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Do all piezos sound 'piezo-ey?'

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by bassteban, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. By that I mean scratchy, hollow & very good at highlighting string/finger noise, etc. I have a DIY-style radio shack piezo buzzer element on the bass side of the bridge going through a K&K Pure preamp, into a Hartke Kickback 12. The pre cleans things up a bit, & the 'shape' control on the amp does a lot, but is there a pickup(of any sort, or even a mic)that leans towards(forgive me)bass guitar tone? I would of course appreciate being gently directed to the appropriate thread.
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Pretty much, yeah, to varying degrees. I've made a pickup out of a RS piezo before, too, and it picks up the most noise of any other pickup I've used. My Revolution Solo doesn't pick up nearly as much, but it does pick up some. Which is fine by me...those sounds are what makes an upright sound like an upright. Plus I slap in my oldies band, so I actually want noise picked up when I do it. And most of those piezo pickups sound a whole lot better and smoother than the RS piezo.

    But yeah, you will get some body noise. If you don't want the noise, you need a magnetic pickup like a String Charger. You actually will get bass guitar tone with one of them. Of course, you can't use guts or most nylon/metal hybrid strings, but if you want bass guitar tone, that's the best way I've seen to get it.

    Sellout! :spit: :bassist:
  3. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    the big advantage of piezos, after feedback resistance, is that they much wider frequency response--more lows, more highs. But they all have, in my experience, that piezo-ey sound. A good preamp makes a huge difference. I use (at the moment!) a fishman full circle and run it into an Avalon u5: it still sounds somewhat piezo-ish, but the piezo sound is much less objectionable through the avalon than it was through either my K+K blending preamp or my raven labs PMBI
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    P.S.-- If you flip the Revolution over from its usual orientation, you can reduce fingerboard and body noise dramtaically.
  6. I really expected more, um.. chastisement than that(*whew*). Jimmym, I would be glad to sell out, but nobody's buyin'! I also agree that some finger/string noise is essential to the genuine upright sound, & from experience(last night, for instance)that it can help in a live band situation. I'm just wanting advice from those who have gone the same route in trying to minimize unwanted noise. Thanks again. DRURB, are you using a preamp?
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I associate the negative connotation of the word, "Piezo*" with the sound of the Fishman BP100 - all nasal whine and glassy fingerboard noise. In my experience, much of the sound of a piezo pickup has to do with two aspects:

    1) Placement, with closer to the top of the bridge being more "Fishmanlike", and closer to the foot being darker and boomier.

    2) Insulation/buffering, with metal contacts being somewhat "brighter" than wood, rubber, or cork. YMMV, of course.

    *pronounced, "Pee-eht-sso" by first generation Italians, and "Pahh-zo" by Kentuckians. :)
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    During my experimentation with various preamps, I've found that the Sansamp Acoustic DI (and Bass Driver DI, without using the drive) add a bit of compression that really tames the "thonk" of piezos...you can play with the blend control to vary the amount of transients you want, but even full up it doesn't sound or feel "compressed" per se.
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    No pre-amp for me-- just a suitably high-impedance input. I've used the Revoultion that way on a number of amps and it's fine.
  10. Thanks, mchildree, that's very useful- I've been wanting a BDDI for another(the usual)application, & I tend to like a bit of compression.
    DRURB, may I ask which amps?
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Sure-- a Behringer BX1200 and Acoustic Image Contra. The point is that the Revolution sounds great even without a pre-amp. Like any piezo element, it should look into a high impedance (Megohms). Of course, if you have a pre-amp, then you may obtain even better results.
  12. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    If you send your piezo output to an amplifier as well as a PA system (as I do), you need to make sure you've considered both. That's one of the things I like about the Sansamp solution....you get the same signal going to both places with one small unit.
  13. If you're using the metal disc Radio Shack piezo it helps to damp it a little - I've experimented with slivers of cork, foam etc. Best result so far is a pair of them face-to-face with a thin slice of cork in between. Only one is connected - the other has the earth connected so it acts as a shield to reduce hum. Then I put heatshrink over the whole thng (even more damping) and it sounds pretty good under the bridge of my solid-body EUB.
  14. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    +1 on the Sansamp ADI. It does a great job of reducing nasalality (nasalyness).
  15. Mike, or Basss or somebody, could you explain what a "DI" is? I checked the Newbie threads but couldn't find a definition of it. What exactly does this gizmo do, and how is it the same or different than a pre-amp? Thanks in advance.
  16. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    "DI" = Direct Input, commonly. I just read another definition that I can't remember, but in the manner it's usually used, it's a device that allows you to plug your instrument directly into a mixer, with all the impedances matching correctly. The signal path would look like this: instrument > 1/4" high-impedance guitar cable > direct box (DI) > low-impedance XLR (mic) cable > mixing console. Sometimes this DI device will be a simple passive impedance-matching box like the Whirlwind IMP2 or it can be an integrated DI and preamp. The Sansamp and a ton of other devices are of this type. In use, it allows the bass to be plugged into the Sansamp, and simultaneously send an output signal to both a low-impedance input on a mixer and also a high-impedance amplifier input...and the eq and gain that the DI/preamp adds or takes away from the signal is also affecting the outputs (depending on the unit).

    Does that help?
  17. Yes, it does, thanks Mike. I will look into that.
  18. If you want a piezo pickup that doesn't sound nasal or "piezo-y" you could do a lot worse than Rich Barbera's pickup. I use one in both of my basses now and they've got a lot going for them.One word of advice though - they are expensive (around $500) and each pickup is custom installed into your bridge so it would be worth hearing one first.
    If you phone Rich he'll send you a tape with Rufus Reid playing that was recorded so that the pickup comes out of the right hand speaker and the bass recorded in a dead room through an AKG mike comes out of the left so that you can compare the difference - you'll be impressed !
    I use mine through an AI Contra with an extension speaker that's been modified to include a second power amp.
    Try it out , sounds good to me - Andy.

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