I need your advice on something! I bought a used Goodtime with a Kavanjo pickup in it and I'm not sure if the signal I get with the Kavanjo is normal. It seems that the strings have very different volumes, with the 3rd string being very loud and dominating the mix. Listen to the sound clips attached. I recorded with a microphone and with the Kavanjo at the same time.
Is that a normal sound for a Kavanjo or is there something wrong with mine?
It doesn't look like the pickup can be tweaked, but I also didn't get a manual or quick start guide or anything because I bought the banjo used. Any adjustments possible?
I have elixir light gauge strings on there. Do some strings work better than others?
I wrote to John at Kavanjo about this issue and he did not reply... (I also asked him for advice about the Kavanjo variants when I was shopping for one and he also did not reply back then either)
Any suggestion or opinion welcome!
(the mic used is thomann t-bone mb85 beta and I recorded the mic and the kavanjo at the same time over and M-Track 2x2 USB interface)
To my ear, most banjo pickups are louder on the heavier strings. Some type of pre-amp or DI box with EQ can improve the sound by letting you dial out the bottom boominess.
LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI for $200 is often recommended. I use one and am happy with it. I can take out most of the boom and percussiveness, but my banjo through a pickup still doesn't sound totally natural or like a banjo through a good mic.
I was going to suggest you consider getting a new $400 preamp called Tonedexter. It learns what your instrument sounds like through a microphone then adjusts the sound of the pickup to match. Unfortunately for you, Tonedexter only works with transducer pickups. Kavanjo is a magnetic pickup.
Try a radiused bridge. It will raise the 3rd string away from the pickup a little more than the other strings, lowering the volume of that string slightly.
Try raising the pole height of the pickup on the weaker strings. That means putting a small steel disc or something like that to bring the pickup's magnetic field closer to the weak strings. Lots of info on the web about how to do that to flat pole electric guitar pickups, basically the same idea.
Once you are using a good magnetic set, you can adjust the Kavanjo pickup to a degree. Do not touch the screws under the loudest string. Loosen one screw only under the weakest string and adjust it closer, then the next weakest and so on. Never loosen both screws in the pair.