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SGD Lutherie Pickups

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by CapeBass, Aug 25, 2007.


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  1. CapeBass

    CapeBass Guest

    I've been considering these for my custom bass. The builder recorded this track for me so I could hear what they sound like (roughly) for the style I play. The first part he's using a pick and the second part he's using fingers. This is straight into a Roland 8 track with no amp.

    http://www.david-schwab.com/music/test_bass_clip.mp3

    Sorry for the duplicate, it appears the server was busy and I didn't think it posted the first time. feel free to delete this post.
     
  2. luknfur

    luknfur

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    Yep, had the server thing happen. You can delete the other post as long as there's been no response to it.

    Don't know the pup but a soundclip at best will tell you the pup sounds like solo - which is pretty useless to music.

    Lots of postive reviews on a pup of interest has been my determinant of the potential of a pup. It's a shot in the dark regardless but at the least it will be easier to move on if you don't like it. Don't know what the dimensions are but if it's not a common dimension, I certainly wouldn't invest in one myself without reviews from players to back it up.
     
  3. #include <MK>

    #include <MK>

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    Well, maybe. But what are some alternatives:

    - since the builder recorded the solo bass track, why not ask to record a track with an arrangement similar to the setting you use them
    - listen to a player who has them installed in the situation that you will use them
    - bring your band in, install the pickup to test but the room may not be acoustically that good
    - ask to try before you buy...probably not...

    What kind of pickup is it though? Is it a common design and how many pickup makers are actually making it? There are too many options.

    Since
     
  4. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

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    lol. david is a bright guy, he makes neat stuff. and personally plays examples. too cool.
     
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  6. #include <MK>

    #include <MK>

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    Exactly. I've heard his material and he has intricate knowledge about pickups, pickup design and build.
     
  7. GlennW

    GlennW

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    David's also been playing bass a long time, so bass pickups aren't just a side thing for him.
     
  8. luknfur

    luknfur

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    If there are too many options then there should be lots of feedback available to narrow the search and lots of reviews for a given pup will weed 80% of those out. Once I get down to two or three that's close enough and it's a blind stab.

    In some 100 pups I've had (Alembic, Nord, Lane Poor, whatever), the best predictor is roughly 10 or more positive reviews (input) by guys who've had and played the pup. Basically if that many guys have tried the pup and liked it (different basses, different rigs, different music - etc.), then it's probably worth a stab. Soundclips are worth a listen if available as is any other source on the pup. I just wouldn't buy a pup based on a soundclip alone particularly if it's an obscure pup - but that's me not you.

    Virtually all makers have pups I like and don't like - or perhaps more accurately have different application. I doubt this guy's any different. In my experience there are no magic pups and no magic pup makers - there's just lots of different ones. The trick is to find one you're happy with.

    But guys want to know before they buy and the fact is you can't - any more than you can know which car will be the best one you ever had when you bought it. You can increase the probability of that happening however and minimize the probability of getting the worst one you ever had.
     
  9. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Joined:
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    Aww, gee guys, thanks for the kind words! :D

    Yeah, that's a valid point though, you want to hear how a pickup works in a band situation too. Or more importantly the bass and pickup combination.

    I don't get to play in as many band situations as I used to, or would like to, but I do some recording when I get the chance, so my impetus for the pickups came from being unhappy with the recorded tone I was getting, as well as live. And mainly, I couldn't hear my bass. I wanted pickups without their own tone.

    But I pretty much use the exact same tone I do playing solo with a band. Maybe a little less high end. I do vary the tone from song to song though.

    OK.. how's this. I'll post a few examples of some recordings with other instruments.

    These were all done on my zebrawood top 5 string. It has a warmer top end than my maple top bass.

    The first is a live recording I did at a new age church I used to play at. In this example, it's just a guy playing acoustic/electric guitar and singing, bass and drums. The bass was plugged right into the powered mixer, which was a Peavey. You are hearing a feed right off the mixer. This was the very first version of this pickup, and I only had one in the bridge position. The neck pickup was an EMG-40P, which was turned off. I was going for a throaty growl. Can't stand out too much in musical situations like this.

    light of this world

    This next track is a very quick (sloppy!) demo done in Cubase SX on my Mac. It's a just a song idea, consisting of two parts. This would have been the same bass, but with both pickups installed. It has two guitars, a drum track and bass. No EQ tweaks were made at this point... just a very rough mix of the track. I kind of made it up as I went, which is my usual way of writing.

    Mix

    This is a song by my friend, singer/songwriter Imani Coppola (who was recently on tour with Peeping Tom). The original track is just a very dry sounding recording with voice and acoustic guitar. I liked the song and could hear some bass in it. So I added it to the MP3 file she sent me. I also added some ambiance.

    Freedom Come Mix

    Another demo of a song idea. I was playing this on the neck pickup, with a pick over the fingerboard, and trying to imitate the tone Paul McCarney got using a Jazz Bass on the White Album.

    New Track

    (You gotta love these track names!)

    Another track done in Cubase. This is more finished than the rest. PLayed with a pick. The bass was run through a distortion plugin.

    Do What Makes Your Heart Sing (Part I)

    And lastly... from the last band I was in.. a cover band called Ironic Twist. Here's a rehearsal recording of Voices Carry by 'Til Tuesday, and Words by Missing Persons (really hacked up version!). This was recorded into a Sony digital camera! I'm playing through a Trace Elliott combo. I'm also on backing vocals, whistle, and cough. ;) What the heck, while we are at it, She Bop. Yeah, we did a lot of 80's stuff. These were all with a pick.

    (The bantering at the beginning of Voices Carry was a reference to an old band three of us were in back in the 70's called Dreamer. All inside joke stuff. BTW, for anyone who used to watch the Uncle Floyd show, that's Charlie Stoddard on keys. :) )

    Same bass and pickups used in all these examples.
     
  10. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    I don't know if I agree here. To me it was always how does the bass sound? If you can get a good sound out of the bass, it usually works when playing with other instruments too. And that's your tone.

    Listen to all the great bass players. Doesn't matter what style of music. You know exactly who they are from just hearing their tone. And they don't need to alter their tone to fit into the mix. You want to fit in, but that's simple with good musicians. You don't want to get lost. Of course some tones work better with certain types of music.. Chris Squire sounds like Chris Squire... might not work for blues, but he plays with his tone.

    I mean take a P bass or even a Ric, and play it real flat and clean. That's what it sounds like. Listen to that sound and find what you can do with it, not automatically try and make it sound like something else. Now you have to make it your own.

    From there you can get an idea what you can do with that tone to dress it up. I recorded very flat clips with no EQ just to demonstrate the very wide range of the pickups. That tone is probably too thin to play with a band, but it's all there.. just add some EQ.

    But still, I use very little EQ when playing live or recording. Usually just the EMG BTC I have in the bass. A little low boost for this song, and maybe cut the highs. Then on something else I'll use mostly the neck pickups with the highs boosted. A lot of tones are to be had, and they still sound like your bass. :)

    But my goals were lots of warm bottom that goes way down, and a crisp clean top end that wasn't harsh. I wanted a very extended range. I really designed these pickups for me. I thought other players might be looking for the same thing, and judging how sought after Lane Poor pickups are, I figured these might fill that gap.

    The previous well-known brand-name pickups I was using for the last 15 years have a definite sound of their own. I started to get tired of that sound. And I wasn't hearing how my bass sounds, just the pickups. And I wanted more lows, and more highs, and just more tone.

    You wont find any reviews on my pickups... they are so new that only one bass maker, besides myself has used them. That's Rev. Sammy Glass of Glasstone Basses in MD. David Dyson has one of his basses (but not with my pickups). That's why I started recoding sound clips of them. The only other pickup out there is for a 9-string guitar, played by Gideon in the NZ band Cell.

    They are totally hand made, so I can make them in pretty much any shape, but the standard shape right now is the EMG soapbar. I've also done P and J styles.

    But the general idea is an Alembic style pickup, with a bit more oomph, since they are humbuckers, and not stacked single coils.

    I'm trying to get as much feedback as possible from players to gauge interest. I'm also working on passive high Z pickups.
     
  11. luknfur

    luknfur

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    So you’re the culprit. :D

    I’ve been wondering for a while when a pup you made would show up elsewhere - have wondered why they hadn‘t actually. When I saw David in that link it crossed my mind it might be you but I don’t know a David Schwab. Since it was a link to a clip not a site with info., I didn’t even open it. All I can say is: it’s about time David.

    As for the clip thing, that's my take - which may not be anyone elses.

    Not something anyone has to buy somebody’s opinion on cause it’s not a hard thing for any player to demonstrate to themselves and draw their own conclusions: simply adjust a pup to get an appealing tone solo and try and play it to music then adjust the pup to work to a tune and listen to it played solo. That's it.

    Doesn’t necessarily mean that a pup that puts out a good solo tone won’t play well to music or that a pup that plays well to music won‘t put out a decent solo tone. It simply means you’re going to have to adjust it differently and that an appealing solo tone is no indicator of how a pup will play to music - actually a negative indicator if anything to me. I’ve had a lot of pups that play well to music that don‘t put out a decent solo tone (without effects) and a few pups that put out very good solo tones (without effects) that DON’T adjust to music worth a flip.

    Believe me, your pups aren’t alone in not having reviews.

    Edit:

    I went back and listened to that clip.

    That clip is as flat as any I’ve heard and about as flat and transparent as it probably gets. Sounds unplugged. It would probably take an experienced player to appreciate it so not a clip inclined to sell pups otherwise I wouldn‘t think. Even so, I wouldn’t have a clue what that pup would sound like through my stuff played to music.

    I think your right on about the LP comment and I’m surprised the void hasn’t been filled to date - or perhaps it has and we just don't know it yet. :D
     
  12. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    Yeah, it's me. I've been working on these pickups for over a year now. :) I'm also making basses again... have a workshop all set up. Back with my original partner in SGD... He's the G. He worked on the original prototypes of the NS Doublebass with Ned. Real talented guy.

    That's the tone I use.. solo, or otherwise. When you listen to music, you hear how each instrument sounds. There's no right or wrong tone. Maybe some people use a thin tone for soloing? Listen to Jeff Berlin. Same tone for solos and ensemble playing... Jaco was the same way. Exactly the same tone for solos. Maybe for a solo I might switch to the bridge pickups and crank up the highs. But usually I just get a different tone with my fingers. More up front. Also, traditionally during a bass solo everyone drops out a bit. No need to change your tone. Another example... upright players. They don't change their tone for solos!

    To me, a pickup should amplify the tone of your bass. What's a good solo tone? To me it's my bass with no one else playing lol I don't use more highs or less lows, because that's not what my bass sounds like. You can play dub bass and take a solo. Making your bass sound like a guitar is not a solo tone. You have to get articulation with your fingers... make every note pop out. I do that by picking rather forcefully. I don't move my picking hand fingers too much though. I played with a pick for many years, and got used to that snap. So when I switched to my fingers, I figured out how to attack the note to get that snap back. I modeled my picking on John Mclaughlin and Robert Fripp. I like to hear every note pop.

    Oh I know, but really, I'm just starting out. I'll probably send some to Bass Player soon.



    Well that was the idea. After years of playing with effects and stuff (I had a very convoluted signal chain!), it all started to sound like mush. I hate mushy tone. So more and more it was me plugging right into my amp. Sometimes right into the PA or even a power amp.

    I mostly practice unplugged, or else I play through my studio monitors. So I got used to hearing all the sounds you can make with your fingers. Then with my old pickups, I'd plug in and I don't hear any of that. So I wanted what I call "Bare Naked Tone™" :D Plus I always liked that really wide range tone Stanley Clarke got. I actually based these pickups on a rewound set of P bass pickups I made for my 8 string bass back in the early 80's.

    It's not hard to get a big fat tone out of them though. All the frequencies are there. I just roll the top off a little and boost the lows. Sometimes I cut some of the very low end, like at 75 Hz. That makes the lows punchy, more like a Fender.

    I'm working on some more traditional sounding pickups that still keep the clarity.

    I've never heard one in person, nor have I ever seen one. But I always read good things about them. I don't think anyone really knows how he made them. No one even knows where he is!

    But I'm also trying to get the clearest tone I can get. It's not for everyone, but I'm sure people are looking for this sound.
     
  13. m.oreilly

    m.oreilly

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    now you really got my attention :D
     
  14. luknfur

    luknfur

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    We definitely have different experiences, different takes, and different approaches on the same things. I&#8217;m definitely not a guy who wants my bass to sound amplified like it does unplugged. I see solo and tone to tune as two different animals with little exception. They could be the same thing it&#8217;s just not an approach I would take, variations in technique or not. I don&#8217;t play URB but it seems to be a different animal to me as well.

    There&#8217;s a guy in the techniques forum asking how to get pick tone from finger picking - sounds like you might have an answer for him. I&#8217;ve never pulled it off but I just use a pick when it&#8216;s called for.

    If you take a stereotypical Bart tone, cleared it up and knock the muffle out and extend the top end, that&#8217;s basically the LP tone to me (Mod LPMM & 3.5W). That clip didn&#8217;t sound like an LP (Alembic, DS or any mag) to me but like I said, I really don&#8217;t know what that pup of yours would sound like to me through my stuff played by me cause I wouldn&#8217;t play an amplified acoustic version of my bass.

    That clip does sound like the pup has potential appeal to me though using different tone shaping. Makes me think of an EMG with more melodic/musical quality to the tone.
     
  15. 12bass

    12bass

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    Are the SGD pickups going through a BTC preamp? What's the recording chain???

    I've found the the EMG preamp introduces significant coloration into the tone of my Lane Poors. The tone is definitely more natural and "organic" with the preamp bypassed. This is still true with the LT1352 op amp installed, but to a lesser degree. EMG's stock LF442 doesn't sound good to me at all, while the LT1352 is clear, quiet, and quite usable. Then again, I haven't found much for onboard active electronics that I like.....
     
  16. #include <MK>

    #include <MK>

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    Yes, it can be done. I have my own method also, you can get that tone and drive out of the strings with your fingers. It's funny 'cause some years ago this band I just joined wanted a pick sound for some of the tracks. Since I cannot stand pick playing on a bass and the sound of the plastic flicking on the strings, I played a few bars with my fingers in comparison to a pick and they really liked the finger sound. In my opinoin there's a way to get a similar tone but better without using your fingers.
     
  17. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    To me, soloing is just improvising something other than a bass line. Whatever tone I'm using that works with the music is likely the tone I'll use for a solo. I might just change my picking technique a bit. But I already use an up front tone. I'm not interested in a "vintage" tone. I've been trying to get away from that since the mid 70's! I said this in another thread, but when I started playing, a P-bass with flats was the norm. I was playing a Ric with Rotosounds. I was part of what was a movement to get the bass up front! I would hear back from guitar players I played with, who would tell people "I'm not playing with him again... he plays like a guitar player!" lol That's what I get for listening to Jack Bruce growing up. ;)

    I think we finally got there now!

    I'm not trying to get a pick tone from my fingers. When I play with my fingers it's for the tone. I use a pick when something is awkward to play with my fingers. I was playing with a pick for a long time... like 24 years. I got tired of that sound at one point and switch to fingers. Just recently I started using a pick more often again. The sound makes me cringe though. Too clicky. I do use a pick on guitar however.

    I'm not trying to sound unplugged.. that's too thin and ckanky. But I do want to hear the actual tone of the bass. Low impedance pickups can be a bit naked sounding. You can really hear your fingers.. for better or worse! I swear I can hear the phenolic fretboard on my bass. It's chirpy sounding.

    Your bass would probably sound different with these pickups.

    That was the idea. EMG's aren't flat at all. They sound good, but that's the sound. I couldn't get away from that sound, so I sought to make a neutral sounding pickup.

    Yes, the clips are with a BTC in the signal chain set flat. I actually don't mind the sound of the thing, but I'm planning on replacing it. It was a left over from when I had EMG's in all my basses.

    I guess the LF442 is a low power chip. Can't see a reason to use it myself.

    Clearly I need to make some better sample recordings. My intent was to make a very dry recording to show the actual sound of the pickups. You can change a lot with EQ, etc.

    The signal path was: pickup to buffer > BTC set flat > Roland VM-3100Pro digital mixer > S/PDIF coax out to M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 in a Powermac G4. Recorded in TC Works Spark XL 2.8. All digital signal chain.

    Here's a clip of a slightly newer designed bridge pickup directly to the HiZ input on the Roland, also bypassing the buffer. (just me making up something on the spot)

    No Buffer Dry

    Now here's the same recording run through an IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX plugin. It was set for an SVT-4 Pro with 4X10 cab. This might give an indication of an amped tone.

    No Buffer Amp

    Thanks for all the feedback though. This is what I'm after. :)
     
  18. 12bass

    12bass

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    In case I wasn't clear, I've replaced the LF442 that originally came in the EMG BTS with an LT1352. It's a chip that was recommended by Jim Williams of Audio Upgrades and aworthwhile improvement for the BTC/BTS IMO. I thought the preamp degraded the tone with the stock LF442. The active tone is definitely more enjoyable with the LT1352 - now not so much worse as just different than the passive sound - clearer, but a bit less natural sounding. While the BTS sounds better with the new op amp, I still prefer passive for overall purity of tone.
     
  19. smogg

    smogg

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    "Now here's the same recording run through an IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX plugin. It was set for an SVT-4 Pro with 4X10 cab. This might give an indication of an amped tone. Not an amp I would use but someone surely would."


    I could live with that sound no problem. I think you have a winner there David, good luck to you.
     
  20. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    I'll have to try that out. I haven't used the BTS.. that's for passive pickups, right? I wonder what the input impedance is?

    One customer used a Basslines preamp with the pickups (after the buffers). He said when he changed from the blend from 100K to 250K it increased the warmth of the pickup "to an almost vintage sound". I was a bit puzzled by that, but I haven't tried it myself.

    Tone is all very subjective!
     
  21. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    Thanks!
     

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