Headway The Band pickup - low signal level

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Michal Herman, May 9, 2019.

  1. Michal Herman

    Michal Herman

    May 31, 2013
    I have bought Headway The Band pickup and output signal level is quite low - I compared with K&K Bass Max pickup installed on the same bass and it's less than a half of volume. But when I press on the "the band" logo (where the piezo element is located) to get it to touch more with the bass body the signal level is much better - close to "normal".
    I have attached photos of it on my bass - the band is touching the bass body, it is put on quite tight.
    Have anyone encountered a simillar issue? Any ideas about how to fix it?

  2. There is an older thread about that pickup here where this is discussed.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I got to borrow one years ago to check it out. My experience was exactly as you described - the fault in the design is that the mounting system doesn't apply enough consistent pressure to hold the element to the top to produce a strong enough signal. If I were using one, I'd try to fashion some way to mechanically apply downward pressure on the element to press it closer to the top. Off the top of my head, the H-Clamp comes to mind as a possibility to do this. If you don't have one of those, you would have to fashion something that clamps onto the bout over the place where the band crosses that has an arm of some kind to press down on the element.

    Thinking about that, it seems like this would be a better design for this kind of pickup - instead of nesting the element in a band, have it attached to an arm that clamps on the bass from the side. This would allow for more variety in placement as well.
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  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Not sure if you'd really want something to "clamp down" on the top? But, this was discussed at length previously. I had the same experience, making it unusable for me.

    Mike Arnopol and I spent some time trying to figure out how to get more pressure on the element using the straps it already has, but to no avail... with the right pressure, it does sound good.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  5. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Hmmm, how about a nice piece of raw spruce wedged between the piezo (in the band) itself and the top? If sized well, the band would simply hold the spruce piece in place, similar to how a bridge wing piezo would be wedged into position. The spruce would function as a "bridge" for the piezo.

    Your thoughts?
  6. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    The violinist in my band uses a Headway. Same issue, so I just crank the gain up. To my ears a nice omnidirectional lavalier mic works - and sounds - better.
  7. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    Anchorage, AK
    Try this trick. Take a hard(ish) foam kids football and after you’ve strapped the headway on, wedge said toy underneath the strap on the back of the bass. Seems to work to some extent.
  8. I think some people got better results when placing the band asymetrically, so that "The Band" was not in the middle of the bass.
  9. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I know nothing about this pickup but if the tone is good, and the signal is low-noise, it would seem like a preamp is needed? I know older DB pickups often required preamplification for a strong, usable signal.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    @dhergert seems worth a shot as a reasonable DIY experiment, especially as Michal already owns the pickup.
    dhergert likes this.
  11. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I have one that I keep as a backup pickup. I think the tone is "acceptable"; not great, but will do in a crunch, better than some other pickups I've heard. I think it's always on the quiet side in comparison to a Full Circle but I found that if I really pull hard on both ends that I could get acceptable volume and tone from it. Part of the issue is, new out of the package, it has a few kinks in it that makes it very difficult to get it tight against the top, but the kinks aren't in mine any longer. When I stow it in the bag I have for it, I roll it like a belt rather than fold it.
    s van order likes this.
  12. I think it would be better to have direct contact with the top since any additional mass (wood block) needs to be moved by the top.
    On the other hand a bigger height difference from rib edge to belt at the sensor is the way to get more pressure on the sensor without needing more tension on the belt (which might become too much for the belt damaging it or doing harm to top or back edges).

    The best way would be to leave the sensor on the top and put something between belt and sensor to enlarge the pressure on the sensor and keep the sensor in contact with the top.

    Maybe a DIY-project with some belt with a Velcro end, some synthetic (3D-printed?) poor wooden part for holding the sensor and applying pressure and two flat holes to fiddle the belt through and a piezo disk and a jack (attached to the belt, maybe one more 3D-printed part).

    Might be similar to the prototype for that pickup.
  13. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    The issue is well-covered here. I had the same experience with poor output using it on cello, and it is easier to fit tightly on cello than bass I will wager. A pre-amp to boost the signal improved it a lot, to acceptable. But, I find arco much better with the Realist Copperhead. So The Band is in my backup pouch now.
  14. Michal Herman

    Michal Herman

    May 31, 2013
    Thank you for all your responses. With the use of a preamp (Hartke Bass Attack), I managed to increase the signal to lower than a usual but manageable level. During the weekend I will test how pickup sounds with bowing on my bass and then I will decide if I want to keep it.
  15. As long as your noise level does not disturb, which can easily happen with more amplification, a smaller level usually means a more linear signal which is what we want.

    I had one more idea. The only problem might be that the belt is not long enough (you might need about 12 cm more than in the normal position).

    Since the problem is the pressure and as I wrote you would get more if the belt does rise higher at the sensor, it might be possible to construct something to rise the belt at the side of the sensor, then go about 90 degree down to the top, again 90 degree to place the sensor onto the top and go the same way back on the other side like that, /|_|\ , but the sides of that pictogram are the belt from rib to sensor, so a lot less steep.

    The device itself can be a simple construction from two plates with four bolts between them in the corners. A bit thicker ones might be heavier but won't stress the belt too much.
    If you make holes in different heights for the upper ones, you can adjust the pressure that way (and cut the plates later when you found the best position).

    The plate might look like this:
    | O              O |
    | O              O |
    |                  |
    The four bolts need to be as long as the belt is wide.
    The sensor must fit between the lower bolts, so make the plates and bolt distances wide enough.
    And rounded corners at the plates avoid unnecessary injuries.
    Have fun with DIY.
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Man, there are plenty of good pickups out there with good signal without having to go through this^^^ LOL good luck!
  17. It might not look very nice, but is cheap, easy to make and modify and a solution for the problem of too less pressure against the top.
    Of course it is easier to switch to something else, but IF one wants to use that pickup (for whatever reason) AND the pressure is too low (probably because of a less curved top), THEN this is a quick, cheap and working solution to the problem.

    The OP was looking for a solution to get more pressure and this is the simplest and easyest to make solution I can find that keeps the sensor on the top.

    Maybe Headway should make a similar working plastic piece to fiddle the belt through that looks nicer to be able to make that pickup work on more basses.
    Eric Hochberg likes this.
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

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  19. Not really that helpful if the sensor gets damaged and more expensive for getting the tool.
    If you want to go that route, glue or epoxy would probably be better and cheaper.
  20. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

    Too Late!!!
    Now I need one of these...
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