for. Interestingly though, after that conversation he released his ‘big box’ for tele pickup–neck pickup with similar goals of the CC, expect that it is in more traditional tele form.
Here are pictures…hopefully the links work
July 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm #1032
- This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by Craner.
Forget the link in the previous post–try this.
<img src="<img src=”http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c10/ba15ck/photo210_zpsfcb9f076.jpg” border=”0″ alt=” photo photo210_zpsfcb9f076.jpg” />” alt=”” />November 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm #1371DanParticipant
Hey guys, finally got my pine caster together with the CCII in it. I love this pick up its a definitely a sound I always had in my head and I love playing it. Tone rolled off to about 7 or 8 with flats on it and its swing heaven. Also really happy with the marc rutters pine body and hardware. The bridge pup is a stock 52r.i that sounded like ass in ash body it was in and sounds killer with the pine body so there’s something to be said for it. Its a great pup for travis picking and rockabilly too I think but I have a wound g on it so its primarily a guitar I use for the swing tunes my band does. I prefer p90s for blues but it does what I wanted extremely well. Here’s a quick clip Il make another one when I have some time.
- This reply was modified 8 years, 6 months ago by Dan.
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