Bass Max disaster

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by appler, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. appler

    appler Guest

    I have a K&K Bass Max and tonight it saw its last performance. I thought I'd done an excellent job securing it in the bridge wing. I spent a good couple of minutes shimming it. I have a German/Bausch bridge (the surfaces of the bridge wings are not parallel) but I was told by several people that this wouldn't be a problem at all, including the person who sold me the pickup. Unfortunately, it fell out of the bridge wing in the middle of a song at my gig tonight at NJPAC. Nobody in the band actually noticed, which is cool. The bad part is nobody in the house heard a note I played after the pickup fell out because the engineer decided to plug it into a DI and send it to the PA. I wanted to use a mic for the house and have the pickup/amp there just as a safety net; if the drummer got too loud, I could turn it on/up. That didn't happen, though, and the audience got a bass solo that was molto pianissimo.

    I'm not knocking the Bass Max for falling out. I probably shouldn't have got it in the first place. I did have another issue this evening with the metal attachment that hooks around the A and D strings loosening up and causing a nasty buzz, but that seemed like a fixable problem. The real dilemma here is that the pickup design is not a good match for me. I need a pickup that is easy to switch between basses but does not involve sticking it in the bridge wing. Is there anything out there that will do the job and sound reasonably good? Thanks a lot for your time, guys and girls.
  2. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    I've used several bridge-wing pickups (Underwood, Bass Max, and Revolution Solo), and in my experience the fit has to be quite snug in order to obtain the best sound quality. In every case, I've used some kind of shim material to make the fit tighter, like paper or a business card or cardboard; cramming some material in to make the fit tighter doesn't seem to harm the sound in any way, or at least the tighter fit thereby obtained improves it enough to make a dramatic difference. I can't imagine that a wing pickup loose enough to actually fall out would be producing its optimal tone quality, so perhaps just shimming it will be the solution you seek.

    I had a similar problem last week, when my patch cord died on the gig and the sound coming out of the P.A. was nothing but distorted crackles and pops; I unplugged it and played unamplified for a tune, and because the stage was wood and I was using Animas no one noticed that I wasn't amplified...but then again, in the NJPAC I would have been lost!
  3. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I think you really need to get a bridge with flat surface wings.
    This way the pickup should snug securely and won't fall.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The best shim for a Bass Max, IME, is an old saxophone reed. The wedge shape helps keep the pickup in place, and the wood creates a good fit and good sound.
  5. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004 long as you don't go too tight which, with a piezo pickup, can certainly result in a nasty sound.
  6. appler

    appler Guest

    Hey, thanks for the response, fellas. I was using a combination of a tenor sax reed and paper to shim it; the pickup was quite snug against the bottom bridge wing. Unfortunately, the top portion of the wing sorta comes to a point. :eyebrow:

    Anybody know of any pickups that are easy to switch between basses which don't use the bridge-wing setup? The Realist looks cool and my teacher likes it. I don't know how hard it is to install, though.
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Well, it's not a pickup, but the AMT mic fits as many basses as you care to use it on, and it sounds great. Not cheap, though.
  8. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    The Fishman BP-100.
    You can get a small PDF manual from there which shows installation.
  9. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    You may want to check in with Bob Gollihur if you haven't already. He may have some tips about dealing with wing slots that have unusual shapes.

    Had you given any thought to carefully sanding down that point on your bridge's wing some, to get a flatter area for more contact with the pickup?
  10. appler

    appler Guest

    Thanks for the tip. The gap in the wing is already huge, though. If I sanded it down further, it would probably be too big to use a pickup there since the amount of shimming I'd have to do would be insane. I'd like to abandon the bridge-wing pickup altogether. I like the Fishman BP-100 idea (thanks, francois) but I heard they sound awful. The AMT's over my somewhat limited budget. Thanks for the help!
  11. bribass


    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    Ya never know about what pu will sound good on a particular bass until you try.

    For years I used the BP-100 on my 1920's German bass alone and it always sounded good on that bass. Later I tried the Realist alone on the same bass, nice and warm, I loved the natural mid-upper register sound, but it never seemed to get robust enough lows on the E string, so I started blending it w/ the Fishman. The best of both worlds.
    Played w/ this set up for years then I had the good fortune to get my dream bass; a early 1800's Prescott. A new pick up search was started. Wanted to try the Realist , but had to wait to get it installed. In the mean time tried the trusty BP-100 on the Prescott...Terrible. The bridge muting thing just did't work on this fine instrument. Very thin sounding. Tried the Bass Max on it. OK, but no cigar. Wasn't doing the Prescott justice at all. Then I put a Realist on it alone and NERVANA. Highs, mids, lows everything sounded great. (Also, the best pu I've tried for arco playing besides a mic) Point being every axe is different. Ya never know what'll work well 'til you try it.
    I've since tried replacing the BP-100 w/ the Bass Max and blending it w/ the Realist on the German bass, but it did not cut it and I went back to the Fishman/Realist blend for that bass, despite the bridge muting. When playing all acoustic I take it off.

    You may want to get your hands on an old Barcus- Berry. It attatches to the E side bridge leg w/ nylon screws. I've never tried one, but Ron Carter used one for years. Sometimes you see them on Ebay, usually sold w/ their pre amp. Good luck

  12. Shims are temporary at best, IMO.
    If I were in your spot, I'd saw/ sand the wing of the bridge flat and paralled to the area of the leg opposite it, then glue a piece of maple to the wing so you can sand it to provide paralled surfaces and a good fit for the BassMax.

    I've yet to try anything that works as well and sounds as good as the BassMax with my bass/ hands/ (loud) big band. Decent sound, no preamp required, very feedback resistant.
  13. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Ya beat me to it, that's exactly what I recommend to players that have bridges with unusually shaped and pointed wings. No need to remove a lot of wood, just enough to get a decently sized flat surface to anchor a shim. Once you're happy with the fit, a drop of glue can enhance the shim's stability.
  14. Eric, what type of amp do you use for the (loud) big band? And how close are you to the amp when you play loud without feedback?
  15. appler

    appler Guest

    You guys have got me thinking now. I have a couple of questions about sanding the bridge wing and adding a shim.

    What type of wood should I glue to the bridge wing after I sand it down, and where do I get it? Will it transfer the vibrations of the instrument well enough through the added piece of wood to sound as good as a bass without the wooden shim? What kind of glue should I use, and does this require professional installation? I really, really, really don't want another pickup to fall out on me, ever.


    Edit: I've just examined my bridge and I decided not to do the surgery. Not only does the top part of the wing come to a point, but the bottom part tapers off as well, so it would be just as difficult as it is now to install a bridge wing pickup properly. I'm just gonna get a Full Circle and be done with it. Thanks again, everybody!
  16. 1920'S carved Czech bass> BassMax> GKMB150S. I'm usually to the drummer's right, with piano and guitar in front of me. As much as possible, I try to get 4-5 feet in front of my amp. This is usually not possible, stage space is generally so tight I don't have room to swing a bow. My amp is usually over my left shoulder between me and the drummer. I put it on an Ikea speaker stand that gets it 8-9 inches off the floor and aims it up at my head. Sometimes I put it on a chair on its back, aiming straight up. This sometimes solves the problem if I'm starting to feed back.

    When I encounter feedback it's usually around the open G- Ab frequencies first. Sometimes it's set off by the piano player pounding too hard with his left hand, or occasionally by the guitar amp. Lotta bottom end being generated in a small area. When I'm on the brink those notes start to swell instead of decay, which is controllable by damping with the left hand.

    I'm also in the habit of damping a lot with my right hand, either with middle, ring or pinky finger or with the side of my index and hand. I think this is a skill worth developing if you use a pickup at any volume. A lot of extraneous noise and string vibrations get reproduced by a pickup, your amplified sound is cleaner if you can improve the signal to noise ratio at the instrument.

    I recently bought a RevSolo, it sounded good, slightly different from the BassMax, not necessarily better. It was inclined to feed back at a bunch of different frequencies at a lower volume than the BM. I'll mess with it some more, but so far the BassMax still works best for me. As always, YMMV.