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Frustrated with my Amplified Sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by kirkm24, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    I have a laminated Jacques Kohr bass with Obligato strings. Acoustically, it sounds great!

    It sounds awful amplified. I have a Basswitch and an Fdeck and have tried both in front of a REDDI going direct to a sound system and into a Markbass CM121P combo amp. It sounds awful in both cases. It sounds harsh and thin and if you try to fatten it up you get tons of nasty feedback. Everyone was praising the Fdeck I twiddled the knobs every which way and couldn't seem to get a good sound.

    I use a Realist with the docking station (with the wooden piezo element). It just doesn't sound good any combination I've tried. I ordered a Bass Max pickup to see if I won't get better results with that. If that doesn't work, I'm beginning to think I have to go with a magnetic pickup which I would prefer not to do.

    If any one can share some ideas, I am open to suggestions. I'm about to concede that amplifying this upright just might not be possible.
  2. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Post a clip?

    I'm using a Hurley Old Skool Pickup. 50 bucks and it has a way more balanced sound than a realist.

    How does your electric bass sound into the Amp? Have you tried your bass into other amps?
  3. The Fdeck is a utility and not a sound shaper. Your problem isn't there. You need to try different pickups or mics.

    How loud do you have to play?
    Genre of music?

    I am a fan of the radioshack tie mic $30, ATM450 $200, and Ehrlund $600, and a self-made piezo $1 that I would place on the body of the bass.

    Every bass has its thang. You just need to find what pickup works with it, you and your amp.
  4. neddyrow

    neddyrow Support Staff for My Better Half Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cortland, NY
    I've played through a markbass and used a realist before and never got the sound I wanted. But that's my bass. I now have a full circle that sounds much better.

    I think you have a good idea to try a bass max. I have two that I keep on hand as backups. And I've never had anything but positive feedback. It's a good thing to try since it's not as invasive as changing your whole bridge to a full circle.

    If I were you, I'd try the bass max into the REDDI and straight into the PA and see what that sounds like. You might be happy just with that in your monitor. If you need an amp, I'd try something more suited to double bass. Maybe GK or EA. Just don't look at my profile because I use an ampeg micro VR. :)
  5. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I went through three pickups, two mics, then back to another pickup before I found something I was happy with. That's not counting preamps, amps, and cabs.

    I vote for the Hurley Virtuoso. Its 50 bucks and it blew away stuff I paid more than double for. I run it through a sansamp BDDI then into a Genz Benz shuttle.

    It all really varies from bass to bass though IMO.
  6. Welcome to amplifying.

    Have you tried skipping the amp and running into the PA? Electric bass rigs are notorious for making an amplified doublebass sound like ass.

    I had a Bass Max and it was OK but made my DB sound like a P-Bass. Tons of low mids, some highs and not much else.

    Simplicity was the best solution for me. Realist or Rev Solo, Fishman preamp to bring down the impedance of the signal coming off of the piezo, Countryman DI and a good PA. It sounds like a bass, but louder, plus piezo squawk. It sucks, but it is what it is.
  7. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Well, that's very promising, all you'll need to do is run through the rest of your signal chain.

    As the Lehle already has all the features of the F Deck, you definitely shouldn't need both. One of the potential problems I see with the setup, is passing the bass directly into the REDDI, before it hits your amplifier. Most of us don't run a DI before the amplifier, as it tends to change the sound coming off your pickup. Another problem, is that the pre amp voicing of a Markbass amp, doesn't seem to work well with Double Bass. I'd try running the Basswitch, into any decent powered speaker from QSC, Mackie, Yahama, Carvin or even a Pyle. It should make a difference. If you are using the Pre Amp of the Basswitch into the Markbass Pre Amp, that could be causing the feedback, as it's adding a second gain stage to your signal chain. Unfortunately you can't bypass the preamp on the Markbass.

    I used a Toenninges Magnetic once upon a time, but it's really not a good choice. You can get the same effect using a fretless electric bass.

    Although there is an outside chance that you can't amplify your DB, my guess is that the Basswitch into a powered speaker should solve the problem.

  8. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    A magnetic pickup will not work with Obligato strings- they have a synthetic core.

    I agree that electric bass amps make bad upright bass amps...

    Good luck sorting it out!

  9. JGoldberg


    Jul 10, 2011
    Westchester, NY
    I've never gotten a sound I like out of a 12. They tend to give off sloppy low/mids. 10s all the way, baby!

    Don't give up.
  10. It's not like that anymore. These days you can get any sound from any diameter speaker.
  11. Don't forget you can try a full range cabinet. I use a 3-way (12"+6"+tweet) cab with a shuttle head. Some folks use powered monitor/pa speakers for their DB.
  12. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    The problem is not the amp. Check the fit of the pickup. A bass that sounds good acoustically may not amplify well.
  13. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    To elaborate, I believe players seeking a better amplified sound first consider buying a better amp when they should concentrate on the front of the signal chain. :rollno: The amp can only work with the signal it gets. It can minimize problems but it really can't improve things. A stereo system built around a properly setup turntable, quality amplification and modest speakers will probably be more enjoyable than one using a thrift store turntable, worn out cartridge and $50,000 electrostatic speakers. Garbage in, garbage out.
    To follow this analogy, the signal begins when the stylus tracks the groove. That point is the sound in your head. What sound do you want to hear when you play a note? The physical approach to your instrument is the most important factor at play. Next, consider your instrument, pickup and the rest of the signal chain.

    I also use the wooden version of the Realist and like it. It may not work for you, but assuming it fits well I would never expect a thin sound. The Lifeline might be a better option for more volume. If you're playing stupid loud gigs, go see Phil Maneri (UncleToad) and ask his advice.


  14. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thanks for all the ideas. To be clear, I have tested this both direct to a PA and through my Markbass amp and the sound in both settings was underwhelming. I'll see how the bass max does and take it from there.
  15. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Just to review, the EQ section of the Markbass isn't ideal for Double Bass, and running directly into a P.A, if you're just using a pickup, may not yield the results you're after either.
    Regardless of what pickup you're using, Realist, Bass Max or otherwise, P.A.'s work better with microphones like the DPA 4099B, AMT, Schoeps, etc. The Bass Max may give you better edge definition,
    but you're going to lose a lot of character from the instrument. Just my opinion though, I hope things work out.

  16. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    I used a MarkBass LMII for some time and liked it. I also know two guys in town using the combo and they sound good. While they may not be the ideal DB amp I think they work fine, especially with a Realist.
  17. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    I just noticed your bass is laminated. IME, a Realist doesn't work well on plywood basses, giving the result you describe. Try a Full Circle or Lifeline.
  18. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    While I have heard basses that the Realist sounded good on it did not seem to be the best on most basses. It's finnicky and can tend toward some nasty resonances.

    No pickup or mic system is perfect. You pick your compromises.

    To me the Full Circle was the best as far as compromises. While different pickups may have advantages on different basses, I would consider the FC likely the most universal in getting a reasonably good sound on most basses.

    I think it's a good starting point. It HAS to be mounted correctly.In the future, like most of us, you'll likely try different pickups to find if one suits your individual needs. I use the FC--I can get a great amplified sound out of it while being aware of its weaker points.

    My opinion is ---this has changed through the years---bass setup and sound is first. I would put pickup and speaker second.

    I personally am not a fan of powered speakers---that's just me. Lots think that because they are pa speakers they are going to be the most uncolored. For PA maybe, but I feel that they impart a distinct color to amplifying the bass. I feel that they don't amplify the envelope of the note as well as a well designed speaker optimized for bass amplification. There are some good ones out there---I obviously have my preferences but check the threads---there are now some very nice speakers that do a great job with double bass.

    I feel that in choosing an amplifier---for DB a bit better eq choices in an amp are helpful. Or an outboard parametric eq.

    One of my customers was commenting---he was playing a louder gig. He was having feedback problem. His amp had a variable notch filter. Which is a very narrow eq band that you can vary the frequency to match the feedback note . His amp however must have had too wide of a notch. He was able to get the offending frequency but it took out too much on either side. Ruined his sound. The notch was too wide. With a properly designed notch filter you can literally bring a single note down.

    On my bass with the FC I have one note that's too loud. Problem is that other notes that have this frequency in their earlier harmonic series are too loud, too. That's where an adjustable eq is really important.

    When amplifying the DB I don't care what pickup you use---there are going to be some areas where tonal shaping or surgery will be the difference between an annoying sound or one that can be quite functional.

    The reason I talk about the importance of a speaker---your fingers on the string and what comes out of your speaker are the starting and ending point. If your right hand and bass don't give you the impact and balance no amplification can help this.

    Likewise if your speaker can't reproduce the envelope of sound
    being fed to it ( the initial attack and a controlled decay) you won't be fulfilling your function as well. You don't have the proper "thump" at the beginning of the note. Or can have the feeling that your notes have some "overhang"---one note bleeds into the next and not stopping fast enough.

    Guys here have heard me talk about this subject a lot. My needs are different than many here. I play a lot of gigs---but mine range from quiet duos and trios to smashing jazz fusion. If all of my gigs were pretty sedate (as far as dynamic requirements) I might change my setup. So my compromises are finding something that can function well from soft to really loud.

    So again I recommend
    Try the FC--there may be better specialized choices but it should give you a more neutral starting point.

    Research speakers---find one that works well with DB.

    Find an amp that has decent eq or get an outboard eq.
  19. BHBassman


    Jan 5, 2013
    Try an Underwood PU
    Lemur Bass Shop sells them.
    Sounds great, especially with a preamp.
  20. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I agree! I like using mine with one element on the E side. I went back to using it after many years on a bass whose bridge won't accept my Stat B. I like the underwood better than the Wilson that is also installed as it sounds more natural to me, with the thump that Mike talks about above. BTW, I've been using this bass and pickup with an SWR Workingman's 12, not an ideal amp for DB, and it's sounding pretty good!