What does “sweet spot” mean and how do I locate it?
Sweet spot simply describes the location on the instrument where a transducer sounds “sweetest.”
First, when you use K&K pickups that are designed specifically for one instrument, you do not have to worry about the sweet spot at all because we did the work for you. Simply follow the instructions and mount the pickup as described.
When using K&K’s universal pickups, it may be necessary to do some work on your end. If you have an unusual instrument, like an ethnic instrument or something for which no designated pickup is available, follow these guidelines:
Cut yourself some pieces of fabric tape (like Duck Tape), about 2 x 2 inches. Place a pickup upside-down, with the metal side facing up, onto the center of a tape piece. Fire up your amplification system. Stick the pickup, with the tape, on different spots and listen to the results.
It is generally advisable to place the pickup close to a bridge of the instrument because this will likely reduce feedback problems. Ultimately, it will depend on your personal preference and how much volume you need. This is a trial-and-error process, so it’ll probably take a while until you find the best spots.
If you’re using a twin pickup system (like a Twin Spot or Big Twin), try to move one to a spot where the treble frequencies are picked up nicely and the other one where the low frequencies sound good.
Duck tape installation is technically not a bad installation technique, but it doesn’t look very nice and Duck tape has the tendency to dissolve over time on plastic surfaces. A nicer looking and more durable installation is to use the double-sided tape we supply with the product.
One more thing is very important: You need to secure the wires of the pickup. These wires have a microphonic tendency and they will produce a sound that is easily mistaken for distortion if they are not secured and if they rattle against the sound boar. So you want to make sure to tape them down. I like to use clear Scotch tape to secure the cable, if possible on the entire length of the cable from the pickup to the jack. This will also enhance the sound a little bit, due to the microphonic tendency of the cable. Another strategy is to have the cable hang free in the air from the pickup to the jack, but that will rarely be possible.
Please keep in mind that the general rules of signal chain and amplification apply here. That means you want to also familiarize yourself with the topics of preamps and amplifiers, which are covered in their own podcast. I would recommend using a preamp when you do these sweet spot tests because that gives you the truest final sound.
Dieter's Sound Bite
Sweet spot: How do I locate the sweet spot on my instrument? Here I try to explain what is meant by “sweet spot” and the procedure I recommend for finding the sweet spot position for a transducer. Right-click to download: Sweet Spot Podcast