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problems with the Realist

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Andrew Tanner, Mar 14, 2004.


  1. Andrew Tanner

    Andrew Tanner

    Mar 12, 2004
    I'm pretty sure this hasn't come up before:
    I use a Realist and particularly love the thuddy acoustic attack, and the balance between pizz and arco, but am constantly frustrated that I can never get enough top end out of it, no matter how much I shape the signal. Great, it never sounds nasal or scratchy, but sound engineers often complain that the signal they're getting isn't useful. Also, it's not supposed to require a pre-amp, yet sometimes I'm told my dignal eis too weak, and I do have to crank my amp up to the max all the time.
    Ned Steinberger told me I should use a short high-quality lead, but I suspect there's more to it than this. I've tried my realist on numerous basses, but always with the same result.
    Any ideas?
     
  2. delbass

    delbass

    Sep 9, 2003
    Albany, NY
    Hi-
    I'd get rid of the realist and get a fishman full circle. Mount it with the element facing the body(screws up) and you should get a nice woody tone with plenty of attack. With the screws facing down, you'll get even more attack/string sound. I tried a realist and a fishman (both on the same bass) and there was no question.....way more clarity. What works for me may not work for you though......I'd give it a try though.
    -Del
     
  3. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I generally hate all piezos anyway and nowadays I'm a mic only guy and the only "pickup" I'd use other is the Dyn-B which I sold recently. That said, I played a bass with a Full Circle and I was pretty impressed. Certainly much more impressed than the many Realists I've played on other basses.
     
  4. LarryR

    LarryR Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Los Angeles
    After using a K&K Bass Max I bought a Realist last week. I liked the phatter old skool sound and thought I might improve upon the K&K. I feel The Realist does sound better and more natural than K&K - you get what you pay for?

    However, I agree with you Andrew, 100%. The Realist has NO top end whatsoever. I had my Clarus Treble and Brite controls up FULL and still nothing. I couldn't cut through my Jazz quartet. Only the DI out to the PA saved my ass. I returned the Realist yesterday and am in search of a better solution - phat with some finger attack as well.

    I'd love to try the Fishman Full Circle, but, even in Los Angeles (read: big city) noone has it to try. That's my major beef with searching for YOUR sound on URB. Rarely does anyone let you try stuff first. Plus, every sales guy say's the same thing "it may sound different on your bass" or "the problem with this IS your bass". Oh, my Realist was returned for store credit, not cash refund.

    Good luck to us both Andrew.
     
  5. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    What kind of amp are you using, and how bright does your bass sound unamplified and tell us about your bass and strings. Also can you kind of tell us if there is anyone you might be trying to sound similar to that we might know?

    thanks
     
  6. Andrew Tanner

    Andrew Tanner

    Mar 12, 2004
    Well, Alex - I'm using an SWR Workingmans 10 (horn off - it only puts out all the hi frequenices I DON'T want), my bass is strung with Spirocore Weichs and yes, it does sound pretty "soft" unamplified. Perhaps not a recipe for success. I'd love to sound something like Greg Cohen (particularly his work on the Masada string trio stuff), though I think that's definitely more of an instrument and technique issue than a pick-up one.
    To be honest, I've all but given up on the Realist after I tried (and subsequently bought) an Underwood recently, which does just cut through better. I've been borrowing a friend's Fishman ProEQ until the K&K Golden Trinity upgrade I've ordered arrives: the Underwood on it's own, though bright, still doesn't sound as natural as the Realist, particularly with arco.
    I wonder if I can try blending the Underwood and the Realist with the K&K Blender. Any thoughts?
     
  7. delbass

    delbass

    Sep 9, 2003
    Albany, NY
    Hi Andrew-
    A good bass player friend of mine did something similar...he blended a fishman bp100 and an underwood through a 2 ch. walter woods and it sounded pretty good..not "hi-fi" but good. However after hearing me play, he recently switched to the Fishman Full circle. I bet the Underwood+Realist would sound really good though....you could use the Realist for lows/mids and the Underwood for the upper mids and treble. As you know, the amplifier/speaker is also important. I'm saving for a 2 channel Acoustic Image head and EA cabinet to replace my GK. That way, I can blend in a mic signal when I want to (not sure which mic yet). Good luck.
    -Del
     
  8. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I too have a realist pickup on my German upright. I run it through a Acoustic Image contra amp for small gigs and a Kern preamp/ Peavey poweramp into an EA CXL112 for larger gigs.

    Yes, it is a dark sounding pickup so I balence it out by using a Fishman dual-parametric D.I. box and rolling off about 10db of 40-50 hertz. This way it gives the highs and mids a chance to come through. Then if I'm playing a really loud gig I still have another eq band to dial in a feedback frequency and notch it out without making broader eq adjustments on the amp. In fact most of the time I run my amps flat.

    Fishman stopped making these units a few years ago. I bought mine on ebay for $100 and it has made my piezo life much more enjoyable. ;)
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I use two different cabs. One has a tweeter, the other a co-ax speaker. I can usually get enough high end, but still suffer clarity problems at higher volumes.

    A cheap-ish boost I found is to go get yourself a Monster cable. A well spent 40-50 bux.
     
  10. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    The virtues of high-end cables have long been debated. Over on the TBL list, there's been a thread about this topic going on for several weeks now. It's almost comical, really. All these engineers and musicians getting into heated discussions about barely perceptable tone variations.

    The outcome? As you might guess, nothing gets really resolved. Tone is in the ears of the beholder, and some feel that those who've spent big bucks on boutique cable sense an imaginary improvement. Others have said the tonal qualities are only perceptable at close proximity: stand 20' away and there is no difference.

    $50 US is pretty much the price for the "better" Monster cable. I believe the "best" is closer to $100, a bit steep for something I'm likely to leave behind on stage before too long.

    One guy, who works for an internationally known sound company, said to use whatever you're comfortable with. It almost doesn't matter, since his signal chain will include a variety of cables, some "home made", some store bought, that go through patch bays, preamps, a variety of adapters etc., etc. Your cable will basically be irrelevant, therefore. Then, again, what about the cable between the amp and the speaker? That needs to be evaluated, as well.

    Over the years I've purchased all sorts of cables, and have had others given to me as "stocking stuffers". I've had Monster cables come apart the first time I've unplugged them from the amp! I've had "store brand" cables last for years. To me, strength and durablility are extremely important qualities to look for. You can make your own, as well. Soldering is not rocket science and you can develop that skill easily enough. Buy quality cable and connectors, of course.

    Just my thoughts on the subject!
     
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I must be the only guy in the universe who gets plenty of high end out of my Realist. I usually turn the treble EQ way down on the amp.
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Just based on my experience, is all.

    I'm one to quickly scoff at such things, but I've had a couple of experiences with cabling that have changed my mind on this a bit.

    The first was higher-end speaker cables for my stereo system. It's what you might classify as top/mid fi. I didn't buy the cables, but a audiophile friend stopped by to hear my system and made a trip out to the car after a few sides and came back in with cables. We plugged them in and blind a/b'ed them. Added quite a few bucks to my sound.

    My father (years laters, and recently for time-frame) did the same with his Rhodes Pianna to me and a Monster. I've sold four or five cables in the last few weeks since I got this thing.

    True about stomp boxes and other crap between you and the amp. If this is your deal, you might have to buy a stick-load of cables. Another thing I would mention is that you'll likely only notice a usable difference if your sound is close and you have decent equipment. Speed-rated tires don't do you much on a Pinto, right?

    My setup:
    • Newer Italian bass. Sounds exacly the way I want -- just need it louder sometimes.
    • Walter Woods
    • Bag End S15XD (treble about nailed, bass at %50-ish, mids about off, other two knobs to taste on the woods)
    • Hevos Midget (treble about nailed, bass off, mids about off, other two knobs to taste on the woods)
    Both cabinets I put on the floor and wedge my Gaines wheel underneath to tilt the cab back. The Bag End get a warmer and more natural sound. The Midget has almost uncontrolable bottom and a less focused sound. I have an Ampeg PB-112H on the way. I haven't played through one, but have heard them a number of times with similar setups to mine and was impressed.

    If you have a Plytastic Blondie through some old MXR effects, through a DI and into a Peavey TNT, the Monster cable is a total waste of money.
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hey, Ray! How's the old neighborhood?

    I'm yet another guy who doesn't have a problem with the Realist. I play a German factory bass, I like my acoustic sound very much. I use Velvet Garbos. don't think my bass has the same depth of sound that Ray's does, but I think it speaks a little more immediately and projects well, but still has a dark warm sound.

    There's a nice player, Tim Givens, that was doing the Red Mitchell thing for awhile. He had 4 or 5 pickups on his bass and would use whatever pickup or combination got him the sound he wanted in whatever situation he was in.
     
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The ol' neighborhood is just about as you left it, minus a bunch of new high-rise apartment buildings going in alll over the place.

    I have my complaints about the Realist, mind you, but it's working for now. I can't wait to get my hands on a Full Circle, but have to wait for Fishman to come out with a model that goes into the holes left by wooden adjusters.
     
  15. shawnburrell

    shawnburrell

    Nov 25, 2003
    I use the realist as well.
    I run my amp pretty flat depending on the room. I love the sound, but I play with all gut strings and am after the old sound of Willie Dixon and milt Hinton.

    But I must mention, live I set a Senheizer 604 next to my fingerboard with the bass rolled off of it a little. This helps pick up the fingerboard sounds and the click of the strings. I run the mic to the PA.

    http://www.rockabillybass.com
     
  16. Fred W

    Fred W

    Feb 21, 2002
    Bronx, NY
    I have a Realist on my modified Kay. It works but I am not satisfied. Acoustically my bass has a warm deep sound with a little growl, and a touch of bright on top. It records great. The touch of bright never comes thru on the Realist. The other day I was reveiwing my settings on my Walter Woods and I tried plugging in the receive input. That's when I realised the pickup can't pick up the high end my bass produces. I guess those frequecies don't exist between the bridge foot and the table, at least not on my bass. The new Fishman sounds intruiging, can anyone tell me if there remains full range of motion to raise and lower the bridge? It looks to me the wire would hang up or something. Any advice on a possible pickup upgrade would be appreciated. BTW good to see Ray and Ed back.
     
  17. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    I went and saw a group last night, the bass player, Steve Meechey (I don't know how to spell to my embarassment) doubled a Realist with an Underwood, and sounded GREAT (tone that is, his playing kicks butt no matter what his tone is like)
     
  18. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I was in the same Realist conundrum. That is, nice woody sound, but ...<a bunch of limitations having to do with Realist's dark sound>. I ended getting a K&K dual-preamp and a BassMax to blend Realist and BassMax signals from 'all-hail' Bob. I'm happy with the sound and range of sounds I have access to. I suspect this isn't too far off from blending the Realist with and Underwood. Experimenting with the blender has helped me understand the strenghts and weaknesses of each transducer. Paradoxically, I've come to appreciate what the Realist can give you rather than being hung up on its limitations. Same goes for BassMax. I've poured over the threads and never really found an unqualified solution to the problem. I don't think there is one, but this approach has helped.
     
  19. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    this probably isn't the right spot for this post, but I feel it ties in with this discussion (somewhat!)

    I have a realist on my bass, and I love the fat bottom on it, but (as everyone else has said) the lack of top end is frustrating. I was speaking with my teacher today, and he let me borrow one of the old fishman pickups that clip onto the bridge between the strings. the top end on it is nice, and it sounds good with my bass, but lacks bottom.

    and my question is this:
    anyone have any suggestions on a relatively inexpensive (i'm a poor college student!) blenders? I want to see what the realist and the fishman sound like together. from what i get from them individually, i think i'll be pretty satisfied.
     
  20. Since most of the folks here have been complaining about the lack of highs with the Realist. I'm here to say that it is entirely dependent on the bass. I have two basses that I have the Realist on. Both of them sound magnificent with the Realist. Perfectly balanced bottom to top. I have another bass that sounds absolutely awfull with a Realist. It had a muddy bottom and very little highs with the Realist. I tried a Fishman Full Circle with the threads up and the pickup sounded way too stringy for my taste. Not at all woody like several others have reported. I finally settled on a Pickup the World pickup for this bass. It gives this bass the bottom the Realist does on my other basses and also gives me the highs that were missing. I'm not about to take the Realist off my other two basses, but for this particular bass neither the Realist or the Full Circle gave me what I was looking for. Every bass is different and no pickup works well on all of them.