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Amplifying an upright


Dan Farrell

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Hi-- I am looking for suggestions on amplifying an upright. I've tried an inexpensive (less than $50) Barcus-Berry type pickup on the bridge, but that gives funky tone and not much volume (I know, the cost of this pickup probably says a lot). I've also tried micing the bass in to an amp (Carvin PB 200) and then ran a line out to the PA. This gave me great, natural tone, but trying to get volume caused feedback.

 

I seem to remember reading "David Gage realisT" being used by pros.

 

Please--any suggestions on how to BEST amplify an upright and what it costs wilkl be appreciated.

 

Dan Farrell

Anaheim CA

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I use a K&K Bass Max pickup. It works very well. With upright, you will always be dealing with feedback. I think a couple bands of semi-parametric EQ helps, too - being able to dial in the problem frequency and take it out.

 

I bypassed all those problems and got a Wendler. Sounds a lot like an upright and no issues.

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To get a good URB tone without micing ain't cheap. You'll need pickups on the bridge and under the fingerboard and a blender to send the signal to the pre-amp. I used the Fishman mentioned earlier and thought it sounded industrial.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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I use the Fishman with clips.

 

In my experience, it sounds better on some basses than others. The nice thing is that you can remove it when you are playing classical music.

 

The Realist is quite popular, but I've never like it. Again, I think that depends on the basses I played that had it installed. Primarily, though, I don't like anything between the foot and the body (remember, I use my bass for classical music mostly.) YMMV

 

Bob Gollihur, esteemed moderator, will be very helpful here, as Tom Capasso, esteemed moderator, has suggested. And while you're at it, inquire about the Acoustic Image Contra, which will give you incredible URB sound.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Our esteemed moderator Dave (as well as Bob) has real-world experience.

 

We aren't usually angry, but this thread makes it seem that all the moderators are steemed.

 

Tom

(P.S. Take THAT Brian Timpe!)

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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My first-call URB is an old European laminated bass that responds more like a carved bass.

Over the years I've tried the Underwood, Realist, K&K, Barcus Berry, Wilson, Schertler, PUTW and Fishman pickups.

 

My current set-up involves a Fishman Full Circle combined with a K&K fingerboard transducer.

I blend the two signals with a D-TAR Solstice and eq them with a D-Tar Equinox.

The Fishman sounds good but lacks detail in the upper register; the fingerboard pickup adds what the Fishman lacks.

I had to experiment with the placement of the fingerboard pickup to find a sweet spot that would give me more than

just deep boomy thud or top end clack. I play a fair amount of slap bass but I don't want to like like a rockabilly dude

all the time. With a careful blend of the two pickups I can acheive a very natural pizz and arco tone. When I need to

dig in and spank the plank the slap tone also sounds natural.

 

For most of my gigs I'm after a clean and uncolored bass tone that will still cut through a mix.

The D-TAR boxes run into an Acoustic Image Clarus driving ACME B1 and B2 cabs.

 

If I'm playing a loud gig with a blues or rockabilly or surf band I'll use the D-Tar boxes into a '68 Silverface Dual Showman

head (or sometimes an Eden WT-400) and a '70's Sunn 2x15 cab. Glorious earth-shaking tone!

This system is fairly resistant to feedback; for those inevitable psycho-billy freakout moments I can get 'nard-curdling

controlled feedback simply by stading a bit closer to the rig.

 

 

If you don't ever need to play loudly or compete with a drummer, then a good mic is always the best amplifying option for URB.

D.P.A. makes excellent mini mics that sound great on everything. If I did mostly "acoustic" gigs I'd be using one of those and a

good mic pre and nothing else.

Spankin' the plank all the way to the bank!

 

JoeKyleJr.com

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I've had lots of luck with an Underwood pickup. Not terribly expensive, gets rid of the Fishman's characteristic clickiness, and can get pretty darn loud. I play my upright in a LOUD big band (our saxes are always set to 11) as well as onstage in a rock group, and I've been happy with the Underwood for a number of years.

 

I also use a Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum to futz with my tone, and usually leave my amp flat. The Fishman preamp makes it fairly easy to get rid of most types of feedback as you get louder.

 

I really wanted to try Fishman's new Full Circle pickup when it came out. It replaces one of the height adjuster wheels on your bridge, and it got great reviews. Haven't heard much about them lately though.

~Jeremy Hull

hullbass@gmail.com

 

www.myspace.com/Jeremyhull

 

www.myspace.com/cowpunkHolyMoly

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Hi Dan and welcome to the Forum. (I'm also a new member).

 

YOu didn't say what style of music you play. This can have a strong bearing on the type of amplification you choose.

 

I can also endorse Bob Golihur's site... you'll get a good idea of what you need depending on your chosen style/styles of playing.

 

I use a K&K Double Big Twin but you might want to also try the Bass Max suggested by SteveC, particularly if you're going to be using a bow (I don't).

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Thanks for all of the helpful info. this is a great forum. With my upright, I'm playing blues, ountry and rockabilly. And yup, I'm competing with a drummer. The mic'ed sound was great but I just couldn't hear myself (nor could much of the audience).
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I use the Realist in my college jazz band. It sounds wonderful for our setup.

 

I also have a very old-style mic on the inside end of my endpin (endpin's about 3/4" in diameter) with a VERY old style jack on the bottom just above the stopper. It sounds incredible but the cord that I custom made for it got stolen awhile back and I can't find that kind of jack again to make a new one.

 

I'd recomend the Realist since my little bit of experience with an old Fishman and some other unknown pickup that somebody gave me has been pretty crappy.

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I use the Realist for most gigs or a super-glue mounted (no clamps) older style Fishman pickup glued to the underside of the bridge for those times when the Realist is too boomy, or I need more upper mid "hair" on the notes to cut through the mix.
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I like the Realist for many situations but not for all-- IMHO pickup position plays an important part in the resulting sound. Closer to the strings, more string detail and less body, further away means less string and more body. Since the Realist is at the base of the bridge against the body, the predominant sound is body-oriented.

 

The choice of pickup can be influenced by the nature of the sound you seek. If it is the acoustic sound of a bass on a bandstand twenty-five feet away, a pickup that closer to the body could be a good candidate, since your vantage point hears mostly body and little or no finger/string and string/fingerboard sounds. Examples would be the Realist, and perhaps the Fishman Full Circle though it can get a little more string.

 

However, if your taste runs to recordings or live performances where the bass is obviously close-mic'd, perhaps close up at the fingerboard near the shoulders, a pickup located closer to the top of the bridge that delivers more finger/string and string/fingerboard interaction could be a better choice. Examples: K&K Double Big Twin, Fishman BP-100

 

The next location would obviously be somewhere in-between, in or near the bridge wing, with the objective to get a more balanced combination of body and string. Examples: K&K Bass Max, Fishman Full Circle.

 

There are obviously other examples, but I'll choose to list only the ones I sell. ;)

 

I should also mention the approach of using two sound sources-- IMHO this can be the best way to go if you play a variety of styles and gigs, and want the maximum flexibility. My basses currently sport the K&K Golden Mic/Bass Max system, which combines their condenser mic with a Bass Max pickup, connected to a dual channel mixer to blend them. This lets me get the natural sound of the bass using a mic, but allows me to add some of the punch and clarity of the K&K Bass Max as needed, either for punching through a dense mix or on the stage from hell where mic use is impractical. Prior to my most recent run of quieter gigs, I used the K&K Bass Master Pro that combines two pickups, their bridge top Double Big Twin and wing-mounted Bass Max-- I used the Bass Max for the meat and potatoes and seasoned it with Double Big Twin as needed.

 

Other examples could be combining a Realist and a Fishman BP-100 with a two channel preamp, or perhaps the AMT S25B mic with a Full Circle, etc... I've come to enjoy the dimension the sound seems to gain from more than one sound source- after all, we have two ears. :D

 

SOAPBOX MODE=OFF

 

Hope this helps with your research. It all comes down to personal need and taste in bass.

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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i (humble me, with small time experience) would also suggest 2 sound sources. a trebly one and a bassy one as i would call them.

 

i only have a trebly one for now, an underwood

 

http://www.jo-co.be/langshier/bp/uw1.jpg

 

http://www.jo-co.be/langshier/bp/uw2.jpg

 

(sorry, i'm testing my new digital cam :D )

 

anyway, it's good to start with this one because i cannot buy the whole package at once (just bought a new car) and i'd rather have note definition with boosted lows in a live situation than lots of boominess and less definition (but that's just me).

 

nice to see a URB thread once in a while :)

cheerio!

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i only have a trebly one for now, an underwood
If your Underwood is "trebly" I would consider two items, as it should be a relatively a well-balanced pickup that can deliver the "bass" end of the spectrum.

 

- if it is a bit quacky and thin, that is a symptom of impedance mismatch. You may require a matching preamplifier. See my page at http://www.urbbob.com/preamptalk.html for an explanation

 

- remove one of the transducers and play. Unfortunately, the Underwood can sometimes be a victim of phase cancellation, where identical signals from both transducers cancel out lower frequencies, resulting in a lack of low end.

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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i'm also using the K&K Golden Mic/Bass Max pair, got 'em from bob awhile back, very happy with the setup. playing jazz and acoustic pop on a carved front upright. the bass max does the heavy lifting (warm body sound with some fretboard and string noise), and the golden mic lets me dial in some "air". you could get by with just the bass max though, and i've not quite figured out how to get an even tone from the mic alone, it hypes some resonant "hot-spots" on my bass (not sure if i should blame myself, my bass, the mic, or the mic position for that).

 

-- w

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Again, thanks to all for the very helpful and detailed suggestions on amplifying my upright. There has been a lot of good info. At least I am confused at a higher level than before I aked! haw! haw! Thanks again to all of you that have responded.

 

Dan Farrell

Anaheim CA

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