Choosing pickup / mic

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Robert, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. Robert


    Nov 14, 2003
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Okay, after reading all there was about amplification and pickups on this site, I'm all confused.

    I'm looking for a pickup (or mic) that will reproduce a natural sound of my bass (including string and finger sound). I'm using a bridge with wooden adjusters today, and I'm not into making modifications to it.

    I think about $300 (incl. preamp) is okay to spend here. What should I go for?

    The messy jazz we're playing tends to get quite loud sometimes. Is the Schertler-B a good choice in this case?`

    I've been wondering about the standard Fishman BP100, but the Full Circle seems to be a lot better. Too bad my bridge won't fit one of those.

    There has been a lot of praises for the K&K Bass Max. Compared to the Stat-B and the Fishman, how does this one sound?

    Any comments much appreciated.

    Best regards,
  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I unfortunately can't help you with a specific recommendation except to say that with everything but a mic your results may vary depending on your bass, your setup (strings especially) and even how you play. I've heard enough Realists and other less expensive pickups that sound terible and others that sound pretty good to know that there's a lot of variation. Until recently I was using two of the arguably best (and certainly most expensive) options - the Schertler Dyn-B and the AMT mic. I just sold the Schertler because as good as it is, with gut strings I've come to the conclusion that the mic is the only way to go. In fact I also sold my amp too so I'm in fact trying to rely on no amp even more nowadays.

    I've tried the Stat-B and found it too harsh for my liking. The fingerboard noise was excessive and the arco was excessive. My belief is that any pickup in contact with the bridge is going to have these kinds of problems to some degree. You can futz around with EQ and all other kinds of stuff to eventually come up with the sound you want (or the sound you'd get from your bass without the amplification) but a good mic is really the best way to get guaranteed natural reproduction - either a mic on a stand or an instrument mounted one.

    Lots of pickups claims to sound like a mic just like lots of strings claim to sound like gut. Only problem is that at least to my ears, the claims all fall short. The Dyn-B is damn good though (but out of your price range).

    Just my $0.02.
  3. Robert


    Nov 14, 2003
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Thanks a lot. Your information is valuable.

    Is the Dyn-B resistant to feedback? Or is it very sensitive?

    Is the Stat-B a piezo or a 'regular' mic? If it is a regular, why is it mounted on the bridge directly?
  4. The Dyn-B is far more feedback resistant as mics are, and they do not pick up sounds from the environment, so no spill from the drums in your signal. The Stat-B is an electrostatic pickup, so no piezo, but no mic either. I have the Dyn-B (+preamp) and it satisfies my every acoustic needs (I even record with it!), but it is very expensive (around €600,00 plus €350,00 for the preamp). The Stat-B is much cheaper (around €300,00 complete with -a different- preamp), but I have not tried it. Monte did, however, and is very happy with it.

  5. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    The thing about the Dyn-B is that you can adjust it by where you locate it on the table of the bass. It gives you a lot of flexibility in that respect. If you want more bass you can move it towards the bass side of the table. A lot of other pickups don't give you such options except for moving from one foot or wing of the bridge to another. Or at least it's not as easy or you don't get the same degree of control. The Stat-B as yet another bridge mounted pickup can as I said, vary a lot. For example, some have liked it but I thought it was terrible compared to the Dyn-B.

    The other thing with the Dyn-B is that it's extremely easy to install and move from bass to bass and there's no cork to replace or any other crap like that. It's entirely hassle free and you're guaranteed to get a good sound with any bass whether you're playing arco or pizz whereas with most other pickups the consistency is not always there from bass to bass. Basically I think you pay for what you get.
  6. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    In a different direction...the BassMax can do pretty well at the lower end of the price range. More punch than the older-style Fishman or Underwood. Still adequate finger noise and good bottom end.
  7. Hey

    I have a Fishman and would not recomend it. I've had an underwood and don't care for it either. Had an old Barcus Berry (late '70s) that was better. Have played a Realist on a bad sounding Kay but it very accuratly reproduced the actual tone of the bass.

    I am looking for a reasonably priced pu myself; the fullcircle looks interesting but I don't have an adjustaable bridge so the search goes on.


    sometimes your sound's gotta to look good
  8. Robert


    Nov 14, 2003
    Stockholm, Sweden
    What about the B-Band pickups then? New for 2003 is the B-Band D1 for about $350. Two electret film elements under the bridge wings and one under the bass foot.
    I talked to an old swedish bass player today and he stated that the search was over. He had tried all pickups there is, including, Dyn-B and Stat-B, and the B-Band came out as the winner. With a nice price too.

    Any experiences to share from the old bass men?
  9. Has anyone had the chance to play both the DYN-B and the AMT mic? How do they compare? I'm trying to decide between the two for small live club situations. Of course with these two choices, looking for a nice natural sound. MAybe blend in a little Realist if necessary but I hope I don't have to.

  10. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    I've tried them both, but not at the same time. Although it sounded great in my living room, I took off the AMT reverted back to my Realist half way through the first gig and sent it back before the trial period ended. This was in a noisy micro brew and I just couldn't get enough gain without feedback. Coulda been the way I was using it.

    I ended up with the Dyn-B. In my opinion (Adrian or Monte may differ), it has much better isolation and the tone is comparable. The AMT may sound slightly better in an absolutlely quiet and controlled environment, but I'm very satisfied with the tone (using it to record) of the Dyn-B

    In my opinion, the AMT would work great if you were able to be far enough away from your amp and there isn't a lot of ambient noise and you don't want to get too loud. But the Schertler still sounds great, is more versatile and is less hassle (although I didn't have the tailpiece mount that Adrian does).

    Although I liked it pretty well, the Realist is gone too.

    Just my opinion.
  11. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I own both a Dyn-B and AMT and this Friday my Dyn-B is being bought by a fellow bassist. I haven't used it for a few weeks now. It's pretty simple in my case - the Dyn-B is great but for the sound I want and the gut strings I'm using to get that sound - Olivs and Eudoxas (and shortly will be trying Chordas), the Dyn-B is not as good as the AMT and lacks the warmth and naturalness of the acoustic tone. However I think that the Dyn-B is far ahead of the competition (e.g. Stat-B, Realist, Wilson) in terms of natural reproduction.

    However the AMT is a mic so it has it's limits. In really loud and tight situations the feedback and bleed may be a problem. However I play with little or no amplification and try to avoid such situations. The other day I played in a kitchen with trumpet, tenor, vocalist, drums, and guitar and used the AMT without problems. Lots of hard and reflective surfaces but it was still fine.

    Having the Dyn-B was nice because I knew I could rely on it to just simply get a very good sound in any kind of situation but I've since become even more picky about the sound I'm producing, I decided the Dyn-B still isn't good enough at least with my bass and setup.

    For a while I used a mic on a stand (an AKG C4000B initially and then an Audio-Technica AT4047/SV) like Monte does now. However it was a pain to carry the mic and stand, there was far, far more bleed and feedback than I get with the AMT and the sound was better not enough to warrant the extra hassle. Especially now with the AMT mounted off the tailpiece, my setup time is considerably reduced.
  12. I have a Fishman BP-100 and it gets a lil bright and freaky . i would recommend a full circle . your best possible option would be a basic bp100 persay and the mic and preamp of a K & K golden trinity system . my teacher has it and its awesome .
  13. As I have and obviously those who are following this post have spent countless hours and dollars in search of THE sound: trying all the latest pickups and amps, cabinets and mics, it occurs to me - does it really matter?

    Of course, we all practice hard to sound our best and want the best sound out of our instruments to convey our ideas. But, when we play with a group, be it a classic trio with piano bass and drums or maybe a quartet with guitar or sax, can anybody really hear the nuances of our sound that we are all trying to reproduce?

    The difference perhaps between a Fishman BP100 and an AMT mic is probably quite great but is the difference between a DYN-B and a Realist really noticable when the sound is blended by drums and maybe an electric quitar or a sax sent through the PA?

    Now when we play solo, or when recording, I say get the absolute best sound possible but I'm starting to wonder about myself when I get fixated on pursuing THE sound on a group.

    Maybe just something to keep in mind when shelling out those bigger and bigger dollars for the ever more expensive equipment.
  14. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I'd say that absolutely yes people can hear the difference in the sound. I can hear it and I can hear it when others play their basses. Yes there are times when I hear one electric sounding tone and it sounds bad to me just like another electric sounding tone does but still there is bad and really bad and I know for sure that even in the mix of a band my bass with a Dyn-B sounds a lot nicer to me than many other guys I've heard using a Realist.
  15. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Tell the truth, JL!

    Assuming that your bass is well set-up and generating the sound that you want, what it sounds like

    a) Through the transducer
    b) Through the amp and speaker
    c) 60 feet in front, somewhat off-axis
    d) Underneath a drum-kit, piano and blortophone
    e) Who are all miked-up
    f) In a room designed to be cleaned easily, not to be acoustically adequate
    g) Full of dishes clinking, cash-registers, and the ballgame on the TV
    h) And perhaps some folks who are talking

    to both the people who are actually listening and who know what a DB is supposed to sound like

    is pure **** luck.

    Bottom line: I spent years going through a boat-load of gear trying to get from 95% great-sound to 97% great-sound. Then I realized: The players I love decided to put that effort into practicing.
  16. Amen, Sam.

    (Blortophone?- I gotta remember that one...)
  17. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    To some extent I agree with Sam, but what good is all that practicing, if you can't be heard?

    I'm still loving the minimalist route. Good mic on a stand, bring my Schertler speaker as a monitor if it is loud. Sounds like my bass in every situation. Pickups are easy to use, but unpredictable. What has a natural sound in your practice room might sound muddy, bright, harsh, undefined, etc depending on the room.

    I don't have to spend a lot of time experimenting, and the only worries I have are stage position, which I solve in most cases by getting there early and staking a claim to where I want to be.

    It might be me, but I play better when I like the sound. Not to say I can't play when the sound is good, but I don't get distracted as easily and the sound never enters my mind, allowing for more conversational type playing. I find when I'm having equipment issues, I find myself playing more mechanically while my brain is having conversations like I wonder if turning down the mids would get rid of that annoying sound on the G string , or I wonder if I'm too boomy , or Is that feedback coming from me? Maybe it is just a flaw of mine, but Lynn Seaton said many of the same things when studying at his workshop. He advocating taking as long as you needed to get your sound right. That's one reason I go set up early, so I can get my basic sound right in the room at my lesiure, and only need to make minor adjustments to account for more people in the room.

    Another thing I do is to write down settings that work with the PA or amp for a certain room if I know I'll likely be there again. Makes for a great starting point.

  18. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I'm with Monte. To me, it's ALL about the sound. Ben Wolfe said in an interview that he loves the particular sound he tries to get so much that even playing in tune (because he uses unwound gut) is secondary. I have to reluctantly agree with that too although I'm talking about the occasional out of tune note - not all the time. As I've said, if I can't reproduce the sound I want or something close enough to it to satisfy me, then I might as well not be playing. I could go through a lot less pain and produce bass lines on another easier-to-play instrument. And besides, I do very little experimenting and mucking around. I only ever tried the Stat-B, stand-mounted mics, the Dyn-B and the AMT with an AI Coda. I've settled on the AMT and got rid of the Coda and got a small PA instead. I've never played with the EQ settings at all - never.

    I think that people that do spend a lot of time mucking with this stuff are trying to get something they can't get from inferior equipment. I personally think that mucking around with piezos is a waste of time. You can approximate the sound but at least for me, I could never be satisfied with it. That's why in the end, the mic was the only to go at least for my situations.
  19. I agree with all the common sense stuff about having dependable, decent sounding gear, arriving early to set up and do a sound check, making notes, etc.

    I guess I'm sort of the odd man out here. Most of you guys seem to play jazz with smaller combos in smallish rooms. My regular gig is with a 14-16 piece big band, emphasis on dance music. When I'm sharing the stand with 4-5 saxes, 2-3 'bones, 3-4 trumpets, drums, piano, guitar and a vocalist, 'nuance' is not a language I speak. I gotta be LOUD most of the time, we're usually playing for a few dozen to a few hundred dancers. I rarely solo, I'm there to drive the band, to try to be the locomotive in the basement that maintains the pulse that gets people off their chairs and onto the dancefloor. So my sound is necessarily a bit crude, I'm usually compromising ideal tone for sufficient volume. As Sam says, who can hear tone through all that?
    I take my satisfaction from being heard, and helping make the overall band sound powerful and rhythmic.

    It still has to sound like a double bass of some sort, though, not a plank. I just don't have room for the Monte Budwig sound vs. Brian Bromberg sound vs. ? fine tuning thing.
  20. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    OK, I understand that perfectly well. When I play with a big band, I use my Schertler Stat-B. While not like a mic, it sounds natural at higher volumes than I ever need.

    I also play a lot in this HUGE room that opened this year. It has low ceilings ane eats bass. I'm having great luck with the mike on a stand and monitor for myself and drummer. It sounds insanely loud to me, but by the time you get to the back of the bar, it blends nicely. Everything but the drums is mic'd for this room in our quintet setting.