Bought a Realist- Geez, what kinds of amps were used during testing?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Bonafide, May 28, 2003.

  1. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    With all respect to David Gage and Ned Steinberger, this pickup is brutally dark. I read all about it's dark tone from many here on TB but I didn't realize it would be this intense.
    I am running it into a high end Blender (D-tar Solstice) and then into a Portabass 250 head. I have the controls on the blender set at Bass-0 Mids-0 and Treble-9. I have the Ampeg set at Bass-5 low mids-0 high mids-0 treble-9, ultra high pushed in AND the tweeter on full. This still produces a dark tone from the pickup.

    I have read so many great testomonials from realist 'endorsers', but can't for the life of me figure out what kinds of amps they could have possibly been using.

    BTW- My bass is a laminate but has a nice tone, not dark at all. I also own the Clarus but run either head into a PB110 cab which is voiced very even and clean. Any other pickup I own would (and does) sound like sizzling bacon with those settings.
    I admit, up to a puny volume the Realist sounds nice. It sounds nice because there aren't any frequencies being heard (or amplified) other than lows therefore Arco playing is acceptable.
    I will go on ahead and blend it with another piezo to bring in some high end and clarity but I wonder what the thought process was while beta testing it?
    Since the MAJORITY of the users find it unusably dark, were all of the beta testers short on high end hearing?
    Curious to me that's all.
    I will keep it though I think. Only the 5th pickup I've tried this month.;)
  2. Well, one thing is for sure - players either love the Realist or Hate it. I don't think there is an in between. I personally don't find it particularly dark. I just find it natural sounding. I recently completed a CD in a studio using a Neuman U67 mike and a direct from my Realist. The engineer commented that the Realist was the best sounding (meaning compared to the Neuman)direct he had ever experienced. AB-ing back and forth certainly did not show any lack of high end. Unlike the piezos that are positioned near the stings, the Realist picks up most vibrations from the wood of the bass rather than the strings. The sound that comes out from the Realist is only as good as the instrument you have it attached to. Like the old computer saying - garbage in, garbage out. I use Realist pickups exclusively on both of my carved basses.

    As for amplifier, I use an Acoustic Image Conta. No preamp or effects, just a cord between the Realist and the Contra. I love the sound I get with this combination. (OK Chris - you can come in now and tell us how bad they sound together!)
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I agree on the love/hate thing. It really depends on the bass. I've heard the realist sound great with Engleharts and a Lakeberg and Baer (there's a $12K spread for ya). But it doesn't sound good on my Christopher. I really like the Bass Master Pro from (All Hail) Bob.
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I think that it is very dependent on the bass. After hearing a luthier make the statement that the Realist generally sucked on laminated basses, I have sure noticed that.

    I have also heard it suck on carved instruments, but it doesn't always. The Realist does have a tendency to get boomy, especially at moderate to higher volumes. The best I've heard the Realist sound was at lower volumes, with a mic on the amp. This was Peter Washington playing into a SWR California Blonde. Then again, I've heard a few big name players who didn't sound natural at all using it, most notably Ray Drummond and John Adams.

    The more I play, the more I realize that anything you stick on the bass is not going to sound exactly like your bass, and to say so is just fooling yourself. For this reason, I find myself being more and more pragmatic about
    things these days, and using whatever works. I try for the NOAMP thing when
    I can, the mic most of the rest of the time, and the Schertler Dyn B when it is too much work and headache to use the mic. I base my decisions on the
    paradox that I play better when I like how I sound, and if I spend too much time worrying about not hearing, the playing suffers.

    I say whatever works best for you, whether it is an expensive option like a Schertler or less so like an Underwood.

  5. I think you are reading something into my statements that isn't true. I would not go so far as to generalize that all laminated basses don't sound good on a Realist. As you (Monte)and pacman have said - it depends on the bass. But I do think that you can generally say that the better the bass, the better the sound from a Realist.

    However, one very important thing needs to be mentioned and this applies to ALL pickups. If you play your bass through a pickup, have your soundpost adjusted while listening to it through the pickup and amp you are using. You can not assume that because your bass sounds good accoustically, that it will sound good through the pickup. I have customers who once had complaints about the Realist sound who now love it and the only change was that I adjusted the soundpost with the pickup.

    BTW - I have to agree with Monte about the sound of Ray Drummond's bass through a Realist. But, then again, I don't think any pickup could make that plywood half size bass he travels with sound good.
  6. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
  7. Monte - I hope that photo was fairly recent. Even if the French bass didn't sound all that good amplified, it has to be Farrrrrr better than that 1/2 size he was traveling with when I saw him at Vail 3 years ago.
  8. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I think it was 2 years ago or so. I remember he had just gotten the Realist. He was with Kenny Barron and Ben Riley backing Kevin Mahogany.

  9. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001

    The more I play, the more I realize that anything you stick on the bass is not going to sound exactly like your bass, and to say so is just fooling yourself. For this reason, I find myself being more and more pragmatic about
    things these days, and using whatever works. I try for the NOAMP thing when
    I can, the mic most of the rest of the time, and the Schertler Dyn B when it is too much work and headache to use the mic. I base my decisions on the
    paradox that I play better when I like how I sound, and if I spend too much time worrying about not hearing, the playing suffers.

    I guess that these sentences are the most accurate sentences i have ever read on talkbass....
    Some pickups and amplification sistems are better than the others( i use schertler too and i think is what under normal circunstancies works the best for me ...but...dont fool yourself...the ultimate sound for me is when i play my bass .....NOAMP...
    so, now i work like this....whenever i can...NOAMP, when thats not enough...MIKE...
    when thats not enough(which makes me mad...) Schertler Stat B....
    when i play acoustic(more and more) i like the sound and i play better....i got way more feeling.....if i dont hear perfectly what im doing
    my playing suffers a lot, the sound suffers a lot
    and at the end of the day i go home thinking that i just should play gigs when i can live at least with the Stat B + small combo (sometimes i have to play with jump blues bands when im sure that the guitar player and the drummer made a bet before the show about who is gonna play louder)
    Backing to the original post...
    i used the realist for 1 set in a show and after that i gave it away....there was no G or D...
    boomy all the way...but my bass is not your bass...the sound i like might not be the sound you like

  10. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    the contact between the bridge foot and the top and the sandwiched realist has to be just right, if it has too much space it will make some strange noises, especially weird low notes, and the high strings don't seem to make it all the way across the bridge.

    sometimes you have to have a little relief cut into the bottom of the fot, or have it trimmed a certain way.
  11. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    Thanks all for the replies.
    Bob, about the soundpost and amplification I totally agree and have heard (read) you preach those same words of wisdom several times here on the TB, I have done my best in those regards.

    Truth is I am growing fonder of the Realist the longer I play with it, it kind of sneaks up on you during amplification. What I mean is that it is doing a pretty darn good job of sounding like my bass so I don't automatically hear my bass through the amplifier. I am used to an 'amplified' bass tone and so prematurely judged the Realist as being too dark because I wasn't getting the usual mids and highs that I associated with an amplified sound. I come from the slab school and only 3 months ago took the full plunge into the darkside, which consequently has sucked me under beyond the point of no return.

    I have gotten my best results by blending in a 'tad' of a wing piezo (bass max) but mostly I am finding the Realist usuable.

    Alex, thanks for the tip. According to David Gage, the better the bridge fit the better for the Realist. The feet of my bass bridge are expertly fitted to the top and I haven't experienced any anomolies regardless if I have the Realist under the bass or treble foot.
  12. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Sorry, I didn't know you were a recent crossover.
    In that case, sometimes it takes some getting used too, you really get a better sound the more you activate the top, not that you aren't doing that, but after 15 years of playing upright, I still find more activation is available in my top.
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    With all respect to Bonafide, it depends on the bass.

    I get plenty of high end with my Realist. I roll off both bass and treble to about 9:00 on my Walter Woods and get a good sound.

    Of course that's only on ONE bass. On my Juzek it sounded muffled in certain areas of the fingerboard and wolfed in other areas...that bass now sports a Stat-B.

    To me the #1 issue with choosing a pickup is how variable performance is from bass to bass.
  14. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    Isn't that an oxymoron? ;)
    I don't have a Walter Woods or a Juzek as you do, but one thing I know for certain in regards to any upright bass, there is no ONE pickup solution period. There are clear examples of that here on TB.
    If you like the tone you get amplified, all the power to you. I hope it inspires you to play your best. Personally I am closing in on my sound.
  15. I'm constantly amazed by the number of bass player who would rather spend hundreds of dollars randomly trying out new pickups rather than giving a few bucks to their local luthier to help them find out what is possible by simply moving the soundpost while listening to what comes out of the speaker.
  16. Bob, its pretty darn hard to get a luthier to want to spend time helping you to listen to the soundpost in different places, even if you offer them a per hour money deal. All the ones I know seem to have basses piled up waiting to be fixed,or have their own basses to build. They haven't got the time,just don't seem interested, and even after much persuasion seem to be doing it under sufferance. I end up having to move the soundpost round myself, and on the occasions I have tried this ,I am not sure it hasn't ending up sounding worse than when I started. So much so that I just leave well enough alone now. I know that might sound a bit negative, but sometimes the easy answer ain't always the easy answer.How do you make sure that the soundpost hasn't got any space between the post and the front? Even with a "proper" mirror, I don't seem to be able to get a good enough angle to see this. I have thought of takeing the endpin assembly out ,but I wouldn't be sure of putting it back right. Would that get me a good angle anyway?
  17. Flatbass11

    Flatbass11 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2001
    Medford, MA
    I had a distortion problem last night that I traced down to the bridge not sitting evenly on top of the Realist. It drove me crazy because I was sure I had a blown piezo, cable, or amp.

    I must say that since I made the adjustment the sound from the Realist is much better.
  18. 563


    Jul 27, 2003
    Interesting ... Ive been in the market for a pickup and had heard good things about the Realist, but was going to go with a K&K due to a couple local folks thoughts and sound.

    Whats really amusing, in regards to finding what works etc, is that Ive been using a $15 Pintech drum trigger as a pickup :D . I mainly want a pickup to run through effects and will mic for a natural sound so I wasnt all that picky. The Pintech sounded really thin through my normal bass rig (GK head and Bag End cab). But not too long ago I tried it through this other amp I had. An old 2-12 Knox tube combo bass amp. Designed for bass guitar and very thick sounding. The combo of the $15 Pintech and the $40 flea market tube amp sounds absolutely phenominal. Hard to argue with :) but Ill still more than likely pick up a K&K eventually.
  19. Unless things are entirely different on your side of the pond, most luthiers will bend over backward to help you IF you are one of their Regular Customers. If you don't have a luthier that you go to regularly well...
  20. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I just wanted to sound in on this notion that the Realist sounds crappy on laminated basses. I've installed about a dozen on New Standards I've sold. Every one sounded great--natural and responsive. I've also tried K&K and Fishman "full circle" pickups with less positive results. All in all I think I've probably installed 25-30 Realists on laminated basses of different types. I think the Realist sounds best with a minimum of gear--straight into a combo amp, for example. It can sound a bit muddy at high volume, but many players don't realize that when you up the volume you also need to tweak the EQ. With the pickup sitting right on top of the bass bar, and the bass body recieving input from both the strings and the amp, high volume can be really difficult. With the more electronic-sounding bridge-mounted pickups, it's less of a problem as the amp is not making the bridge resonate the way it makes the body resonate. And the Realist is picking up more body than bridge vibrations. But if you want a natural sound at moderate volume at a reasonable price...