Adding a piezo system to a Fender Precision bass…

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by cyberprimate, Dec 27, 2013.


  1. cyberprimate

    cyberprimate

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    I'd like to add some organic woody tone to the possibilities of my P bass. I love the sound of the pickup but when I put my ear on the body of this bass i hear beautiful harmonics that are very reminiscent of an upright bass and that the electro magnetic pickups don't give. Can a piezo system be added to my bass? If so what's the best way to go? Ideally I'd love to be able to adjust volume levels freely. Tone as well.
  2. Grissle

    Grissle

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    May 17, 2009
    I know GHOST makes complete systems for most any application. Never tried one though.
  3. lz4005

    lz4005

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    Oct 22, 2013
    Can you add a piezo? Yes.

    Should you? Depends. Most piezo systems require a bigger control cavity than a normal P bass has, so that you will have room for an onboard preamp, battery, and controls. You'll have to figure out where to put all that. You'll be replacing the bridge saddles, if not the whole bridge, to add the piezos. And you'll have to run wires from the bridge to the preamp through the body of the bass.

    When you run the mag pickup through the preamp so that you can blend it with the piezo, it's going to end up sounding different. Might be better to your ears, might be worse.

    You'll also be lowering the resale value of the bass, if you ever decide to get rid of it.

    If I was you I'd look for a bass that has a factory piezo system, or that would be easier to add one to. An active bass with a rear-routed control cavity would be a much better candidate.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    bridge piezos end up sounding more zingy-piano-y than warm and woody.

    with the right onboard preamp (which it has to have to work worth a damn) it's a neat sound, very deep and also bright, essentially wider bandwidth than any electric pickup. it does not sound anything like an upright, though.

    the graphtech ghost system is a good one.
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  6. cyberprimate

    cyberprimate

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  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    The graphtech/ghost acoustisonic setup in my Barker is warm, woody and not at all bright and boinky. I have heard piezo systems that are that way. RMC comes to mind.

    I have a pair of old Godin LR Baggs model Acoustibasses that are fantastic. They were my carry for tonights gig. Fretted and fretless. They can be bright but the onboard pre allows me to knock that down.
    I sometimes wonder why I own other basses...

    String selection is huge with piezo basses as well. I prefer LaBella or D'Addario tape wounds. It's definitely not going to be close to URB. As Walt mentioned, a well installed piezo with the right preamp and string selection is a lovely sound. What I most appreciate is that the note envelope tends towards the fast ramp up, rapid decay - which inspires me to formulate my lines more as if it were an upright. For lack of a more salient expression, it plays more acoustically than electrically. Again, it sounds nothing like an upright...
  8. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny _____________ Gold Supporting Member

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    A less invasive option is to mix the piezo and mag with an outboard preamp or even a small mixing board.


    Everything walter says is the truth. I had a Wendler electrocoustic bass for a while that was probably close to the warm, woody thing you're thinking of but generally it's a pretty tough thing to find in a solidbody. I've never owned one but surprisingly a Rickenbacker can do it well too. Check out Chris Brubeck playing a fretless Ric with tapewounds.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t7LiUxvTRU
  9. cyberprimate

    cyberprimate

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  10. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    I expect that you would have to do dome routing for the board and you will want a battery box as well.
  11. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    Jeff thanks for the Brubeck post! Tasty! I saw Chris back in the 70's a few times with his funk band Skyking. Those guys were hot! I was living in Connecticut and the two generations of Brubeck act was around a lot as the clan lived about an hour down the coast. I expect most any bass will sound good in his hands...

    I remember the Wendler. Was that the one Chef sold ? A thing of beauty! My fingers were hovering over the send button on that one...

    Given the cost of the Graphtech/Ghost setup - it ain't cheap... You're most of the way to a used Godin... And will have a modded up PBass at the end of the day albeit maybe a great sounding one. I think I'd punt in favor of the Godin and start looking for the next Acoustibass that pops up. It sure won't be one of mine! There were some early Godin A4's that were done with the Baggs bridge and preamp - those are much better voiced than the current RMC pickups Godin uses, RMC allows for the synth access though which gives them a leg up for that market.
  12. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny _____________ Gold Supporting Member

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    I got my Wendler around '07 on ebay from a guy in Colorado. Cool bass...a little neck heavy. I still had the Azola Deco then so the Wendler never got much love.

    cyberprimate if you're near Vancouver, BC I'd be happy to show you how to get what you're after with just your hands and a set of really old strings.
  13. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

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    I have a Ghost Piezo on my Stammy.
    Very nice,deep. Be aware Piezo's are bright
    and some EQ may be required.
  14. Grissle

    Grissle

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Also not all buffer/preamps are created equally. I've read many times the right one will give a nice natural sound. But I don't know who makes the best one for bass.

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