Unamplified arco tone (with Underwood pickup installed / not installed)

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Tiern, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. Hi All,

    I can't find any satisfactory info on this so thought I'd bring it to the forums.

    My unamplified arco tone sounds much, much better with my Underwood pickup installed. I took it off as I'm only going to be playing orchestral stuff in the near future and the tone changed enormously. It's like someone cranked the mids on my tone (which sounds awful to my ear compared to having it installed).

    I do the odd concert with a community orchestra every now and then and I've always removed my pickup (at least for the concert) and I don't remember ever noticing this before.

    I can't find any info online about this effect or how others deal with it. No one seems to be talking about jamming shims in their wing slots which is what I'm tempted to do as it'll be a little more discrete than having the pickup wire hanging out.

    So I'm a bit baffled and wondering if this is something that others have come across?

  2. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I think most players find the opposite to be true, but whatever works! What kind of bass is it? I don't even like the effect on bowing the dual capsule Stat B has on my Geiger, but it is a fairly stiff bass.
  3. It's weird, isn't it? It's a 1980s spruce / maple czech shop bass.
  4. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    Yes, it is a bit weird. Might be associated with the bridge geometry (height of the legs, height of the crestal area, ...).

    The PU's weight should be a minor issue, but apparently the PU provides some extra filtering action. Consider replacing it by some equally thick piece of rubber (rather than hard wooden shims). Try both sides.
  5. IMO the best solution for combining arco tone and power with the need for a pickup is the "David Gage" (?) or Realist approach - having the single plate under the E-side foot of the bridge. The history of evolution of wings on the bridge I will leave to more knowledgeable people, also the heart shaped cut out. They are there for a reason and the "Underwood" approach acts like a mute, damping the freedom of transfer of energy from strings to body.

    My advice - every time remove the pickup for orchestral playing. It's not a big deal. You are then feeling and hearing the bass as it is meant to work.

  6. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - I think you should make, or have someone make, 2 hardwood shims that you can install to emulate the Underwood's effect on your tone.
    A very inexpensive experiment and possible elegant solution.
  7. Thank you all for your replies. I wish I could have you all over to demonstrate the difference in tone! I might try some mic'd recordings.

    I'll definitely experiment with both hardwood and rubber shims to hear what they do but I'd like to ultimately get to the bottom of the problem and avoid having to use shims at all. New bass is sounding tempting....

    Rehearsals start next week and I haven't played with this orchestra yet so, who knows? Maybe their bass section will be lacking in midrange and my tone might slot in perfectly ;)
  8. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    For hardwood shims cut off a bit from the end of each side, and lightly press them into each other below the wing:
    and you can still use the laundry peg!

    Because it apparently acts as a LPF, I suspect the Underwood is piezo over rubber, hence suggested rubber.
    Tiern likes this.
  9. Thanks for the good idea, Ortsom. I'm off to the clothes line...