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Options for amplifying sound

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by WalkUpright, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. WalkUpright


    Feb 18, 2013
    I apologize in advance for the novice questions but I’m very new to this and I need some help. My band just started playing out which has required us to basically amplify our instruments for the first time. I’m currently using a Fishman BP-100 pickup that was installed on my bass when I bought it. I’ve ran this through a PA on 1 occasion and an amp on two separate occasions. My issue is this, How do I preserve the acoustic feel/tone of my bass while running through a PA? is there another pickup/mic technique that might make sense? What about a pre-amp? Would that give me the ability to control my own tone?

    I played a gig Saturday and at first was instructed to use an amp (acoustic series from GC). The sound was awful so I asked to go direct with the rest of the guys, but the sound guy couldn’t really get the tone right and just instructed us to “get on with it” anyway. Like I said I’m new at this, I knew my sound wasn’t where I wanted it to be but I didn’t know how/what to tell this guy needed to be done.

    Is a pre-amp the answer? I’ve heard some players go acoustic and just play in front of a microphone. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  2. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Getting an amplified sound that is close to your acoustic sound is the goal of almost all UB players who amplify. No system is perfect. The trick is to find one that works for you and your budget.

    I have never used the Fishman BP-100 but Fishman is a reputable company. Unless you are using a magnetic pickup (you are not) or have an amp that has an input designed for acoustic pickups, you need a pre-amp. Many people use the F-Deck (sp?) pre and reports are good. I have not used it as I made my own. A pre-amp would not only vastly improve the sound of your pickup but if it has the right controls, it can do much to improve your sound through sub-optimal PA's and amplifiers.

    The Acoustic series from GC are designed for bass guitar. It is not a good match to upright bass. I have had fair success getting a decent (but hardly ideal) sound from BG amps by playing with the controls on my pre-amp and the the amp. This takes time so if you know that is what you are dealing with, try getting to the gig early (never a bad idea) and tweaking a bit before dealing with the sound guy. If your budget can reach it, get your own amp.

    So get a pre-amp and read the many posts by others here seeking the elusive amplified acoustic sound. Good luck.
  3. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    While it still has some proponents, the BP-100 is an old design, superseded many times since its inception. It will certainly benefit from a preamp, and I think in your setting the Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum would serve well. Its high-impedance input will properly load the pickup and reduce a good deal of its "quackiness", it has an adjustable high-pass filter to protect your stage monitor from potentially damaging infrasonic frequencies, a phase switch to help with feedback, a 5-band graphic EQ which I find to be pretty well set up, a compressor which can help with some string-to-string and note-to-note unevenness if judiciously applied, and a decent DI with a pre- and post-EQ switch. The manual even shows some settings to start with for the BP-100, although you should not be afraid to deviate from them.

    I have (and love) the fdeck HPF-Pre, as well as the Fishman -- the fdeck is much more transparent, and does what it sets out to do very well. The Fishman imparts some of its own "colour" to your tone, but with that pickup, that amp, and your need/desire to go into FOH, I think you'll find it the more useful of the two.

    There are far more expensive options, of course, but this early on in your own great amplification game, it's a solid contender at a good price.
  4. WalkUpright


    Feb 18, 2013
    thanks guys I really appreciate the quick response. Definitely looking into a pre-amp. Does Fishman make the F deck you are referring to? Anyone ever used a MarkBass acoustic ? I'd like to get something I can shape my tone with for under $300 if possible.
  5. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    The fdeck HPF-Pre is designed by Francis Deck, a TBer -- his design is made public on his website, but he builds them for a very reasonable price. There are several threads here devoted to this preamp.

    There's also a thread on the MarkAcoustic amps -- I use Markbass, but haven't tried one of these. Somewhat above your $300 budget though ...

    Edit: Look here for the Fishman, and elsewhere on the Gollihur site for a plethora of preamps and other bass goodies. They's good people to deal with, even from the other side of the globe.
  6. WalkUpright


    Feb 18, 2013
    Thanks. The Fishman looks like it may work for my requirement/budget which is a homerun. thanks again for all the help. Looking forward to contributing what I can to the forum!
  7. Ha. If you've got a critical ear, this is something you'll struggle with for the rest of your life. But as others have pointed out, you'll need a preamp with proper impedance matching to even begin to get something usable from a piezo pickup.

    Sure, this is the way to go if possible. Nothing sounds better than a good mic placed in a sweet spot. The problem is that it is a very rare gig that you'll be able to do this. Keeping other instruments from bleeding into your channel is difficult. As is getting high volume levels without feedback. I used to use a hyper cardioid mic mounted to my bridge, but finally took it off because in most situations it was worthless--even when I tried blending it with a piezo...
  8. BHBassman


    Jan 5, 2013
    I have the Fishman Platinum Pro EQ with an Underwood-Great results!

  9. Live, I've seen a SM58 on a boom stand between the f and the bridge sounded great. Not a loud band.

    Sorry Thumpie, but this is a little overboard in my opinion. Where I disagree is "something usable". I've heard and seen people in the past use piezos direct into amps and DI boxes live with all sorts of instruments (stringed family). Personally, I have a guitar with a piezo that sounds great amplified and I made a piezo pickup for my bass that sounds banging without a preamp. I understand the science behind having a preamp, and in the case of this thread, the OP may totally benefit from a preamp suited for piezos with additional tone shaping. It is just the statement "something usable" that I wanted to comment on because I have heard a lot of usable sound coming from piezos used without a preamp.
  10. Using a preamp with a high input impedance makes you independant from the input impedances of any amp you might need to use. Since you cannot always use your on amp, this might be a good thing to have. A simple (6 piece) impedance buffer, preferably with a high pass filter, will do the job.
  11. You should do some research about impedance matching and piezo pickups. The fact that you mentioned a guitar lets me know you don't understand that the lower frequencies of the bass require an ultra-high impedance input. Using a piezo and a less-than-ultra-high impedance on a guitar, violin, etc. isn't an issue because the clipped response isn't in the range of those instruments.

    If your amp input happens to be rated at over 1m ohms you're getting in the ballpark. But most do not. And I doubt you'll ever find a house system providing you with the proper direct. Hence, my opinion that a impedance-matched preamp is a necessity--or at least an impedance matching box, as mentioned above. (My amp happens to have an ultra-high input, but I *still* use my pre, and I get better sound.)

    If you think running a bass with a piezo straight into a 100k input is fine, then we have ideas of what is "useable."
  12. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    We never really want a pre-amp that provides impedance matching. Time for this post again. :)
  13. The piezos I am talking about are all disc. Ugh.... How did I know I would be flamed... Am I being flamed?

    Yes I am aware of the technicalities of DB. I mentioned that earlier......
  14. Piezo discs, like those in greeting cards, specially if they are smaller ones, need a rather high input impedance, probably more than 1 MegOhm. The unpopular Fishman BP100 works best with a 10 MegOhms input impedance. At least this is what Fishman recommends for this four piezo disc pickup.

    But in general this is the higher end of input impedance needed, only exceeded by smaller pieces of piezo foil (20 MegOhm) and condenser microphone capsules (around 1 GigOhm).
  15. To follow up:

    I understand impedance loading. What I commented on earlier was "usable tone". To say you need "X" to get something usable from a piezo is overboard in my opinion and experience which actually includes DBs (my own and others). Now Thumpie or whomever else is chasing never ending "best sound" will have a high standard of what is considered usable to them, which is totally cool, but not what everyone is after.

    I am repeating myself and it is because I want to be crystal clear what I was commenting about earlier to avoid the confusion that this is about me needing to do research or what I do or don't understand. It is not about that.
  16. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    FWIW, I understood your meaning. I think you might be taking Thumpie's comment a bit too seriously. Maybe not. I agree that without near-optimal loading, you can get something "usable." The point is that, with such loading, you can achieve a result that is vastly superior. That, as I see it, is the important point.

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