Long-pole Locution

The long-pole meta, love it or hate it, is here to stay. This is easily one of the most far-reaching ripples through the keeb switch market to have come out of frankenswitches, and itself can be traced back to the granddaddy Holy Panda.

“Long-pole” refers to the lower middle part of the stem, which bottoms-out on the switch housing - contrary to the normal of that pole never reaching the bottom in traditional MX style switches.

Originally, this came from putting Kailh stems, which tend to be longer than other mfr’s, into other mfr’s housings. This produced a novel sound and feel that itself is now a marketable feature of many commercial switches.

This is a thread to talk about the long-pole meta, related science, and related switches.

I’ll start with a comparison of four Kailh stems;

  • Black

  • Pro Burgundy

  • OG Cream (old tooling)

  • Launch Cream (new tooling)

Not long ago it came up in discussion whether or not Kailh Black stems are meaningfully different than Creams - that inspired me to pick up some digital calipers, and some Kailh Blacks.

I took measurements of each stem, and here’s how they read:

  • Kailh Black: 13.3mm

  • Kailh Pro Burgundy: 13.65mm

  • Kailh NK_ Cream original: 13.42mm

  • Kailh NK_ Launch Cream: 13.48mm

So, I think I had it backwards - I thought the Black stems were longer than Creams, but it’s the other way around. Still - the point stands that the difference is tiny: 0.12mm, according to the calipers.

The Pro is longer still; 0.35mm taller than the Black. Small, but you may very well feel it.

If I understand correctly, the only one of these that bottoms-out on the pole in its own housing is the Pro, but I might be wrong about that.

Edit: I’d previously written that old and updated Cream stems are the same length; I think this was a fluke; after measuring quite a few samples I discovered that Launch (and Arc) Cream stems are 13.48mm long, approx. 0.07mm longer than the classic ones.

Anywho - what kind of long-pole shenanigans do you folks want to talk about?


Just my own observation from recent long-poling: to my ears, the Kailh black and Cream stems sound markedly different from one another, even when controlling for all other variables. In Ink housings, the black stems have more of the soft “thud” sound that I’ve come to expect from Inks. The Creams, on the other hand, are much sharper on the downstroke. Not in an unpleasant way by any means, but I was surprised by the difference given their purported sameness.

Thanks for doing some science to prove that however small, there are indeed differences!


Would be neat to see how the Speed Navy stem measures up to the linears that you’ve mentioned. I have my suspicions that the Speed Navy stem is a long-pole as well (based off of the bottom out noise and feel, and observation with the top housing off) but I don’t have enough of a basis for comparison to say for certain. Given that it is more or less a linear stem with an added nub for click-bar actuation I would expect it to have similar dimensions to the black/burgundy/cream switches.


  • Kailh Speed Navy: 13.69mm

Looks like you’re right. Nice.


Currently using Bolsa Supply Techno Violet long pole Linears with a carbon fiber plate, tape modded, TX stabilizers on my Parallel Portal. The sound is definitely pronounced but it’s so good. Love it.


Similar setup here with techno violets in a CF plate on a Sequence. Sounds like dropping ball bearings on the floor.


Dude, I had it in my sequence before I bought my portal. The sound profile is very similar. Love both of these keyboards. I also love that I can just pop them in and out if I want to change it up.


Someone on the switchmodder’s subreddit asked about new vs old Cream stems, so I broke out my calipers to verify my old measurements - and after a few rounds of that, I discovered my measurement for the Launch Creams was off, either from user error or just a fluke short stem - I’ve updated the original post with correct measurements - but in the course of that verifying I found something interesting:

Dream and Nolive switches do not appear to use the same stem that other new Cream linears use, but instead standard Kailh linear stems. Details on my website here.