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Fingertip noise from piezo

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by tkauf, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. tkauf


    Sep 6, 2003
    HI Everyone

    I just bought an NS / Bolin bass guitar, it feels great and has both magnetic and piezo pickup. :hyper:

    The piezo has a very live sound -- maybe too live. The string noise is quite loud. Even when my fingertips play a note on the strings make a kind of wet splash sound when I'm playing. If I just turn on the amp and glide my fingers along the strings, the noise is ungodly loud.

    I've tried playing using different distances between my fingers and the bridge but this doesn't seem to help.

    The bass has roundwound strings and maybe that's the problem...

    Any thoughts on this?
  2. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    Elixir or nylon Tapewound strings reduce string noise (esp with piezo bridge). A dedicated 2-band piezo EQ would also help remedy the problem by removing the piezo highs
  3. Same issue here with my Aries Rian and Schecter piƫzo. I ordered custom flatwound strings at Pyramid (cause the needed length wasn't available).
    Within a few weeks I hope I can report how it works out......
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Unfortunately that is sort of the "nature of the beast" with piezo, at least in my experience. (+1 to fullrangebass's advice on turning down the treble) The good news is, it really helped me get my technique together to cut down on the finger noise after a few weeks... hopefully you will have the same experience! Good luck.
  5. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Yes that's how piezo pickups are. They give us EVERYTHING.... including the things we're not too proud of. Look at it this way: it's a good way to clean up the technique. I love the piezo sound.
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you are looking for an incredible sound with the piezos, I highly highly highly recommend checking out the TI Acousticore nylon/bronze strings. Assuming you're using fretless, of course. I've never heard another string that "sings" like that, and they seem to tame the finger noise a bit. They won't work with your magnetic pu's though, you'd have to go all-piezo.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree - I have owned bass guitars and EUBs with piezos and I think that with BG and the 'scratchier' roundwound strings - the idea is that you should only "blend in" a bit of the piezo sound, along with the magnetic pickups to add colour and detail to the sound.

    So it is a case of mixing the sound of the two together and if you are getting too much piezo - then turn it down!! :p
  8. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Yep, piezos pick up everything. I use LaBella tapewounds on my Carvin AC40. They still give a bit of zing, but the finger noise is cut back due to the smooth surface of the string.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    One thing that used to drive me crazy when I had the piezo-only bass: I'd take a break from playing, forget to turn down the volume, and set the bass down... there were a couple of times I'd bump the bridge against something... THUMP!

    It is a great sound though, very beautiful and organic-sounding.
  10. Lincoln


    Nov 3, 2006
    My 2 cents on the piezo - I have a Fishman in my fretless -- the only pickup in it. I have the pre-amp with the bass rolled up and the treble down and it's strung with tapewounds. It has a beautiful almost upright like tone yielding an earthy quality.

    It's the sound I want for this instrument - I'm not sure I'd want it on any modern sounding instrument.
  11. mr sprocket

    mr sprocket

    Jul 31, 2006
    I switched to tapewounds for this reason. I am liking the warm almost upright tone, sounds great and I don't have to roll off the trebles like before.
  12. tkauf


    Sep 6, 2003
    Hey everyone

    Thanks so much for all your thoughts and comments. So I'm going to follow up and let you know what happens with this bass.:bassist:

    Funny, but I own a NS Designs CRM5 upright, and there's so problem with piezo noise unless you play right on top of the bridge. Wonder why it's different for a guitar?

    My thought is to have a local luthier de-frett this bass. Any suggestions as to strings which would work well on this kind of bass?

    I use Elixirs on my 4-string fretless BG, love 'em, but I think they may be too bright for use with BG with piezo PU's.
  13. tkauf


    Sep 6, 2003
    Hey, everyone,

    Well, I've had TI Flatwounds on my Bolin/Steinberger bass for a few moths now, and had the frets filed down by a master luthier so it's now fretless. Here is what I can report.

    Removing the stock round wounds was definitely a good idea. Having the flats cut down quite a lot of finger noise, no question about it.

    The bass has a gorgeous sound. Blending the mag PUP with the Fishman bridge piezo gives an amazing palette of sounds. But...

    The bass doesn't really give the mmmwwwaaahhh sound I'm after. Doesn't seem to matter what combination of mag/piezo I use, I just can't get that kind of woody upright sound I'm looking for.

    Any suggestions?

    thanks, guys!

  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Best tip I can give for "mwah" is to use roundwounds and get the action just right. There is a "sweet spot" of about a millimeter where the neck has just the right relief and the strings are just the right height to create the mwah. Too low and they buzz against the fretboard, too high and you don't get any mwah. Since you already have a good relationship with the luthier who did the work on the bass, explain the sound you're after so she can set the action to your liking.

    I know you have good reasons for switching to flats, but in my experience, rounds have 10x more mwah than flats. It's a compromise. :)

    (edit) ps I love the TI jazz flats and use them on all my fretted basses. On my fretless jazz, I use rounds. The best mwah sound I ever got was with the TI Acousticore nylon/bronze roundwounds on a piezo-only bass with an epoxied fingerboard.
  15. dave251

    dave251 Wendler Instruments

    Feb 5, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    Mushroo has it right on the "MWAH"....

    the action pretty much has to be PERFECT to get it right. The exact amount of "relief" with the board curvature(lengthwise) just right too. THEN, it's a simple matter of adjusting the string height at the bridge till you get the sound just like you want it.

    Also, I wanted to make a point about piezo systems.

    A piezo is definitely a "full range" device, and the closer the 'ducer is to the strings, the more the nasty high end, and in particular, string/finger noise will come out. So if your EUB has the piezos a bit of a distance from the strings, then this could be the reason why you have less of a problem...also of course is the flatwound strings that came on the EUB.

    That being said, one of the inherent problems with a piezo is the screwed up attack transient( contrary to the popular held belief that EQ will fix the problem). Since the piezo is HIGHLY CAPACITIVE, it also acts a a capacitor in series in your circuit....it has a tendancy to pass the high frequency harmonics FIRST, while holding on to the lows for just a bit....so the "white noise" of your fingers comes through before the lower frequency components of each note. And that makes it very noticeable.

    There are a couple of ways to overcome this. With my instruments, I "buffer" the piezo THROUGH THE MAGNETIC PICKUP...the high inductance of the mag "slows down" the harsh finger noise tones....and realigns the whole thing to allow for a nice "acoustic blossom" to the sound while reducing that nasty finger noise. AND THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED IN A PASSIVE CIRCUIT...no batteries necessary. I will say though that my basses do come equipped with TI Jazz Flats...IMHO, the best of the flatwound strings.
  16. tkauf


    Sep 6, 2003
    Hi, everyone,

    Just an update -- I removed the TI flats from the Bolin/NS Designs 5 string fretless and put on Elixirs. A big difference, much better tone, and the noise from my fingertips not nearly as bad as it was with standard rounds. Much more mwahh, by the way.

    Hmmm....I might just keep this bass. :meh:

    thanks for your help,

  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    As others have pointed out, it's all about setup.

    The way I do it is no relief on the neck at all... perfectly straight. Then the nut has to be cut right.. it has to be lower than with a fretted bass, since the strings don't have to clear the hight of the frets. I cut the nut so the strings actually just rest on the fingerboard. This way you get a great mwah when you hit open strings.

    Then get your action as low as you can. You need a dead straight neck and level fingerboard. I like to play right over the end of the fingerboard for a very upright tone... use a rolling motion as you pluck the strings.

    My fretless just sings! Mwah on every note.

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