Workshop: K&K Pickup Install in Dobro Guitar

This is a step-by-step for how I install K&K Twin Spot pickups in Dobro-style resonator guitars. Frankly, all of the "made-for" pickups for resonator instruments that I've played have sounded like garbage. I mean... just really bad. They don't sense enough of the cone to sound true, usually.

I use the $66 K&K Twin Spots for almost all instruments these days and as long as you install them nicely, you get a good tone. I've gotten my best "plugged-in-reso" tone out of them in both biscuit bridge and spider bridge designs.

First, unscrew the retaining bolt and take the spider bridge off -- then remove the cone.

If you can, drill the endblock for the endpin jack. Sometimes resonators leave no room here with the soundwell or dowel stick terminating. In that case, drill it at the "3/4" position on the side.

Here it is all nice and tidy inside.

Next step -- cut the leads to the pickup sensors (the dots). Leave enough wire at the jack-end so you can solder it back up to it.

Put the cone back in for reference and mark a spot to drill an access hole for the pickup sensor cables to run through. The sensors need to be above the cone because they'll be glued to the spider bridge underside.

Drill that hole and put the sensor wires through...

...then strip the ends, join them to one (or both) leads from the jack, and solder it back up and cover the bare leads with tape or shrink-tube.

Now for the pickup install itself...

Just like I would on a flattop acoustic, I glue the dots as close to directly under the saddle as I possibly can. I turn the bridge over and then glue these basically as close to on center of where the A and B strings travel above on the saddle(s).

Use gel superglue and hold for 40-50 secs each. You may need to sand the base area a little flatter to get as much surface area in contact with the sensor as possible. The original casting is always a bit pitted.

After they're on, you can then tape the wires to one of the spider legs -- or, if doing this on a biscuit bridge, the coverplate's rear. This keeps the wires from possibly rattling when in use.

Above is the plugged-in sound dry and EQ'd flat. With a touch of EQ adjustments and a hair of reverb, it'll sound closer to...

...the acoustic sound of the guitar, heard here.

Here's the guitar itself -- a newer Gold Tone Paul Beard PBS squareneck.


Uncle JimmyPie said…
Would love to see a similar walk-through with a tricone.
Jake Wildwood said…
It would be the same idea -- glue the sensors under the flat part of the cast bridge where the saddle is located -- you could probably get a 3-sensor K&K Pure Mini on there for better response, even. You could probably drill a hole for the wires directly under it in the middle of the panel that holds the three cones in position, though.
Marian said…
Hi Jake, I am thinking about to install the Twin Spot system to my National M2 Single Cone Biscuit Bridge Resonator. Did you already install the system to a biscuit bridge resonator? Where would you glue the sensors?
Marian from Germany