Strugglesville - too many variables

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Ben Rose, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Sorry for in advance for the whinefest.

    TL; DR
    • Setup: Remic + StatB -> Headway -> Trickfish
    • Remic sounds good when I get the contact patch right, but doesn't stay in place and not much volume.
    • StatB is okay, but maybe the piezo is too tight?
    • Headway is noisy, unless that is the StatB.
    • What do I change first?

    I've been out of the amplified upright game for a decade-ish now and just dove back in. I pulled out my old Schertler Stat-B for a jam session last weekend going into an old SWR redhead. It was functional, but that's about the most I could say for it. Fortunately/unfortunately, there was a heavy rock group playing in the room next door, so simply being audible was enough.

    At home, I tried the Schertler through my BG rig (Trickfish 1K > LDS 12/6/1). Again, functional, but ugh. Just ugh. I don't know if it is an impedance issue or the setup of the Schertler. It feels like it is tighter than I remember it, and I suspect the wing holes on my Spada's bridge are smaller than they were on my old bass. Maybe the piezo is being over-compressed?

    Anyway, I picked up a Remic because I loved the sound in video clips I heard and a Headway EDB-2 H.E. to sort out impedance mismatches and help blend them. With all of the gear in today, I assembled the rig and started experimenting.

    The Headway definitely helps the Schertler. The box feels well built, although it does seem kind of noisy. I was not able to power the pickup through the Headway without the Schertler preamp, but at least it doesn't seem to be bonking. There is a huge peak around Ab. It's almost like it is accentuating the wolf note on my bass. I was able to tame it somewhat with the Trickfish EQ. The Schertler doesn't sound great, but it is way better than running it without the Headway. Not sure if I should file down the cork or try a different pickup.

    Next up was the Remic. The overstand on my bass is too high securely use it under the fingerboard and I'm having trouble getting it to maintain flat contact on the body when it is in the tailpiece. I like the sound of the pickup, but without good contact, the volume is very low. I had to put me ear down by the speaker to make sure I was being amplified. I guess that's a positive score for MBOL.

    In general, the whole thing seems like a complicated mess with lots of possible problems. Not sure what to change first. It kind of sucked all of the fun out of playing :(
  2. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Many of us have found that a piezo just doesn't do MBOL. Mics do. Lots of mic options too.

    Piezos almost always sound electric but tend to produce less feedback in loud situations. Mics typically sound natural, but are prone to feedback unless the volume is sensitively controlled.

    A few of us have both a piezo system and a mic installed, and simply select the right one for the current situation.

    Really, either way, it's a rabbit hole.
    nbsipics and Keith Rawlings like this.
  3. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    It seems to me your speakers, amp, and preamp are all fine for what you're wanting to do. My suggestion is to get one or the other of those two inputs happening in a reliable way... and/or replace if necessary.

    FWIW... I've been chasing that tail for quite while (~15yrs) as well and have ended up mostly where I started...
    Gage Realist straight into an Acoustic Image Clarus (SL) into a nice, older 2 way 12" speaker (Audio Kinesis TC112.) I'm really happy with the result and the journey definitely helped me learn what I needed to hear and how to EQ practically anything. I also keep a LR Baggs ParaDI around for emergencies.
    I've finally ditched the mic into an amp option. If a venue or sound person wants to put a mic up for FOH, I'm all for it but I'm done bringing my own mics.

    Good luck!!
  4. Happy Steve

    Happy Steve Supporting Member

    With the Remic, perhaps try it under the bridge. That is my favourite spot on my bass. If it is not fitting snug enough, try sticking some felt patches under the bridge - (the ones you put under chair legs so they don't scratch the floor). I had to use two layers to get a snug fit.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I’ve never had any luck with the Schertler - too finicky, and if it moves the sound you liked is gone. Ditto the Remic I tried - low output, and disappears in any live setting, picking up too much of what I don’t want and not enough of what I do.

    I also don’t do the mic/pickup thing any more. If I did, the Ear Trumpet Nadine would my choice for the mic. I did a review of it a while back and was impressed. For pickups, the Full Circle is the best compromise I’ve ever found. Good luck!
    Ben Rose and Michael Drost like this.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Another ex-Schertler user here, just another brief stop on the pickup journey. I used it with a Walter Woods head and Bergantino 1-12 cab. As others noted, trouble getting it to stay put in the best spot after transporting the bass, feedback and EQ just wasn't working for me.

    I switched first to a Realist and finally a Full Circle, using the same amp/cab as well as an AI Coda sIII combo. I live with the not-really-acoustic tone because I gig in electric bands where miking is simply not an option.

    For me, getting the amp and speaker right is most important. Once I found a rig that worked well, then I could fine tune the pickup choice. Been using the WW/Bergantino for 20 years now, the AI for about 10. I suspect your amp rig is fine.
  7. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    You don’t need the headway for impedance issue’s. The Schertler is not high impedance like a piezo and with the pre-amp that should be moot anyway. So the problem is probably in placement and pressure.
    The headway can be noisy if the gain staging is just a bit off. If you set it at a low impedance and make sure the Schertler pre-amp delivers a strong enough signal the noise should go away. Did you check te battery of the Shertler pre?
    Ben Rose likes this.
  8. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Thanks all. I had great success (at least on pizz) with the Schertler on my last bass and gigged with it for a few years that way. It is likely a fair amount of my issues are user error. Would love to give the current setup the best effort before trying to change out components. If that doesn't work out, then I'll try the Full Circle or Lifeline.

    I think you are right about the pressure and the impedance. The output impedance of the Schertler is 1.6 kOhms and the Trickfish is 2 Meg Ohms (just got an email from Ryan @ Trickfish), so there should be no issue there. That's good because I really love the sound of the head and it gives me the option of a simpler setup if I end up only using the pickup. I'm going to sand down the cork a little more for less pressure and see if that helps.

    . That's a good idea! I'll give it a try.
  9. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Adam Booker will tell you that Remic's really weren't designed to go back to your amplifier and I agree with that, based on my own experience. Since I've
    never used the Stat B, I think others have provided better advice than I could. It sounds like you're doing fine with just the Schertler. The one difference between out
    setups is that I've always used the Headway EDB-1, EDB-2, and now the EDB-2 H.E. directly into a power amp or powered speaker. When I used the Walter Woods
    with the Headway I sent it into the effects loop using only the power section. Just my take of course.

    P.S. The Remic just has to stay in place, so like others have said you can put it under the fingerboard with the element pointed down, under the tailpiece with the element pointed up or in the arch of the bridge with the element pointed up.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
  10. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I agree with Chris on this - I have a Full Circle on my DB and Realist Lifeline on my EUB - both sound just fine whether at soft volumes or really cranked.
  11. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    I gave up on the mic thing too. It's just not practical in my gigging life. There are a couple of things to consider. One, you are never going to achieve the MBOL fantasy. There are great pickups out there - my current is the Lifeline - that players would have died for 50 years ago. Get one and learn to love the sound for what it is. Two, there are things that can get you closer to a mic sound if you want to spend your money and take your chances. I like my Tonedexter quite a bit. The Earlund pick up sounds very good on some people's basses, though I have never tried it. The Ischell contact mic can sound very nice, but I don't like the idea of sticking it on my bass, and people tell me it's finicky and if it's not perfectly attached prone to all the problems of a mic.
  12. Earl

    Earl Supporting Member

    Shouldn't the Headway be able to power the Schertler?
  13. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    I thought so, but I have not been able to get that to work without the Schertler preamp.
  14. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Thank you all for the tips. Progress has been made.

    Schertler -> I filed the cork a bit to seat it better in the bridge and moved it from the bass side to the G string side. This made a big difference. With these changes, I can use it directly with the Trickfish. I also added a cut the hi mids (1kHz) and treble (4kHz) to 9 o'clock for sound shaping. The bass on the Trickfish is set flat. This gets a pretty usable tone that I believe will work under drums when I need a higher volume setup. I don't love it for arco, but it sounds like that is generally still true of piezos.

    Remic -> I found two mounting positions that stay in position. The first is under the fingerboard but very high up. I like the sound under the fingerboard except that it picks up my right-hand fingers hitting the fingerboard as a thump. Under the tailpiece just beneath the strings also works, but the output seems lower here. This does not have the pizz thump problem. The mic sounds good on arco and sounds good recorded, but I don't think I could use it as a standalone option on a bandstand unless I was far from my speaker.

    Headway -> I was able to use the Headway to cut out additional noise from the preamp and shape the tone. I was able to get a decent blend going at 75% Schertler, 25% Remic. I appreciate the notch filter as well. Still not able to power the Schertler with it.

    Noise -> The Schertler preamp was the biggest culprit. I put in a brand new battery which gave me more output at less gain from the Schertler. This improved the situation somewhat, but it is still pretty noisy. Cutting the low mids at 333Hz on the Trickfish takes care of this.

    If I had a gig tonight that needed amplification on a small bandstand, I'd probably go Schertler -> Trickfish and call it a day, but I think I'm going to try a lifeline and see where that gets me.
  15. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I never had them at the same time but my recollection is the Shertler and Lifeline were more similar sounding that different. The Lifeline is probably more one dimensional but way easier.
  16. I have bought 3 ischell mics, 2 realists, both schertlers (one sided and two sided for both holes in the bridge) and many many other pickups.

    I ended up only liking the ischell and realist/full circle..

    I do want to try the japanese full circle pickup (yamahiko)-

    the end result of all my pickup journey's was the realist and ischell stick on mic which as long as you properly seal it and find that "sweet" spot about 1 inch under your bass foot side bridge foot, you are golden on the sound with the ischell.. (i may have to show a picture of it)
    Ben Rose likes this.
  17. BobDeRosa

    BobDeRosa Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 16, 2012
    Finger Lakes area of New York State
    Owner, Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
    I agree with @ChrisFitzgerald about the overall usefulness of the Fishman Full Circle. Once it's installed, there's nothing to worry about, nothing extra to carry, and it sounds great.
  18. Jim Dedrick

    Jim Dedrick Jim Dedrick

    Nov 8, 2016
    Ridgely, MD
    I went ahead and spent the money for a Schoeps mic. It’s flawless. Handles full drum dynamics in a piano trio very well. I don’t need a piezo and this thing sounds great. If you don’t mind spending the money, you won’t be disappointed.
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Which Schoeps? I see the CCM 4 is over $1800, minus the DB mounting bracket. Ouch...
  20. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    Looking at the thread title and then your first post, I believe you properly diagnosed the issue.
    Very few people will appreciate your effort to achieve MBOL and your effort and frustration in the pursuit may well negatively affect your playing.
    My advice is to choose a pickup that sounds OK on your bass, adjust your amp to get a usable tone and play the gig. In a word, settle. Accept that basses were never meant to be amplified and find a solution that is acceptable and then concentrate on getting the best sound out of it that you can. Play the instrument as well as you can.
    Most working bassists have enough to think about dealing with adjusting to different musicians, rooms, music, and of course their physical well being to worry about adding trouble.