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Best DI for Acoustic Bass Guitar?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by velalv, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. velalv

    velalv Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Woodbridge, VA
    Hi all:

    I played yesterday with a no name cruddy DI, and it made my beautiful Martin acoustic bass strung with TI Flats sound terrible. I have two basses, a Martin acoustic with a Fishman pre and a Jazz type bass with a Nordstrand 3 band preamp. FWIW I am also planning on getting a Taylor 314ce guitar soon as well. I play mainly contemporary Christian at churches, but I do occasional bar gigs and coffeehouse gigs.

    I think I would like something that can run on phantom power, and I think a passive DI makes sense given my situation. Correct me if I am wrong. What would you all recommend? I can swing up to $250, but prefer to stay under 200.
  2. I understand the Jensen transformer used in these is very high quality. Right in your $$$ range. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/JDI/

    IMO a best choice for any active bass.

    If you are handy with tools shop for the Jensen tranny by itself (about $75) and build your own high end DI just like the Radial JDI for about a $100 total. Jensen provides a schematic on their web site for instrument DI's with input pad and ground lift options. Easy project.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  3. A passive DI does not require power, so it will need neither phantom power or batteries.

    A general rule I have learned over the years (supported widely in manufacturers literature) states that active basses should (typically) use passive DI's and passive basses should (typically) use active DI's. Now this is a general rule with exceptions, such as a passive bass fed into a pedal or 2 then into the DI as the pedals likely have a pre-amp stage in them. Or a DI connected to an amps pre-amp out jack (higher level signal doesn't require an active DI). Since both basses you mentioned are active I recommend a passive DI. The Radial JDI is a top quality unit.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1, and i have a feeling the DI was not the reason you weren't happy with the sound anyway; what kind of PA and monitoring situation did you have?
  5. WashburnAB95


    Nov 18, 2013
    Don't most ABG have built in XLR outs? If so shouldn't there be no need for a DI if you want to go direct? Couldn't you just plug into the board?
  6. slaerts


    Aug 3, 2006
    Hey, have a look at the fishman platinum bass pre di. I play acoustic bass, ubass and active electric bass through it and I mostly play straight to PA in contemporary worship. I've used almost every di out there and keep coming back to this one. I like it so much I actually bought 2. Sounds awesome with acoustic guitar too. Alternately, the LR baggs paracoustic di is not bass specific but also does a brilliant job.
    velalv and Groove Doctor like this.
  7. timonvh


    Oct 16, 2010
    Another vote for the Fishman, which is what I use with my Martin ABG. If you use both basses at gigs, you might want to consider the Radial Bassbone, but that would be overstepping your budget a bit.
  8. velalv

    velalv Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Woodbridge, VA
    @walterw I was pretty sure it was the DI because it is a place I play at regularly, but it was the first time I used the house DI, which was a BehingerPro. I usually use my electric bass through an Aguilar TH500 head and run a XLR line out of the head. Love that tone. First time I used the acoustic there, and did not have my Aguilar with me since I can usually hear myself on the acoustic.

    I would prefer not to bring the head if I can avoid it, and just throw a DI into the case, and feel sheepish about bringing TH pedal, also want something is not active, which the TH is. Also seems like having a good DI is never a bad idea.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
  9. A passive DI box should be in every bassists gig bag imo, very very versatile tool that can be a life saver when your head or cab goes down, the room is bigger than you were told, or the sound guy has a POS for you to use, etc... I play smaller clubs mostly and run through the PA every night so my stage amp is small and I use my DI for every gig. A must have imo.
  10. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    I've had great success recording my Rob Allen Deep 4 fretless ABG w/piezo pickup using a Radial JDV Class-A active direct box. Recordings are harmonically rich. You might find a used JDV in your $250 price range. Here are some sound samples to give you an idea of results with the JDV:





    P.S These were all played with black nylon tapewounds on the bass.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
  11. Whatever you get, it should have a ground lift feature at the very least. You will appreciate this soon enough when mysteriously the PA has a loud 60hz buzz in it coming from the bass channel... The ground lift switch eliminates this problem, caused often when the PA amps and the Bass amp are powered by different AC supply circuits. Most better amps have circuitry to combat this problem but since it is partially related to the building you are playing in (not in your control...) the ground lift breaks the chain of ground circuits that the 60hz "signal" is travelling on, overcoming the problem.
  12. sowilson


    Jul 5, 2013
    I've found that my Taylor AB-1 behaves more like an acoustic guitar than a BG/DB when it comes to DI's, especially with phosphor bronze strings. I happen to use an LRBags Paracoustic DI on my banjo, mandolin, octive mandolin, and acoustic guitar and it sounds pretty decent with the Taylor. Having a tunable notch filter is great to have. Others I would look at would be SansAmp Para Driver DI an the Radial PZ-DI
  13. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    I use a Zoom A3 acoustic modeling pedal for my NXT EUB, and have used it with acoustic guitar. I can't see an ABG being much different.
  14. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    My Aguilar Tone Hammer has worked great with ABG and acoustic guitar
  15. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Hello, bassmeknik. Please don't take this reply as challenging or disputing your post, and this inquiry is totally aside from the topic of the original post. But in 25 years of being in the pro audio business, I've never heard such a rule of thumb, nor have I ever seen that in any manufacturer's literature. And I'm not sure I understand the logic of such a ruleCan you point me to some of that literature so I may check it out and compare it with some other practices involving the use of DIs with basses and other instruments? I, too, prefer passive DIs, but for different reasons, I guess.

    My favorite DI used to be the Countryman Type 85 DI, which was phantom-powered or battery. And it's still a great DI, as is the new Type 10 DI, for a good bit more money. But in the last few years, I prefer mics and DIs that do not require phantom power. Hence, I've grown fond of the Radial JDI, as well as the many home-brew kits that use the Jensen (or Lundahl) transformer. And this is the DI I suggest using before you consider the next level of DI, such as the Reddi, and it's touted as a DI specifically for bass, so I don't know how it would sound with an acoustic bass guitar. I doubt it would suck...:roflmao:
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  16. It's a just a bit out of your range (about $260.00), but the Radial Bassbone is killer. It's a 2-channel bass preamp with a built-in balanced XLR output for the mixer. I have one and I've been happy with it.

    If you don't need all those features, the Radial Pro48 is about $100.00. Active DI with more headroom than other DI boxes, so an acoustic bass is less likely to drive it into distortion. Plus it's indestructible. I tried the Pro48 and dug it for accoustic/eub instruments, but I play electrics. The Radial StageBug SB-1 also looks like a good fit for your situation.

    I like active DIs because they tend to have a wider frequency response with their higher input impedance, but run a greater risk of clipping if you're slamming it with a really hot signal. Most well-made ones don't have this problem though.
  17. Timmy-Watts

    Timmy-Watts I like bass. And airplanes. Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    LR Baggs Para DI. ~$180. Awesome piece.
  18. Another thread discussing active and passive DI's;


    Note that I called it a general rule and I used the word "typically" but nowhere said this was an absolute.

    I send my passive P or J to my (active) pre-amp then to the passive DI so a passive DI works well with a passive bass in this application, there are many other examples of passive/passive and active/active that work well. This is meant as a guideline not an absolute requirement. If you send your passive instrument to a pre-amp before going to the DI you can often use a passive DI effectively. Just my experience.
  19. WashburnAB95


    Nov 18, 2013
    Would you still need/want a DI if your instrument had a XLR out?

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