Challenges of playing URB amp'd in band with Elec.Guitar

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by bassmama, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. Time for my semi-annual query of the URB sages. :D

    I play a student model Kohr laminate ("Bertha"). It's been a great bass for my purposes; nice enough tone, easy enough to play without getting tendinitis; sturdy enough to be hauled around without injury to the bass. Have had it 2-1/2 years, no cracks or anything coming unglued.

    It's an incredibly resonant bass. If it's in a room with any other music/noise, such as horn players in a jazz band or a bar with the jukebox going, you can feel it vibrating like it's about to explode. It just wants to sing along.

    I play it in a blues/jam band at a bar with a house PA in which I play mostly EBG, but the first set we try to do a bit more acoustic and I use Bertha for that. Getting her properly amplified in this setting has been an ongoing challenge. I have a Fishman pickup on the bridge and plug her into a Fishman Pro Platinum preamp going right into the house PA. We've tried using my Gallien-Krueger 1001RB-II amp and 210RBH cab with it onstage, but it works better just to use the monitors from the house sound.

    She sounds just fine with an acoustic guitar, but add drums and an electric guitar with 13 pedals (I'm not joking) and it is quite a challenge to get enough sound out of her to be heard, especially onstage, without getting feedback. :crying:

    The singer/acoustic guitar player suggested that I put some kind of acoustic dampening material inside the bass (along the lines of a couple dozen rolls of Ace Wrap) as he has seen bluegrass fiddle players doing that to their fiddles when playing them amplified.

    Ideally, I should upgrade Bertha's pickup system to something better than the Fishman, plus a mic; but in the meantime, has anyone tried something along the lines of putting something in the bass itself to dampen the vibrations and/or blocking the F-holes similar to the round plastic gizmo that acoustic guitar players put over the sound hole when playing amplified?

    Many thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge and experience.


    p.s. If one of the answers is to have the electric guitar player and the drummer back off during the first set, I'll certainly consider that, too.
  2. A chap came up with a solution to your problem some time ago - it's called the Fender Precision Bass....
    Of course if you still want to use a large resonant box on stage, it's a little more complicated.

    I don't know about damping - sort of defeats the purpose of using a DB. I've seen it work on jazz guitars (BB King stuffed his with woolly sox), but a it would take a lot of pairs of sox to fill up a DB.

    If there's a particular resonant fequency causing probelms you can remove it with a good equalizer, but it sounds like your instrument is resonant across the board.

    A magnetic pickup will give you more gain before feedback - it may help to use a mag PU for your stage amp and just send piezo to the house PA.

    Or you could try stuffing those sox in the drums and guitar amp...
  3. Try packing a piece of foam between the tailpiece and the body of the bass.
  4. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    One solution that's been working for me (at noisy jazz jams with 4pc horn sections and a guitar or two, no less) is to bring along a Sennheiser E609 (the black one, not the silver one) and close-mic it right up against the grill of my MB150, then to the PA.

    For reasons unknown to me, I get far less feedback than going direct, plus I can hear my amp (so I can hear me!).

    I got this idea from the sound guy at the Blue Note, NYC. while the mic isn't cheap, it does the job. :)

    - Nick
  5. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Simple fixes for me: I found a lot more volume without feedback from moving off axis from my speaker or away from the offending player (drums) or turning down the bass tone control (cleaned up the sound too).

    More involved fixes came from using different pickups (K&K Bass Master Pro seems to allow for a lot of gain, maybe due to the fact it has 6! piezos?), strings (lower tension made my basses get louder) and amplifiers. Some cabinets seem to cause trouble - others seem not to (more accurate, hifi cabs usually do better).

    There's another TB'er that is using an Ampeg stack with no it Chef? Maybe he'll chime in...
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    There is something in the way GK Voices the midrange in their amps
    that doesn't work as well as others for upright. When I had a MBE I could never get a tone that didn't sound nasal in combination with the Fishman.
    Everyone is happy with the K&K pickups and they are reasonably priced.
    I'd try one of those first. Eventually I'd look at a amp up grade as well since I don't think the GK EQ curves are Double Bass friendly. Perhaps a Focus from Acoustic Image. It's really tough find a bass amp that suits
    both EB and DB

  7. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I always found that running the fishman first into some type of preamp improved the sound manyfold.

    Also, I know players who thread some sort of tubing around the afterlengths of their strings, and that seems to take away a lot of extraneous vibrations. The foam-under-tailpiece idea will also help. This will take away some of the finer qualities of your upright tone, but at such loud volumes, all that anyone is hearing is the amp anyway, so who cares? But I don't think you need to go as far as stuffing material inside the instrument!
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    Every instrument / setup has a different feedback threshold, but at some point it gets loud enough that a magnetic pickup becomes the way to go.
  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I play in one band that gets outrageously loud. I've considered using an electric bass at times on that gig but I prefer the string bass even at stupid volumes. From the Rockabilly guys I learned the following. Mute the afterlength of the strings with a Velcro strap or something. Put a foam block between the top and the tailpiece. Use phase reversal on the pickup so when your bass is pushing out your pickup is pushing in. Use multiple small speakers with lots of power. Get the rig up off the floor and as far away from you as possible. Put the rig off axis with the back and top and turn the bass knob down. At those volumes you'll need to practice some muting so that whatever strings you aren't playing are somehow held down or they'll start to howl.

    Ultimately if everyone turns down it drops the adrenalin level. In the higher DB range the body goes into panic shutdown and Art starts to be replaced by survival behavior. Stay there long enough and everything gets dull and heavy. Players become emotionally isolated. The crowd gets tired and goes elsewhere.

    When I get a band to behave more acoustic friendly the drummer chills out, everyone leaves more sonic space and the groove gets better. The band starts listening to each other again, Art and Grace return and the audience is energized and likes you even more.
  10. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    bassmama, I know the feeling! I also have a Kohr upright that is very resonant. (It's my understanding that Kohr is just a name for a company that gets basses from all over the world and imports them to the U.S., some from China, some from Europe ... My bass is fully carved and was made in the Czech Republic, a Kohr model K54C to be exact).

    All of the suggestions on this post are helpful to be sure. (What a great site TB is, eh?!)

    Of all of them though, I would second the suggestion to mute the afterlength of the strings for starters. Just try muting the afterlengths with your right hand sometime while everyone else is warming up ... You'll feel the sympathetic vibrations in your bass can be reduced a lot with this type of simple, inexpensive fix (plastic tubing, Velcro, felt, other).

    P.S. I believe I recognize the info in your profile. May I offer my congratulations on your appearance in the latest (August 2005) issue of Bass Player magazine!
  11. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    10-4. This really is a problem area for some doublers like me. Amplifying slab and double bass are just different, as we all know.

    But I have to say that the Wizzy combo from Euphonic Audio is one of the better solutions I've been able to find for doubling. I don't know how they did it, but this rig just seems to work really well for me in both settings.

    It will bring out the good (or bad) of every part of the signal chain that preceeds it however. Garbage in, garbage out I'm afraid. That goes for my pickup, mic, preamp, and (shudder) technique!

    All that said, the Wizzy combo has quite simply solved a lot of problems for me. In my opinion it produces a full, accurate, warm sound for upright and for electric bass. As far as combo amps go, the Wizzy is my favorite. Thanks EA!
  12. Many thanks, Bolo et al, for your support and good suggestions.

    Guess I'm a tad slow on the feedback side, so to speak.

    As it turned out, what seemed to be the main cause of the feedback was the acoustic guitar player's mic'd amp. That mic was also picking up Bertha's vibes. Once the acoustic player went direct, most of my problems have been over.

    Also, the electric guitar player in the band got a job working for a real band, so he left town and took the house sound with him. The current rig at this club has less powerful subwoofers further from the stage, which is also a big help. Finally, 3/4 of us have gone to in-ear monitors, which not only reduces the noise on stage, but makes it a whole lot easier to hear what I'm doing.

    Bertha sounds great these days. I can crank 'er up on stage now with barely a whine. The sound man seems to make it work in the hall OK, mostly by muting the bass in between songs, but whatever works.

    I'll keep all your good suggestions in mind. They may be useful in another setting or situation. Thanks again!
  13. I've learned, it's very important where you stand, how you stand, and the direction you face your amp. That and clamping down on the bass between your knees helps tremendously with feedback.

    That, and if your pickup is a BP100, do a search for those and see how i feel about them. :smug:

  14. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    I played DB for a pop-rock band for a while. A magnetic pick up such as the Pierre Josephs String Charger would absolutely help. I would blend that with a little bit from a dynamic mic and you would get plenty 'o volume and still sound good.
  15. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Johnny, can you elaborate on all of the above please? Just like more specifics if you would please.

    I am not exactly a novice at this, but I still have the same problem as bassmama sometimes. Very resonant carved bass (also happens to be a Kohr). Just about anything will set off sympathetic vibrations. Guitars. Monitors for the vocals. Esp. drums.

    I have been subbing with a West Coast style blues band where the harp player is blastin' through a vintage Fender Bassman cab. They want me to play the upright, and I wanna use it too. Now I have tried it w/ them at rehearsal, and want to make it work, but the guitar player w/ his Fender Twin and his Silvertone plus the harp player w/ his tweed 4x10 cab are making things difficult for me.

    I am not ignoring all the other good suggestions in this thread. Real good in fact. Just that "where you stand, how you stand, and the direction you face your amp" seem like easy things to manipulate and test on the fly.
  16. Exactly that, try different thing, try different places.

    I tend to mostly play the same half dozen or so clubs, so I have sort of learned those clubs, in addition to some general rules. You know, sorta like put the amp over there, stand here, DON'T
    stand there, etc.

    In general,

    Never aim the speakers at the bass.

    Put the amp as far away as possible but still be able to hear it.

    Put your body in between the amp and the bass.

    Rotate the bass in relation to the amp to find a spot that gets less feedback.

    Tell the soundman not to put the bass in the floor monitors (you shouldn't really have to tell them this).

    Sometimes on a long stage that is not very deep, and you're the opening act that has to set up IN FRONT of the headliners gear, it's hard to find a spot that is pointed at YOU (so you can hear it), but NOT at the bass. Making it very difficult to hear yourself.