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Double Bass amp setup, advice/thoughts needed

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Inga51, Jan 24, 2017.


  1. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Hi all, I'm still pretty new around here, so please go easy on me...

    I am running a Jay Haide solid/carved DB (Bel Canto strings as I go 50/50 arco/pizz), with a Lifeline pickup in the adjuster (E side, on the string side of the adjuster). That runs into a RMI Basswitch, which runs into a LittleMarkIII head, into a Bergantino HT112ER cab. The latter two items form the basis of my EB rig, and includes the RMI when I'm doubling in shows.

    I am trying to dial in a nice sound for my DB on the RMI (while leaving the settings neutral on the LMIII). I find that I'm rolling the Bass and LowMid volume down a long way, and still getting a lot of bottom end. Is this where a HPF would be handy? I feel like I end up with somewhat of a muddy/mushy sound that lacks tightness and clarity.

    I feel like I can hear myself well enough in most cases, playing mainly musical theatre and smaller acoustic style gigs. But I'm not terribly happy with the sound I get. The bass sounds nice to me when playing without amplification. I'd like to get a better sound with the gear I have, or is that not likely as the LMIII/Berg setup is more EB focussed? My issue is that many times the sounds guys at these gigs are woeful and I'd prefer to have a nice sound on stage and have less reliance on them and the FOH setup...and in many cases there is little FOH support anyway.

    I am considering trying a more "full range" speaker, the likes of a small powered speaker that used for foldbacks or keyboard amps. Of course if money was no issue I'd buy an Acoustic Image amp and plug the DB straight into that. However, I do like the RMI in the mix as it allows me to cut/boost when switching between acro and pizz to compensate for the volume difference.

    Let me know what other info you'd like in order to provide suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  2. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    UK
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    I think the main issue could be the strings. IME the Belcanto are an amazing hybrid string when played acoustically, but they don't amplify well for jazz/pizz using an pickup>amp. They are a great string for classical music though, so it depends on what you are playing.
    I would consider trying Evah Weich which are not quite as nice (but still very good) under the bow, but are a lot better in a hybrid setting.

    Otherwise your rig looks great.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  3. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Wow, thanks for the input Geoff. I'm a fan of your YT channel, and love the videos that you, and Lauren produce.

    I hadn't considered the difference between a string used acoustically and how it might differ when amplified. I have zero experience with different strings, and the thought of spending several hundred on a new set of strings is a little off-putting. I will admit that the arco sound when amplified isn't amazing as it is. I'm still a complete newbie anyway, so need all the help I can get with producing a nice clean sound with my bow. FYI, the Pirazzi strings seem to sell for anywhere between AUD$350-500 here.

    What other pickup do you recommend? I actually own an Ehrlund EAP, and have on occasion managed to get a nice sound with it...but I stress the "on accasion". Seems so hard to find the sweet spot on my bass. And even when I do, the next gig it somewhat no longer seems to be the sweet spot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  4. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Okay, so a quick update/edit on this situation...

    I played around some more with EQ settings on the RMI Basswitch IQ DI and was making some progress...then at some point I recalled the coupling that can occur with cabs sitting on the floor. Sigh. Between raising the cab off the floor on a small stand, and also changing my listening/playing position relative to the cab, I suddenly had almost none of the boominess on the A and E strings. In fact, the sound was quite thin, albeit loud. So perhaps those two things, or a combination there-of, has been my issue with the sound all along. Now it's just a matter of tweaking that EQ some more, but it's showing a great improvement over what I thought I was getting from the rig. That said, anyone listening from the "wrong" position in a room is likely to still hear that boominess though I think.

    For the record, I also pulled out the EAP again, and confirmed my loathing for finding the sweet spot. I think I tried between 8-10 spots and either got a thick wooly sound, or got peaking/crackling. I could not find a spot that sounded anywhere near as solid/reliable as the Lifeline. I'm sure there must be a spot...but I don't have the patience to find it. Too finicky for my taste. I'd prefer something that was 80% or more of the sound quality with zero hassle to be honest.

    I think the string switch may be on the cards. I've always thought the Pizz of the Belcanto was lacking in punch for my taste. The arco is stunning, and way beyond my current skill. But I find myself playing a fair bit of "umm-cha" musical theatre, as well as jazz/blues ballads, and could do with a bit more punch, while not sacrificing too much arco sound quality.

    I'm all ears if anyone has more suggestions for my situation.
     
  5. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    UK
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying the videos. :)

    I think that Belcanto are amazing if you are playing classical music, but like most of the commonly used orchestral strings they don't have the pizz punch to work amplified (IMO). I like them played acoustically for jazz, but I couldn't get them to work though my amp. However there are some players who do use them so YMMV.

    I've just realised I was getting the Lifeline mixed up with the one that clamps to the bridge, the 'Sound Clip'... my mistake, sorry about that. I've not heard the Lifeline so I can't comment on that pickup and it certainly looks promising.
    (I've edited my original post to remove that error)

    If I was you I would change the strings when possible and see how they work with the pickup... but remember there are so many variables involved here it may be that the strings don't solve your issue...it's just where I would start if I was you.
     
    Inga51 likes this.
  6. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Thank you for the additional information Geoff.

    Yes, I didn't think much of the Sound Clip pickup either. My understanding, based on research here was that the Lifeline was somewhere between a Full Circle and the original Realist Copper. Being mounted "in" the bridge (and in my case, on the string side of the adjuster) it gets a bit more sound from the string to blend with the sound coming from the body. Obviously, the requirement for an adjustable bridge is off-putting for some folks, but I guess I'm not such a purist.

    I think you're right about the strings. I'll start saving my coin to make that my next purchase. Thanks again for your advice.
     
    geoffbassist likes this.
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    The lifeline has a darker thumpier sound than the full Circle or bridge wing pickups. I preferred the Full Circle after taking both for a spin. Stringwise, I agree regarding Ep Weichs. Spiro Weichs are also a good hybrid choice.
     
    DoubleMIDI, Inga51 and geoffbassist like this.
  8. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Thank you for the input Eric. I know it's only one factor in many, but was your Lifeline installed on the string side or the body side of the adjuster? I feel like I read many comments about the darker/more direct sound coming from installations where it was on the body side of the adjuster.

    I think, when I have the funds to spare, I'll go with a set of EP Weichs then. Sounds like I'll enjoy them.
     
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Body side under the adjuster
     
    Inga51 likes this.
  10. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Inga51,
    Evah Parazzi Weich's are my string of choice now. Are you using the Ehrlund Pre Amp with the EAP? Personally, I found it made a distinct
    difference. While both the Headway EDB-2 and Grace Designs Felix also work well, the Ehrlund Pre is the least expensive of the three.

    Ric
     
    Inga51 likes this.
  11. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Hi Ric, great to have you chime in on this thread as well. Yes, I have the Ehrlund Pre Amp, and use it whenever I try to work with the EAP...no joy though. Just can't seem to consistently find a sweet spot.

    Out of interest, if anyone else (who is happy with the EAP) also has a RMI Basswitch IQ DI, I wonder if it too can be listed as a suitable Pre Amp for the EAP. It seems that it is a pretty decent Pre Amp.
     
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, there are certianly no absolutes when it comes to instaliation of the EAP and apparently there are basses that it doesn't work well with. That said, when it works it sounds great.

    Ric
     
    Inga51 likes this.
  13. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Agree 100%.
     
  14. I know that it might not work on every instrument, but on mine it works best and consistently when the EAP is mounted just touching the bass bar on the outer side with one of its corners. By moving it along the bass bar up and down you can vary the amount of attack vs. softness.
    Just trying random positions can drive you crazy and is not consistent across various instruments, but that positions along the bass bar seem to work on a lot of basses.
    Mark a good position with a pencil or easily removable tape along the sides of the EAP.
     
    geoffbassist and Ric Vice like this.
  15. Ric, do you still use the Ehrlund Pre-amp or do you run the EAP straight into the Felix? Does it take much fiddling to get an equally good sound through the Felix?
     
  16. I'll second (or third?) the Evah's. They ended my loooong search for a good hybrid, amplified string.

    I also love the Full Circle pickup. I enjoyed the Realist (good pizz thump, much to be desired in the articulation definition and arco sound) and I hated the underwood (too thin and too much "finger" sound.) I've never felt the need for a dedicated preamp with the Full Circle and Evah's going straight into a bass amp.
     
    Ric Vice likes this.
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    The Ehrlund needs some kind of preamp, so I use the Grace Felix and it's a stellar combination, but it's not cheap. Very little preamp "fiddling" is necessary. Just a little HPF and Midrange adjustment and you're good to go.

    Ric
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
    Bbilger likes this.
  18. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    Alright guys, I'm reviving my thread from earlier in the year. I'm playing a new musical and my sound is driving me nuts. I'm playing backstage with a fairly quiet drummer and a keyboard/digital-piano. So this time I can hear myself fine (and am not just trying to be heard in a 16-piece theatre orchestra), and cannot find a good tone.

    I have switched to a set of Evah Weich which have been played in over the last six months. The pizz playing is good, but the arco is definitely less forgiving than the Bel Canto's.

    With little to compare it to, and only hearing it from the playing position, I feel like my bass already starts with a "darkish" sound. Then, doing more reading here, I see that the Lifeline is known for producing a darker sound, and the Markbass LMIII might also lean towards a darker sound. I find that I'm rolling the bass and low mid right down (almost completely) on my RMI IQ DI preamp, while leaving the EQ on the LMIII flat (to keep a decent tone for my EB when doubling). I'm not in a position to spend a bunch of money testing things out, and I don't have access to stores that stock options for DB pickups/mics/amps etc. Most of the stores around here might have an original copper Realist...if you're lucky. Certainly nothing more advanced or specialised than that.

    One thing that I've noticed, the sweepable mids on the RMI, seem to do almost nothing, to my ear. If I have them both rolled all the way up, then roll them both all the way down, there is a slight difference in the tone...nothing major. Because I play almost all my stuff below thumb position, my tonal range is not very wide. So I thought that might be an issue...but I would have thought the sweeps would have more of an effect.

    With the low end rolled way down to avoid boomy-ness, and a (perceived) lack of mid-tone adjustability, I feel like I'm fighting a never-ending battle.

    If only I could find a decent spot to put the Ehrlund. But my experience has shown me, that even if I find the sweet spot, playing the same room the next day without touching the EAP, doesn't produce the same result. IME it has been the most finicky piece of equipment I've ever used. Which is why I switched to the Lifeline (which I bought from Gollihur purely based on reviews), hoping it would be a "good enough, it'll do" solution.
     
  19. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Belcantos sound better amplified for jazz with Underwood pickup. The Lifeline is a dark pickup, but good. You can get an underwood and blend with the Lifeline, but reverse the phase on the Lifeline for best results. Corelli 370TX are another good hybrid string not yet mentioned, similar to Spirocores but better under the bow. Belcantos sound great, and can work amplified if you add the Underwood, but changing strings might give you the most desirable results.
     
  20. Inga51

    Inga51

    Jul 2, 2009
    Perth
    I had Bel Canto's originally, and felt like I had the same tone issues as I currently have with the Evah's. I get the feeling I'm chasing a rainbow.
     

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