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Underwood, both elements on same side.

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Bobby King, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I've been using an Underwood in a somewhat unusual configuration. First off, my Strunal bass has one of those bridges (don't know the technical name) where the wings come to a little beak-like point, not the usual shape that accomodates an Underwood element. So at some point I filed down the pointy beak to make parallel sides so I could use a Rev Solo Pickup that I had made with an extra-large casing. But I stopped using the Rev and so then at first I fitted one element of the Underwood with a shim. That worked OK , but I realized that the shim was approximately the same thickness as the element. So I tried using both elements stacked side by side. They fit snugly and it actually sounds very good. It's still scooped sounding, as opposed to the nasal sound you get with one element on both sides, but it's a little brighter and louder than using just one. I don't know why having an element on each side creates that nasty tone. Phasing?

    Here's a slighty fuzzy picture:

  2. interesting, i've gotta try this, i'm generally a "let one side hang loose" kinda guy.
  3. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I like the sound of only one side so much, I cut the other piezo off and wired up a jack to it and made another pickup. :D

    It still sounds the same, but the pickup has a little hotter signal now. I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you know how to wire it up, and there's no real reason to anyway. I just did it to make a backup/extra pickup and because I am a hopeless tinkerer and read that it would work. :rolleyes: It does look a little cleaner now without the extra wire and pickup hanging.
  4. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN

    Are both sides of an Underwood the same?

    I've talked to different "one element" users and some use the treble side, some the bass. Dennis Crouch also suggested trying each element on either side. I seem to have the best results on the bass side, but Billy Linneman and Roy Huskey used the treble. I like the sound I'm getting with both on the one side, but it was just a happy accident, you'd have to modify a bridge to make two fit ordinarily. I think there's some wing pickups, like the Bass Max (?), that have two elements wafered together on one side. I tried one of those a few years ago and didn't love it. Recently I've been using Animas with the Underwood and have been quite pleased with the sound.
  5. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I am pretty sure they are the same, although there is a "hot and cold" side to each element. In the Underwood instructions, it tells you to install the pickup with the "end" element on the E side of the bridge.

    There was a quote I found from Mr Underwood from an email to someone here on talkbass that said the element is closer to one side of the pickup case than the other.

    Installing the pickup as per the instructions puts the element "facing" downwards, with the damper material facing the strings. According to Mr. Underwood this was intended to reduce string/finger noise.

    In my opinion, it only makes a small difference in overall tone, try flipping the elements over and see what you think. I use small squares of hardwood veneer as shim material, just one element on E side, with a fit that is just a hair more snug than "finger-tight" and I get a nice fat full tone (after some mid-shaping of course).
  6. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    The double Underwood thing is interesting.

    The Bass Max has two piezo transducers that form a sort of sandwich with about 1/4" of rubber or some other material in the middle. So they are not wafered together on the same side. In other words there is no "cold" side and both sides are "hot."

    [ Edit - I could be wrong but I think the latest version of the Planet Wing is the same. Two brass (?) outer sides, with a black "pickup housing" sandwiched in the middle. My instruction sheet explicitly says "This pickup has no 'A' and 'B' side, it performs equal on both sides." ]

    I guess in your set up the casing on the Underwood(s) is also a factor, like what Gearhead43 gets into. It does make me think maybe that having one piezo for the strings and one for the body if you will can generate different tonal possibilities. I think that's kind of what the design of the Bass Max is based on, but I could be wrong.
  7. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    FWIW the Rev Solo is similar. The piezo element is closer to the surface of the wood casing with the "R" brand symbol on it, so that side is "hot". Flipping it over makes a huge difference on my bass (body v. string emphasis).
  8. speedster


    Aug 19, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    I've been running my Underwood with both elements on the same side of the bridge for years.

    It works better than having the second one dangling, I still don't have an even volume off of all the strings though.

    Moved them from one side of bridge to the other and no change. The G & D strings produce greater volume when the pickups are on that side of the bridge and the E & A are louder when on that side of the bridge.

    So you end up compensating while playing.

    My Eminence EUB has the Realist pickup I think and it is on the E & A side of the bridge and all the striings are even in volume and tone.

    Don't know why but sure is easier to play as you don't have to compensate.

    If I had the ambition I would take it off the Eminence and try it on the upright acoustic and see if it acts similar there...

    But I likely won't as I just end up using the Eminence for all the gigs anyway as it is easier to carry around.

    Good idea taking that second piezo off the Underwood and making two out of one...

    A drawing or schematic of the process would be most helpful. I could give the second one to a buddy of mine...
  9. I know that if I install both elements with middle element E side, and end element G side it sounds better to me than than if I install the underwood as per instruction w/ the middle element G side, and end element E side.

    currently I'm running mine, middle element only E side, which also sounds different than end element E side.


    to me that lends lots of credibility to the "hot" side of element theory.
  10. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    So did you have to enlarge the wing slot to make them both fit?

    I think that for many of us that have less expensive hybrid or plywood instruments there's a tendency for the G&D to project more than than the E&A. By putting the elements on the bass side, it may balance it out somewhat. I have mine on the bass side but my G&D still project more. I think it's the bass.

    It's true that the Realist is more balanced and that's a very appealing thing about it. I just never really like the sound of the Realist much on my bass, and I could not get the volume I need out of it for the louder gigs that I play. Most of the time that I've heard the Realist sound good, it was on a quality carved instrument with steel strings. (also for arco where it's great) But I have a $2000 hybrid bass and use guts and Animas. The darker, puffy sound of those type of strings become even more so with the Realist. I've used a Full Circle too and it's only slightly better. I always go back to the Underwood.

    On the other hand, my son has a similar bass and he gets a great sound with a Realist and Superflexibles or Obligatos. He tends to use minimal amplification though. (smart kid)
  11. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I have never had a problem with uneven string volume with my E-side only Underwood.

    On alot of basses, the D&G are louder acoustically, and like Bobby says, I think the reason why most wing pickups are made to go on the E side is to balance out the response. With ply basses the effect may be more pronounced.

    Johnny, same way mine is installed, technically "backwards" from the instructions. That puts the "hot" side towards the stings and makes the sound a bit more punchy and less "open" , IMO. It also picks up slap & fingerboard sounds better that way. Most slap players tend to mount them like that.
  12. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN

    I think that's a Pollman style bridge, according to Lemur's site anyway. Been using an Underwood for a long while on just the E side, but wedge the otherwise dangling element gently in the heart of the bridge. I think it makes it sound a little more solid, but definitely keeps the thing from bonking the top. Also, I think these are basically bright sounding pickups and having it on the E side darkens the effect to make it more even. Then again what do I know? I'm not a technician, just a bass player.
    http://[malware url removed].net/confused-smiley-17432.gif
  13. Bausch style bridge.
    Maybe the elements are out-of-phase in this configuration.
    Can you reverse one, so the wires are next to each other?
  14. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    "Bausch style" Thanks François!

    I'm not sure I understand. Out of phase in which configuration? The original, one-element-on-each-side configuration?
  15. In your "two elements on one side" configuration.
    You were talking of a scooped tone.

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