The Kubicki Shoot-Out !!

If you're wondering how "real" Kubicki Ex Factors stack up to their Fender counterparts or the Key Factor headed on.

Ex Factor headstock (above.)

Key Factor headstock, front & rear (above & below.)





 "real" vs. Fender

 vs. Key

by jon maye

  OK gang, here's the "Kubicki Shoot-out," as requested. I've written for a lot of the industry publications, so this will sort of read like a standard review I guess but without the politics and editing to suit their advertisers.

  I took my two pre-Fender Ex Factors (fretted & fretless), an '89 Fender Ex Factor Custom Shop, an Ex Factor prototype with the Precision Deluxe Humbuckers/circuitry AND a Key Factor 5-string fretted and ran them all through the same two rigs to compare them side-by-side.

  I used an SWR Super Redhead coupled with a SWR Big Ben cab for the "modern" setup (350 watts; 2x10 over 1x18.) For the "vintage tube" rig I ran them through a SUNN 200S head with it's 2x15 JBL D140F cab.


 Since most everyone here is a "Kubickihead," I won't dwell on too much of the obvious specs and just try to highlight what I thought were the major differences.

Key Factor 5.

The Ex Factor.

  SETUP & PLAYABILITY:'s a fact. The Fenders DO NOT play as well as "real" Kubickis. Try as I would, there was just no way to get the action down. The real Kubickis' string height is about 50% LOWER than the Fenders once I bottomed them out. To be honest, it is beyond me why you cannot completely bottom the strings out to the neck on these and then raise it from there. It seems that they assume everyone likes normal-to-high string height...not normal-to-low. Considering the "Stu Hamm style" and that a lot of that would use lower heights, it's weird that the main "endorser" during the Fender-Kubicki days would be using one that had obviously both modded action and electronics. order to get "great" action on the Fenders, you'll have to grind down the saddle/pole bolts around 1/8-inch. The action on real Kubickis just make it down enough to where I like it at their lowest on the D and G, although slightly shorter saddles would also be nice.

  NOTE: This IS an advantage on the Key Factor. Because of the more traditional bridge, you can actually bottom out your action to the fingerboard and raise it from there to get optimum height. Also, the B string on the Key Factor is nice...NOT you can keep it close enough to slap without it sounding like a 300-pound woman jumping into a vat of lard.

  It should also be noted that the multi-laminate necks on the Fenders are said to have not been properly sealed and this often makes them even more sensitive to humidity changes than real Kubicki Ex Factors -- although Phil Kubicki will properly re-seal Fenders for a nominal fee at his shop. It has also been my experience that the real Kubicki necks seems to stabilize more with age. The one-piece, gloss maple Key Factor neck seems to not suffer from any similar over-sensitivity to environmental conditions.


contact writer Jon Maye