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Amplifying the bow

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Riley Z, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. Riley Z

    Riley Z

    Nov 27, 2015
    Hello bass folks! I am a first time poster but a long time reader.

    Can anyone recommend a versatile amp set-up that will sound great for double bass (pizz AND arco) as well as electric? I'm thinking of players like Paul Kowert and Ranaan Meyer. For context I am studying classical double bass (music education and performance) and I am in a bluegrass band. Lately I've been really into the crossover bands like Punch Bros. or Time for Three where there is frequent switching between bowing and plucking.

    I currently play an Ampeg combo but I'm looking for something a little more powerful and characteristic of my upright's sound. I'm used to combos, but I was looking to branch out into using some kind of rig/stack. Any ideas? Thanks!
  2. matt holt

    matt holt Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2005
    Cincinnati OH
    "The Band" pickup by headway, an Aguilar tonehammer amp, and an Eden ex112 cabinet. the GK mb200 amp sounds good too, but I find I have to roll off the highs and mids a bit. Also, check out the Sansamp para DI preamp, it makes everything sound better.
  3. matt holt

    matt holt Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2005
    Cincinnati OH
  4. Be aware that you will receive a bewildering variety of recommendations that have worked for individual players.

    Each 'surefire method' may work for you... Or it may not.

    The variables are many: your bass/ strings/ setup/ bow/ playing style/ sound requirements.

    Beware of those whose advice is too absolute!
    Gaolee, drurb and DC Bass like this.
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, I'm very fond of the Ehrlund EAP pickup combined with either the Headway EDB-2 or the Grace Designs Felix Preamp. You'd have to try it before you comitted to purchasing one. Gollihur Music offers a trial period so you can demo it. Since it's relatively expensive you really should use the trial period.
    With either the Headway or the Grace you can use any well designed powered speaker. There's also the new MSP pickup that's relatively inexpensive.

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
  6. I would say the pickup is more important than the amp.
    Gig Ehrlund is good together with its preamp.
    The MSP is much cheaper but similar and much better than the bridge mounted pickups for the double bass sound, but should get a preamp like the Ehrlund or the HPFpre as a cheaper good alternative.
    For both you need some time to position the pickup for a good feedback-free sound and you might need a little bit of time and silence every time you need to place them on the top.
    An amp can color the sounding a bad way that can not always be neutralized by the EQ, so better get one with a flat response. The cab also has a big influence on sound, but you should better go starting from the bass step by step towards the cab, not backwards if you want to enhance things.
    drurb likes this.
  7. Jon Mush

    Jon Mush

    Jun 3, 2015
    Winnipeg, MB
    FWIW, I have a Full Circle and the arco is fairly scratchy when dialled in nicely for pizz. I agree with the above. For that reason, I've been using a mic that our sound guy punches in for the arco moments.

    Onstage, I use a Puma 500 and MAS 45 (pizz and arco), and people always ask if it's on at all (thanks Mike!), but the mic (Audix clip-on) is a definite win in the PA paired with the pickup for the arco bits.
  8. Well, just reading the topic again ... you might need a pickup for your bow ;)

    If you don't want to invest time to find a way to use a mic, an Ehrlund or MSP, the only other way is using a bridge foot (!) pickup. I like the Shadow SH-965NFX with one connected foil under the bass bridge foot much better than the Realist. The recordings you find online are all with two foils, so there is a kind of comb filter effect you might not like. This is the install and forget solution including an impedance buffer. You just should always carry a few CR2032 with you.

    The Full Circle can work with the bow, it might depend of the direction of installation but also on the bass. But generally the farer away from the strings the better the bowed sound is, but also the less punchy the pizzed notes get.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Kowert from Punch Bros. uses a Full Circle and a clip on mic. Details here: Gear I saw him live this fall and he sounded exquisite. I had no idea that was a Shen he was playing, but it makes sense now.

    Here's a nice interview with Ranaan Meyer including some gear talk: Ranaan Meyer He doesn't mention pickups, but does talk about his instrument and strings/rosin/etc.
  10. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    +1 Apparently the Shadow is constructed with "Electret"Film" like the Aptflex, which is better at acurately sensing the sound arco sound. I've hear it used this way live FOH and IMHO either MSP or the Ehrlund sound infinitely better.

    Before we had Electret and Piezo film pickups, like the Realist, Shadow, and Aptflex, I would frequently use an Underwood dual element piezo, bridged, into both channels of a Walter Woods MI-100-8. I used the Channel select switch on the Woods, to toggle between two different EQ's. One set for Arco, while the other was set for Pizzicato. Not ideal mind you, but it worked. I think the MSP a good alternative if you need to switch between Arco and Pizzicato. Less complicated and very inexpensive.

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    +1, and add to that list "personal preference."
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    +1 There's absolutely no way to rule that out . I think the best any of us can do, is to offer several options and alternatives to our own setups, based on things we've previosly used.
    drurb likes this.
  13. A volume pedal can help too.
  14. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I had a Morley Volume Pedal a while back and loved it, what would be really nice is a pedal with a A/B selector switch and a volume pedal.

  15. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    I have been using a Carvin MB12 with an Fdeck HPF. It's better for pizz or slap, but it works well enough for bowing. It's not exactly an enormously powerful or loud amp, but I don't have an extension cabinet. I understand those make a big difference. Also, it's worth noting that when I'm playing arco, it's still with a band that includes two electric guitars, so sounding really, really good isn't as important as it might be. When playing a loud show, I play through a big folded horn, just so you know what I'm used to hearing and the kind of sound I like/will tolerate.

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