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advice for new bridge/pickup

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by andysvec, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    I've played upright off and on since my teens (I'm 51) but mainly gig on electric. I've moved from Guam to Las Vegas last year and brought my upright I've owned for 30yrs (1970 Karl Hofner ¾). This move from 100% humidity to basically 0% humidity has caused some issues for a lot of my gear.

    Along with my upright needing a good setup now (plus there's some laminate areas lifting and also fingerboard slightly separating from neck that needs reglued) I'd really like to replace the bridge/pickup that has been on it since I bought it (I'll paste in a pic). I think I may have belt sanded down the areas where it adjusts way back when so I could drop the action very low (and it's also bowing a bit now). I hear there's a guy here now at one of our LV shops that used to work for Lemur doing repair/setups so I'd like to get this over to him for everything.

    My question, what is a good adjustable bridge/pickup combination I can purchase and get him to install? A friend here suggested Despiau adjustable and a Fishman Full Circle, could anyone else recommend what you may be using? I'm hoping to really get my upright chops into shape and augment my elec gigs with some upright ones, just want to get this bass back into top shape! thanks in advance - Andy

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The Fishman Full Circle is a good choice, but most people get them installed with the threads pointing down, which puts the elements more in the middle of the bridge leg rather than down by the feet. This gives a brighter, more articulate sound than the other way around. Clearly, you would need taller bridge feet for this, but if you are getting a new bridge this shouldn't be an issue. Good luck!
    Dabndug, Jon Mush and andysvec like this.
  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Yea, due to the low projection (angle of the neck to the body) you will have a short bridge. It’s not really a problem.
    Most adjuster threads are about 25mm or an inch. Installing them with the threads down requires removing wood from the legs, possibly up to the bridge horns when the projection is low. This is done to leave more wood above the heart. Hopefully this makes sense.
    Personally, I like the Realist Lifeline because it sounds a bit warmer than the FC, but they are similar.
    andysvec likes this.
  4. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    thanks for the pickup info! Also any advice on an adjustable bridge? Maybe I can purchase the pickup and bridge from the same place, I heard some pickups it's best to have installed in the new bridge before they ship out to you (such as from Lemur) then you just have your luthier fit the bridge?
  5. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Let your luthier select and fit the bridge. Most of the people I know prefer to fit the feet first before installing the adjusters.
  6. If you want your luthier to guarantee their work, let them select their own bridge.

    Handing a luthier a bridge blank with prefitted adjusters would be a good way to get charged an Idiot Tax. Fitting feet is hard enough when they’re not spinning around on you.
  7. What's wrong with the Underwood you already have?
    It needs a good fit to the bridge wings, not too tight, but not as loose as falling out of the wing by their weight.
    If you play Pizz only that is a good pickup. Not as pleasant with the bow. Full Circle is better, but has it's own problems (gets damaged over time due to the heavy load on the inner piezo crystal.
    A Yamahiko might be a bit more expensive, but potentially has a longer life.
    jsf729 and andysvec like this.
  8. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    you're right, there's really nothing wrong with my underwood other than it's been on there as long as I've owned the bass (bought this upright from someone I was studying with on Guam who bought the bass from a shop when he was attending Berkley that told him it was owned/played by George Mraz). I have an old original Sadowsky outboard preamp that I always used with this bass, but now have an SWR natural blonde that I didn't need to use a pre. But I did beltsand the crap out of the legs on this bridge to lower the action decades ago, and it is bowing and the pickup doesn't fit tight so I at least need a new bridge. I emailed Cowtown guitars here to ask if the Lemur music guy still works there doing upright setups, I'll call if I don't hear from them in a day or two. My plan now since reading the opinions here is I'll take it to him as-is and ask his advice on a new bridge and if this original underwood will still suffice or one of these other ideas would be better.
  9. I would keep the Underwood, at least for backup, on the new bridge. You might want to add a pickup or contact mic that works better for bowing (it's almost always a compromise) to have a selection what works better for a certain situation.

    For that there are bridge foot pickups (I would prefer a Shadow SH-965NFX over any kind of Realist for at least a bit of higher frequency content) or contact mics (Ischell, Ehrlund EAP, AKG C411, MSP). Selection depends on personal taste and mounting method.

    If you do not bow amplified, I would go the adjuster pickup route. (But personally I don't like the Lifeline since it is rather dark.)

    The Full Circle is compatible with common adjuster screws but can fail after several years due to the pressure on the piezo crystals inside. It is also very sensitive to small amounts of rotation that can change the sound drastically from nice to unwanted strong resonances, all inside a quarter or eighth of a turn.

    The Yamahiko (single sensor) is a bit more expensive and only one version of it fits to one type of typical Imperial unit adjusters, but since the piezo does not get pressed but bended, it is more robust and you might want to use that type of thread to be able to change the pickup type without changes to the bridge.

    I'm just changing from Full Circle to Yamahiko (metrical size, unfortunately incompatible with my former adjusters and Full Circle), but will get my instrument back from the luthier after my vacation in two weeks. So I cannot tell you what sounds better by personal experience. But you find more about that pickup from others here if you search a bit.
    andysvec likes this.
  10. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    I'm dropping off my bass tomorrow with an upright luthier here, will get his opinion on everything and have him check out the current bridge/pickup, will update how things pan out, thanks for all the info so far!
  11. andysvec

    andysvec Supporting Member

    dropped off my bass with the LV upright luthier, he used to work at Lemur and really knows his stuff. We went over everything about my bass, it needs a bunch of work but he can do it all, also is going to soak/clamp and shave my original bridge as doesn't think it nor the underwood needs replaced. Some fingerboard and nut work, a bunch of lamination needs reglued, soundpost just minor adjustment, but really all just labor no parts needed, very reasonable too I can't wait to get back on it in a few weeks!
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  12. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Hard to tell but the overall height of the bridge looks a little short. Is the top sinking?

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