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K&K Bass Max or Gage Realist?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Ampig, Mar 5, 2016.


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  1. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    My Engelhardt EM-1 is equipped with a K&K Bass Max. It's the only pickup I've ever used. My signal goes through a Headway EDB-1 preamp to a Genz Benz 6.0. I'm currently working with a trio Female vocal/guitar, drums, URB. Low to moderate volume. Mostly acoustic with some electric guitar. I'm thinking of switching to Gage Realist. Anyone care to chime in with observations or advice.
     
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Almost anything would be better than the BassMax. IMO, it's an easy-to-use, high output pickup, the chief characteristic of which is that it can make any DB sound like a giant BG. How about the Rev Solo?
     
  3. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    I've used both, though it's been a while. They both work well and both benefit from a pre-amp. I'd say the Realist is somewhat more hi-fi, the Max has a bit of bump in the low-mids that is always there - it's less "realistic". The Realist is a little fussier about placement - you need to experiment a bit to find the best micro-location. I've noticed that that Max tends to somewhat over-emphasize the strings on the side of the bridge where it's located. Both are pretty simple & durable IME, which is nice if you're gigging. There certainly are a whole new generation of pick-ups today that I haven't tried - look around a bit.
     
  4. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Actually I think both choices are very fragile and almost guaranteed to disappoint you and let you down on the gig at some point. While the K & K has a mediocre voice, it does play very well with acoustic image heads so you can get away with no preamp. IMO anything is better than the super sensitive Full Circle with all of those wires and crap constantly getting in the way and catching at the least opportune moment!; whoever brought that thing to the market never played a gig or left the house once in their life!
     
    DC Bass and Earl like this.
  5. othefool

    othefool

    Feb 25, 2004
    Chico, CA
    Um...the Full Circle does indeed have a wire. Some people don't like that it's white. I haven't really had the issue with it caching or being in the way...but YMMV etc.

    OP, IMHO the Full Circle is the single best investment I have made towards getting a good amplified, gig worthy sound out of my bass. I had a K&K that I could never get a good, consistent sound out of. I have not had a Realist, but there is a lot of info about it on these boards. YMMV etc.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  6. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Which two choices? BassMax and Realist?
     
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I have a drawer full of Realist pickups that came detached from the wires. The bassmax is like buying something disposable made in China- it will work, but in a year the foam between the elements will be compressed and irregular and you will throw it out or give it away and get somethig else; the "string claw" pops out on every single gig taking the pickup with it. The Full Circle- I don't know where you guys play, but my bass world is in bars and pubs and outdoor festivals where the stage is tight and everybody is wound up and the girls are bumpin' and grindin' right against my bass all night long and I can't have those BS huge wires hanging everywhere rattling and getting caught on everything and as soon as it moves 1/8 of an inch it goes from great sounding to completely dead. Too fragile, too sensitive, and way overpriced. Ever see a dancing drunk girl get her purse stuck in those wires at 1 am??? I have.....aside from that, when setup well, it can sound very nice....

    Your mileage, results, and needs may vary...
     
    DC Bass likes this.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Thanks for clarifying. I don't play in such venues and I agree about the drawbacks. I never was enamored with any of those pickups, although I recognize that they have worked out well for others.
     
  9. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    ......so what do you naysayers recommend?
     
  10. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    Why is the one wire on a Full Circle different than the one wire on other pickups?
     
  11. Because it's thin and fragile, making it a notorious weak point in the design. From what I'm told, they tend to last around two years on average.

    Having used a Realist on a plywood top, I would not recommend it. The combination is too dark. Mud city on an Engel, but can be nice on a carved top. Those are fragile too, and tend to fuzz out and die after a few years even if your toddler doesn't yank on the wire and rip it off.

    Ahem.

    I used a Bass Max for about six months and found it to be bulletproof, but the heavy low-mid response that sounded like a P-Bass led me to ditch it.

    Have you considered the Underwood? I know LOTS of Engel/Kay players who won't use anything else, but those folks are mostly playing roots music at high volume. Arco on an Underwood can be teh suck, but using only one of the two elements helps with that.

    The Underwood piezo quack always drove me nuts until I tried it with my dark Italian bass. Pure bliss.
     
  12. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    So what do you use?
     
  13. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Let's see. Folks have told you why the Realist, the Full-Circle, the BassMax, and the Underwood aren't great choices for you. I gave you a fine one. Click here.
     
  14. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Well....I recognize that I am in a different position from most folks in that I constantly have a flow of other folks basses and pickups running through the shop, so on any given day it depends upon what bass I grab for the gig and what pickup it is wearing. Every room is so different that it is more important that I bring a preamp or two and make sure to give myself 30 minutes for getting my sound right. The Bassmax is the number one pickup that I get asked to install- probably 20:1 over all the others combined, so I always try to have one of those mounted so people can demo it first, regardless of my opinion. It works noticeably better on the treble wing- less muddy and more defined. I always have an Amica in my spare kit and sometimes mounted on one of my Kays, but my opinion is neutral on it- not great, not bad, and pricey as an import. If I lived in Paris or it was made locally, I'd likely strut it more, and the old guard likes the Underwood so I always have one of those available. Oh yeah- I also have several prototype MacIntyre pickups because they are a local company, but we have not settled on a design that I want to attach my name to.

    Those aside, I have been meaning to talk with Gary and Eric at Upton to see if I can get a demo model of their pickup because I keep seeing folks using that at Merlefest straight into the board on the huge main stage and it always seems to blow the doors off everything else from the audience perspective and backstage, but NOBODY ever even considers it when they ask for an installation.

    Three days ago I had a major international touring band in the shop because the Full Circle kept cutting out during their sold out shows...

    Confusing enough? The main thing is to try my best and then use what is paid for and try to obsess on my chops more than my gear....the same reason I don't have adjusters on my main gig bass- when they are there, I'm always thinking I need to fool with them instead of just playing through and pulling hard...

    j.
    www.condino.com
    www.kaybassrepair.com
     
  15. Let the record show that the Bass Max is the cheapest and easiest to fit out of the mass-market bridge wing pickups.

    There are other similar designs that are made by small one-person shops which are slightly cheaper and, if the naysayers are to be believed, roughly the same. Tacoman, Zak Viktor and others. Search Facebook and choose your poison.

    The RS and I have a love/hate relationship. My EUB has worn one for years and rattled a lot of rafters, but God forbid it gets bumped out of prime position.
     
  16. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Just to muddy the waters - I have a Rev Solo II on a hybrid, and a Realist Lifeline on an all-ply. I like them both. I actually have a second Rev Solo II that came off the ply. It sounded fine, as well. The Lifeline is the stoutest, impossible to knock out of position unless you knock the bridge off. As James said, I can run the Rev Solo directly to my AI Coda and have plenty of control, with the possible exception of a little too much boom when I'm on a plywood stage.
     
  17. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Forgot to mention that I started my pickup search with a BP100, and then a BassMax. Don't miss either of them, at all, compared to either of the other two I now use.
     
  18. Ampig

    Ampig Supporting Member

    Alot of input guys. Keep it coming.
    Question- How does the RS mount? Not much to go by in the link
     
  19. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON


    That's how the Rev Solo mounts. I have also been hearing good things about it, and it's the second time I've linked that video today, but I haven't had an opportunity to play one myself. There are also a few basses that Upton has mounted it directly into the leg of the bridge, but that option wouldn't get along too well with adjusters.

    I have been meaning to revisit my amplified sound, as I've never been entirely satisfied with it. I played a Fishman BP100 for a while that I really don't miss, and currently have one of the old models of the Schertler Dyn-B. When it wants to cooperate, it can be really great and sound pretty much like your bass louder, but it can also be very temperamental. Finding the right spot for it is an art, 1mm from that spot it can sound horrible, and feedback can either be nonexistent or a huge problem. There is a very good chance that part of that is user error and/or I did not spend enough time finding the right setup for it.

    Apparently they have also reworked the Dyn-B to the Dny-B-P48, it is cheaper than it once was, but now it requires phantom power, so unless you're getting an old one, all of that is pretty useless. If anyone has any experience with the new one, I'm curious though.
     
  20. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    The pickup mounted in the bridge leg is called The Source. It's a bit different from the Rev Solo.

    I used a Rev Solo (1 and 2) for years before I switched to the Ehrlund. They were always installed by Eric. Once I found the sweet spot, I marked it with a pencil. When fitted with the proper "snuggness," you have to push it with substantial force to get it to move. I never had it slip out of place as a result of anything "normal" on a gig and placing the cover on the bass and off the bass typically didn't disturb it either. I just checked it before a gig and made sure it was aligned with my pencil marks. No fuss, no muss. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016

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