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Upright bass amplification question


Travis Harms

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The URB I play is a loner from my college, with what I have been told is a Underwood pickup. The bass does not sound bad unplugged, but when I plug it in I can not seem to get any decent tone out of it. I'm still a newbie to upright and I don't have a complete understanding of whether I need an external pre amp when running through an amp made for electric bass.

 

These are the rigs I play through: the college's SWR rig consisting of a Bass 350 head and Goliath III cab; my rig consisting of a Harkte 5000 head and a Ashdown 1x15 cab. My tone is horrible with either rig (harsh sounding high strings and boomy lows), nowhere close to the sound of my bass unplugged, I'm thinking probably due to the lack of a pre amp to match the impedance.

 

Is getting an external pre amp necessary to get a better sound and to match the impedance of my Underwood? If so, what are some recommended pre amps? Or is it just my amps, pickup, or playing technique that I should blame for poor tone?

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Originally posted by Travis Harms:

The URB I play is a loner from my college, with what I have been told is a Underwood pickup. The bass does not sound bad unplugged, but when I plug it in I can not seem to get any decent tone out of it. I'm still a newbie to upright and I don't have a complete understanding of whether I need an external pre amp when running through an amp made for electric bass.

 

These are the rigs I play through: the college's SWR rig consisting of a Bass 350 head and Goliath III cab; my rig consisting of a Harkte 5000 head and a Ashdown 1x15 cab. My tone is horrible with either rig (harsh sounding high strings and boomy lows), nowhere close to the sound of my bass unplugged, I'm thinking probably due to the lack of a pre amp to match the impedance.

 

Is getting an external pre amp necessary to get a better sound and to match the impedance of my Underwood? If so, what are some recommended pre amps? Or is it just my amps, pickup, or playing technique that I should blame for poor tone?

The preamp issue is probably responsible for the tone, see the info at the bottom of my Preamps page at www.urbbob.com/preamps.html for details about the issue. You need a device with a 1 megohm or better input impedance. Since it is primarily only used as a buffering device, you can use an acoustic guitar or similar preamp that has that characteristic. Many are available, by K&K Sound, Fishman, LR Baggs, etc.

 

The other possibility is phase cancellation, a potential problem some have with the Underwood. Remove one of the transducers temporarily to see if it changes the sound for the better.

1000 Upright Bass Links, Luthier Directory, Teacher Directory - http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm

 

[highlight] - Life is too short for bad tone - [/highlight]

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The other possibility is phase cancellation, a potential problem some have with the Underwood. Remove one of the transducers temporarily to see if it changes the sound for the better.

I tried your suggestion, and while it did change the tone, it didn't fix my tone as I hoped it would. I guess I will go with a pre amp and see how that works.
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