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Opinion about Shadow SH-950

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Henko, Feb 19, 2003.

  1. Henko


    Oct 15, 2002
    I have a pretty cheap acoustic upright that i want to amplify. Someone mentioned the Shadow SH950/951 piezo oickup as a decent and affordable choice. Comments anyone?

    By the way, I play blues and hillbilly music.

  2. You'd probably be better off with a K&K BassMax.

    Bridge-wing pickups that feature a pickup on each side of the bridge often wind up presenting problems with the sound such that their owners wind up not using one of them.

    I've seen several Underwood users talk about how much they love their Underwoods, and in the next breath add that they only have one of the elements actually installed, because it sounds better that way.

    Bob Gollihur sells a K&K model with 4 elements which adhere to the bridge, and costs more than the BassMax, but he advises the BassMax for more applications than not, especially for Bluegrass players. Ask him about it! bob@gollihur.com. Tell him what kind of music you play, and ask him what he advises in a pickup for your type of playing, and why.

    Check out http://www.urbbob.com/bassmax.html

    Also, http://www.jazzpages.com/Doublebass/pickups_GB.html for pictures and descriptions of LOTS of pickups. I have a BassMax, though, and they are hard to beat. In their price-range, I don't think they CAN be beaten.

    Keep in mind, when deciding how much you have to spend on a pickup, that almost all of them need a preamp.

    I have a K&K Model 97 preamp, and it sounds a LOT better than the Fishman B-II I was using.

    But in general, I think most GOOD preamps all perform about equally, with differences in features accounting for differences in price.

    The BassMax is one of the better ones about letting you get by with no preamp, but it sounds better with one, and sometimes a preamp is an absolute necessity with it. It depends on which Amplifier/PA Head you're plugging it into.

    In general, though, allow for a preamp. Piezo pickups ALL have super-high impedances, and the pre-amp reduces it to a level that most amps can deal with.

    Your bass will sound thin and have WAY too much treble if you have an impedance mis-match. You can fix that by cutting out almost all of the high and midrange in the EQ, leaving you with a muddy, indistinct sound that sounds marginally better than nothing at all.
  3. Seppie


    Aug 14, 2002
    Austria, Vienna
    i actually use a shadow pickup.. with both wings...
    and there´s no problem with phasing...
    the only i had/have is the trbl with the pressure/thightness on the piezos...
    had them very thight installed and it sounded crapy and very thin...
    so i played a bit and have a very decent result!
    but whats more important than the piezo pu between the wings (cause i think there are all good) is a good amp/preamp...

    gruesze sebastian
  4. Henko


    Oct 15, 2002
    Thanks for the input. I was most curious if the Shadow piezo provides a cheap and decent functioning way to pump out some hillbilly bass in a bar situation. As I mentioned, my upright is pretty cheap or you might even call it crappy, but it works.

    By the way, do piezos feedback easily?
  5. Seppie


    Aug 14, 2002
    Austria, Vienna
    it´s not diretly the piezo that does a feedback!
    it´s the instrument with the piezo location!
    try to think of a piezo somewhere on the headstock :eek:
    -> no useable sound :bawl:
    -> no feedback! :spit:

    thats it

    gruesze sebastian
  6. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    I have both the Bass Max (actually the Bass Master Pro, but I use just the Bass Max mostly) and a single Shadow. Sometimes I use one, sometimes the other. I find the Bass Max to give a better allover sound - warmer, richer with more bottom - while the Shadow is more powerful, with stronger mids. My impression is that it's easier to dial efficient live sound with the Shadow in the loud settings that I usually play, it generally cuts through more. In the studio the Bass Max rulez, the technician didn't even find it necessary to use a mic. the last time

    They are both pretty feedback-resistant - the Bass Max maybe a hair better.

    All this is of course IME and different basses will sound differently etc etc...

    Wheeeee... post no. 300 :D :bassist:
  7. No, they don't feedback easily but they do feed back. If you put the bass too close to it's speaker(s) you'll get feedback, especially of the amp is turned up high.

    It also depends some on your amp rig. Four 10" speakers, or eight of them will give you more volume before feedback, and sound better for an upright, than two fifteens, or eighteens, for instance.

    In general, most piezo pickups arel not a problem, except in extreme high-volume or high-carelesness situations.

    Different types of piezos will be different in this respect, largely based on how they mount.

    Wing-mounted pickups, like the BassMax, Underwood, & Shadow are not too bad. Anything that mounts directly against the body will be a lot worse.

    Piezos that are stuck onto the bridge with adhesive will be about the same as wing-mounts, perhaps slightly worse.

    Any microphone or microphonic pickup will reproduce the true sound of the bass the best, and feed back the worst.

    The back & top of the bass are designed to take string vibrations from the bridge, and amplify them by vibrating, transmitting those vibrations to the air.

    This also works in reverse. The large surfaces of the back & top will collect sound vibrations from the air and transmit them up the bridge instead.

    There are mechanical things you can do to help control feedback with a piezo, like cramming nerf-footballs between tailpiece, or fingerboard, and the top etc.

    You can build bolt-together (inside-outside) wooden plates that close off the F-Holes and damp the vibrations of the top somewhat. They have to be gasketed with some kind of padding, to prevent noises, and to keep from goofing your finish.

    You can eliminate feedback with a magnetic pickup, like the Moses Lace (available at www.urbbob.com), but that's about the only way to get it as resistant as an electric guitar. But then you have to worry about whether the strings you like to use have enough metal-content to work with a magnetic pickup. They are pretty much a steel-string-only proposition. A lot of mag pickups tend to make you bass sound more like a bass guitar, also.

    BTW, how much is this Shadow going to cost you?? Bob sells the BassMax for $87. It's a lot of bang for the buck.
  8. Yep. One drawback of all wing-mount piezos is that they need to be fitted correctly. Luckily that's not a major deal. You just take out a little wood with sandpaper wrapped around a popsicle-stick, or with a fairly small flat metal-file, and keep doing trial-and-error until you get a snug but not too-tight fit.

    If your bridge-wing is already too wide for your pickup element (or if you get carried-away in fitting and MAKE it too wide) you can always shim it with a saxophone reed, which is tapered and can be shoved in for any desired amount of snugness.

    If the pickup has to be forced into the wing, it can crush the element, destroying the pickup. Too tight, but not tight enough to destroy, will "choke" it, as described. Too loose will keep it from hearing all the string vibrations.

    That's not just the Underwood or BassMax, it applies to any wing-mount pickup.

    We keep mentioning those two pickups specifically, because they are the most popular(at least in the USA), but there are a lot of other less-popular wing-mount pickups (like the Shadow and others), and they ALL share that need for proper fitting. Luckily, "Proper Fitting" is more a matter of patience than skill. :meh:

    Also as mentioned, a preamp is important, and will probably cost somewhere between $70 and $400.

    The K&K Model 97 costs $80. It has what *I* consider to be the advantage of taking an A/C adaptor (I HATE batteries). I think all other K&K preamps are battery-only, to save a little on size.

    When you're considering the price of a Piezo pickup, though, you REALLY need to remember to include the cost of a preamp.

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