How to pick up slaps?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by devnulljp, May 29, 2018.

  1. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    In one of my projects without a drummer, I often find myself slapping the neck as a rhythm feature. But obviously it doesn't translate to FoH from my piezo pickup (Gage Realist Lifeline). I've seen some pickups with extra sensors to put under the fingerboard -- is that really the only way to go to get some of the click to come though? Any other options? I tried micing it the other day with a Shure SM57 but that's a hassle with feedback and levels. Any suggestions? I'm really happy with the sound of my Lifeline, and it's taken a long time to get to that point trying all sorts of pickups, so the thought of starting over testing more pickup options isn't something I'd look forward to.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. +/- 4k EQ bump should do it...
  3. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    My bass came to me with a Vic's Pickups Model C dual piezo set. One on the bass-side bridge wing and one under the fingerboard. They work well, and the cost appears to be pretty inexpensive.

    As described on the website, output is stereo so you have to make sure your cables and inputs support the signals; probably will spend more on cables than the piezo set costs.

    I slap a little but for bluegrass I actually use this set more often in a mono mode, supporting just the bridge wing pickup, direct connected into mixers. No pre-amp is required.
    devnulljp likes this.
  4. basster


    Aug 14, 2003
    Go for an audio sprockets tone dexter! I play lots of billy stuff and it´s really amazing doing it with a mic that´s in a box as a mavemap without the feedback problems. Very natural sounding!
  5. I got the Gage Realist, and it amplifies every thump and tap and knock and scratch.
    Seanto likes this.
  6. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    That's brilliant, looks like just what I need. I just ordered the standalone neck slap pickup, and it should work with my 2-channel Headway preamp.
    dhergert likes this.
  7. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    How did you attach the pickup to the neck? I got one, but the sticky stuff on the piezo didn't adhere well to my board and I ended up just using gaffa tape to hold it on through the gig. Looking for a more elegant and permanent solution...
  8. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    I apologize to OP for going off topic, but I’m in need of a pickup for my upright, and seeing the price of these Vic’s make them very appealing.
    Just wondering, @dhergert how do you find the tone from just the bridge p/u. Do you think it’d be appropriate for pizz styles other than rockabilly / slapping? I’m not slapping, this project is playing more big band / Rat Pack era stuff.

    Thanks for any info and for bringing these onto my radar, and apologies to OP for straying off topic.
  9. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    My fingerboard pickup came to me firmly attached to the under side of the fingerboard within about 1.5 inches of the neck joint area. (For unfamiliar readers, the Vic's Pickups Model C which is on my bass includes both the single bridge wing and fingerboard piezos.) It looks to me like the fingerboard piezo has either been hot-glued or epoxied in. That said, here's Vic's instructions online:
    = = = = =
    INSTALLATION: The pickup comes with an adhesive film applied. You just remove the plastic and stick it to the underside of the board. I prefer to mount them in the area of where the hand hits the fingerboard. But, some players like the tone from the upper neck area. If you need to remove it and remount it, double sided tape or hot glue work well as an adhesive.
    = = = = =
    In the tips section, Vic also suggests poster putty. If I had to do mine over again, I'd probably use either hot glue or epoxy.

    Also, I've created a wide two-piece Velcro sandwich under the rest of the length of the fingerboard to provide stress-relief for the cable and to make sure the cable doesn't rattle against the fingerboard.

    Regarding the Model C wiring and signal, this model comes with both the single bridge wing piezo and the fingerboard piezo, wired into a stereo jack. With this model, the bridge wing piezo is the one I've been primarily using as I don't use a pre-amp. The jack on my Model C is wired so the primary non-stereo signal source is the bridge wing piezo, and most standard non-stereo cables and mixers support this. In order to access the fingerboard piezo signal you have to use a pre-amp for stereo mixing purposes or a custom stereo cable that switches signals.

    Regarding tone with the bridge-wing piezo, it's actually been wonderful. Our band's bass player prefers my bass with this setup, and we've hooked direct into sound systems and into recording systems with it. Our band's bass player doesn't slap, but he does primarily use pizz and frequently arco. In live performances and in the recording studio the bass comes out with clear, nice acoustic-like tone and good volume...

    Now keep in mind, mine is an early 1930s Alcoa aluminum bass. I've specifically avoided the tone term "woody" so far because there's really not much wood on my bass. But yes, it does sound woody. My Alcoa has had some repairs and was hot-rodded at the same time (before i acquired it), and in the process the inside of the back plate was coated with an acoustic rubberized paint to help reduce the natural metallic sound of aluminum. This all works very nicely. (For strings I'm using Innovation Silver Slap E and A and SBW Deluxe D and G.)
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    devnulljp and RobTheRiot like this.
  10. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Here's a clip from a new album my band is working on that includes this bass with the Vic's Pickups Model C piezo set (bridge wing primary). This is directly plugged into the studio recording system. (I'm on banjo in this cut.)

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  11. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    This. Not sure another pickup is the answer really. Eq may help, or if there is an element to the slap that is not resonating through the bridge then maybe a mic blend will help.
  12. bigshiny

    bigshiny Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    St Louis MO
    I’ve been using the K&K RAB model p/u since 1999.
    Both on a 1937 Kay and a 1930’s Pfretzschner.
    Both strung with all plain gut.
    Had great success with it.
    Just my .02
  13. All Three

    All Three

    Jun 19, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    No sound from this clip on my system....
  14. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Interesting. it's a video that basically only has sound. I just tested it on my Win7 PC and on my Android phone, both using Firefox, both logged in and both not logged in to TB, and it all works.

    What environment are you using to access it?

    Is anyone else having the same problem? Or, maybe a better question would be is anyone else successful in listening to this?
  15. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    I can hear it fine
  16. Have you tried sticking the 57 in a towel in the tailpiece or foam between the bridge legs pointing up toward the fingerboard? I also have had good results using my AMT S25B mic pointed more towards the FB mixed with my Full Circle pickup. Those pop up for sale pretty often, I grabbed mine used years ago.

    Our local rockabilly stalwarts, Starline Rhythm Boys' bassist Billy Bratcher (who also toured with Wayne Hancock) points a 57 on a straight stand at his fingerboard to pretty good results, though I think he always sends it to FOH. He also moves around a lot when he plays, so the focused slap sound comes and goes. If you're going into your amp you could use a boom stand and try to get it closer to your FB if you don't move around too much. I wouldn't think you'd need it to be so loud that feedback would be an issue if it was pretty close to the bass.