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Bowing through an amp

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by lermgalieu, Feb 17, 2003.

  1. I have been playing my DB with my band for about 3 years now, and have what I consider a decent pizz sound through my amp. Its a inexpensive Glaesel bass with a K&K bassmaster pro through a Raven Labs MB-1 and a modified Carvin RC210 amp (I replaced the speakers with Eminence Kappas). Well, now that I have been playing with the bow a bit, I decided to whip the bow out in rehearsal. MAN it sounded like UTTER GARBAGE - very nasal and almost annoying - like when you bow a note and don't fully grip it (except i am gripping the note fine)

    I know its not the best bass in the world, but I can make it sound real nice when playing acoustically. I tried turning off the amp's EQ and compression, but if anything it sounded worse. I have the tweeter on the amp off. I do have to say I am using mainly the 4 element pickup and not the wing pickup - will the wing sound a little better?

    The other thing I might try is to go straight to the PA from the K&K power pack or from the Raven Labs unit. Has anyone been through this? Do I need to add a mic? Do I need to just 'live with it'? Or do I need to just not play bow through my amp?
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Pickups on the bridge (Fishman, K & K Big twin, etc.) tend to be very harsh with a bow. Switching to PA rather than an amp may not solve the problem. Pickups on the body (Realist, Schertler Dyn-B, etc.) tend to be much better. In general, the further away from the strings the pickup is, the better it will be with the bow.

    I've never used the K & K Pro, but I have used the Bass Max and seem to recall it being decent with the bow, although it did replace the really harsh Fishman. Try using all Bass Max and none of the Twin on tunes you may use arco and see if that improves things.

    Other than the Dyn-B, I've never heard a pickup that amplified arco naturally enough to be used even in an orchestral setting. In fact, I use it every Sunday at my church gig where I'm the lone doublebass (mostly arco) and have to compete with a lot of brass in a very large and boomy room.

    Mics are typically the best solution, but give the Bass Max a try and see if it does the job.

    Good Luck,

  3. You're probably wondering why the heck did I post without even trying the max? Well its cuz I have been using a mono cable between my pup and preamp (don't ask) and only one pickup shows up that way. I'll plug the stereo cord back in tomorrow and give this a shot. Thanks for the response...
  4. I use a K & K Bass Max / Golden Trinity combination to a Raven-Labs PMB-1, and have found that I use a combination of both pickup and mic when I play pizz. but turn the K & K down, or even off when I play arco, just using the mic. Arco sounds much too scratchy with the piezzo-electric pickup.

    The Fishman Full-Circle sounds pretty decent when playing arco - I've tried a friend's Fishman on his Kay, but only for about 5 mins, so I can't speak from extensive experience, but it's definitely better for arco than any other piezzo-electric I've heard.

    Hope this helps -

    - Wil
  5. Plan of Attack:

    1) I am gonna try just the Max tomorrow, see how that sounds
    2) Then I will try going straight to the PA
    3) Then I might consider adding the Golden Trinity to my K&K in some config or another
    4) Last resort: try another pickup (like the new Fishman since I have been pondering adjusters anyway). I doubt that's the ticket for me though - and I can't see spending like $500 for something like a DYN-B (and can't justify it), nor can I see buying a new bass right now, so I will probably not do #4 in favor of tweaking what I have....
  6. Hey Ed - right on. The more I think about it, this is related to my pizz sound as well - I need to work on it. I like the more nasally, compressed, unnatural pizz sound on some of the tunes I play in my main band because it cuts through the two guitars. However, if I play jazz (or try to!), it is usually without an amp. I bet if I dialed in a more natural DB sound in general, I would have a better arco sound as well. I'll play with it. Yeah I was kinda kidding about the new bass, that aint happening any time soon!
  7. I differ with the right honorable gentleman from Georgia - oops - Queens (Does Ed know that people in Queens say "Let's go to the city" when they mean Manhattan, which is simply another borough like Queens?): I think amplified arco sucks no matter what. If it's something people are going to listen to, I turn the f***ing amp off, or at the very least,waaaaay down.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    If you get a good "acoustic" sound out of your amp Pizz, you should be able to get a decent arco. My teacher uses a Wilson, and regularly plays arco through his amp, and it sounds great.
  9. I agree with Don, arco through amp sucks generally.
    For recent years I have tried to get as natural acoustic pizz sound as I can from my amp, and that helps with the amplified arco sound too.
    In a club where we play regularly, I usually amplify myself just a little bit, and only some lower frequencies, which my bass produces a bit weakly. The amp is lifted a feet from the ground and is plaaced directly behind me, so the sound the audience is hearing comes mostly directly from what my bass is able to project.

    Playin´arco stuff ( just some intros or end of the ballads ) I do not turn the amp down, ´cause the arco sound is pretty natural. Only it has a lot of low end, which still can cause complaints from the leader, he tells that it sounds like a fleet of Bristol Blennheims.

    Jesus, my typing sucks!

  10. Well, here's the deal. Last night I used mostly just the Bass Max. I realized something - I've never really given the Max much of a shot - it always sounded too muddy to me.

    Well, it still is muddy, but its got a great acoustic tone to it. When the band gets loud, I have to really dig in, which is actually fine. However, I need to switch it to the 'E' side because although the tone is quite bassy, I am not getting anough 'E' string. I used to have it there and can't remember why I switched it. However, I need to get some more clarity to the tone as well. I brought in the Quad just a bit and it helped - any other ideas (other than tweaking the midrange on the amp - or is that my only option?).

    Arco definitely sounds better through the Max - it sounds like the bass, which is all I can hope for. Still doesn't sound quite as good as acoustic, but it'll do for now.
  11. Ok now I've got a decent tone for the bow through my amp, and I am running into level issues. The bow is significantly louder than pizz. Anyone else run into this? Do I need a darn volume pedal? The problem is tunes where I switch back and forth - and its hard enough to switch my grip without also having to bend down to the tailpiece and adjust the volume on the preamp...
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Two things:

    a) Get a volume pedal like an Ernie Ball and use it to change the volume when you switch between arco and pizz.

    b) Forget the pickup and use a mic. With a mic, there's no exaggerated difference between the volume of pizz and arco - it sounds just like it should.

  13. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I'll second Adrians suggestion, I have been using a Morley volume pedal for a lot of years, one of the old originals and now a contemporary one. They use a circuit and photocell rather than a potentionmeter, so scratchy sounds are never a problem.

    I've also used a pedal to switch between a preset and default volume for pizz and arco, primarily a little foot-stomp Bass EQ pedal that has a gain slider as well as a graphic EQ- that's nice if you also need to dial out some Spirocore scratchies or otherwise want to fine-tune the sound of one or the other.
  14. If I go with a volume pedal, should I put it after my preamp and before my Raven Labs MB-1? Or after? Or somewhere else?

    (thanks for the replies!)

    Oh by the way Bob, you were right, by wedging the Bass Max in tighter I've gotten a much better sound...
  15. Fred W

    Fred W

    Feb 21, 2002
    Bronx, NY
    LEMMONGURL: I suspect your set-up, especially the Carvin, is adding too much color to the signal.Amps like Walter Woods and Acoustic Image,
    designed for DB, are noted for their transparency.
    Amps designed for bass guitar can have lots of colorand still sound great with the plank.They can also deliver a convincing pizz sound, but the bow magnifies the coloration, as it does overtones and thus intonation. You could try filtering the frequencies with E Q and setting up an A-B footswitch. This would also work for the dynamics.
    [as for my sound] I always believed great arco and great pizz sounds were opposites never to be reconciled.Thru this Forum I've come to realize that is due to my personal preference of an ideal sound.I like arco sweet dark and mellow, and Ive only gotten that sound on a few basses- all of them flatbacks. But I would'nt consider them to play jazz pizz, cuz my ideal jazz pizz sound is somewhat bright with growl and sustain. With my current bass( Kay M-1 which I'm sure will be my only babe for years) I get neither of my ideals but a very satisfying compromise. My arco sound is a little too brite for me but quite sweet and even. Pizz okay but I want more sustain more growl more MOREMORE.
    aYE, CAPTAIN- if we do that SHE'LL BLOW:eek:
    One great lesson learned reading all the posts since I found this forum... it is within myself to acheive, with my ear and hands, that ideal sound.What a lovely long and winding road. There- I see it, on the horizon, my ideal sound. As I get closer, it changes, moves back. But I'm gaining on it. Thanks to everyone!!
  16. Fred - thanks for the response. I realize that my amp is not the ideal DB amp, however I use it at least equally for BG. I already put the DB through the K&K preamp *and* the Raven Labs unit before it hits my amp, and I am pleased with my pizz sound. I am also satisfied with the arco sound for this band's purposes, its just the volume difference at this point I am dealing with. I think I am going to look into the volume pedal.
  17. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    You can put the pedal before or after the preamp depending on the specs of the pedal. Ernie Ball makes different versions of the pedal that can handle either buffered or unbuffered inputs. They also make versions of the pedal that could be used to pan (mix) say pickup and mic inputs so you can control it all with your foot.

  18. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Depends on its input impedance. My Morley has a 1 megohm impedance, so I can plug directly into it, though if I'm using my Bass Max/Mic Golden Trinity unit I'll naturally have to plug into the little two channel preamp and put the output into the pedal.

    If I were using the system direct with the Raven I'd insert the volume pedal in the effect loop of that unit or the amp, if it has one.

    Glad the Bass Max movement got you good results.