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Extremely microphonic double bass pickup

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Henry Saint, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Henry Saint

    Henry Saint

    Aug 24, 2013
    Hi everyone

    I'm a band leader with a real problem. I love my bassist, he's an amazing player but his sound and the constant feedback issues are really starting to get to me.

    It's so bad I can hear myself talking through his amp from about 10ft away. The feedback seems to be happening around 800Hz-3k which seem friggin NUTS to me. Surely these freqs shouldn't be ringing so hard??? It's not like it's low mids and lows like the kind of double bass feedback I'm used to dealing with.

    We are a Chicago-style blues band playing very small venues. We don't play super loud. I use a 12watt Fender Princeton Reverb (yes, I'm a guitar player and singer - don't hold it against me, I'm also a bassist, drummer and keyboardist). Vocals go through a single 200watt powered speaker.... on my iPhone db meter we get up to about 98-100db at our absolute loudest, and that ain't often during a show. We are very dynamic... and he feeds back when we play quietly too.

    He refuses to consider another pickup option 'cause it's his 'sound' . . . frankly I'm considering firing him and getting someone who actually has their **** together. I've worked with double bassists who have nothing like the problems I'm having with this guy. But he really is a killer player and I'd like to be able to recommend a pickup/pre-amp/amp combination that will minimise these issues.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Not sure what pickup he's using - but it's definitely piezo, about 20 years old, and ridiculously microphonic. He's playing through a GK112RB into a 15" EV cab he insists on putting on a keyboard stand at 'ear height' in front of him. The whole thing is driving me mad.

  2. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Since you state that he refuses to consider another pickup option, you recommending a pickup/pre-amp/amp combination might be a tough sell.

    Heres what I would suggest he do to mitigate the feedback problems without changing his present rig in any way:

    DI box with a notch filter.

    Each room you guys play in will present feedback challenges unique to that rooom.

    The notch filter (DI box) allows the user to isolate the offending frequencies and remove them.
  3. Henry Saint

    Henry Saint

    Aug 24, 2013
    Yes, thanks for that. He might change his setup if I can point to a site where wise four-stringers discuss and suggest better options. :bassist:
  4. Well, welcome to the club....:D
  5. Putting the amp in front of him pointing to the bass and himself (I assume) is not a good idea.
    It would be best to raise the amp below ear level to avoid feedback, but using a 15" this is not an option. Putting the cab on a chair next to the player (or better a bit away from the player and a bit behind) pointing to the public (and not to the bass!) might help.
    Sometimes one has to move away form the own sound a bit to solve issues that arise in band context. But your bass player needs to change his mind in that direction. If he doesn't there is nothing you can do.
    A notch filter might help, but other frequencies might arise then.
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, if you really like his playing then, it's time for you to have that "serious" talk. Most bassist, live and work based on the quality of their sound, their ability to lock with the rhythm section, and the harmonic support they provide. Ultimately that's our role.
  7. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    For Chicago blues, you're less in need of a killer player and more needing somebody who holds down the rhythm. All that feedback has gotta be detracting from his key role. Lots of blues bass players have solved the feedback and volume problems...look for a more mature player who has the band's interests in mind first.
  8. Henry Saint

    Henry Saint

    Aug 24, 2013
    Do any of you think a new pickup might solve some of this? I mean surely pickup technology has moved on since 1989 when he bought his pickup?

    I mean, I use K&Ks in all my acoustics and I have nothing LIKE the dramas with feedback this guy does. It's nuts.

    I need to reiterate - this is not low-mid or bass feedback at all. It's all in the mids and treble. I'd estimate 800Hz-5kHz. I suspect a ****** pickup.
  9. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    For K&K pickups...I use a BassMax with good results. They're maybe not the highest rated pickup but easy to install and not too expensive. Good bottom end for blues. I use a Velcro strap across the strings between the bridge and tailpiece, that cuts down some of the stray ringing.
  10. So what is he using ?
  11. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Same here, sounds good for what it is, a piezo will never sound as nice as mic'd. But no microphonic issues here.
  12. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Farther away from the bass.

    And get a preamp with a phase reversal switch---- I used to use a para eq (forgot the brand) when I used my Kay amplified.
  13. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Changing the pickup, using a notch filter, re-locating the amp, and the suggestions above are all good ideas, but here's the catch. Unless you can bring your bass player to understand that his place in your band, will require him to accept the fact, that he needs to control the feedback, then all this great information is mote.

    Any pickup, if not properly EQ'd, can create all kinds of possible feedback. To solve the problem, he has to be onboard, and willing to be part of the solution to the problem.

  14. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    +1. Henry-- We don't know what your bassist is using and, in any case, getting advice second hand via the internet is not likely to cause him to make a change. A piezo pickup, properly mounted, should not result in all these issues unless, as DoubleMIDI says, the amp is firing right at the bass. That still wouldn't explain why the piezo picks up your voice 10 feet away! Better to convince your bassist to visit here himself.
  15. Henry Saint

    Henry Saint

    Aug 24, 2013

    Indeed. I'm working on it. If he won't sort it he's gone. Shame but I need someone who gets it.

    Thanks guys.
  16. tyb507

    tyb507 Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2004
    Burlington, Vermont
    I would submit that holding down the rhythm is the province of killer players. Being the tonal and rhythmic foundation for a band is not an easy job, and one can't fake it.
  17. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Agreed, but it's different than showing off one's chops...the usual criterion for "killer player." It might only be the other musicians that consciously notice how well the foundation is shored up by the bass player.
  18. MR PC

    MR PC

    Dec 1, 2007
    Respectfully, but...

    Obviously you are getting secondary gains of some sort from this bass player..he has something other than his playing abilty that you desire. Connections, hot gf, good pot, outfits, stage moves, or whatever. It doesn't have anything to do with music, from what you've said so far. I find it offensive that you are looking for excuses for his lack of musicianship. Just hire someone with their s** together, if music is what matters. Talking to him sounds like it's a waste of breath, and you are wasting more here because he has something you desire, something that has nothing to do with the excellence in bass performance.

  19. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    Wow! Harsh and inappropriate, IMO (the "respectfully" notwithstanding). I took Henry at his word:
    It's not obvious, to me at least, that there is some secondary gain. More likely, Henry doesn't want to sever his relationship with his bassist if it's not necessary. That may be not because of secondary gain (although it is possible that there is some) but because he wishes to be a decent person.
  20. Henry Saint

    Henry Saint

    Aug 24, 2013
    Not always easy in a city/country this size. A few serious, choppy Jazz players around here but none who know who Willie Dixon and Fred Below were, or keen to know, if you know what I mean. This cat has the groove DOWN. Just sound issues. He certainly doesn't have a lack of musicianship. When we opened for Dr. John a few years back Mac singled him out for praise backstage, a rare thing from that man.

    Respectfully you're talking through a hole in your head, bro. He's just not a 'gear guy' and he thinks all bassists suffer from this sound **** and you just put up with it. I'm gonna win him over to the idea of some decent EQ, notch filtering, phase reversal if it's the last thing I do.