Polytone bass pickup

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by koricancowboy, Nov 23, 2003.

  1. koricancowboy


    Jun 10, 2003
    I am on the look out for a vintage polytone pickup. I think they sound great real woody and I don't have to keep it on my bass.

    I play mostly acoustic but some drummers are just worth amplifying for.

    So if anyone has info I would appreciate it.

    I've attached a phot of what I'm talking about.

  2. I seem to remember that people stopped using them because they fit in between the legs of the bridge, and to get a good contact and good sound, they had to be wound quite tight. Over time they would work a bit loose, so they would be tightened up a bit more. This tended to push the legs apart, making the feet lose optimum contact with the top of the bass resulting in a worse sound. etc
    Having said all that, some people still prefer them. I think Peter Ind was using one last time I saw him.
  3. Cowboy, Check your email....
  4. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA
    I used one of these beasts back in the early 80's. It worked OK, the sound wasn't that great, but that may have been my (then) bass as well. It required a bit of fiddling and tightening during a gig, but nothing too problematic. I always took it off for orchestra work. I believe I still have it around the house somewhere. If I find it, you're free to have it, with the caveat that it hasn't been used for 20 years!
  5. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    They seem to dry out and separate; I had mine fixed twice and it died again-- and I'm thankful it did as it put me on to the current state of the art pickups which are far better IMHO. The Polytone just didn't have enough definition.
  6. I had one of those 30 years ago and it pushed itself to pieces. Don't remember what it sounded like going through a flip top solid state Ampeg.
  7. My teacher still uses one and is very happy with it. As far as I know it hasn't fallen appart on him. By varying the points of contact you can vary the tone apparently.

    When I was very hard up, I bought a £10 guitar piezo pickup and experimented with it on my bass. It sounded very harsh. Seeing the Polytone encourage me to mount it between two lengths of nylon screw thread (made for toilet seat mounting!) and make my own Polytone. Partly becuase of the harshness and partly because I saw a need to have something compressible so I could vary the pressure without spreading the bridge legs I mounted it between cork sheet I had handy for clarinet keys. I remember it working best at a diagonal, the high side to the G.

    It worked and very well too. The only downside was the output was low. The bass wasn't too hot so I guess nothing much was lost and running it through a BG amp added a bit of colour. This was all good luck more than engineering genius, but when I got a proper shadow underwood type pickup, the output went up but the harshness and artificiallity of the sound was a bit of a disappointment. I expected a quantum leap. Polytone may have been onto something. I now use a mic.
  8. PaulKing


    Apr 17, 2004
    London, UK
    Had mine for years, dead reliable, still sounds OK but I'm intrigued by the K+Ks now. He's a convincing salesman!

    The Polytone does slowly drill into your bridge over the years, but haven't noticed any other affect on bridge.
    And yes it very occasionally works loose mid-performance, but takes 1s to tighten up again.

    Haven't played live for yonks, but always used to get comments on how good it sounded, powerful, bassy (through 150W Laney bass guitar head and Peavey 4 x 10 with tweeter - RIP: hope the thief is enjoying them).

    Now recording much more subtle stuff, and polytone seems tricky to get natural sound from. Too much mid, bit electric...
    Time to treat myself to a nice toy, mr K & K.
  9. My old Polytone pick-up just resurfaced....anybody wanna buy it for $50??
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I remember having to ground the thing with a garbage bag tie. The internal element was of ceramic, and the pickup is grounded from one end to the other by foil surrounding the element. Over time the foil would rip and you'd have to get a garbage bag tie (back when they were a piece of wire in paper) a ground the thing externally.