Revolution SOLO Pickup Reviews

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by drurb, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I just couldn't be happier with my Revolution Solo Pickup from Upton Bass! For years I struggled with pickup/microphone configurations. While a microphone would yield the sound of my bass it did so only with all the attendant feedback problems. A piezo pickup always made my bass sound like an overgrown bass guitar. Sound familiar?Then I tried Upton's Revolution. I figured, for $99 how far wrong could I go?

    I don't know how they do it but this thing sounds like my bass-- or at least as close as I think I can come without going the microphone route. The pickup has two "sounds." Wedged in the bridge wing one way you can pick up fingerboard sounds. Don't like that? Flip the pickup over and you get a "darker" sound with far less fingerboard sounds.

    In terms of output, the Revolution has substantially less than the K&K Bass Max I used a while back. Then again, the K&K is a pretty "hot" pickup and I never really was happy with its sound.

    I really like the idea that the Revolution is modified to fit my bridge rather than the other way around. I don't like hacking any part of my bass to accomodate accessories like that.

    Here's the bottom line. At $99 the question is not whether you should buy one but HOW MANY you should buy. Once you hear this thing you may want one for each bass and a spare just in case!

  2. bassmith


    Feb 26, 2002
    New York, NY
    Report on Revolution SOLO Bass Pickup from Bassmith (aka Richard Russo)

    I’ll try to be as complete as possible in describing my experiences. If you’d prefer not to read through all this, just scroll down to “Caveats” and “Conclusions.”

    The Pickup
    The pickup is a transducer embedded (?) in a square of spruce, roughly ¾ inch on each side. The square is to be fitted snugly into the bridge wing nearest the E string. A wire about six inches long runs from the wooden square to an RCA jack, which in turn is fitted into a ¼ inch jack that can accommodate a patch cord. Included with the unit is a plastic bracket that, placed around the jack and threaded through the G string behind the tailpiece, will hold the jack firmly in place. This bracket configuration is identical to that used with the Realist.

    The instructions say that since the wooden square is thicker than the gap in the bridge wing, a user can either widen the gap or reduce the thickness of the wooden square. The latter is by far the easier method. Using 200 grade sandpaper and a small wooden block, I carefully sanded the wooden square—sand, try the fit, sand a bit more, try the fit—so that it fit quite snugly into the wing, “R” side up as suggested in the instructions. This part of the process was simple and took about 10 minutes. Because I also have the Realist installed, and its jack threaded through the G string, I attached the SOLO jack to the leather string that holds the quiver to the upper part of the tailpiece.

    How Did it Sound?

    This question begs another: compared to what? Because the Realist is installed on the bass (this is the only other pick-up with which I’ve had experience) I was able to A/B the two pickups. I made the first comparison at home. The bass is a 60-year old carved Juzek strung with Obligatos. The bow is a Carbow with dark hair. The amp is a GK MB200.

    1) With the GK set flat: all EQ knobs at zero, no compression or other tweaks.
    SOLO: “Sounds exactly like my bass, but louder.” There appeared to be no sound coloration from the amp. In fact, I first thought the amp wasn’t turned on. The bass sounded even in amplified tone across the strings. I continued to increase the volume (both gain and master) until I was sure the neighbors would soon pound at my door (they didn’t). Again, my bass but now much louder. Most notably, the sound stayed compact and focused. The pizz sound was faithful, as was the arco, throughout the volume settings. No distortion, no coloration.

    Realist: At the same GK settings and low volume, the Realist sounded like my bass. But the sound it produced wasn’t quite as compact. Instead it seemed “broader,” a bit less focused, a bit darker. At the lower volume, pizz on the E and A strings intimated a slight boominess in the sound, and more so at the higher volume.

    2) With the GK high and upper-mid still at zero, but lower-mid and bass at 12 noon, no compression or other tweaks.
    SOLO: The SOLO performed fabulously. In pizz mode, despite the EQ skewed toward the lower end, the bottom was full, tight, “phat,” with lots of low-end depth and no boom at all. The amped sound was even across all four strings—no sudden changes in sound quality. Arco was just as even. It seemed apparent that while the amp EQ was adding color to the sound, the pickup itself was delivering to the amp a “neutral sound,” that is, the sound of my bass as the uncolored canvas on which to paint.

    Realist: Pizz on the E and A strings was very boomy, as the edges of the sound began to bleed and lose focus. The G and D strings sounded dark, with some loss of definition at the edges of the sound. (N.B.: In fairness to the Realist, TBers have reported on numerous occasions that one’s bass either loves or hates that pickup. There are many basses out there seem to that work very effectively with the Realist. This particular bass didn’t. To my surprise, I hadn’t realized the degree of sound coloration I was getting from the Realist on this bass until I played with the SOLO.)

    3) With all GK EQ knobs at 12 noon, no compression or other tweaks

    SOLO: Superb. With the EQ now boosted to 12 noon at the high and upper-mids as well as at the lower-mids and bass, I could hear the finger noise on the strings above the fat, focused bottom in pizz mode. Lively, with lots of “presence,” the added highs suggested the sound one might hear on a closely miked bass solo. The sound quality was again even across all strings. There was no distortion or hint of distortion. And when I backed off the upper-mids and the high EQ a bit, the balance was perfect for this bass.

    Realist: At these EQ settings, the sound was very boomy in pizz mode and the string noise on the D and G was harsh, unpleasant to listen to.

    4) At rehearsal yesterday: piano, drummer with sticks, and bass in small studio. Amp was a GK150E 112.
    I used only the SOLO for the 90 minute jam, since I remembered what the Realist sounded like in that room with that group. With the drummer flailing away on cymbals with sticks, I had cranked up the gain and volume to ¾ level if not a bit more (a level I have not safely reached with the Realist). With the EQ set flat, there was no distortion, no color, no boom. Just the sound of my bass (for better or worse) and my own playing (for worse or better).

    Caveats: The usual. “An amped bass is an amped bass.” These results for the SOLO are with this bass and these strings and these amps and these ears. Ditto for the Realist. YMMV.

    Conclusions. “My bass but louder or much louder, when EQ was kept flat.” That’s both the good news (“Hey, that’s really my bass.”) and the bad news (“Hey, that’s really me playing the bass. Can’t blame the pick-up for intonation and other player-generated problems.”). The SOLO doesn’t appear to color the sound. Provides a more “natural” sound. Delivers sound that is focused, compact, distortion free. Delivers a signal that works well in high volumes at flat EQ. When EQ’ed to increase bass and low mids at mid-level volume settings, SOLO handles very well the more bass-rich sound without distortion (e.g., boominess) or losing definition around the edges. In other words, it sounds like my base with color added. Increase the high and upper-mid EQ as well at mid-level volume settings and the SOLO adds a “presence” that is not harsh. Provides a “clean canvas” onto which one can introduce colors via EQ. It’s a keeper!
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Richard, thanks for the review!!! One quesiton tho, when you said you turned it up loud, how does it handle or does it create feedback? Did you turn it up loud enough that you'd get feedback if you were using the realist?
  4. JohnThomasson

    JohnThomasson Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Mesa Boogie, DR Strings, Fender, Source Audio & Fishman
    Thanks for the review. I might have to try one out. I'm happy with the Full Circle, but not completely.
  5. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I received the Revolution SOLO pickup and was imediately impressed. It's a very simple and even elegant package with the transducer mounted inside a square piece of spruce. The output jack is a nice Switchcraft part and easily mounts on the tailpiece. Installation was very easy, since I already had one wing on my Aubert bridge slightly modified to accept a K&K Bass Max. After a few minutes of sanding, the Revolution SOLO snugly slid into place.

    I plugged the pickup into my AI Clarus and a small custom cabinet with one 10-inch cast-frame Eminence speaker with a whizzer cone. My bass is a carved Wultur flat back with medium Spirocores.

    Right away I was very pleasantly surprised by the sound to say the least. The Revolution SOLO is much much smoother and more transparent and natural sounding than the K&K Bass Max. It sounds the most like a good microphone of any pickup I've heard. The output from the RS is relatively low, but I don't think it's going to be a problem.

    I'll post some additional comments after I get a chance to use the new pickup more. All things considered though, it's already pretty obvious that you couldn't go wrong with a Revolution SOLO.

  6. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Bob, Usually installation is the result of a lower level from the pickup, check that its in square and quite snug.


    Gary Upton
  7. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Perhaps a poor choice of words on my part: Output level is a relative thing. The Revolution SOLO pickup has less output than the K&K Bass Max, which is a very high output pickup. And yes, I was very careful that the pickup is quite snug and square. The bottom line is it sounds great.

  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I will echo the prior remarks about the visual elegance and obvious craftsmanship of this pickup. You just feel good about it at first sight. I have not had a chance to try mine out, yet, but I should be able to do a pretty much direct A/B comparison with my Barberra Bridge, so more on that to come soon!
  9. bassmith


    Feb 26, 2002
    New York, NY
    At Sunday's rehearsal I had both the gain and the master volume set on the GK 150E 112 set at about 4 o'clock when using the SOLO. The amp was on the floor next to the bass and both were facing the other players. No feedback at that level with all four EQ settings at flat position. I didn't change the EQ, not did I A/B with the Realist in the studio, since I knew what it sounded like from prior experience.

    Last night I did some experimenting at home, though, with the following results. The amp was again a GK MB200.

    With all EQ set flat, and Gain and Master at the 5 o'clock position (full position):
    SOLO: No feedback
    Realist: No feedback.

    With all EQ setting at the 12 o'clock position
    SOLO: With gain at 3 o'clock and master at full, there was feedback
    Realist: With gain at 3 o'clock and master at full, there was feedback.

    While the feedback results were identical here, the SOLO produced the more transparent sound at all levels.

    Hope this helps.
  10. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Hey Bassmith
    I'm having a little hard time understanding your idea of flat.
    On GK amps (200mb 150mb, 400rb, etc) flat is when all tone
    controls are at 12:00. Are you turning all the tone knobs off?
    (at 7:00) That would be extracting frequencies. I could be
    reading your post wrong, god knows I've been known to be
    a little dim. I'm just wanting to clarify the amp thing. Also,
    what style (styles) of music are you playing with you upright?
  11. bassame


    Mar 25, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    This pickup reminds me of the Schertler Stat-B which is an electrostatic microphone embedded into a piece of cork which you then install into the bridge wing. I'd like to hear the opinions of those (like Monte) who have tried the Stat-B and can compare. :confused:
  12. bassmith


    Feb 26, 2002
    New York, NY
    Apologies for any confusion, B-String. By "Flat" I mean GK tone control knobs in the 7 o'clock position. Re styles of music: only jazz.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    But if you're cutting all frequencies equally to the maximum degree, isn't that the same as simply lowering the volume of your amp, or am I missing something?
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Except that the preamp ain't sending much to the amp, which would change the presence at least, I'd think.
  15. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Will do. Just got it last night, and I will try to get it done this week.

    For my testing, I'm going over to my teacher's place and testing it on both are basses. My rig is made for the Schertler pickups and mics, so it may not do well with a non-buffered piezo. I will try it with that first (which will give people a good idea what it will sound like going to a house PA), and then we will try it with Don's Walter Woods rig.

  16. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    My review may be delayed a bit. I can't fit the Upton pickup beneath my bridge wing, so I am going to have to get out the sandpaper and file!

  17. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    I have had a few personal eMails asking how the Revolution SOLO is installed, and I thought I would just post this to answer any questions that TB members may have.

    Some people have asked what to do about the occassional odd bridge that has a larger wing gap than the SOLO can handle. Clef Music is able to build them to your custom size upon request through thier dealers. Just FYI...

  18. Hi ! I really like my BassMax, and the Revolution seems even better. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS !!!

    I hate to carry my preamp everywhere.
    Will I get a good volume out of my SWR WM12 without a preamp ??
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    This thread has managed to cause a lot of confusion about the whole issue of spam and the Commercial Users Policy. I've just heard from Paul that it needs to be closed and edited in order to comply. I'll close it for now, and make the required adjustments TODAY when time permits. In the meantime, everybody please take a deep breath and chill for a minute, and please rest assured that Sam, Paul and I all have the nothing but the best interests of TB at heart - the site is simply undergoing some growing pains, and they're call growing "PAINS" for a reason. My inbox is always open for thoughts, and I'm going to do my best to figure out what's the most fair for everyone within Paul's guidelines and act accordingly. Input is welcome, but please recognize that we're on new ground here and doing the best we can.

    Peace, everybody. Back soon. :)
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Okay, the thread has been edited to a form that I THINK complies with the Commercial Users Policy. If anyone has a problem with the thread as it exists now, PLEASE DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT HERE - instead, send me an email or a PM, and we'll talk. Paul, Sam, and I are all doing our best to find our way on this new ground.

    Peace. :)