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New bass design - need you help!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jeff in TX, Mar 9, 2003.

  1. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I am having a new bass made. I have some flexibility with the design and am considering installing components to make it work with a V-Bass or other type of midi control.

    I know nothing about this (as you've probably guessed!). Can someone walk me through the options and exactly what I would need to do? Is there a PU/electronics package that can be built into the instrument so I can just plug it into a V-Bass? I will also want mag pups. It would be cool to be able to blend them, if that's possible. What are my options?

    How would you do it?

  2. mikestack


    Sep 17, 2002

    There's three options, near as I know, to driving a V-Bass internally.

    1. Roland Gk-2B internal pickup.

    2. RMC piezo.

    3. Lightwave

    I know LW used to not recommend magnetic PUs with theirs, but evidentally this is less of a problem. It'll be far and away the most expensive route however, and you're currently selling (or have sold) a LW bass, so I doubt you'd pursue this option.

    The Roland internal AFAIK is not yet available for retail, but I've heard it's supposed to be by now, so this might be worth pursuing. This is essentially six magnetic pickups stacked in one strip, one for each string, sending a discrete signal for each string. Typically referred to as a hexaphonic (hence the "six") or hex pickup. This will be the cheapest option.

    The RMC solution I received much details from them when I was researching the same problem as you. Essentially you pair a set of piezo transducers with a 13-pin out and a pre-amp (the RMC Poly-Drive I most likely). RMC does not recommend using their pre-amp/13-pin out without their piezo pickups, but I'll note that my Lightwave bass uses an RMC Poly-Drive I. This is the mid-priced solution.

    I've never done a side-by-side comparison-- I CAN tell you that my Lightwave tracks better than any Roland pickup I've played, I've never worked with a straight RMC solution. Mind you, my improved tracking is slight, the Roland should catch virtually every nuance of your playing, and I have no doubt it will.

    13-pin as a standard provides the following outputs from the instrument:

    1 pin output for each string via the divided pickup (6 pins total).

    1 pin output for the analog signal, this is what would come out of your 1/4" jack.

    1 pin output for a potentiometer (synth volume).

    1 pin output each for two "step" functions, edge triggered for the function. These are pushbuttons on the Roland system, and a spring centered toggle on the RMC solution. (2 pins total).

    1 pin output for the blend (synth, analog, mix). If synth is selected, the divided output is used, if analog is selected, the analog output is used, if mix is selected, all are used.

    Typically, controls include support for the above, a blend toggle, a step up/step down (S1/S2) support, either buttons or a spring centered switch, and a volume control.

    You'll need 13-pin out. You'll probably also want a standard 1/4" output. So plan on two output jacks.

    Blend can be done with the switch, and then the actual blend (i.e. what percentage mag, what percentage "synth") can be controlled by the V-Bass.

    So in summary,

    RMC has a two part solution: piezo transducers and a preamp. You can find them at http://www.rmcpickup.com. They respond better to builders than end users in my experience with them. Biggest drawback is that the pre-amp may create trouble if you want to use a preamp for your magnetic pickups. Note that their pre-amp includes 13-pin output and all controls.

    Lightwave is an option, but is really expensive and takes up lots of room. Supposedly the best performer by all indications. May cause trouble with electronics real estate if combined with magnetic pickups. They can give you whatever controls you like and the 13-pin output. Also, this is not quite productized yet. http://www.lightwave-systems.com

    Roland is supposed to have an internal kit including the 13-pin out and all controls, but they're not advertising it. Far and away the cheapest solution, minimal extra electronics so it should play nice with pre-existing electronics. Biggest drawback is that it provides no additional analog sounds, unlike the LW and the RMC. http://www.rolandus.com.

    Good luck, hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions of me, I've researched this matter extensively both as a bass and a guitar solution.
  3. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Wow! Thanks for the detailed information!

    Assuming I even end up going down this path, I want this bass to be a great "standard" instrument with the added benefit seamlessly of connecting to a V-Bass, so the RMC or the Roland seem like the best options (nothing against Lightwave - I really like their products and approach).

    I would definitely want two outputs.

    The Roland pickup is a 6 pole? How would that work on a 5 string bass?

    Thanks again!
  4. mikestack


    Sep 17, 2002
    You'll end up having one that's not hooked up to the 13-pin connector. I have a 5-string LW, so I have an unused pin.

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