Kz Guitar Works

Kz Pickup Technical Report Pt.2 [KGW Original]

One of the most noteworthy features of Kz Guitar Works is its original pickup. Normally, the guts of the pickup cannot be seen because it is covered. But here we will remove the pickup cover so that you can closely see how its inside looks like. Also, we asked Jun Sekino, technical writer who has contributed articles to famous musical magazines, to explain the details.

The part two is dedicated to the “KGW Original” which represents the pickup made by Kz Guitar Works. The KGW Original shares the basic design with KGW T-S, but its rather primitive construction was modernized by applying various technologies to satisfy the requirements of professional guitarists.


■Pickup developed for the “Kz One” as advanced version of the “Red Special”

The Burns Tri-Sonic pickups used in the Red Special is indispensable for Brian May whose sophisticated sound making technique has contributed to the music of Queen. But it is not necessarily suitable for the more common usage. Kz Guitar Works needed to update the pickup when they designed Kz One based on the Red Special for the guitar players of wide variety of musical styles.


▲KGW Original and Kz T-S in the back. The KGW Original is larger.


Under the circumstances, the KGW Original was realized by Yasuyuki Abe of the pickup manufacturer “Raize” based on the ideal tone that Ijuin imagined and the requests from the guitarists. The resulted KGW Original is a single coil pickup that inherits the characteristics of the Burns Tri-Sonic from the 60s but is more stable, easier to handle and make overdrive sound.


▲KGW Original

■Characteristics of the KGW Original

While Tri-Sonic can create the smooth guitar sound by utilizing the compression effect of the saturated amplifier, it is tricky to keep the constant tonal expression and volume. The construction of the KGW Original is centered around the pair of ferrite bar magnets like those of the Tri-Sonic. But the width of the magnets was changed to 8mm, and the magnets were degaussed to distribute their magnetic field within the necessary area.


▲KGW Original with its cover removed. The basic designs of the ferrite magnets in the center and the yoke were inherited from the Burns Tri-Sonic, but the construction was updated by using PCB.


◇The strong magnetic field of the ferrite magnets is controlled in various ways

The KGW Original is constructed so that the bar magnets are sandwiched by two plates, which makes a bobbin to wind the coil. The wide shape of the bobbin helps the pickup to yield mellower tone, and the plates sandwiching the magnets are shielded with copper, which adds a smooth contour to the tone just like a metal cover of a pickup does. Also, the steel yoke controls the magnetic field efficiently and, along with the top and the bottom plates of the bobbin, functions as a part of the shield box containing the pickup.


▲Side view


▲Seen from the oblique angle


▲Bottom view


◇Long sustain and high output thanks to its coil design

The wire used for the coil in the KGW Original is 2-step thinner than the wire used for the pickups of Fender or Gibson. The wire is wound close to the magnets at a constant tension, which contributes to the focused tone and the sharpness of the sound. The wide shape of the bobbin helps the pickup yield mellower tone. The number of the turns of the coil is kept relatively low, but the efficient use of the magnetic field offers relatively high output and long sustain.

The pickup is housed in a plastic cover in black or ivory. The overall size of the pickup is similar to that of P-90. The pickup is designed to be screwed directly to the body. This cover shares the same shape with those of other Kz pickups, and the KGW Original can be replaced with the single coil models using the Fender-style alnico magnet polepieces or the P-90-style steel polepieces and alnico bar magnets as well as the double coil humbuckers in a slim design.

(Text : Jun Sekino /Translation : Akira Sakamoto)