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Can an Underwood pickup go bad?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by limmlimm, Mar 22, 2016.


  1. limmlimm

    limmlimm Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2011
    Nags Head
    I was wondering if anyone has ever had a problem with their Underwood? Recently iv been noticing distortion when I play a little harder. At first I thought it was my amp or a bad cable but then I realized it was only happening with my upright. When I play my electric thought the same amp its totally fine. Do piezo pickups go bad? I think mine is really old as it was on the bass when I bought it and the previous owner hadn't played it in years. Any thoughts?
     
    web824 and Don Kasper like this.
  2. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Yes they can. I used one side of an Underwood for a while after the other side died. It was the far side that went bad on mine so I just cut it off and peeled back the shielding to avoid a short. Check yours. If one side is still good it might still work for you at least as a backup if not your main pickup.
     
    web824 likes this.
  3. limmlimm

    limmlimm Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2011
    Nags Head
    @Jeff Bonny was yours distorting when it was going bad?
     
    web824 likes this.
  4. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Can they go "bad"?
    Yes. This one lasted about 20+ years and then went kaput.
     
    web824 likes this.
  5. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Have you checked the fit of the elements in the wing slots? One might be (too) loose and vibrating. If it is loose, try shimming with a piece of paper or a business card to see if it improves or gets worse.
    Try having someone lightly hold/touch the elements while you play to see if the "distortion" goes away.
    Try removing 1 element at a time to see if the problem is specific to only 1 of the elements.
    Good Luck.
     
    web824 likes this.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Agree with both that it can go bad, and with Don that you may also be hearing the pickup amplify a vibration. I recently heard a student play at a soundcheck (not an Underwood, but same principle) and thought that his amplifier was about to fracture apart and dissolve on the spot. Turns out that jack where the cable plugs in was loose and causing the cable connection to vibrate, but it too a bit of sleuthing to find the problem. Don's advice is sound.
     
    web824 likes this.
  7. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    No it just stopped working. As Don and Chris recommend check for a loose fit (easily shimmed with saxophone reeds) and check for shorting elsewhere in the system. When checking the wingslot fit you can also try over-shimming it and squashing the hell outta the pickup. This won't give you very nice sound but it might tell you if the element itself is delaminating and causing the problem.
     
    web824 likes this.
  8. limmlimm

    limmlimm Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2011
    Nags Head
    Thanks for the replys. Im going to play with it and see what I can come up with. Im just glad its not my amp, which I thought it was initially.
     
    web824 likes this.
  9. I needed to repair my Shadow SH-950 (it's the prototype, so it might have some flaws in manufacturing) twice because of a broken shield connection at one element. Try to wiggle the cable(s) at the elements. If you get crackling or temporary sound it might be a broken cable. If this is the case, tell Don Underwood what you found out and I'm sure he will repair or replace it.
     
    web824 likes this.
  10. My understanding is that Don is retired and his daughters are running the company (and quite well, by all reports).
     
    Ric Vice, Holmes65 and web824 like this.
  11. web824

    web824

    Nov 1, 2016
    Oh, I'm assuming he's Don Underwood!
     
  12. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    I had an old one that went bad, so I emailed them and sent it in for repair. They sent me a brand new one. (The first one was really old...maybe like 20 years?)
     
    Earl likes this.
  13. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I had #008. About eight years ago I called Don to let him know my pickup was "finally" going bad. He absolutely insisted on sending me a new one. I tried to argue with him that I had owned the pickup many years longer than I ever expected, and I was actually happy to buy another. He still gave me a free replacement.
     
    DaveAceofBass likes this.
  14. I had a similar experience when my Underwood pickup crapped out after at least 10 years of use. Don sent me a brand new one and wouldn't hear of taking any money for it.
     
  15. Roger Mouton

    Roger Mouton Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2003
    Southern California
    I've had some recent correspondence with one of the girls. I don't think they're replacing pick-ups the way they used to. I got 20+ years out of my first one before it started acting funny. Don't know if Don is retired or not but he told me that to test the pick-up you plug in, place one the elements between your fingers and squeeze them. If there's a crackling noise it's about time to replace it.
     
    web824 likes this.
  16. web824

    web824

    Nov 1, 2016
    I've heard by several reliable sources that Don't daughter is ow in charge of the company and operations. Returns are not as honored with lifetime replacement as Don did, plus the price has gone up considerably.
     
  17. web824

    web824

    Nov 1, 2016
    I've heard that Don't daughter is running things now and that there is a new and more restrictive return policy.
     
  18. M Underwood

    M Underwood Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2017
    Head of Operations, Underwood Pickups
    Hi fellow bassists,

    Melissa from Underwood Pickups here. Just checking in, I know I'm not on here a lot, but for future people looking at this forum just want to say that we are always willing to help you guys out with any issues you may have. Just contact us! We do have a warranty policy, but it is by no means restrictive, most inquiries are taken on a case by case situation. There are plenty of happy customers who have just asked us for help. FYI, we don't recommend or suggest cutting off the end case at all because the pickup is a closed circuit design (you need both transducers) and this will ruin the pickup that may have been able to have been repaired. Also to address the prices, we are and have always been competitive with our pricing in the bass pickup world. Parts, gas, shipping, etc. all go up in price and we have never raised anything more than 8%, which is a standard price increase that most manufacturers of anything do at least once a year (if they are not able to increase their returns by finding lower priced sources for labor or materials). Our last increase was two years ago, and that was in the wholesale market. Our retail price we have kept the same for several years. I'd also like to mention that we are 100% made in the USA. Always have been, as it's a family business. We are very careful to source nearly all of our parts from US companies, as well. We are very thankful for all the support over the years. By the way, Don is still on hand to help out with lots of advice. So do say hi!
     
  19. web824

    web824

    Nov 1, 2016
    Please say Hi to Don.
     
    M Underwood likes this.
  20. M Underwood

    M Underwood Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2017
    Head of Operations, Underwood Pickups
    Will do!
     

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