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Combining the Realist & another piezo pickup?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Danny Adair, Dec 4, 2001.


  1. Does anyone have any experience with using both a David Gage Realist and another piezo pickup? I know that many people prefer to mix a pickup with a microphone, but I would be concerned about feedback issues with that setup.

    I really like the warmth and the low-register response of the Realist - the first time I used it I literally had to make sure that the amp was on! However, it really washes out in the higher registers. Solos and higher walking passages just do not have the presence or volume of the other registers. I would love to find a suitable piezo pickup that compliments the Realist's warmth with some more punch and high-register definition.

    My initial guess is that the Underwood may work - they seem to have a pretty strong character and speak well in the mid-to-upper ranges. Can anyone confirm or dispel this notion? Does anyone have any other suggestions?

    I am inclined to look to the Raven Labs blender, given the rave reviews I have seen. I know that the Fishman also competes in that space, but I've heard less-than-flattering remarks about that piece and my ProEQ isn't just blowing me away. Again, does anyone have any other ideas?

    For reference, I play a 1987 Schmidt flatback bass strung with Spirocores, the Realist (duh), the ProEQ, and either an AI Contra or a GK800RB into an Acme Low B2. BTW, I've stuffed the f-holes with foam for better feedback control.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Before my Realist crapped out, I used it in conjunction with a (single) K&K Bass Max mounted on the treble wing, mixed through a K&K 2 channel preamp. It sounded good, but not as good as my current setup, which is all K&K.
     
  3. ditto
    the Realist doesn't compare
     
  4. What did you dislike about the Realist and like about the K&K? I had a K&K on my bass prior to the Realist, and I wasn't too fired up when I tried it again recently.

    The K&K's model name escapes me, but it has three piezo elements just below the string notches in the bridge and the piezo that goes in the notch of the bridge.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The model you're describing is called the Bass Master Pro. I used to own one, but on my carved bass, the four piezos that stick onto the bridge right below the strings picked up some god-awful overtones that sounded like crap (to be fair, they didn't do that on my old bass). So, with some great phone instructions from (ALL HAIL) Bob Gollihur, I took two of the bridge piezos and created a second Bass Max element (the one that goes in the wing), and used the preamp to balance the two Bass Max p/u's on either side of the bridge. These days I also mix this with a K&K Trinity mic, but the Double Bass Max (which you can order custom from K&K) sounds great all by itself.

    What I don't like about the Realist is the muddiness. The "E" and "A" strings sounded great, but the "D" and "G" sounded like thin, toneless crap. When I mixed the Realist with the K&K, the "thin, toneless crap" sound of the D and G just got mixed into the equation. Plus, my Realist was completely unreliable, and Gage wouldn't answer my emails (3 in 3 months) about getting it repaired. With the K&K, if you have a question or a problem, you usually get an answer within a couple of hours.

    Bottom line - on my bass at least - the K&K sounds better and is more reliable and flexible...I can tailor my sound from room to room. YMMV.
     
  6. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I'd agree with Chris on just about everything about the Realist and second his idea on the K & K. I don't know about combining it with anything, but for playing pickup only, I love the Schertler Stat-B pickup through my Contra. It is unbelieavably even and clear. It is not as acoustic sounding as the Dyn-B, which I use with PA, but it's pretty darn close.

    Monte
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I've heard about these pickups, but never seen one. Are they also wing mounted? What makes them different?

    CURIOUS GERALD
     
  8. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Durrl

    The Stat-B is different because unlike 99% of the pickups out there, it is electrostatic, not piezo. I'm no sound guru, but it just seems much more even than piezos. Every piezo pickup I've tried seems to have dead spots where the note either isn't as loud, is muddy, or a range where notes disappear (like the Realist in upper ranges). It is very hard to describe, but the use is easy and it doesn't depend so much on pressure. Basically, it is a cork capsule that you sand to fit in the cutout of your bridge (fit doesn't seem to be that crucial). This ends in an RCA jack that clips to your tailpiece with a provided clip that attaches to the G string hole on the tailpiece. Then there is a rca plug terminatating in a 1/4" that goes into their preamp, going to the amp. It is more expensive than the Realist, at $265 for pickup, cord, and preamp, but I love mine. Through my Contra it is great. As I said earlier, I still like my contac mic the Schertler Dyn-B the best(I know Donasaur had a bad experience with it, but through PA's it has been absolutely perfect), but with an amp I'd rather use the Stat-B. You can see it here Schertler Stat-B and the bass one is the top picture. Not that it matters to you, considering what hangs off your bass, but this is almost invisible on the bass as well.

    Monte
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks for the info. Actually, I've done a pretty good job of hiding all of my wires under the tailpiece, but yeah, looks are not a big concern if the sound is happening. I wonder why they use RCA's instead of 1/4"? Is that some kind of Euro thing?

    BTW I thought you were a K&K Trinity guy...are you saying that this thing sounds even better than the mic?
     
  10. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Not necessarily. I did stop using the K & K Trinity, due to headaches that any mic will give you on a crowded bandstand. I do think that the Schertler Dyn-B sounds better than the K & K, and while trying to decide on spending the $$, I used some unbiased opinions to help me decide. I recorded at my friends studio a written bassline (off of Aebersold's Rhythm Section Workout), first with an AKG D112 mic that I used to use for mic only gigs as well as some home recording stuff at another friends, and then with the Dyn-B. While Ken played it back, his wife (an opera singer), myself, his studio guitarist, and his studio violinist listened to the playback. We all picked the Dyn-B as sounding better. When tried with a better mic (I think it was a Neumann), the mic won out. However, the ease of plugging this straight in to the PA and not having to worry about bleed or feedback with a sound that was more natural than an F-hole mic provided sold me.

    The Dyn-B is a good enough mic that Ken (also my church's head soundman) uses it on me when I play with the church orchestra (arco) and it fills up a big sanctuary easily.

    The Stat-B is not as microphonic, but it is the most natural pickup I've heard and cuts through a band much better than the Trinity. My main complaint on the Trinity was having trouble getting enough gain before feedback, and to cut through I found that I had to use more Bass Max.

    So, bottom line: Stat-B is not as natural as the Trinity alone, but is at least as natural (probably more) than the Trinity with pick-up mixed in.

    Of course, YMMV.

    Monte
     
  11. Monte:

    The Schertler is very interesting. Do you use it by itself or in conjunction with a pickup or preamp (your previous post referred to it as a mic so I wasn't sure)? Do you have the Dyn-B or the Stat-B? Are you able to get some pretty solid volume without feedback? Does the upper register have good presence (unlike the Realist)?

    From where did you purchase the Schertler? I saw some pretty steep prices on Hammond Ashley's website, so if you're aware of a better place, please let me know!

    If anybody else has good or bad Schertler experiences, please jump in! :)

    (edit: spelling)
     
  12. Charlie Haden may love the Dyn B system, but I don't. I returned it all. The cost/satisfaction ratio was an outrage.
     
  13. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Actually, Haden uses the Schertler Stat-B, as does Ben Street, Richard Davis, and Miroslav Vitous. Dyn-B users include Art Davis, Dan Greenspan, and Barry Guy. I read of your bad experiences with the Schertler stuff and am sorry you had such trouble with it. With the Dyn-B, it sounded like crap when I first put it on, but by having Ken move it around like a stethescope, I found the sweet spot (this took awhile), and it is trouble free. I've played on 6 or 7 different PA systems since then, and I always turn the gain almost to 0, turn the bass freq. down a little, boost the highs, and no problems at all.

    I only recently got the Stat-B because the club I start playing in Thurs. 3 nights a week has a horrible PA, and when I add the Dyn-B to the piano, sax, and vocal mic it doesn't sound very clean (it's a really cheap PA). The Dyn-B doesn't work so well with the Acoustic Image Contra unless you have the $290 Pre-A II which I'm unwilling to buy right now. Earl Sauls, who used to be around here some got rid of his Schertler speaker in favor of the Acoustic Image Coda, and likes his Dyn-B with it from what I understand.

    Anyway, balance what I say about it with Donosaur. I'm satisfied (I never tried the Pub speaker like he did though) with my Dyn-B and Stat-B, obviously he wasn't.

    Monte
     
  14. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Danny,

    Sorry I was unclear. I have both. The Dyn-B is a contact microphone (they make them for several instuments including piano, harp, violin, etc.) which affixes to the belly of the bass with non-marring putty ending in an XLR. It is the cleanest of the two, but not great at high volumes (like any mic at high volumes the sound suffers), and is not really made to work with a bass amp (it is full range, so better with a PA). For simple recording where you have lots of bleed problems it is really nice as well. It is also pretty expensive, at $565. I happen to think its worth it.

    The Stat-B would probably be a better fit for you, playing with some louder groups in Big D. It can get really loud without feedback or muddy sound and high end is crystal clear as is low end. It comes with a preamp (which you need) and sells for $265. I bought mine used, but if I had known what the design was, I wouldn't have. I lucked out and the guy's bridge cutout was similar to mine. I don't know what would have happened if it was fit to a smaller bridge. It would be better to buy new and fit the cork to your bass. That being said, it doesn't seem to be like piezos; tight or loose doesn't seem to make much difference in sound.

    If you travel 3 hours north on I-35 sometime, I'd be glad to show you both in person. I used to play in the Dallas area, but I've been busy enough up here not to want to travel for gigs. I would like to try to play Sambuca's in Addison again sometime, if Stephen Fulton gets us a gig down there. My in-laws live in Ft. Worth, but I don't typically take my bass with me for visits.

    Monte
     
  15. Monte:

    Thanks for the info and the invite! I just might take you up on that if I get really serious about the Schertlers.

    The Stat-B does sound like a better fit than the Dyan-B (not to mention much less expensive). Does the Stat-B have a warm sound? I've heard some piezos that were grating on the high end and didn't have a full, round bottom (isn't that what we're all looking for? ;) ).

    BTW - Sorry for not responding to your PM question earlier. Sambuca in Addision is pretty nice, although the sound engineer can be pretty brutal at times. My lounge band (Ricki Derek) plays there pretty frequently and we have a good time. I've yet to play at the Sambuca in Deep Ellum, though. I get to check out the Houston Sambuca later this month, which I hear is pretty cool.

    Where do you play in OKC?
     
  16. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
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