Pickup for switching between basses

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by MarkA, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hello, all. I teach junior high orchestra. Two of my bass students, who play different-sized instruments, play in the school jazz band. I wonder if there's a pickup folks would recommend that would allow for relatively quick, painless, and repeatable moving between instruments? The idea is for these and future kids (and future kids) to be able to play the instruments they're used to (and are the right size for them, more importantly). If switching isn't practical (I could see it not working if the kids alternate between tunes), we could save up for two pickups and install one on a half size bass, one on a 3/4.

    The band teacher picked up a Realist, with the under-the-bridge-foot plate. Definitely not easy to switch, and I wonder if I should be concerned about it marring the instrument or anything else...

    There is a stick bass that could be used for the 3/4 size kid. The Realist could be permanently installed on the one of the 1/2 size basses.

    Realist is still in the box.

    Thinking of using an fdeck HPF for impedance matching into the school's yorkville combo.

    Thanks in advance for thoughts/suggestions.
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Posting from phone... Can't edit!
  3. I don't think the Realist is a good solution at all. Marks the top of the basses with a round imprint, not very robust to move it from bass to bass, etc.

    The problem is, that there is no real good solution for this kind of situation. You might want to get two cheaper pickups for permanent install or do a some setup (if this is possible at all) to slip in an Underwood without needing any shims (needs work on the bridge wing space on all basses). If the space is too big a Shadow SH-951 might do the job because it is a bit thicker or a Rev Solo II . But wiggling out the pickup more than a few times may break the cable at the pickup. I needed to resolder my SH-950 (same as SH-951 but two elements) at least two times over the years and I haven't put them out so much often.

    The under the bridge foot pickups cannot be moved from one bass to the the other during a concert, since the strings needed to be tuned down (at least E and A).

    If it is only for two basses, you can get a Shadow SH-965NFX (similar to the Realist but more robust, two sensor foils and an impedance buffer which needs a battery), put one of the foils under the E-side bridge foot of both instruments and leave it there (may need a solution with the dangling short cable at least on one instrument). Then you only need to move the battery adapter that is screwed to the underlength with a larger plastic wheel nut, which goes rather quickly. If the battery adapter buzzes inside with notes from the instrument open it and put in some (rubber) foam. That way you might not need the fDeck (except if you want the high pass filter), since the impedance buffer is built-in. Just be sure to have a spare CR2032 battery around. The adapter is powered when a cable is connected to the output, so don't let the amp cable plugged in over night or if you don't use it for several hours.
    I think I needed to resolder one of cables at the small 1/10" plug once. No big deal, but might happen. So better let a grown-up change the adapter, not one of the youngsters.
    The volume know is useable but the the tone knob should be set to the brightest setting, since this is the natural sound.
  4. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    A K&K Bass Max would be the simplest to swap over quickly: one wing element and a jack supported by the after-lengths. An Underwood would be just about as easy. Either one might require some sax reeds for shimming purposes.
    DC Bass likes this.
  5. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    The Realist is not gong to work for you. Taking it on and off in a school situation something bad will happen sooner or later. Like Jake says a wingslot pickup once fitted well is easy to remove and install and his sax reed shimming trick is the absolute bomb! The Realist the Gage SoundClip is also easy to deal with installing and uninstalling. I have one that isn't the best match for my bass I'd sell you cheap if you wanted to try it.

    Honestly though a $100 K&K Bass Max really is your best bet. An fdeck HPF Series III is a good choice not only because a high pass filter is an almost essential tool to maintain low end clarity but because unlike most impedance matching preamps in that price range that run only on batteries (which might be a pain in a school situation) it will run on a standard 9v guitar pedal wall wart.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
  6. I just swapped my Underwood the other day, have done it a few times. Easy peasey, but I'm not sure the re-usable zip-tie would stand up to switching out a few times a day, but other methods could be used for the attachment such as velcro or 3m mushroom tape-lock stuff as used on pedalboards – very secure stuff.

    Anything similar to the Underwood...
    K&K as mentioned;
    Shadow single element;
    maybe check Six Rounds, too.
  7. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    Hmmm...you just put an idea into my mind. I've been using a velcro cable wrap instead of the zip-tie and you have to be a little careful to get it really tight or it can rattle very audibly against the tailpiece. If you wrapped the entire barrel jack with sticky back eye velcro and put a piece of sticky back hook velcro on the back of the tailpiece you'd have a system that would be incredibly easy to to put on/take off and it'd completely dampen any rattle. You'd want to use industrial strength velcro. The mushroom stuff is super strong too but I've never used it...is it flexible enough to go around the small circumference of the barrel jack without trying to unpeel itself?
  8. Not sure about the flexibility of the mushroom stuff. Velcro sure, no problem. There's some pretty dang strong velcro out there, may not even need the mushroom stuff.

    As I see it, wrapping the mushroom Dual Lock would open it up, thereby negating its efficacy.

    [EDIT: The pedalboard velcro I have would be more than up to the task.]
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
  9. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks for the replies and ideas, guys. Talked to Mark Gollihur about the Bassmax today and, price aside, it seems a better match for our laminate school instruments than the Realist - plus we could pick up two for the price of the Realist. Mentioned it to the band teacher and, if we can return the unopened Realist, that might be the way we go. Haven't looked into the other pickups mentioned yet, but will.
  10. Hi, I can highly recommend The Band pickup form British company Headway .. here is thread about this pickup, there are some sound samples http://www.talkbass.com/threads/the-band-for-double-bass-by-headway.1019940/
    It is very easy to install, but sometimes there should be some sound problems on basses with round top. I have bass with convex (round) top and I solved problem with two clothes pegs. They squish pickup to the top and everything is OK. I know it isn´t very aesthetic but it is functional :)
  11. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thank you! I read a bit about the Band - actually have thought of one trying one with my cello. Wasn't sure how it would do in a potentially rough-and-tumble school environment (though maybe not all that rough) or in feedback prone gyms, but that's another good idea and I appreciate it. Something Mark Gollihur mentioned is that the Realist can sound very good on an instrument with a nice carved top, but that the Bassmax would likely sound better on our less resonant laminate instruments (I hope that I am representing his thought accurately here). I wonder how the Band would do in that regard. How durable does it seem to you?
  12. In the middle of this video is sample of The Band pickup mounted on Shen hybrid bass. Video was made by one of TBer - RickWolff ...

    On my full carved bass are low frequencies little bit boosted, but with high pass filter and notch filter it isn´t problem.

    I know that someone has problems with velcro system on this pickup strap. After some time of using the velcro system is tend to unstick from pickup. But with bit of glue you will fix it.
    I ´m sorry for my english, but I hope it is understandable.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
  13. Don Sibley

    Don Sibley

    Jun 27, 2005
    Fort Worth, TX
    I was also going to recommend the Band as well. Nothing is easier to mount and is a pretty accurate sound as well.
  14. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Couple of thoughts, having owned both the Bass Max and Realist...

    The Realist definitely works better on my carved top bass than it did on even my big, loud ply. This pretty much seems to echo the sentiments here, though I'm sure there are some that have gotten good results with a Realist on a plywood bass.

    The BassMax is a good sounding (IMO) well built pickup - I did manage to destroy mine by swapping it back and forth between basses to many times, however, so I wouldn't call it indestructible. If the band dept. can afford to get two then go for it.
  15. The Rev Solo would do it. Once the bridge wings are shaped to the correct size you can remove and slide into a new bass.
  16. rickwolff

    rickwolff ‘Leave the clams in, let ’em know we're human,' Supporting Member

    This is my recording with the BAND. However, it is on my CARVED SHEN, I don't feel it really works very well with my plywood bass.

    Even though I haven't used either the Bass Max or the Gage Soundclip I think those might be your best options. I'd probaby go for TWO Bass Maxes, one on each bass as a first choice. The Gage soundclip might be the best choice for moving back and forth between basses.
  17. The Soundclip is not a good solution if you want a good sound on several instruments and have very little time to change from one bass to the other. The sound very much depends on the position and the pressure and also on the individual instrument/bridge. It is also not very cheap.

    The bridge wing pickups (preferably two cheaper ones) or the Shadow NFX with nod foil one each instrument is a quick solution that works fine and mostly with a reproducible sound.

    But anyway the OP's decision has been made already.
  18. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Actually hadn't made the decision for sure until this morning (well, yesterday now). While I am sure that there are other viable options, we're going with the Bass Max. For the price and with the school basses being laminate instruments, it's hard to ignore. Will get one, try it and, if we like it, get another. The Realist Soundclip, even if it were an assured home-run, is out of our budget. The Rev Solo looks like it could be nice and is reasonably priced but is still almost twice what the Bass Max will cost.

    Really appreciate all the input, and am glad we didn't go ahead and install the Realist.
    DC Bass likes this.
  19. I wouldn't leave out the Shadow NFX if you haven't decided yet. You get two foils with a 1/10" plug, intended to be used on both bridge feet, but you only need one of the foils. Put one of the foils under the E bridge foot of both basses and only swap the battery adapter. One plug and one wheel that could easily changed in seconds.

    I'm sure the sound will be much better with bowing using the Shadow NFX than with the Bassmax. And you don't need an impedance buffer.

    On the other side, if the basses are mostly plucked, then the Bassmax might perform a bit better and if the instrument is moved (but not the other) you don't have to care about which bass has the battery adapter mounted.
  20. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hey, all. Just popping in to say that I appreciated all the suggestions given earlier and for a quick update. We picked up a BassMax from Gollihur. Seems to be working well so far -- at least that's the report from the band teacher. It's on a 1/2-size bass. Install did require removing a bit of wood from the bridge. For the price, if it works well for awhile, we'll pick up a second to put on a 3/4 bass. Will bring in my HPF3 someday and try the pickup with and without. If it makes a significant difference in sound quality, I'll recommend that we get one of those (at least a Series I).
    DC Bass likes this.