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How to get that click

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by kingbrutis, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. kingbrutis


    Aug 10, 2003
    Phoenix AZ
    I’ve picked up a 60’s German upright for a psycho/rockabilly project. I’ve gotten ok at playing it. I’ve got a shadow rockabilly box with dual pickups. The bass was already setup to play slap. Guts on the E and A, steels on D and G. Playing thru a gk backline 112. I can’t get that clicky sound just right. The sound I’m after is exactly like Sir Psycho and his monsters. Any tips? I can’t play nearly as fast, but his sound is amazing to me.
  2. For live playing that sound is best gotten by using another pickup (called a clicky) that attaches to the fingerboard. I’m guessing that your dual shadow pickups are transducers that that fit into the wings of your bridge. I’ve used that in combination with a stick on pickup under the fingerboard, mixed through a k&k preamp that also allowed me to eq each input separately to really bring out the click. At one point I even ran the clicky through an echo pedal to get that vintage slap back sound. What preamp do you use currently? Does it have the ability to mix in the clicky signal?
  3. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I couldn't live with volume like that for very long, but his work is very nicely done...

    Seems to me that his slap work click volume is blended pretty low against the notes he's playing... I'd guess that for his slap-to-note (fingerboard-to-bridgewing) blending ratio, his slap volume is set at around 65% to 50% of whatever the note volume is set at. And I'd also guess that he's got his slap treble-EQ set down. Makes it sound like a subtle tap compared to the note.

    This might also have been tweaked in the studio (separate slap and note tracks), and also, this might be his technique, doing a literal tap instead of a literal slap.

    Btw, @FatBoutedGirls ' description of a dual channel pickup system supporting bridge wing and fingerboard pickup into a K&K pre-amp is on target!
    Keith Rawlings and 210superair like this.
  4. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    I'm not familiar with the shadow products, but a quick google looks like it has a clickity pickup for the neck? If not, I echo what FBG said, get one. Assuming you DO have one, and you don't feel like you're getting the clickity you likeity, you gotta play with where you're putting the clickity pickup. Position on the back of the FB/string combo makes a world of difference, and every bass is different, you gotta mess with it to get it where you want it.

    I don't know if a shadow has an internal eq as well, but my K&K has adjustable eq inside the preamp, and that can really dial it in too. It's a pita, but you only have to do it once, and it's set for good.

    I also personally disagree with your string choice, but everyone has an opinion there, and I'm not much of a psychobilly guy, so maybe that's what those guys are runnin. I'm a gut guy for all four personally, with wound A and E's, but that's just me. It's what you want to play, and make the pickup work around that imho...
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  5. bassburner

    bassburner Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2008
    That sounds like a lot of post processing in the recording from sending the two pickups to different tracks. If you listen to a live version of them, the clicky sound isn't nearly as pronounced.

    The Shadow does come with a clicky pickup. You can also look into Vic's Pickups (Vic's Pickups). He sells ones specifically for the Shadow with its smaller input jacks. His pickups tend to be a little hotter than the ones that come with the Shadow and K&Ks.

    While those strings are atypical (typically it's gut D&G and steel E&A if you're mixing the two) that's not going to be the biggest factor in your sound. If you're coming from electric bass, forget about what you know. You're trying to highlight sounds that you would not normally bring out in an electric bass.

    Start by setting your amp flat, and by that I mean actually flat which may need some research as some amps tend to have a built in curve when everything is at 0, and then work with the Shadow's settings. The knobs are exposed and not inside like the K&K but they are more limited in terms of EQ. Get the best sound you can and then work on the amp. You may need an EQ or preamp pedal to focus in on the specific frequencies you want. Either one of the graphic EQ ones with all the sliders or one with a mid frequency you can dial in.
  6. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings

    Aug 3, 2019
    I think the Vic’s Pickups are great - I’m running a Model C (Bass side wing only with a slap “clickity” pickup for under the fretboard). Vic is the guy from the Koffin Kats, so he knows what a psychobilly DB pickup should sound like. It’s about placement though with the clicky pickup, and I have mine mounted right under the spot I slap over — which is three or four inches above the end of the fingerboard — and it sounds great. I use a K&K preamp and split the stereo signal to two channels - one with a bit of delay and a more trebly setting for the slap, and one for the bass side with a more standard bottom end Mix. I’m very pleased with a more pronounced slap and a cleaner bottom end now with the stereo pickup.

    For years I ran an Underwood bridge pickup with the treble side off and used an EQ pedal for that signal and an Shure 57 mic on a small stand in front of the fingerboard to get the slap sound. I would have the sound guy mix the mic signal with the direct out from my SVT and it sounded great. Lots of slap and good tone.

    I also think your string choice isn’t ideal for slapping. Wrapped gut E and A strings with plain gut D and G are definitely a good choice for slapping traditional style. When I started, I used Labella Supernil nylon strings (silver wrapped E and A, and nylon wrapped D and G) and they sounded awesome with an amplified sound. We played much more psychobilly then, and I was trying to emulate the sound of the standup player from Batmobile, who used nylon strings as well. They are very fast playing with easy tension and won’t cost you much - as compared to guts which cost $200-500 depending on what set you are buying. Vic from Koffin Kats recorded his first two albums using Supernils and they sound great. My first and third CDs with Matt Hole and the Hot Rod Gang were recorded with Supernils; but our second CD was with Labella guts (wrapped E and A; and plain D and G), and my slap attack was more pronounced on the first album (recorded digitally); however I got a really nice, more traditional sound on the 2nd one, which was the only one we got to record on 2 inch tape. That classic analog sound was just amazing to get in a real studio; but it costs us $250 an hour to record that way back in the day.

    Steel strings absolutely suck to slap on - especially Rockabilly/psychobilly style, because you’ll kill yourself with blisters and bleeding, and the slap is too metallic and tinny IMO. You should also get you some Johnson & Johnson coach tape until you build up some stamina and calluses, and wrap your first three fingers individually. I learned that trick a long time ago from Kevin Smith, who we played a show with in Austin in the mid-90s, and he swore by that tape when he first started slapping. He’s with Willie Nelson now and is a slapping bad ass; truly one of the best I’ve ever heard and seen slap a bass.
    dhergert likes this.
  7. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Interesting that so many of us in this thread are using similar chains... My Alcoa has a Vic's Model C stereo out, feeding into the K&K Dual Pro ST, using a mono out, plus on the way out I run a mono splitter onboard the bass so two identical mono signals are always available outbound.

    Strings is where we diversify I guess. I'm using Innovation SilverSlaps EA under SBW Deluxe "Dirty Gut" DG. I've been running this mix for well over a year now and still love it every time I play. On my bass these strings are great either acoustically or amped and they're also pretty decent for the ~10% arco that I play. And I never blister with these strings; on a recent 7-day cruise I played for an average of 5 hours a day and had no hand problems. This isn't to say I'm not curious about guts, but I don't seem to be in a rush for them.

    I've never gone full-on with either the Psychobilly or Rockabilly genre, although I could probably get into Rockabilly at a low-volume level. I play ~40% slap, ~40% pizz and ~10% arco. My slap technique (using dups, trips and quads) is really a 3-fingertip fingerboard tap like some of the old jazz slappers used, and it's fairly subtle both amped and acoustic. I primarily play roots genre, bluegrass, folk, country, old timey, old jazz and a little original swing. I do bluegrass jams a lot and gig a fair amount; for jamming it's pretty solid acoustic playing, but on stage I'll often amp at least for use as a personal monitor, and then I'll also plug in to the FOH system if available.

    BTW, in my experience, while Vic's Pickups are designed to handle high volume, they are excellent for moderate to low volume too. If you're interested in hearing my bass with Vic's pickups at low volume in the studio, click on the 'Hear my Alcoa in action :). "I Am A Pilgrim"' link in my signature line below (not played by me for this album, I'm on banjo).
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
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