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Microphone, Pickup or both?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Phil Smith, Oct 5, 2000.

  1. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Hi folks,

    I'm currently experimenting with different ways to amplify my Kay. I have a pickup that came with the bass that wedges between the bridge wings. I can get a decent pizzacato sound out it but the arco sound is nothing like what I hear when I play the bass without amplification. I tried an Audio Technica ATM35 microphone and was impressed with the sound I got, i.e. the same as the acoustic sound only louder, which I liked. I was using the mic inside the body of the bass, is this the correct way to do this or should it be right up to the f hole? If I can get the full sound from the microphone, why would I use a pickup at all? What do you folks do? An inquiring mind wants to know.

  2. I'm sure you are going to hear a lot of differing opinions as to what is best, but generally, if you use a mic, you don't stick it inside the instrument, you place it in the vincinity of the F-Hole. If you want the best of both, you
    could use a mixer, like the fishman Bass Blender.If you like the sound you get from the mic alone, you can use that, but be aware of potential feedback and Bleed-through problems at higher volumes.It sounds like your bridge pickup is an Underwood,and if you decide to go with that, you should at least get an impedance matching device, Like the Sadowski or Fishman Pre-amps.But IMO, with what you have already, you would be happy with the Bass Blender so you can utilize the existing components.
    BTW, in Case you are interested, I use a Barkus Berry picup on my Juzak, and A K$K Pro Pack on my Kolstein Fendt. I have used Underwood, Fishman, Pan Electric,and a Wing pup
    (similar to the K&K Bass Max)

    [Edited by reedo35 on 10-05-2000 at 03:54 PM]
  3. An even better choice than the Fishman blender is the Raven Labs blender. It is a better quality unit overall. I believe they are designed by Steve Rabe who was involved with SWR.
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    We'd be better able to answer you if we knew what strings you are using.
    Some general thoughts: Amplified arco never sounds good. If I can, I turn the damned amp off when doing a bowed solo. Arco is louder anyway, and an amp is less necessary in the places I play. The unvarnished truth is, no amp and no pickup can duplicate natural acoustic tone. It's all a matter of which comes closest, and each bass responds differently to each given device. In my case, the Fishman blender was a total disaster and waste of money.
    I wouldn't buy anything without a money back guarantee or a full trial in a shop. With that in mind, follow what reedo35 says.
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I'm using Dadarrio Helicore Hybrids. It seems to me that a mic setup is superior due to the fact that you actually pickup the sound you "hear" coming from your bass. I know there are limits to its use in high volume situations, but with the small ensemble(bass clarinet and trumpet/alp horn) that I'm playing with a mic would give me a more natural "acoustic" sound than the pickup that I have.


  6. Bass Clarinet and Trumpet/Alp horn? That must be some wild sounding combo! Don is right, though. I've never been completely satisfied with amplified arco either.But if you are playing with a small combo like that, I would probably use a mic also. I feel you get more of the Basses acoustic sound more than the strings and your fingers.
    BTW, an Alp horn is 6 to 12 ft. long. How do you fit that on stage? ;)
  7. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I'm working with K&K Sound on an add-on microphone intended for use with any pickup. I may need a couple more pre-release testers -- if anyone is interested, or has some comments they want to share, please contact me off-list.

  8. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    This one is about 10 ft long, we haven't played out yet, so I guess it will be out in the audience when we do. ;)
  9. Very interesting.I tried playing one when I was in Switzerland, and Damn near passed out. Does your combo do original stuff, or what type of music do you play? I'd be really interested to hear that configuration.(seriously!)
  10. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I read your post just before running to a gig. For kicks, I grabbed my SM58 on the way out the door. Used it in combination with my Realist pick up at the gig (a small jazz combo at a medium to low volume level, drummer was using brushes most of the time). With the mic, I personally didn't notice that much different, and put it off to the side after two tunes. Played the rest of the evening with the Realist. It sounded great...

    I have a theory about bass amplification in general. At low volumes, an amplifier sounds good. At higher volumes, it just starts going to crap. When it goes to crap, depends on your rig. As Ed Fuqua and I will tell you, getting a Walter Woods will give that extra headroom. But these days, I always find myself turning the amplifier down. And when the bass comes down, slowly, but surely, the other musicians do, too. :)

    Anyway, back to your question. I've heard bass players get good sound out of mics, pickups, mics and pickups. It all boils down to how your bass sounds when you play it.

    Sorry for rambling...
    Alex Feldman
  11. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    We're not doing originals. Currently we're working on 4 tunes, "Naima", "Whisper Not", "Freddie Freeloader", and "Watermelon Man".

  12. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you see, this is the single biggest difference between this side of the board and the BG side. "we are who we play with". it's almost enough to make one switch to upright. :D

    anyway, sorry, back to your regular-scheduled discussion.
  13. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Phil, I have no personal experience with the D'Addario hybrid, but the feedback I get from other players is that the hybrid is only a bit less scratchy for arco than any other pure pizz string. In addition, pizz string tone when played arco is bad. Amping it only makes it worse.
  14. bassgeek

    bassgeek Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    There is another product on the market by Pan Electric of Canada that lets you mix your existing pickup with their mic. This might be another option in addition to the prototype unit Bob Gollihur mentioned. I have found that a good pickup such as the Realist can eliminate the need for a mic. Incidentally, the Realist is not compatible with the Fishman Bass Blender in my experience.
  15. I have used a Barbera in-bridge system for some years now, and my gigs with upright include loud rockabilly, as well as straight ahead jazz. I have been very happy with the Barbera system, it needs no preamping. I use La Bella rope core strings which give a more "upright" sound (on my bass anyway) than Helicores, Thomastiks or Corellis. The arco is reasonable, although I'm not really an arco player, and the feedback rejection is great. I have previously used Fishman and Shadow systems, including the bass blender and crown mic, and did'nt really like any of them. Personally, I have found that most jazz players will have a really nice old bass, and maybe a decent pickup, but try to put it all thru a crappy amp that's totally unsuitable, (like a Marshall). Incidentally, a lot of jazz guitarists suffer from this same problem.
    The bottom line is that what suits my bass wont necessarily suit yours, in fact that's pretty much guaranteed!
  16. BassGuyNL


    Jul 20, 2000
    The Netherlands
    Hey Bassgeek,

    I've been looking into the Pan Electric stuff on the web. Do you have hands-on experience with their products? Which blender do you recommend (I believe they have a blender already hooked up to a mike, but also blenders with two inputs). Are they active or passive. Why doesn't the Fishman Bass Blender work with the Realist?

  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I don't know why the Fishman doesn't work with the Realist, but listen to bassgeek - it doesn't.Together, they sound like a big muddy electric turd... but recently I tried running the Realist through the K&K 2 channel preamp (mixing it with the K&K bridge transducers), and it sounded pretty good. Better, in fact than it did by itself, since I was able to adjust the tone inside the preamp to compensate for the Realist's odd frequency response pattern (huge lows, some mids, no highs whatsoever). The preamp did a nice job of flattening the response out, added more sustain, and as an added bonus, costs about half as much as the Fishman.

    Good luck.
  18. Ed, we cant get WW down here. I've only ever seen one in this country. I would dearly love one. I wrote to WW once asking about getting one, and never got a reply. I'm told that is normal for WW, a bit eccentric. The hip players here use either a SWR SM400 with 2x10, or a GK combo or GK400RB with whatever cab. I'm definitely not a hip player, but I do use the SWR head and SWR 1x12 bass monitor. The "others" use Marshall, Dean Markley, Yorkville, and a whole bunch of odd stuff, and to my ears they dont sound right. They dont have that "glow in the dark" as Ron Carter put it.
  19. P.S. People can use whatever they like, that's not my point. My point is, how can these guys (mostly the older players- just an observation- I'm 53)spend so much money on a great bass and be so reluctant to spend the dough on a good amp?
  20. especially since I am still working on my amplification, but I am a electric/DB player who plays *both* at gigs (not at the same time ;-) Anyway, I've chosen to really concentrate on preamplification and mics/pickups, as I need to use the same amp (ADA tube preamp through Carvin power amp into Carvin cab) for both DB and electric.

    Obviously I have different presets on the ADA for the DB and the electric, but I concentrate my efforts on the DB even before it hits the ADA. Currently I am using a Fishman trnsducer through a FIshman dual parametric DI box to boost the signal before it hits the ADA. Obviously, and as you may have guessed, the Fishman is not sufficient, so I am adding a Crown GM200 mic and a FIshman Blender, and doing away with the DI box. My point? My point is that if the sound is right from the source, and your gear in general provides flexible tone (and has a horn that you can turn on for DB and off for electric!), that's the biggest battle. At this point, I feel like I can overcome most of my sound hurdles without investing in a seperate WW amp for my DB (argh, gear). Any thoughts?

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