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Piezo pickups and tone flexibility

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mrbell321, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Something has just occurred to me and I want to say it out loud(er... type it so other people and read it), and tell me if I'm mistaken or what:

    Piezo pickups are the future.
    So that may be an overstatement, but here's my thinking. Neck pickups, bridge pickups, musicman "sweetspot", P-bass, J-bass. These all have characteristics bases primarily(although I realize not entirely) on the location of the pickup along the length of the string and that locations relation to node points. And they all have "compromises". As you fret different notes, the node points change and the pickups are going to reflect that sound differently.

    So... where do all of these node points intersect for every note? At the bridge(not the nut because the note may be fretted). So a Piezo pickup would pick up every fundamental and n-ary harmonic frequency of every fretted and open note. That would give you a more even tone and more flexibility. It would be possible w/ pretty inexpensive electronics to filter this in any way the player prefers.

    I assume this is why things like the Variax primarily use the piezo pickups, they add more extensive DSP to obtain even different instrument sounds, not just variations in bass tone.

    So, why isn't this more popular? I would think that Piezo w/ some quality low-pass/high-pass filters would be the answer many people are looking for. Am I crazy?
  2. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    These "node" points are also areas that exude certain "Tones" for magnetic pickups......not just try to "model" or "emulate", as this can be a tough thing to do. There are also a few down sides to piezo too: Folks who prefer passive instruments, which do not require batteries, to run preamps (of buffer circuits for that matter). Peizo requires more than just "straight to the volume pot" wiring.

    If it were the future, it would have already taken over, but the fact is, it is still indeed a minority, compared to magnetic pickups (for an electric bass).

    It is in heavy use with upright basses though.
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Same reason why a lot of bass players like vintage style passive basses. People get used to a sound, and they want to recreate that sound.

    More forward thinking people will try something new. At the same time magnetic pickups sound good. But piezo offers an option for a more acoustic type of tone.

    There are also the Lightwave optical pickups, which have a wider range than the piezo. Piezo's have a characteristic tone also.
  4. topcat2069


    Dec 2, 2007
    Palm Springs
    I've always had finger noise problems with Piezo Pickups.... but that may just be me..... I've always liked the idea of a P Bass Pickup, Piezo bridge combination....
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Piezos have a kind of "quack" sound that I don't see replacing P bass/J bass any time soon, for certain styles of music.

    I've owned 2 piezo-only basses, and there is a certain immediacy to the sound that I like. Also they are quite necessary if you enjoy playing with nylon-core strings as I do. :)

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