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Piezo pickup for electric bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Electricblue, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. Electricblue


    Feb 1, 2011
    Ok, I'm itching to experiment with new tones for some reason, would a Piezo pickup sound good? I put one on my acoustic guitar, it sounded good until I got a ****-ton of feedback.

    Anyone tried one of these?

  2. Bass-Adrenaline


    Jan 23, 2010
    Thats not the type of piezo you want for a bass. Id do a search here on talkbass since this has been asked by a ton of people (including myself). Graphtech, RMC, and others make piezo pickups. Youll also need a buffer/preamp as well.
  3. I too have been interested in this approach, and am working on finishing off a Bass I'm building that's piezo only.

    For the bridge, I'm using an allparts ABM-style bridge with piezo saddles, and then that will be coupled with the mint box buffer to get the right impedance signal to my amplifier.

    Using the piezo buzzer type of transducer doesn't really work that well on a solid body instrument (at least in my experience), as there's little or no resonance for it to capture. I'd agree with Bass-Adrenaline - the results from Graphtec and RMC are pretty impressive!

    I've got a thread that is (slowly) going in the Luthier's Corner, so feel free to follow it! :)

    The diary of a procrastinator's second DIY Bass

    Also, check out some of the work by Tom Clement, a luthier who makes good use of piezo 'pickups' in his Basses.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Yeah, I really don't see a piezo buzzer element working well on a solid body instrument. People put those on acoustic basses and guitars, but an acoustic instrument is quite a bit different from an electric. You would get much better results with proper piezo saddles.
  5. Electricblue


    Feb 1, 2011
    Fair enough, I did think about the solid body vs hollow body thing. I guess the acoustic's body is meant to vibrate a lot, so would give better results...
  6. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I have a Musicman Bongo with a piezo bridge. I can (and always do) blend piezo signal with magnetic pickup signal. The piezo adds an "air", "punch" and "zing" that the magnetic pickups just don't possess. The only downside is that my technique has to be cleaned up as ending a righthand downstroke on an adjacent string comes through LOUD and clear now.

    I *highly* recommend a piezo option on a Bongo bass. I couldn't live without it. In fact, given a choice I would run piezo only before I would run magnetic pickup only. It sounds that good. Plus the piezo allows me to get more life out of strings. As they die I blend in more piezo zing.

    bezo420 likes this.
  7. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
  8. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    do you think bridges with piezo-saddles aren't worth it/getting into?
  9. domjohnson


    Jan 23, 2011
  10. natas


    Mar 14, 2013
    Sorry to revive the old thread. I have recently acquired a bass with piezo pickup only.i am wondering if it can come powerful enough or if it can cut through a a small outdoor gig..any insights? TIA
  11. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Since it's been revived-
    These are very good piezo bridges for solid body basses at this price- I have a couple, and they were designed by Fishman. They work very well with a Fishman designed bass preamp/buffer.
    The shiny inserts in the square looking saddles each have a piezo element under them, and those individual wires go to a 'collector' board in the bottom of the bridge, with one wire going out to the buffer/preamp.
  12. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    What type of piezo? Photos, so we can see what you are referring to?
  13. natas


    Mar 14, 2013
    I dont have the courage to remove the bridge but here is a pic of the bass

    Attached Files:

  14. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Is there (must be) a buffer/preamp installed already? Check the battery.
    Depending on the existing setup, a preamp/buffer change may/may not be an upgrade.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Depends on how serious you are about it.

    If you just want to experiment, build yourself a cigarbox guitar and have at it with some cheap piezos and experiment with some DIY preamp circuits. There's a lot of info over at www.cigarboxnation.com on piezo and other unusual pickups, many of which use scrap components from things like buzzers and telephones. Also do a Google search and check out the banjo, uke, and mandolin sites. That crowd has been experimenting with piezo pups since forever. And they're really good about sharing information.

    If you're serious about just playing, don't waste time reinventing the wheel. Just cruise over to GraphTech's website and check out their Ghost piezo saddles and related system components; or Shadow Electronics Germany who has similar products.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
    Camaro likes this.
  16. natas


    Mar 14, 2013
    Mine does have a buffer preamp running at 9 volts..
  17. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Not enough output? Check the battery.
    Get a peek at the preamp (maker/model) so we have an idea what's in there?
    natas likes this.
  18. Gaebrial


    Mar 8, 2016
    I think his question is one of "will it?", not a statement saying it will not.

    I mean, as long as it has a clean signal, you can boost it using pedals or whatever. If the output is low and you boost it, you will also be boosting any signal noise, finger noise, etc. along with it.

    My response isn't terribly helpful, as you still have to do all the testing and come to a decision yourself. I guess that is just how music works. And life.
  19. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Is there a small square block on it (trim pot) with a screwdriver slot that can adjust the gain?
  20. natas


    Mar 14, 2013
    Gaebrial thanks so much that was very helpful.yeah i might try one time when we gig at nearby bars or when we play short gigs.
    Just for sport ty man.the preamp is custom built by the best luthier here in the philippines yet i have nothing to vompare it to since basses with piezo are not that popular here.anyway i sent it to another luthier to have led lights installed.i will take a peek at the electronics when i have it back.