Updated: Sep 1
I been trying a great deal of pickups. The majority has been passive pickups. But i have come to a point where i dont feels so excited about passive pickups anymore. There is no magic to them. No "potted in unicorn tears" feeling.. nothing. No matter how much money spend on them, i have a biased or moderate excitement for them while they are in the mail. I tend to just buy cheap pickups these days. Bootstraps, Tonerider or Masa from Asia. They sound great. They give me all i need. Whether i buy 50´s or 60´s style pickup, i pretty much know where in the ball park i will end up no matter which winder there is.
Recently i been looking more into what is happening in the world of Noiseless pickups. There are now a quite a few select brands out there you can try out. But many shrug them off to be too sterile and lack the warmth of passive ones, but i think that sonically, the noiseless pickups is pushing forward to sound more like passive pickups. They are getting there.. By now i have tried Fender Jeff Beck noiseless which sounded beefy to me despite they are ceramic. I have had the EMG DG20 which Gilmour rocked for a whole decade or two. My consensus on those was they are good live on big systems. But sounded absolutely flat and awful on modellers and home use. I hade Lace Sensor Golds for a little while. They sounded sweet enough. But there is one brand i feel knocks everything out of the park and that i hope every one should try out if they are searching in vain. They cost a fair deal, but to my ears, worth every single penny. The brand in question under review is Kinman pickups
Kinman pickups is (still) a small company started by Chris Kinman out of Australia out of pure curiosity. Chris researched and built his company from nothing with one thing in mind. To make the best sounding zero-noise pickups on the planet. He compared many brands and de-engineered them to find out why they sounded so awful (to his ears). Somewhere along the years, he even designed his own coil-winding machine. Fast forward a little more, he relocated production to the Phillipines to keep cost down which he is at today. After i made my "Pickup Yellow Pages". I got an email from Kinman where he expressed the dissapointment that he was thrown into the "Boutique" category. I gave my apologies and after some reading, decided to move him up. He wrote a couple of long emails about his business and his vision of his company. And i got to say, it left me with a sense of a engineer and entrepreneur that was on a solid mission with serious intent to make the best noiseless pickups there is. I took his word for it. After all this, i decided to look into Kinman at first opportunity. That came just a couple of months after the "Yellow Pages" correspondence. A set of Impersonator ´54 (Hank Marvin signature set) popped up used on a loaded body for $300. The seller described the pickups as "Best pickups i have ever heard". I did not know why he sold them but i never asked, but i jumped the chance and bought them. Threw a neck on the body, strung it up, set it up and plugged it in. After playing for a few minutes i was blown away of the sound of them. Articulated, crystal clear, sweet sound. ´54 down to the T. and almost dead noiseless. not a hum or anything. I had to crank it up to max to get any noise, but it was faint. I kept playing more and went to enjoy them more and more.
I thought in the end.. Well, this is it. Nothing could top these by now. And i can say that the best part is, they sound more closer to passive picks than any i have tried. The base price for them are $460. Steep maybe, but i believe worth any penny.. More worth than any boutique maker out there like Ron Ellis that goes for $750 a set for passive pickups or Throbak pickups. Anything above $200-250 for passive is to me a waste of money. You should not spend more than $100-150 in reality for a set of good passive pickups. But Noiseless is a different breed.
As i mentioned, i get no excitement from any passive winder these days, but buying noiseless makes me a kid in a candy store. And Kinman makes me more curious than any by now. I scored a set of Kinman Blues for $200. I am eager to try them out. These go for $335 new and are the cheapest model he sells and a great way to explore the sounds of Kinman. And i can not understand why his pickups are more widespread and talked about. He is mentioned around on forums, but still, he is far down the line on sales compared to the other majors like Lace and EMG.. Very strange to me.. BUT... If you think you found your ultimate noiseless, and have not tried Kinman´s, i recommend you try them. Kinman Pickups The Underrated Zero Hum King? i actually agree on that.. I am now a huge fan of them.