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Lightwave pick ups - anyone use them?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Howard K, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    OK, I'm seriously considering having an SEI bass built for me.

    I'm after a new high-end four string and thought rather than hunt round for months on end, then end up getting the one that meets the majority of my requirements... it might be better to shell out a whole wad of cash and get a bass made for me :)

    So, considering the option of a Lightwave pickup, as well as two magnetic p/ups (as many sound options as possible)... and I have a few questions that I'm hoping someone can answer, help with?!

    The battery
    Does the rechargable battery on these things have a 'charging memory' or a 'shelf life' of somesort?
    That is, does the 15 hours playing time you get, decrease with time/charges... and is the battery replaceable, if it dies in a few years? Which I'd expect it to.

    So, if you had two magnetic p/ups (obviously with volume, blend and 3 band EQ) would this mean that you'd have to have an additional blend, and two additional tone pots for the Lightwave?
    Making a total of 8 pots on the bass! :eek:
    ...or could you have the EQ pots for the Lightwave combined with the EQ pots for the magnetic p/ups?

    Obviously I'll talk to the luthier about this, but I just wondered if anyone had any experience, or owned a lightwave and magnetic p/up bass?

    Is the sounds really as good as described on the web-site? Does anyone actually own one of these and swear by it?

    What do you perceive is longevity of the Lightwave system? - Is this a new invention that wil be here forever, or is it a fad that will dissapear PDQ? - I ask as if the system dies out quickly, then support for the system dies with it?!

    I'm dubious about the system, purely because I don't want to shell out for something that a) I'll not use, or b) might become obsolete and unservicable in say 10 years.
    Sounds like a long way off, but if I'm thinking about shelling out £££'s on a bass I want to know these things.

    That's all folks!! :D
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK

    When I was last at The Gallery (with Tsal et al, in January), I tried a fretless lightwave equipped Sei - very nice it was too, although I'm not an experienced enough fretless player to judge the nuances of what I heard there and what I'd expect with a similar bass with traditional pickups.

    However, my first thought is that if you're going for the Lightwave and magnetic pickups, you're going to loose a lot of the unique options that the LW system offers - eg. being able to use any type of string, including non-metallic varieties, and the aesthetic of the uncluttered appearance.

    Maybe you should step back and think what you want this dream bass to do for you - is it meant to be a 'one instrument for all situations' solution or something that will be inspirational and different to the other instruments in your collection?

    If you're looking at a Sei bass, the very best person to talk to would be Martin Petersen - from my dealings with him, I get the impression that he really cares about finding an instrument that suits you rather than upping his sales quota for a given solution.

  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Well, I had originally thought the Lightwave would be probably put to best use on a fretless. Which as you say is where the variety of strings comes in. E.g. using gut strings on a fretted might be a tad expensive, I imagine they'd wear out in no time, given some healthy slapping?! :D

    Re: Uncluttered appearance... well yes quite - the examples I've seen of this do look 'super cool' I must admit!

    Interestingly, my original thought was against the Lightwave. I figured I probably wasn't ready for it and I probably wouldnt need it... but then I thought I should look into it at least. See what some other bassists thought.

    I'm in the studio in London next week for an afternoon, so I was planning to give Mr Peterson a ring, pop over to the shop and have a chat about it with him in the morning beforehand.

    What is it I want this dream bass to do?
    >>>Are you sitting comfortabley? ;)

    Well, to start with, I dont have a collection! I have three basses total, only two of which I regularly play and one (the Fender) which is respectable enough to play out!

    Anway, of late I've been hankering for a four string - I used to have a stingray and I sold it - regretting it almost immediately. I love playing four string and much as I love options (I love my 5). I want one definitive 4 string that will be my main bass.
    I've also been wanting a passive option lately, as I've noticed that my Steinberger 5 string (ugly thing that just sits round the house for when I get inspired) has this really nice sort of rasping, almost flaky tone when you dig into it that I just cant get with my active Fender. A kind of parpy Nathan Watts sound that I MUST have at my finger tips!

    I want a bass that is traditional looking, but also unique. I don't want another bass that everyone else plays (i.e. sender, stingray, warwick, etc), but I also dont want something that looks like a piece of furniture. I'm not really into excotic woods, nice as they do look I have to pass on that option.

    FYI - if you check out the web site there's an SEI jazz in red with a white pearloid scratch plate - that IS pretty much the colour I had in mind, before I'd looked at the Jazz basses on the site.
    If you imagine that very same bass, minus pickup cover, and add block fret markers... maybe minus the scratch plate. Now yer talkin!!!


    I basically want one four string that will last me a lifetime. Simple really.

    However, if I dont go with the Lightwave (which I didn't/don't think I would) I might at least check out some Piezos? Numerous sound options can't be a bad thing?!

    Again, as you said, I need to get down to the gallery and a) talk with Martin and b) try out a whole host of four strings, different pickups, active/passive basses, piezos, lightwaves if poss? etc etc. I also need to think about body wood... although I expect I'll go for the standard ash/alder/maple options.

    Thanks, for the chance to waffle! :D
  4. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Actually, IMO & IME too much sound options are often a bad thing :D

    However, adding a piezo bridge should be fine if you keep the electronics simple (that was what you said...huh SIMPLE..right? :D)

    peace, JP
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Indeed, that could well be the case. My Ibanez Musican fretless has something like 6 pots and two switches... and hardly any of them make any difference to the sound :D

    Well, adding a piezo, shoud mean three pickups, so volume, blend, 3 band eq pots plus passive/active toggle switch.
    Sounds simple enough to me?!!! ;)

    but then I'm not building the thing!!
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden

    If you combine LW with magnetics, the latter will damp the vibration of the string, and the LW won't work 100%.
    LW gives quite a variety of sounds, all by itself.

    In my limited brain, if you want versatility, the alternative is:
    two humbuckers, with serial/parallel/neck coil/bridge coil switch, and a piezo.
    And if you want to get totally lost in soundspace, add a preamp like BassXX or U-retro.
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002

    I think the two magnetics plus a piezo is the way to go... although i'm not 100% sur ethe coil tap is neccessary... just a blend and passive opyion should do me?
    As I said, I need to get to the shop, talk to the geezer and try out as many different options as poss .. then make a decision!
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Lightwave won't let you mount their system together with magnetic pickups.
    More than that, Lightwave electronics take a lot of room, adding magnetic PU electronics would result in your instrument being a giant cavity.
    It would also kill one of the best aspect of lightwave : strings not being affected by PU wave field.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Aaah, intestin.

    I think I gave up onthe idea of lightwave after the 1st post... and wasnt too sure anyhow.

    i think i'll try out some piezos, and if i dont dig them, just go with the usual magnetics :)
  10. can anybody point me towards some sound clips of Lightwave pickups in action?
  11. rockandroller, fhodshon's put up clips of his Zon Sonus Lightwave-

    re. the Sei Lightwave fretless at the gallery, I was too lazy to work out the controls, and passed it over- I suppose you have to put a bit of time in to figure them out.
    the others got a nice sound out of it, but to be honest the Lightwave system seems to be a bit too complicated, for little advantage over a well-made bass with conventional magnetic p/ups.

    CS was saying that former Lightwave endorser Dann Glenn was now singing the praises of his Hotwire bass- one p/up at the bridge, passive, wired straight to the output jack......

    Howard, sounds like you're looking for the elusive "swiss army bass"?

    seeing as you like stingrays, make sure you check out the stingray with the piezo bridge, and also the Lakland Skylines (switchable active/passive with MM and J p/ups) for pointers.
  12. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
  13. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    mockturtle: that clip you pointed to is actually my latest Zon with mags.

  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Indeed I am!!

    ...and I do like Stingrays. well I liked the one I had that I sold :bawl:

    That's what I was thinking actually, I guess I'll try as many a I can and make the decision after. I have played a stingray piezo, but t'was a while ago.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I had a TRB6P with piezos in the bridge but I found that in practice I never used them as they just introduced more finger noise and had no beneficial effect that I could hear? So it just made position shifts more noticeable!! ;)

    On the other hand my electric upright is piezos-only and I did a side-by-side comparison at the Bass Centre and decided I much preferred this.

    But these are very different instruments - so the EUB has much more acoustic sound - it is much more bassy and sounds louder than a BG unplugged.
    My tendency on BG is to play softly and let the amp do the work, whereas on EUB I pull through the stings much more and try to get more of an acoustic sound by how I play.

    So - my conclusion is that piezos are good if you play hard and go for amplifying the acoustic sound - so the EUB has a 42" scale and is hence bassier to start with - I think a shorter scale bass relies on the magnetic pick-ups to impart more bass to the sound.

    Is it worth paying for a piezo system if you never use it ?
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Absolutely not!

    WARNING!!! Deviation from topic!!!
    BTW Bruce, I now have a DB :)

    A Czech one, I paid £200 to hire it for the year and am due to make two more payments of £255 quid during the year (£510) to own it outright. £710 for the DB, the bow and a soft-case.
    I expect the quality of the bass is poor being that it is so cheap, but it's been set-up fantastically and is very very loud! - It rattles the floor boards :)

    I'm starting to learn on some of Stings live album - All This Time (Christian McBride on bass) and the Norah Jones album - dunno who's on bass, but it's all real simple... 1/2 hour to completely figure out the track... and three weeks to intonate correctly on the DB :D
  17. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Howard did you get the DB from Thwaites(sp) in Watford?
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Nope. From this geezer in Maidenhead. Very cool bloke actually.. he has about 30 in his house! I can PM you contact details if you like?
  19. the addition of the piezo bridge to the Stingray seemed a bit odd to me- as Stingrays already have a bright, springy sound anyway.

    Yamaha did a version of the Attitude (I think the Attitude custom) with a piezo bridge- it was probably of more use in this context as the bass had a P p/up and a neck humbucker.
  20. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer

    no longer true.


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