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Finally amp replication of my bass' sound!

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Champagne, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. I have struggled with my german bass for months for amplification. I have made a few pickups from piezo to miniature mics and bought one too, radio shack lapel mic.

    I arrived home with it and immediately went to try it out and was so disappointed, feeling defeated. I messed with it for an hour and even though it sounded ok, it would feedback like crazy.

    I tried all sorts of things like clipping it in the ff holes, pushing it through a piece of foam to let it dangle inside, pushed it into foam encapsulating it. Nothing worked. Feedback city.

    So last night I was rehearsing with a band. I wanted to use my german bass since it is easier on my hands than my eastman. I put the amp 7' away, pulled the mic out and still.......Feedback.:rollno: I then investigated.

    I laid the bass on its side and faced the amp and turned up the volume until feedback started. I then felt the bass. The breast was flipping vibrating like crazy. When I placed my hand on it, the feedback lowered. Hmmm Ok. Then I covered the ff holes with my hands and the feedback stopped.

    Ideas began filling my brain. I found some foam and blocked the ff holes with it. The feedback stopped! :hyper:

    I started playing. It was boomy. :scowl: and it got more boomy as I turned up the volume. Still, no feedback though. I pizzed open strings and felt the breast and found when the volume was higher, the breast was much more excited and certain notes, specifically the open a, had much more resonance. I remember reading about the chamber and humming into a bass, you may actually find its resonant note being "A".

    As I pizzed open, I gently rested my hand on the breast and found the volume would drop but the notes would even out. I went and got a towel and stuffed it under the tailpiece. No dice. So I grabbed a dish towel (dry of course). It is really fluffy. I folded it and rolled it up and stuffed it under the bridge. There it was! Slight attenuation of the volume, but it evened out the response and I could crank the amp and everything stayed linear. Flipping great. The guitarist was blown away, and so was I.

    Here is a pic of how I got the perfect sound:


    I will get feedback it I crank it beyond reason. The level I could achieve without feedback was louder than the drummer, so I think I am safe!

    Now to get some black foam and make this installation pretty.
  2. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    So, by choking off and damping down your bass's acoustic response, you are able to replicate its acoustic sound using the microphone. Interesting.
  3. Sure, you lose tone, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. If the OP likes the resulting sound, hurray!
  4. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    If he likes the sound that he got, then he should enjoy! I merely restated what he did to achieve that result. He did, in fact, choke off and damp the acoustic response of the instrument. It seems that it was necessary for him to do that in order to avoid feedback and to arrive at a sound that he found suitable. I'm happy for his success!

    Now, as for doing what you gotta do, my own preference is to try to capture, as much as possible, the unimpeded acoustic character of an instrument. A high-quality mic placed in front of the bass is the gold standard while the Ehrlund seems to do that better than any other device I've tried while avoiding the practical limitations of a mic in a live setting. It also leaves the bass ready and unmodified to play "unplugged."
  5. It takes forever to remove the foam from the ff holes :smug:

    Hey drurb,

    There is no choking happing with this bass, trust me. The bass is buffered to bring a house down in style. :cool:

    You have no idea how my bass actually sounds and responds, but you were probably feeling it a couple of minutes ago!

    So, you use an Ehrlund? :D
  6. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    It's pretty uncommon to put a mic inside the bass. Try mounting it so that it's a few inches over the top and I bet you'll get better results.
  7. The mic is at the ff hole in the foam, but not encapsulated.

    I like my sound amplified on this bass, for the first time since I've owned it. If I was to pick something I didn't like about the sound, it would be it is a tad bit boomy in the low frequencies, but the bass is that way anyway. I tried quite a few ways to amplify this bass. I made 2 different mics using this and didn't like either one. Piezo sounded good mounted to the bridge, but not totally what I was after.

    When I get some free time, I will record a little and share it.
  8. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Trust me, there is. I was speaking of its acoustic response. If you plug the f-holes and shove a towel between the top and bridge then you are certainly affecting substantially the acoustic response. That's undeniable. Now, it seems that doing that, in combination with the microphone, yields an amplified sound that you like. Hey, fine-- be happy and I'm happy for you.

    Different strokes, whatever floats your boat, etc. I just don't prefer approaches to amplification where one has to make a DB somewhat unlike a DB in order to make it sound like a DB. :smug: I don't ever play in situations where I need or want my bass to "bring down the house" and, I suspect, that requirement is at the heart of all of this.

    I really don't need to know how any particular DB sounds and responds to know that certain modifications that are anything but subtle will substantially affect its acoustic properties. If stuffing the f-holes effectively affects the instrument's susceptibility to feedback then, it is absolutely the case that the same modification will substantially affect the acoustic output of the bass. Granted, when you are playing the bass under these amplified conditions, you're not too concerned with its acoustic output. I get that. Really though, your bass does respond differently with the f-holes plugged and towel in place than when they are not there. That's what I'm saying. Such modifications will, by the way, change the feedback to the player. In this case, I mean the mechanical feedback to the player's hands. Again, that likely isn't a concern in situations in which you're "bringing down the house." It sure is, however, for me in smaller combo settings at much more modest sound-pressure levels. :) You may have just hit on a great solution for "bringing down the house" situations.

    You are quite correct and there are good reasons why that's the case. I suspect that we are dealing with substantial differences in what different people judge to be a high-quality amplified sound. That's fine-- differences in preferences arise here all the time and there certainly is no right or wrong to it. I'm eager to hear sound clips of the results.
  9. I believe we are being stuck here with semantics. You know who you are talking to here.

    Choking to me is seems pretty aggressive, which is why I said buffered the sound. The acoustic response is altered to achieve high spls with minimal feedback. Open cell foam, and the dish towel is a lot lighter than you may think.

    Hard to say what everyone else requires. Hey, if I am the only DB player that brings down the house, so be it! It will make it much easier to leave my impact on the music industry not to mention launching stage-divers in one fell pluck! :D
  10. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    Using an HPF and/or a notch and/or a parametric EQ could also kill the feedback without having to mod your bass. I've done stupid loud large festival stages without having to plug the f-holes or anything.

    A good acoustic preamp is quite more expensive than a piece of towel though...
  11. I did try with a graphic eq to cut just one offending band, but it didn't work that well. It was an old dod fx40b. First time I have used it in years. Noisy little bugger and definitely not the best for what I was trying to do.
  12. Adagio


    Jul 21, 2011
    Quebec City
    Graphic EQ is generally not precise enough to tame feedback IME. Sure it helps, but you really need to target a specific frequency range so you could suppress feedback without deteriorating your sound.
  13. Yeah, no doubt a sweepable and adjustable width para would help out. That pedal was what was laying around so I figured I would try it. Would have been great if it worked. I have an old Symetrix 528 someplace in the basement I will give a shot next rehearsal. I wonder what other dinosaur fossils I will find when I am there. A box of "saved" computer cables is a given. hihi.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just checking through your posts, you've had a DB for just a little over a year, right? I'm not really sure what kind of music you're playing, or what you actually mean by "bringing down the house". All I know is that when I had only been playing this instrument a short amount of time, I also had a hard time getting enough volume to get a decent sound out into the house no matter what pick up, amplifier, EQ, speaker cabinet, strings etc. I used. Here's a picture of me from that time, with a remarkably similar solution.
    Now if you look at the right hand in that photo, it should become apparent real fast why I wasn't getting a focused, projecting sound no matter what equipment I used.
    These days I play the majority of my gigs without amplification, I occasionally use a mic when the room requires (positioned like in the following pic)
    so, happy though you may be with your set up, in the long run you're not really addressing what you need to do to get a good solid projecting sound out of the instrument. This may interfere with your whole "leave my impact on the music industry" plan....
  15. Vic Koler

    Vic Koler

    Sep 24, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for saying exactly what I was thinking Ed. I'd like to think that our younger bass brethren come here with open minds and humbly absorb the wisdom, learned from years of experience, of others.

    @Champagne-The sound all begins with the hands!

  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sure got quiet in here fast...
  17. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    You sure know how to clear a room, Mr Fuqua ... :)
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    They feel the walls shakin', they be runnin'..
  19. Hey Champange,

    What kind of amplification are you using?

    I find that most bass amps tend to feed back with a mic. They just aren't made for microphones. A powered monitor like the JBL or Mackie or QSC works great for my mics. Here's a link to the JBL which is similar to mine.


    I use a Beta 56a under the bridge wrapped in foam or a large diaphram general use condenser, MXL V63M.



    I have not used a pick up for years, I don't even have one on my bass and I love it. My sound sounds like my bass, not like a pickup or an amp.

    Good Luck!
  20. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Nah, just busy looking in the mirror. ;)

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