Kingman Anti-Drive (updated!)

Kingman v2

The Kingman Anti-Drive is a volume cut and variable high-pass filter pedal based on the Kinman treble bleed circuit. It is designed to be placed before an overdrive / distortion / fuzz pedal or a buffer + dirty amp to give you a cleaner, less saturated, or “starved” sound with a customizable frequency response.

Using the Kingman is similar to rolling off the volume control on your instrument, but with some significant advantages and improvements:

  1. A Kingman can preserve treble frequencies that would otherwise be lost through the combined series resistance of the top of of the instrument’s volume’s control voltage divider and the cable capacitance
  2. A Kingman’s treble bleed is adjustable (as opposed to modding your instrument for a bleed that, at best, is perfect at one volume setting and a compromise at every other setting)
  3. Turning a Kingman on and off gives the same sound every time for a given setup (as opposed to trying to hit the exact sweet spot on the volume control consistently)
  4. It’s easier to turn a pedal on than to find a specific volume control setting blind while performing
  5. A Kingman can be combined with other effects in a loop
v2 Kingmen have knob options!

Typically for a lead, chorus, or heavier sound you might layer or stack multiple gain or clipping stages among your pedals and preamp.  With the Kingman, you do the inverse*; set your amp and pedals for your lead / chorus / heavy / saturated sound, then use the Kingman between your guitar and the rest of your rig to get your clean/semi-clean/clean-er tone.

Quick start

  1. Put the Kingman first (closest to your guitar, except for your tuner) among your effects
  2. With the Kingman off, set up a sound you’d use for a solo or a big chorus of a song
  3. Set all the Kingman’s controls to noon and turn it on.  You should hear less loudness, less saturation (distortion/compression), and a similar amount of treble compared to your original sound
  4. Adjust the volume cut, treble, and treble cutoff (turn the cutoff counter-clockwise for a flatter-EQ, fuller sound and clockwise for a trebly, jangly mid-scooped sound) as you like
A v1 Kingman (#0003, maybe)


I – Input

O – Output

Power jack (no battery snap!) – 9V DC center negative (standard Boss/Ibanez type). Power is just for the indicator LED, the Kingman works without power just like your instrument’s volume and tone controls.

V – Volume.  Turn counter-clockwise for less output volume.

T – Treble.  Turn counter-clockwise for less treble.

M – Mids (v1: C – Cutoff).  The treble bleed includes two variable-cutoff frequency high-pass filters in parallel.  This control blends the level of the filter with the lower cutoff frequency with the filter with the higher cutoff.  This is the same control with the same part values on v1 and v2 Kingmen; they’re just wired in reverse of each other.

Volume control position Effective cutoff frequency (counter-clockwise on Cutoff control, HPF with lower frequency isolated) Effective cutoff frequency (clockwise on Cutoff control, HPF with higher frequency isolated)
Max n/a – signal sent to output
≈2:30 181 Hz 2654 Hz
Noon 362 Hz 5308 Hz
≈9:30 724 Hz 10616 Hz
Min n/a – signal sent to ground

These frequencies might seem high, but remember that they’re chosen to offset the low pass filter the Volume pot and your cable form and that this low pass filter’s cutoff frequency is decreasing as you turn the Volume control down.  (This is the genius of the original Kinman circuit!  It’s a very elegant solution to the problem, using the wiper-to-ground side of the volume pot to accomplish exactly what we need – compensating for the decreasing cutoff frequency of the guitar-and-cable low pass filter – and utilizing negative feedback to keep the system in balance.)

Ordering and payment

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Circuit geekery (under construction!)

v2 Kingmen with top jacks are narrower than v1s when cables are accounted for!

Turning your instrument’s volume control down typically results in a dark, bass-heavy sound due to the low-pass filter formed by the volume control and your cable.  The Kinman/Kingman circuit “bleeds” treble content that would normally be lost to ground back into the signal, counteracting the low-pass filter.

>> The treble bleed capacitors and the resistance on the Volume pot
>> between the wiper and ground form high pass filters. Their cutoff
>> frequencies vary as the Volume control is adjusted because the
>> resistance between the capacitors and ground is changing.
>> The Cutoff control adjusts the level of the filter with the lower
>> cutoff frequency relative to the filter with the higher cutoff
>> frequency. (I could have wired that pot the other way around and called
>> it a mids control; clockwise for more mids.) The Treble control adjusts
>> the level of the filters together relative to the “dry” non-treble-bleed
>> signal.
>> Volume control – lower HP filter cutoff (.0022uF) – higher HP filter
>> cutoff (.00015uF)

(actually start by rolling back guitar’s volume knob to notice the loss of treble.) Start with all controls full CW (or Treble at noon if it’s a 250K pot?? or even full CCW?). (Wire Cutoff pot so that greater capacitance is CCW, lesser capacitance is CW.) Turn down the Volume to your desired level. Turn down the Cutoff to approximately match the Volume (the Cutoff and Volume controls are interactive; the Volume control sets a range within which the filter cutoff frequency can be, and the Cutoff control blends between two HPF cutoff frequencies within that range. More mid-scooped sounds (higher cutoff frequency) are clockwise, fuller mids (lower cutoff frequency) are counter-clockwise). Turn down the Treble to taste! The Kingman is a volume control plus a variable high pass filter. As the Volume is turned down the filter’s cutoff frequency rises, so the Cutoff control lets you bring it back down if you want.

The Kinman treble bleed is an elegant little circuit, but it’s optimized for exactly one spot on your volume knob. This spot may or may not suit your preferences and your other gear. Plus, if you’re like me, turning that knob to the same place consistently in the middle of performing isn’t easy; I’d rather stomp on something.

The Kinman circuit provides a fixed level of treble bleed (i.e. recovery) and a high-pass filter cutoff frequency that rises as the guitar’s volume knob is turned down. It’s basically optimized for one spot on the volume knob (say, 6), which you then have to hit perfectly in the middle of your performance every time! You could open up your guitar, do a lot of testing, find one set of values you like, solder them in, and twist your knob perfectly every time… or get a Kingman Anti-drive, preserve your instrument, tweak it to match different pedals, amps, and volumes, and stomp it to get your exact settings every time :-)

Not the cleanest wiring job but it sounds great. Google the gut shots of vintage, sought-after pedals and see what those looked like inside!

Kingman is prone to volume pedal “tone suck” – (link) – use in front of a overdrive/distortion/fuzz or at least a buffer. guitar -> kingman -> amp will result in a significant loss of treble between the kingman and amp due to the low pass filter formed between the volume pot’s resistance and cable’s capacitance. an output buffer on the kingman itself would interfere with its ability to interact with fuzz circuits as a guitar’s volume control does.

because it’s passive & unbuffered, it will play nice in front of low input impedance fuzzes like Fuzz Faces? and will also work without power?!?!? (though the LED won’t…)

Cap & pot resistance from wiper to ground form a HPF. So cutoff varies as the volume pot is turned.

The pot resistance between the wiper and the grounded lug and the capacitor form a HPF.

* The inverse is correct, too