piezo pickup for fender precision jazz bass

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by shushi_boi, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Hello everyone :)

    I've been working on a project here for a while now and I wanted to add a pickup to my pj bass that would allow my bass to be able to switch from a jazz pickup tone to a pickup that would give it a vintage double bass tone. :smug:

    This was sort of the tone I'm looking for;

    I'm well aware that piezo design acustic or 'realist' like pickup, similar to actual double basses where pickup would hook up to the bridge.

    But from all of the double bass pickups, like David Gage Realist, Schertler Dyn-B, Fishman Full Circle, Revolution Solo II, Bassmax, Shadow pickup (underwood style), Shure Beta, FWF, etc. Are there any pickups that I can install from any of these or other to my bridge area that will hopefully give my p/j electric bass an authentic double bass sound or is there a piezo pickup that already does this that goes to the neck?

    Thank you all for reading my post, if anyone needs more details, I'll be glad to share (such as my bass is fretless w/ ebony fretboard).

    Cheers! :D
  2. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Sorry, I saw that I made a mistake, when I mean by neck, I mean bridge where I hope to place the piezo, sorry about that :D
  3. You won't get an authentic double bass tone from a EBG, as long as you won't rebuild your EBG to a DB.

    The easiest thing is changing strings to flatwounds (like Thomastik JF) or nylonwounds and putting a piezo under the bridge of the EBG. DB pickups won't fit there. A piezo disc might fit, but you need a high impedance preamp for the output of the piezo or your sound gets bad. (Or do you want that bad piezo DB sound?).

    Best get an upright or an EUB with DB strings and you will get as close as possible and much closer than with a EBG.
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And not that I know anything about any of this stuff but - my understanding is that piezos work by changing electric response to pressure. The bridge of a double bass works in such a way as to transmit the vibration of the string through the body of the instrument. Isn't that the opposite of a bass guitar bridge (at least on electric, solid body bass guitars), which is to stabilize the string at the opposite end of the nut so that most of the vibration of the metal string is transmitted to the magntic pickup? And very, very little to the body?

    Anyway, the initial fallacy is that the identifiable sound of a double bass comes from a pickup of any kind.
  5. Ed,

    I experimented with a piezo disk on my EBG (that I almost don't use at all), so I know it works. The varying tension of the string by vibration is enough to change the pressure between body and bridge. I didn't expect it to work either, but it did.

    The signal is a bit weak and I have not put in an impedance buffer (I experimented with the piezo directly connected to the amp, so no other electronics connected to it). Sounds more like an acoustic BG with the piezo, but since there are still chromesteel solid core roundwound strings on the instrument, it still sounds like a bass guitar of some kind. Just more breathing highs than with the magnetic pickups.

    What sushi_boi (and any other person) won't get is the resonances of the double bass, unless they are simulated electronically. And, of course, bowing...

    I still think of simulating the resonances (by a recursive filter) of a double bass body for my solid body EUB, but I'm afraid realization of it will get delayed for a very long time.
  6. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The closest you'll come is by playing your slab with the articulation and inflection of a double bass using a neck position magnetic pickup. A piezo will get its own unique very clear and precise sound but if you're looking for "acoustic" it will be an expensive disappointment.
  7. Electric basses can be good for so many things- but the sound you want (judging by the first video clip) is not one of them. In fact, not even close.

    It is perfectly possible to use piezos on solid body instruments, I recall from the 80s when I was greenhorning on bass, a company which I believe to be Godin had a slab bass with piezo elements in the bridge (right in the saddles i believe). The bass was fretless and sounded- well, more or less like a fretless electric. You can't make up for lots of air, a big body, wooden top that resonates, yada yada.

    Then there's these experiments with floppy wobble-rubberband strings on short scales picked up by piezos. I have never seen such a thing in the wild, so I can't say anything about those. There are, on the other hand, quite a few double-basses around, so you do the math.

  8. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Graphtech has a piezo bridge/preamp for electric basses which is quite good and easy to install. From there you can try various things to get an acoustic bass type sound. One would be to place a piece of foam under the strings at the bridge and nut. W/foam at the nut open strings are dampened slightly. Foam near the bridge dampens all notes played. Old flat wound strings are better than bright RW strings. Lastly your technique of how you luck the strings is important - pluck closer to the neck
  9. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    All things considered, you might want to try a different approach and take a few Double Bass lessons to see if you would enjoy playing the instrument.

  10. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Haha, all great responses guys, but I forgot to mention that my bass is a hybrid prototype that I'm working on. Actually my body isn't solid completely, in the middle, it has an opening. I hope with a grain of good fortune, I'll be able to install a pickup analog which will give me well over 4 pickup coil connections which I'll have 1 Jazz pickup (which can shift left to get 70's J sound and right to get classic 60's J) and a Precision pickup close to the bridge.

    But I have 2 of these cylinder platforms (each one containing 1 pickup) with which, when I adjust some knobs, I can either raise them or lower them, which allows me to increase the height of the bridge and still get good pickup out put, and it'll give me more room to experiment with. (This is still all theory, but I've done intensive research from all sides of the bass community, but then again nothing beats experience which I'll have to learn from each side :D ) NOW both the P & J pickups are single coils which will allow my pickup analog enough room to install a double coil or two single coil pickups. Because I built a cylinder platform which raises or tilts the pickups in 3 dimensional positions, in the middle of the bass, there's an open cavity which will allow me to get the hollowness of an acoustic instrument, to some effect depending upon which pickup I'm using.




    I understand that technology isn't up there yet which can produce pickups for solid bass guitars that will allow them to produce an authentic double bass sound. By manipulating the cavity of my bass, by installing the correct piezo (which in my case may be a graphtech ghost saddles pickups), using a fretless ebony board, using halfwounds (or pressurewounds from GHS), raising the height of my bridge and installing perhaps some double bass accessories such as some microphones, etc. I hope to get the DB sound as closely and humanly + engineering wise as possible. This is why I'm here, to hear from any suggestions and inputs from you guys (who know more in detail on the characteristics of a body and accessories which creates the double bass) to see what works and what doesn't work, and what might sound insanely enough not to work, but still could be possible. :D I'm down and ready to completely create this bass and make a hybrid, with the help of some engineering, this is not so far fetched as I thought it would be :smug: or perhaps it is, Ill be more satisfied failing than never trying it out. :D

    (btw my intention is to only get the plucking sound of a double bass and not so much I don't think Ill ever even use a bow, and guys, it shouldn't be all that impossible to be able to recreate the double bass sound, this man did it with homemade materials :p )
  11. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Since my body will be made from Koa, (with some spruce top over it ;) ) this is an appropriate middle man for both electric bass and double bass, check out this link;

    Here's proof that you can make an electric bass sound like a double bass !!!

    Couldn't I place a double bass microphone like a golden trinity mic, SD system Microphones or a AMT S25B mic? I mean to amplify that signal so that this issue would be resolved?
  12. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Koa isn't typically used for Double Basses, because of it's weight. Traditional instruments are made with spruce tops and maple backs and sides. Willow is another wood.

    Most of the differences in tone come from the fretless fingerboard, not so much from the body. Godin makes a very fine chambered body, fretless acoustic bass. You can usually find one used, for a substantially lower price.

    The Eminence is made in the here in the states. It's got
    a fairly respectable sound, but I don't thing anyone here would tell you that it sounds as good as a standard 3/4 size instrument.

    The design goal of the Eminence was to create a decent sounding instrument, with a detachable neck, that a player could travel with. Kolstein also builds one, that sounds very good, comparing this to a fine Double Bass, wouldn't be fair IMO.

    Each of those microphones are designed to sense a instrument with a larger chamber, soundboard, and bass bar, so you'd be wasting your money on devices that weren't designed for a fretless acoustic bass guitar.

    Attached Files:

  13. The Eminence does sound like an EUB amplified (since it is an EUB and uses normal double bass strings) and like a little cello acoustically (but with low notes that sound thin). A bit better than a solid body EUB, but with a different sound since there are higher resonance frequencies produced by the smaller body than with a real double bass.

    You might not have the sensitivity to the sound of a real double bass like the long time DB players here on the forum have. Also the sound ideals differ from player to player. So we might hear different things and might not talk about the same thing.

    Using a microphone you would amplify a sound which resonance frequencies are too high for a real double bass sound. Also risk of feedback is higher than with a pickup.

    If you have a moving top, a pickup at the bridge foot or in the bridge leg sounds good. the closer to the strings, the more electric it sounds (abandoning the body cavity resonances). Closer to the top you will get more contact noise from the instrument body.
    You might place a contact microphone on the top (check out a lot of positions) to get more away fom the strings, since your bridge might be very low compared to an 18cm DB bridge height.

    Avoid single solid steel core strings and get braided or cable core strings. Flatwound, maybe with synthetic outer winding. I think the Thomastik Jazz Flats are a good compromise for different sounds. Even DB players often have several instruments (with different types of strings) for different sounds, so don't really expect to get a very wide range of sound from a single instrument with only one string set.

    I'm afraid you cannot get the help you expect here, since we already know that your goal is impossible to reach the way you like to go.

    Good luck with your project. You might get a very interesting instrument, but don't expect it to sound like a DB or EUB.
  14. Best to learn how to play electric like a double bass and you'll find that the "feel" is more important than the sound, though I spend way too much time and money on the sound. Listen to Joey Spampinato with NRBQ or The Spampinato Brothers, cat will take us all to school on the double bass "feel" on a Danelectro. Really, check out that stuff.
  15. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Thank you @Ric Vice and @Double MIDI for a very informative response, and it good to know all of the obstacles on perhaps attempting to achieve this, but I'm certain though that if with a combination of equipment and accessories, such as the gadget bass mute, instead of koa, use a more authentic and vintage wood, all of your suggestions (with my bass height adjuster) and perhaps making my bridge bigger etc. etc. I mean it never hurts try than to never try :p

  16. If I could take a shot at this - an upright with a pickup depends on body resonances for a "true" sound. So my guess would be that you could try two piezos, the other placed further away from the strings, and a "slab" body that will resonate similar to an upright.

    I think the key is how a soundpost works - it transmits vibration to the back, which then vibrates differently from the front, so you get certain peaks and valleys and resonances in the response of the bass. You may have better luck with a hollow body violin style, like Hofner "Beatle" bass.
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Here are some clips of the Godin 5 string Acoustibass. Although it doesn't sound like a Double Bass. In the mix
    it has a very nice timber.

  18. shushi_boi


    Aug 6, 2012
    Yuma Az
    Would it matter what shape the body would have to be, or does it just have to be hallow? and where specifically would you recommend to place the second piezo? I've decided that I'll use the same wood for the body as a double bass, and by making up for the lack of wood, I'll try to amplify the minute sound that the bass guitar produces from it's body, similar to the DB to hopefully get the correct resonance. And because I'll add pickup height adjusters, this will allow me to have a bridge that's 18cm (which I believe should be the right height) and if I can make my bass the same size or a little bit smaller than a Eminence portable upright Bass, I'll be able to get closer to the sound, which will still give me enough versatility to be able to move the bridges up high and switch it to an electric bass. Will that is my whole intention from the beginning :D If I am correct, I can then help others reach this goal as well.

    If possible, could I keep the shape of my bass body similar to a lace helix's bass body? (& only change the size?)

  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    There's two threads on this topic now.

    ANyways, you can plow a ton a money into this venture and get mediocre results. In thinking about it, a quality sampler on a keyboard is always going to sound better than an EB pretending to be a DB.

    Good luck trying anyways.