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Greetings everyone,

Looking for some feedback (pun intended) on the Malletech V3PS pickups.  I'm going back to pickups after many years of using various mic setups.  I'm familiar with the K&K pickup systems but would like to know if anyone else has experienced the V3PS.

My choice is between those two but haven't made a final decision.

Thanks, Jerry


For what it's worth,

In the last couple years I have installed two K&K systems. One on a 4 Octave Deagan for a customer, and one on an M-55 that I use. I was very impressed with the quality of workmanship and the sound works great for larger/louder band gigs. I've had more than one sound person tell me how much of a hassle getting mic vibes just right (no big news to those of us who actually play the thing) and with the K&K is super easy to dial in. I don't know if they've improved the pre-amps over the years but dang, I'm happy. Like you'd I'd love to hear and and play both for an A/B comparison between the K&K and the V3PS systems. If you get one or any feedback, PLEASE share. By the way I'm not endorsed or beholden to either company. Maybe someday I'll be good enough to get free stuff and lose my impartiality. Maybe I'll win the lottery too.

khvibes Fri, 06/02/2023 - 14:28


As of at least six months ago the V3PS has been unavailable. I tried to buy one when I bought my Omega Vibe. I was told they were updating the system.

Jerry Weir Sun, 06/04/2023 - 23:17

Thanks for the replies. I emailed sales at Malletech last week and was told that the V3PS is unavailable (being redesigned) and there is not a date for when it will be again. Unfortunate as, on paper at least, the V3PS preamp has a more robust control set compared to the K&K unit. I will probably go ahead and order the K&K as there is nothing else I know of on the market. (My old Ayotte system being long out of production).

pcheckel Thu, 06/08/2023 - 16:08

For those using the K&K system, how do you transport your bars? I have a M-55 and the option for leaving them on when transporting would not work for me - far too heavy. Can you roll up bars with pickups without damaging the pickups? Thanks.

IndianaGlen Fri, 06/09/2023 - 11:19

In reply to by pcheckel

Although I leave my bars connected (there's a thread here on VW of the system I built to do that), I'd have no issues with rolling each row my bars in a huge thick towel and putting them in a rolling suitcase. I'd travel with some superglue and a couple replacement pickups just in case. I remember seeing Joe Locke about 10 years ago take off bars with pickups and he put them in a case with little/no padding. I never asked him if he ever had issues with the pickups and I wish I had.

My vibe took a mild tumble/tipover as I was taking it down a few weeks ago. It broke one sensor and pulled two off. I replaced the broken one and re-glued the ones that popped off and all is good.

tonymiceli Sun, 06/11/2023 - 21:05

In reply to by pcheckel

i bought half inch foam. maybe it's 3/4 inch and I careful wrap the bars in those and bungi them together.
I lay them pickups side up and i move all the pickups off the bars and then wrap them. that works ok.

tonymiceli Sun, 06/11/2023 - 21:03

don't wait for the malletech pickups. they are great but they're not coming anytime soon. that's too bad, and I hate to say that, but I also don't want to lie to fellow vibe players. they k and k's work great and will do the job!

Steve Shapiro Mon, 06/12/2023 - 12:27

Hi friends,

I saw this discussion, and I thought I would make an addition…

I’m in the process of doing a “portable-vibe build,“ and I am making in my own pickups. Things are so far working very well. Everything is still in the testing mode, and I am making a video as I go. It should all be completed by the end of the summer and I hope to show how you can make a great sounding pickup system for under $100!! It does require some soldering skills (easy to find people who do this if you don't want to). I’m still waiting for Yamaha to send me an instrument, so right now there is a bit of delay. Please, no questions quite yet. I will spell it all out in a video when it is ready. But just wanted to mention that this is possible and actually pretty simple…


Ton Risco Mon, 06/12/2023 - 13:23

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

Wow Steve, that sounds awesome!!! I would love to see the final result of that. I am dealing with leaving my Van der Plats pickups on the instrument and not rolling the bars up. In addition to that, I'm using a light frame from Paul Wyndorps without resonators and it allows you to divide the bar frame in two parts (black and white) which makes it easier to move them (the problem are the bags still).
Thanks for the post Steve. I am very interested in how much that can change the pickup system because I love them, but sometimes is very discouraging to deal with them.



tonymiceli Mon, 06/12/2023 - 13:33

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

wow that's amazing steve. i can't wait to see the video!

and Ton, been a long time. whenever i hear you online you sound great! For that matter same for you steve.

Steve Shapiro Tue, 06/13/2023 - 01:28

In reply to by tonymiceli

Hey Tony thanks! Hey Ton, yes it's no fun packing bars with pickups, I'm trying to rethink the whole thing so the bars can stay on. Was talking to Paul Wyndorps about his frame when he decided to stop building them. So going a different direction now. I've been gigging with Xylosynth, which hasn't been too bad actually, and packing has been way better. In the meantime I have been considering lots of options for transporting a real vibe. Hoping it will work out, and will post back at VW when I have it more together…

Jerry Weir Mon, 06/12/2023 - 14:32

I used pickups for several years and would roll them up with pickups on. As IndianaGlen states it is wise to have a couple spares and some super glue in your stick bag so you can glue on a new one when they break off. And they do! Sometimes I went months without breaking one and sometimes - well it pours :-)

Alternatives: First alternative I used was I bought a keyboard road case with wheels on one end and a handle on the other from from SKB cases in Orange, CA. Made sure it was a foam-lined, TSA regulation case and measured long enough to hold the bars flat. I bought a thin foam layer the proper length and just laid the natural bars down in the case foam, inserted my thin layer, and then laid the accidentals on top. One more layer of foam and they were snug as a big in a rug. Roll it right from the car to the stage.

Second alternative - and I haven't done this yet since as you can see from the beginning of this post I am considering buying pickups again. But, I am presently playing a OneVibe and the bar case they make for that is super. It is very much like the description I just gave for the road case except (not TSA) that it is a soft case shaped like the bars and has about a 1/2 inch solid layer to insert between the naturals and accidental bars. It also has a pad attachment that holds down about the top octave of the naturals bars and then you lay down the insert layer, add the accidentals and zip it up. I see no reason to believe this won't be an excellent case for those future pickups.

Last note: Regarding soldering pickups. It's not hard to learn, I did probably a couple hundred over the years. Finding the piezo's became more difficult and finally I got tired of making my own (for the Ayotte pickups). But, if you like doing that kind of thing it is definitely a solution.

wyndorps Wed, 06/14/2023 - 10:25

In the meantime I had pursued a completely different approach to connect Piezos solvable with the sound plates. Unfortunately, I simply lack the time to deal with it further, but maybe the specialists such as Steve or Jerry have time to pursue this further.

In the first attempt I glued a thin neodyn magnet (female) on my sound plates in the node (cord center) and the same on the pickup (male). The connection and disconnection worked great. You could easily remove the sound plates and when you put them on, most pickups automatically reconnected. Unfortunately, however, the bending vibration up to the piezo was weakened too much by the two magnets, so that the signal was too weak for practical use.

In a second experiment, I glued a magnet to the piezo and a very thin steel ring to the sound plate in the node. The signal was much stronger, but with a strong attack, the force of the magnet was not enough to hold the piezo under the plates.

My next step would be - if I had time - to use a larger piezo diameter. This would then cover a larger area on the sound plate and thus get more bending. For connecting I would then use a magnet as thin as possible (ring-shaped if necessary). The larger diameter should result in more holding force. Unfortunately, I have not found a thinner magnet than 1mm. On the sound plate I would then try to stick only a steel foil in appropriate size, in order to keep the change of the mass as small as possible.

I am confident that with the right parameters for piezo and magnet area, you can achieve a solution where you simply remove the plates as usual for transport and the contacted piezos remain hanging freely on the frame. But for this you have to do some experiments and find appropriate materials (magnets, piezos, preamplifiers) .

Steve Shapiro Wed, 06/14/2023 - 13:59


So the magnet system is how the pickups work on the Mode EPK Marimba. I mentioned to John the developer of that instrument that he should make vibe pickups because they sound very good, and there are no wires, so much better for vibe players with removing the bars, etc.

I hear you about time... I have no time to really experiment with the development of new pickups. For my purposes, the piezos are fine. They are time-tested and I don't want to remove bars anyway. However I am experimenting with smaller piezos that are 10mm, under the assumption that less contact with the bar both reduces thumpiness, and also helps avoid micro-tuning issues. The piezos do add mass to the bar and by theory, could have some effect on pitch. I sometimes feel this might be happening on my instruments with pickups, more evident when there are also temperature changes, if the bars are very cold, etc.