Pickup samples

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Michael Glynn, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    I've been wanting to do this for a little while and this thread by Jonas has inspired me to go ahead and do it.

    Here are samples of six pickups/mics. I'm going to leave them anonymous for a little while to get some unbiased opinions on the sounds. (the order has also been randomized).

    All were recorded through an EA Doubler into a little Tascam DR-07 recorder. I did a little EQing on the Doubler (mostly cutting the mids) to try to get them closer to a "gig" sound rather than leaving the EQ flat. Of course on the gig, the sound would be mixing with the acoustic sound of the bass and would also be going through the Doubler power amp and coming out of whatever bass speaker was being used. All of this would of course change the final perceived sound on the gig.

    Let me know what you think of the different sounds and I will reveal the contestants shortly.
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    To my ears number four sounds the most natural. Since I have no idea what pickups were used I'm just going with what is pleasing to my ears.
  3. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    I also like #4, although #3 has a kind of room reverb feel to it which makes me wonder if it's one of the mic-type pickups.
  4. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    for me also number four sounds the most natural. I like it.
    number two is very ugly. terrible. it is exactly what I don't want.
    number six I think is a good choice to mix with a microphone.
  5. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    1st pick: #4 (best overall tone)

    2nd pick: #3 ( ballsy, old-school sound)
  6. massimo


    Jul 29, 2006
    Paris (France)
  7. Number 4 pants down. Great work, much appreciated!!
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Cool that you did this, thanks, Michael. Here are my guesses, I'll look forward to the answers:

    1) Don't know on this one.
    2) Something like a K&K Bassmax in the bridge wing
    3) Your contact mic
    4) Full-Circle
    5) Something else in the bridge wing (like it better than #2, though) Underwood?
    6) Some sort of a mic in the room
  9. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    OK, I'm going to narrow it down a little for you now by naming the pickups used, but not which is which.

    Here they are in alphabetical order:

    • ATM25 (Audio Technica dynamic microphone, under tailpiece facing up)
    • C411 (AKG contact mic)
    • Planet Wing
    • Red Hot DR-1 (piezo drum trigger by Pulse Percussion)
    • Revolution Solo (by Upton Bass)
    • Underwood

    Let's see if you can match them up!
  10. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Cool demo. I think I like #6 best. Would probably sit well in a band recording as part of the bass sound. Good definition and ballsy.
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Okay, I'm going to stick with my answers, but use your list:

    1) Red Hot DR-1 (piezo drum trigger by Pulse Percussion)
    2) Planet Wing
    3) C411 (AKG contact mic)
    4) Revolution Solo
    5) Underwood
    6) ATM25 (Audio Technica dynamic microphone, under tailpiece facing up)

    I have no idea what #1 is, so I'm going to put in the spot where I had no guess. #2 and #4 might be switched and I suppose that I could be wrong about the Underwood too. Hell, there's a good chance that I have no idea what I'm talking about. Pretty sure on the contact mic, though.
  12. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Inactive Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    I also prefer#6---what is it?
  13. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    mmm, I don't know.
    maybe number six is Revolution Solo?
  14. My preferences would be 4 , 3 and 6 . I didn't like the others at all too much like a bad EB sound. But as you say it would be different when mixed with the acoustic sound of the bass. Great idea ...very curious to know what they are...
  15. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Hmm...I don't have any experience with a couple of those but ...:

    1) Planet Wing
    2) Red Hot
    3) C411
    4) ATM25
    5) Underwood
    6) Rev Solo
  16. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Well, I guess the time has come to unveil our contestants. I find it quite interesting that no one has correctly guessed any of them yet!
    I figured it might be fun to first see what people thought sounded best, and then see what they think these different pickups are "supposed" to sound like.

    Anyway, here they are:

    1. Underwood
    2. Revolution Solo
    3. ATM25
    4. C411
    5. Red Hot
    6. Planet Wing

    Here are some of my thoughts on these guys. I should mention that these were recorded on my carved German bass, with Spirocore solos on E and A and Sonores Twine on G and D. Also, Soundcloud kind of messed up the sound on all of them, with a loss of some low-end warmth, and the addition of some annoying high-end twinkling artifacts--what are you gonna do?

    Underwood - Not the best, but not the worst either. It has been, however, the most reliable of all my pickups. My first one lasted almost 20 years before it started occasionally making popping sounds. I've found the best results using only the bass side element and running it through a SansAmp Bass Driver DI (which I did not do on this recording, but it really helps get rid of the harshness and gives it a more round, full sound). I use a folded up Trident gum wrapper as a shim :)

    Revolution Solo - I know some people have great success with this one, but I've had real trouble getting a good sound out of it. I've tried on a couple of basses, right side up, upside down, bass side, treble side...nothing seemed to work. The SansAmp doesn't seem to help as it does for some other piezos. I suspect that, as much as I tried, my sanding job isn't as perfectly even as it should be, and perhaps a cleaner fit would improve the sound.

    ATM25 - First of all, sticking this under the tailpiece does not in any way give the best sound. However, for me it does give the most usable sound--that is clear, clean volume before feedback. This position tends to make the sound a little compressed and also boomy, but blended with a good piezo for clarity, it can sound really great.

    C411 - This had been sitting in my closet for a couple of years as I hadn't had a phantom power source for a while. When I recently got the Doubler I pulled it out and it sounded so good that now it is my first choice on my carved bass. It doesn't sound so good on my Kay. As with all contact mics, position is incredibly important. I put it above the bass bar, about 6-8 inches below the bridge. It is more feedback resistant than a mic, but at high volumes certain notes can get boomy. A notch filter helps sometimes.

    Red Hot - What can I say? For $13.99, it's not bad. I bought it when I had a few pickups crap out in a row and I decided I wanted a cheap backup. If I run it through the SansAmp and blend it with a mic I get a totally usable sound. It's a little thin, so I put a couple little bits of thick rubber band on top and then a thin wood veneer on top of that. I think the rubber helps tame the harsh high end a little.

    Planet Wing - I think this is the best sounding piezo on my bass, unfortunately I have had a lot of technical issues with it so that I don't really trust it. When it was only a couple of months old, it started cutting out. The problem seemed to be with the 1/4" jack. I sent it back to get repaired, but when it was returned the problem started up again. I now have it mounted on my backup bass with the jack mounted so that gravity pulls the cord in the direction that keeps the sound from cutting out. The SansAmp improves the sound but not so drastically as with the Underwood. Mixed with a mic it sounds pretty killer on my gut-strung Kay.
  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, more or less what I guessed.

    Very interesting, thanks very much for doing this Michael. Some surprises in there. Your experience with the Rev Solo pretty closely matches mine. I would say that in this case, it sounds like i exepect the Underwood to sound.

    The ATM25 objectively in this context, doesn't sound as good as it's reputation. It doesn't hurt the signal, but it doesn't help it either.

    The Planet Wing sounds better than expected. I've heard your C411 before and I understand not to get too excited about that because there's a difference between this test and on the gig, under any circumstances. Still, it sounds nice. I feel similarly about my time with the Ehrlund so far. Under certain circumstances, it's peerless, but not all...for me.

    Thanks again. Having heard and played your bass is helpful too. It gives me context that I wouldn't have otherwise and I recall it being similar to mine in a lot of ways.

    Let me be the first to say later than we should have "nice playing!", but I had a context for that before too.

    Thanks again,
  18. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004

    Having heard the ATM25 recorded on a stand in front of the bridge versus under the tailpiece, I agree that it doesn't sound as good as it "should." But live I think that it often does add a certain element that is missing in piezos. I usually just use the C411 alone these days, but if there is a PA I often run the ATM25 directly into that.

    I would guess that the C411 is no better, and probably not much different than Ehrlund. I am having more success with it now than I did when you heard it. I don't know if that's because of a different amp, or different placement (I used to put it between the bridge feet). In any case, I keep the Underwood with me, but I haven't had to use it in a couple of months. In some rooms, if the volume got high enough, I might have to use the Underwood, though, to avoid boomy notes.

    I might as well mention that I also have used a Vektor (sounded good, but has ground hum now) and a Full Circle (sounded nice, but died after 4 years or so).
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I was thinking Underwood for the first one so I got it right. I was also fooled by the C411 thinking it was an FC.

    Planet Wing can be a pretty good pickup but IME depends on the bass. Was great on a hybrid Chrissy but not so great on the carved Cleve. OTOH, it's the extreme opposite when it comes to the BP-100. Go figger.
  20. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Exactly. If we tried these exact same pickups on a different bass, or with a different amp, the results would probably be completely different.

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