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Best material to shim pickup

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by B String, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I just got a Planet Wing pickup. I'm finding that on my bass,
    placement and snugness of fit have a big effect on tone and
    volume. At the moment I'm using a sax reed as a shim. The fit
    is great due to the shape of the reed, but I get the feeling it
    may not be the best material to transfer sound.

    Any opinions on good shim material? Is the sax reed ok?
  2. A sax reed may be great, but you could try cork.
    You can find self-adhesive cork pads in hardware stores.
  3. Shims cut from cork of a great single malt whiskey,Laphroaig seem to sound the most earthy to me.
  4. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Or if your bass is dark-sounding you can opt for a brighter cork from a highland whisky like Speyburn! :D

    But seriously, cork will damp the input. I use sax reeds... :)
  5. Depends on the tone you're looking for.
    Harder materials will make the tone dryer, brighter, indeed.
  6. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Interesting. I've used sax reeds because they're easy to get,
    and they gradually get thicker, which fits the shape of the
    opening. I guess I just got lucky. Thanks.
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    If you play a mixture of arco and pizz, you might find a cork from a blended scotch to be more of a hybrid solution.
  8. bassphase

    bassphase Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2004
    San Francico Bay Area
    Yes, but eventually your bass will smell like a peat bog....

  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I use plastic from credit cards most of the time. No wonder my credit is so bad.
    I don't think the material for the shim makes any tone difference, unless you use bacon.
    It's just satisfying to use noble materials such as reeds or yeah, credit cards.
  10. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    I have an old wooden cheese carton. You know the ones that have some exotic french cheese in. The wood is very thin and I cut a bit off whenever I need a shim. Usually needs to be sanded down a bit. I get a nice 'organic' sound with an Underwood. Best for playing MOR stuff in lounges - ie cheesy numbers. Oh dear.
  11. LOL! :D
  12. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Gentlemen! I really want to use something more versatile than
    a cork from a single malt scotch bottle.
    Perhaps a good table red? Might work with more different
    types of music. Single malt for "smooth jazz".
  13. Go to a decent woodworking supply store and pickup some veneer in the wood of your choosing. Works like a charm. Cheaper than a single malt.

  14. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for a great idea, but I think this thread has already
    turned into a sham and a mockery of all that is decent and
    good about shims..... I could be wrong.
  15. bribass


    Jan 25, 2006
    Northern NJ
    Endorsing Artist; Arnold Schnitzer/ Wil DeSola New Standard RN DB
    +1 for sax reeds. I find alto are best. Or clarinet reeds work well too.
  16. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    My original concern was if sax reeds are good for transmitting
    the sound, or do they dampen it.
    I know the fit is good.
  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Oh, you said "shims". I'm sorry, I thought you were asking about "shams". My mistake.
  18. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Hi Bruce!

    Back in the day when I was in LA I was regular a patron of all three of our favorite luthiers. Gary Stine liked sax reeds, Lisa liked cardstock, Jon Pederson used veneer strips. I allways liked the veneer best with the Underwood. So, are you liking that Planet pickup?
  19. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Hey Mike.
    How are things with the world wide bassist? Its been too long.
    These LA luthiers are very different from each other. John is
    one of the best soundpost guys anywhere, Lisa has mad
    construction and setup skills. Gary's dealt with some of the best
    players in the world for years. All good. Lisa's my girl though.

    The Planet Wing is very interesting. It sits between the Realist
    and the Underwood. More like the Full Circle with a bigger low
    end and very little Piezo sounding on the top end.
    My biggest issue with it is my bridge shape. The opening is
    a little unusual shaped, so I'm having fitting issues. When I get
    it in right, I like it very much. The P Wing is very particular as
    far as placement and pressure. This is not a bad thing though.
    It lets you fine tune the sound a little more. It's a very full
    sounding pickup. I think it would help thicken the amplified
    sound of a thin sounding bass.

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