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Amping a rental

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Kevin Gordon, Dec 31, 2002.

  1. I am going to be renting an upright soon and plan to play/perform with my band (guitar, drums, piano), so I think I will need to amplify myself. Because this is a rental I cant drill any holes or glue anything on to it so most pickups are out of the question. Should I just use a mic? I currently have an electric bass amp, would that work for double bass? Help would be much appreciated.
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Well, I don't know much about your playing. Have you played long enough to develop a big sound? If so, you should at the least be able for everyone on the bandstand to hear you without any trouble.

    If this is you, go with whatever mic you can scrounge up to borrow; an SM57 or 58 etc. will work fine.

    If this is not you, try to borrow a Fishman or Underwood clone. These are not hard to mount and are not permanent.

  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Most pickups are usable for you. There are a few that require holes and what-not, but these tend to be on the expensive end. The Underwood, Realist, Shadow, Schertler, etc. will go on the bass with no or little (read: they'll never know) modification.

    Your slab amp will definitely work. Many here will recommend a preamp to help rid the tone of some of the pickup-iness. Some amps work better than others, and if you played primarily upright through an amp you'd likely be looking at different rigs than you would for the Slab.

    If you get a lot of sound outta The Bass, then you could be an 'ampless wonder' or try a mic. I'm guessing that this is not the case if you're just about to take home your first fiddle, though.
  4. benc


    Jan 29, 2002
    Houston, TX
    One of the bridge wing-slot-mounted pickups ("Underwood clones") Ray and Monte mentioned will probably be your best bet. I'll add to Ray's list the K&K Bass Max pickup. It's very reasonably priced at http://www.urbbob.com.

    The K&K (or any wing slot pu's) should sound great with your Ashdown amp (I read your profile). The Ashdown's "High" input impedance is about 4 mega-ohms which is compatible with piezo pickups. (In other words, it'll sound ok without a preamp. Just use the shortest cable possible.) It might just be a tight little rig for upright.

    I would avoid using a mike if your only sound reinforcement is your amp. Feedback would most likely be a serious problem. I've had to go that route and it's not too much fun.
  5. First off, you probably don't want a bridge-wing pickup, such as the BassMax or the Underwood. The opening is VERY unlikely to be the right size to just slip a bridge-wing pickup into.

    The opening will usually be too small, requiring you to sand or file out the wing to fit.

    Of course, someone might have rented it before you and done this.

    There's also the chance that you could wind up getting charged $80-$120 bucks for a new bridge when you turn the bass back in, depending on how Observant/Anal the rental place is.

    If you visit www.gollihur.com, you will find the K&K Double Big Twin pickup, which attaches to the bridge with tape.

    The description of it's mounting is;
    The unit comes with what could hardly be called double-faced tape -- it's more like a loosely organized layer of adhesive. The ultra-thin layer of adhesive holds the transducer head, and if you don't like where it is at this point, you can move it. If the adhesive gets funky, roll up the sticky debris with your finger and start anew. However, it has great holding power, eventually becoming semi-permanent.

    The Double Big Twin costs $93 plus shipping.

    I've heard of people placing the Underwood beneath a bridge-foot instead of in a bridge-wing, but www.lemurmusic.com wants $129 for an Underwood, while a Gage Realist is only $175.

    The Realist isn't going to be in danger of getting the Piezo element crushed, since it's actually designed to fit under a bridge-foot, and is pretty much the standard by which everything else in it's price range is judged, sound-wise.

    If the new Fishman Acoustic Circle doesn't eclipse the Realist, sound-wise, the Realist is probably the best sound you can get in a pickup, before jumping into the $400+ price range.

    All reports I've heard about the Full Circle say that it sounds as good as a Realist, but is more resistant to feedback.

    Of course, the other non-invasive thing you can do is get a Fishman BP-100 clip-on pickup, which has a reputation of being "thin and nasal", at $118.

    How long do you intend to keep the rented bass? Keeping it for a day or a week is a different thing from a quarterly, six-month or open-ended rental term. "Open-ended" COULD mean "Permanent"... Uprights can be addictive. ;)

    If you just plan do do one or two gigs with it, the Realist would be your very best bet.

    You can put it on and take it off quickly and easily, without modifying a rented bass, and the Realist is a well-regarded pickup that you can re-sell on Ebay probably for about 60%-70% of what you paid for it.

    A microphone would be easiest, like an SM-57, but probably wouldn't be good for you.

    The first thing I see out of Bass Guitar players who try my bass, without exception, is inability to get any real sound out of it.

    URB strings have to be PULLED, not "tickled", and it isn't the same "fingertip proposition" that works fine on a BG.

    If you're not used to putting a lot of "meat on the string", even a bass that projects really well probably won't be loud enough to be mic'd, especially with a drummer present.

    You'll have to crank the gain on the mic so much that it wll be feeding back. It will probably also be picking up the drummer, thus amplifying the very sounds that you need the most to be getting over, volume-wise.

    You need a good, strong acoustic sound to begin with, before you start putting a mic in front of it, to avoid the problems above.

    With you using a rental bass, I'm guessing that your experience is mostly with BG (I could be guessing wrong ;)) but using a mic with a drummer around (unless he's a good jazz drummer playing jazz) is a dicey proposition, even for an experienced URB player.

    Get yourself a Realist, and a good Pre-amp, which you probably already have. That will be your best investment, given your situation.

    www.gollihur.com sells a K&K Model 97 preamp for $80, if you need one, and it can use a Wall-Wart, if you hate batteries.

    The new Full Circle pickup is giving the Realist a run for the money, maybe even surpassing it. It's only been out for a few weeks, all reports are glowing.

    However, it's built into a bridge adjuster wheel that replaces any standard aluminum adjuster.

    That makes it as portable and non-invasive as a Realist, but only if you have an adjustable bridge, which a rental bass probably won't have.

    At $166 from www.elderly.com, and $169 at Lemur, it's essentially the same price as a Realist.
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The Fishman is somtimes put under the foot of the bridge, not the Underwood. The Underwood is a bit too thick for this. I heard the story that Edgar Meyer put the Fishman under the foot of his bridge and got the whole idea for the Realist rolling.

    Filing out the wings of the bridge is something the shop wouldn't notice, unless it was a particularly crappy job. Chances are you could probably sell the shop the installed pickup upon return of the rental for fair used price. If you're really worried about this, ask the shop.

    The Realist requires that you string the bass down and lift the bridge to get it under the foot. This requires some knowhow and you run the risk of the sound post dropping and a quick trip to the luthier. Which probably wouldn't be a bad idea just for a good setup, anyhow. Plus the Realist, at least the old ones, dented the table because of the element, and even the new ones come with directions suggesting that you make room on the foot of the bridge for the element, 1mm deep or so, for maximum sound and to avoid the dented bass. Beyond that, the Realist has an OK tone in certain rooms, at low volumes, on good basses with players that get a great sound. If he's going to be cranking the amp, which is likely, it'll be a feedback nightmare.

    For all of the above, I really recommend one of the wing mounted pickups (Underwood, Shadow, K&K), or something like the Scherlter, Clevinger, Fishman (the older one), and the like for an install that one could do by yourself. Of these that I've had experience with, I'd recommend the Underwood to someone that doesn't have a lot of experience on the big fiddle because of it's tendency to compress the sound, which would help tender fingers get a more usable tone.
  7. Thank you everybody for responding (I tried this at Activebass and got one response), you all guessed right; im new to upright, played one for the first time today, and have no idea about anything. and have no idea about anything. I'm probably going with the K&K Double Big Twin, just because it sounds like you can take it on and off as you please. I am renting from my school (I wasnt too clear was I) so I really dont want to file or change anything. If any of you cant stand the idea of getting the double big twin tell me.
  8. Just remember the part about the adhesive eventually becoming semi-permanent. :)

    If you email Bob Gollihur (bob@gollihur.com), he can probably tell you about how long this takes, and whether or not it's a problem, no matter how long the pickups are on.

    There is also a guy on Ebay who keeps auctioning a pickup that clamps through the heart on the bridge.

    A luthier supposedly designed and builds them, but I'd have some concern that it might act as a mute.

    That would make it okay for amplifying, but bad for playing acoustic.

    He has a 10-day "try it out" period, so buyers can hear how it sounds.

    I've kept an eye on them, and seen the auctions finish up at everything from $50 to $150 in the last couple of months that he's been selling them.

    He has one up for auction right now, http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=16222&item=934344389. that ends Jan-04-03 13:31:50 PST

    Shipping is only $5, so you COULD always get one, try it out and send it back if it mutes the bass, or sounds crappy when amplified. You'd need a bass & amp sitting ready to try it out on, as soon as it was shipped, though.

    It will be purely what you think about it, as nobody here is likely to have any personal experience with this pickup.

    There might be some more educated opinions on them than mine, though, if someone else would go to the trouble of visiting that link and giving it a little thought.

    Just from the photos, they might be better able to tell whether or not it would mute the acoustic volume significantly.

    My own opinion is, officially "I Don't Know", though I'm a little leary of it's size and mounting. It might not have any muting effect at all, or that might not be something that bothers you, even if it does.

    Even if it mutes the bass, and you normally play one way or the other, muting might make no effective difference.

    It's convenient enough that you can put it on only when you want to amplify, if you normally don't plug in, or you could leave it normally on, taking it off on rare the occasion that you are NOT amplified.

    Current bid is about $50.
  9. As I look at the photo, the bridge looks an awful lot like one of the "northern maple" bridges that come on Cremona's and such. I would think that unless you have a bridge with the cutout holes the same size, shape and spacing as one of those you might be in for a surprise.
  10. What I get from the description, and can glean from the photo, it probably has a backing plate on the un-shown side of the bridge, with a nylon bolt going through the bottom part of the heart, to pull the pickups tight against one side while the backing plate draws up against the other side.

    Since the Piezo disks are described as "35mm wide--about the size of a .50 piece", I don't see how they could sit out on little stems from the center bolt and still be over wood.

    I have about 1 inch of wood between my heart-hole even at the bottom of it and the beginnings of the holes that form the wings.

    I think a 50-cent piece (if I HAD one) would pretty much take up all of that inch, and a little more. I just tried a quarter, and it takes up all the space,

    It says they are "very adjustable to get the best sound possible", so maybe they can be bent down, more in a "V" shape, than straight across.

    Of course, it might just mean that you can put the bolt at the top of the heart-opening, or down at the bottom of it...

    Now that I've gotten so dern curious about it, I think I'm going to shoot this seller an email to ask him how this thing manages to make good contact with the wood!

    I can't see any holes in the photo, so the pickup disks must be covering them.
  11. Now, Bob... THAT photo is just out-and-out comical!

    It reminds me of the pics some people take of their dogs after fitting 'em with sunglasses & bandannas.

    If I hadn't been somewhat prepared for what was about to display I might have broken out laughing. :D

    I sent the seller an inquiry about it, we'll see what comes back as an answer.

    Since the Cello Model covers the entire heart-hole, all of the wing-holes, and hangs out the sides, it doesn't look like they're too concerned about empty air under the disks instead of wood.

    This picture is a little more clear, though. If it's exactly the same as the bass model, then it doesn't look like the disks are firmly attached to the mounting bar.

    They might slide back and forth to the sides... if there were any available space for them to slide over. :rolleyes:

    Surely they work though... I've noticed 3 or 4 auctions for them, and the seller hasn't been kicked off of Ebay.

    The seller is not likely a string-player, though, because he calls a "Tailpiece" a "Strut".
    "velcro pads to mount the jack on the strut"

    Still, if the "luthier in Portland" knows all about basses & cellos, THAT is what counts.

    Maybe the seller will get an answer from the maker, and enlighten us, and it will all make sense. Surprises DO happen!
  12. I got curious about the Kyocera Ceramic Induction Elements, so I did a quick google search for Kyocera piezo elements. I found a couple of places that had the 35mm Kyocera ceramic induction elements for about a dollar a piece. I wouldn't think it would be all that hard to make your own version of that pickup. Atleast we know what a tailpiece is.
  13. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    The Double Big Twin adhesive feels and act similar to a thin rubber cement; you can roll it off most surfaces when it is initially applied and for a while afterwards. It never really gets super hard, and is usually easily removed.

    The Bass Max requires about 1/4" in the wing; most of the common bridges I've encountered can just able handle it, a little sandpaper typically does the job, and is usually not detectable unless somebody goes over every inch-- but then you could sand the other side to match ;)

    Most of the common music store rentals out there these days are of the cheap Chinese variety; they maximize profits.
  14. Would if I took the Double Twin Pickups on only when I needed them then took them off when I was done? Would the adhesive wear out? Or should I just go with the Bass Max? I looking to play mostly jazz and jazz influenced jamming and I hear the twin is better for that type of stuff. (on a completely different note I just want to say how cool Edgar Meyer's Bach Unacompanied Cello Suites are)
  15. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    The Double Big Twin adhesive needs to be removed each time they are installed -- and the transducers are not made to be taken off and put on repeatedly. It takes care to be sure you get completely under the transducer with a razor knife, or you can damage them.

    I'd go with a Bass Max or similar pickup.
  16. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    hey basszen - any updates to this? I'm curious to see how the electric blue is working for ya!
  17. its going well. I ended up using a bass owned by the school and getting a fishman pickup and preamp (least expensive) and they sound fine with the Ashdown, its not quite like playing fully acousticly, but it seems as though the amp makes up for the reported "nasal" aspects of the fishman, I can get a real beefy, fairly acurate sound. Now I have come tor realize how totally cool upright is. Now whenever I play my electric I think of the next time im going to get to play upright. I can no longer play jazz on my electric.

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