1/4 Do I need a pickup?

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by Gigachadbassist, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Gigachadbassist


    Feb 8, 2020
    Here's the situation, I have a 3/4 bass that I use for playing with my friends. We don't play publicly, we just like to get together and jam, maybe in a large living room or outside with 5 or 10 other friends. I'm getting older and don't want to haul this thing around anymore so I'm thinking of getting a 1/4 bass for the mobility. I can adjust to it fine so I'm not worried about the different size.

    My real worry is that I, or the other fellas, won't be able to hear me play. I've never played nor heard a 1/4 play with other instruments so I don't know if they're very quiet and I'll need a pickup, or if the volume is fine and just the sustain and depth of the notes are different.

    I looked in there at that FAQ for 1/4 basses and read all the posts but didn't see one that addressed playing in small groups directly.

    So do you guys think I'll need a pickup or will that 1/4 play loud enough for my small group of friends? If you think I need a pickup can you suggest one? There's so many and I've never used them. I looked on YouTube too but I just confused myself.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. Anne Millington

    Anne Millington

    Dec 16, 2017
    I am a cellist, playing a 1/4 sized bass tuned in fifths when I play gigs with our quintet: bass, cello, viola, 2 violins. We play all genres, but mostly acoustic. Even when no one else is amplified, I always am, these days. I was finding that I just had to push too hard to be heard, and lost all nuance.

    I have a Realist copperhead bass transducer, a Genz Benz Shuttle 3.0 amp, and an Acoustic Image Upshot speaker cab. All lightweight, trouble free. All the extra gear, plus power strip, fits into a single bag. It makes my baby bass sound almost as good as a larger bass, with very pleasing tone and power. Pizz and arco. I have gotten many unsolicited compliments, and won't leave home without it (all).
    Gigachadbassist likes this.
  3. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
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  4. Gigachadbassist


    Feb 8, 2020
    Thank you both for your responses.

    Anne, that is excellent info and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for listing the equipment you use. I'm hoping I can buy some cheaper equipment that will be comparable except I'll probably get that same pickup. None of us are professionals so as long as we are in time and pretty much in tune we enjoy ourselves.

    Bherman, I wasn't aware of the eminence bass and, while I'm not much in the market for one, I've got a buddy that's been looking for something exactly like that. Thanks for the knowledge.
  5. rickwolff

    rickwolff ‘Leave the clams in, let ’em know we're human,' Supporting Member

    Consider using the following:

    Amp: TC electronic BAM200. $150. Has 10 megohm impedence which makes it sound Great with a Piezo

    Pickup: KNA DB-1 bridge wing pickup. $100. I used to use the Realist but now use the KNA (professionally) on both my basses and much prefer it.

    Speaker: the suggestion above for the AI Upshot is a good one.

    Good luck and enjoy.
  6. Anne Millington

    Anne Millington

    Dec 16, 2017
    Also, I would add that my setup gives me a lot of range, in that at low volume it is great for indoor rehearsals, but I can increase as needed for outdoor gigs. On occasion I just plug into a house system, if that is everyone's preference.

    I was lucky enough to get my GB Shuttle second hand, rebuilt by a very fine sound engineer. Given that 1/4 sized basses are quite cheap, overall it is a pretty economical rig.
  7. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Personally, I'd go with a stick bass (many choices) in standard 3/4 size, which requires an amp, rather than a 1/4 size upright that will also require an amp.

    The only guy I've ever seen play a 1/4 in real world situations used an amp, but that was with a big band where all bass players used amps anyway.

    I've never seen anyone show up to a bluegrass jam with anything other than a 3/4 upright, or a 3/4 stick bass with an amp, or a Fender bass with a small amp.
  8. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I disagree that a 1/4 requires an amp, at least in this application, provided the other players are not bashers. I have backed mic'd singer/guitarist duos (both voice and instruments) in a low-volume blues coffee house, using an unamplified 1/4 and have been able to be heard just fine.
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  9. ninepoundjammer

    ninepoundjammer Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Berkeley, CA
    If Nick Forster can do it...

    Attached Files:

  10. AlanSanJoseBass


    Feb 9, 2020
    I have a 1963 Kay 1/4 size bass and I love it. It will never replace the 3/4 size that I also have, but for small acoustic jams (4-5 people), it holds its own. It also has a homemade pickup that sounds fine, but I have never used it in public. The 1/4 size bass is about 8 pounds lighter than my 3/4, and it also allows me to sit down and play during those long jam sessions. My knees and ankles like that. Since I jam with some folks on the 2nd floor of a building with no elevator, those 8 pounds really make a difference. I bought my 1/4 last summer for $600. The neck has never been broken and overall it has not been abused. 514B6A29-9AE4-40C0-A9CA-BF577D88ED73.jpeg
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  11. Ludwig


    Aug 17, 2006
    I have played a good 1/4 double bass with an acoustic group of mandolines, octave mandolines and guitars, 10 players,without amplification for a few years. With more players, I needed amplification. With an acoustic bass guitar, I always needed amplification in any group setting. With a 3/4 double bass, I can keep up with up to 15 acoustic players. The big bass is not that much louder then the 1/4 bass because it has better mid range.
  12. PaulReside


    Mar 14, 2016
    Scottsdale Az
    Got a 1/4 Thompson 6 months ago in trade for an amp i no longer used and I like it. Coming from BG and having 60 year old hands the transition has been relatively painless.