Underwood vs Full Circle

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Don C, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Don C

    Don C

    Jan 13, 2007
    Victoria BC
    I'm looking for input from anyone who has used both the Underwood and the Full Circle on the same Bass, as to the difference in sound between them.
    At the moment I have an Underwood on my Bass and I'm using an SWR Baby Blue II.
    Its a fairly dark sounding instrument but I still have to use quite a severe amount EQ to try to tame the midrange.
    Most of the places I play in aren't very bass friendly to start with and it would be nice to find a sound thats a happy medium between what I want to hear and what the room needs.
    I find the Underwood sometimes gets " quacky" even with the midrange EQed all the way out
  2. I'm installing my FC in a week and will have both the Underwood and the Full Circle on my bass for a period of time so I can choose which one I like. I'll report back here

    Have you tried using a preamp with the Underwood? I've plugged my Underwood straight into an SWR and always got terrible tone.
  3. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    One of my basses has an Underwood and the other a Full Circle because that's how they respectively sound best. It's dangerous to generalise because different basses may prefer different pups. IMO the Underwood definitely benefits from a preamp while it's not quite so critical with a FS. However, as has been suggested in other threads, you can't ever go wrong if you add a preamp in the line.
  4. I have used an Underwood, a Realist and a Full Circle as well as other pickups on my bass, and I like the Full Circle best overall.
  5. MR PC

    MR PC Inactive

    Dec 1, 2007
    Have you tried using just one element of the Underwood? Pull the treble side off. That is a fast way to find out if the FC is going to be friendly to your bass at all.

    That EQ on the Baby Blue is pretty fussy, IMO. I could never get mine to work right, so I switched it off and used an external EQ

    I did like that amp though!.
  6. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    As long as you don't play with a bow a great deal the Full Circle is a newer pickup and with the right EQ should sound a little warmer than the Underwood on most basses. I found that the "quack" your referring to was actually inherent in the EQ section of the Baby Blue. I don't hear that on the GK MBS or my Walter Woods, or a variety of other amplifiers. (Acoustic Image, Euphonic Audio, and even Mark Bass)
    IMHO the Baby Blue EQ section is a little weird for Double Bass, at least it was with my bass. You might consider borrowing a different amp head like the GK MBS to see if there is a difference in those unfriendly rooms.
    Another thought would be to use a dynamic mic into the house sound systems if these rooms have one and using the amp for your monitor.
    Sometimes, it's just easier to set the amp for you and the house for your audience.

  7. MR PC

    MR PC Inactive

    Dec 1, 2007
    Yes, I have. The Underwood was better for my bass than the FC, for some reason. I did sell the FC though.

    Both are great pickups.
  8. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    The Underwood sounds fuller and deeper, less midrangy if you just use one element on the E side. YMMV, etc.
  9. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    I've used the Underwood and an FC on the same bass. I have tried the Underwood with only one element which to my ear sounds better than both elements. Compared to the Underwood, I found that the FC has much more even tonal (i.e. frequency) response and not as much mid-range honk. I also find that it is much more resistant to feedback. I also really like it with the bow.

    I've put FCs on all my basses.
  10. Absolutely True! I once owned 5 basses and only 2 of them liked the same pickup. IMO, anyone who states or infers that one pickup is better than any other on all basses hasn't owned very many basses.
    riimodar likes this.
  11. Don C

    Don C

    Jan 13, 2007
    Victoria BC
    Thanks for the replies and opinions.
    Keep them coming.

    I've tried just using one element of the Underwood.
    Theres quite a bit more volume with only one element and its a deeper sound ( sometimes quite muddy as well ), but I find that if I use the element on the E side, the G string is quite weak and vice versa.
    With both elements in use its almost as if there some phase cancellation happening.

    Re preamps, which one would you recommend for the Underwood and what difference should it make?

    Maybe its time to try another amp as well, although with the parametric EQ on all three ranges of the Baby Blue I thought I could dial out the " quack". Maybe not.
    For what its worth, with Electric Bass the amp sounds great !!

    I have Wilson pickups on my other Bass and they work extremely well on that instrument but I wanted to find an alternative to drilling holes in my new bridge on my number 1 Bass.
  12. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I'm also an 'E" side user on the Kolstein and Am. Standard, with the G side element wedged in the heart to keep it from dangling and smacking something. Punchier, fuller sound than using both ends. I wonder if having both wings involved alters the acoustic tone too much. The one on the K bass sounds a little truer probably because it was one of the older handmade ones Don made - has a serial no. on the outside where the brass bends and sports an RCA plug. Just jam in an adaptor and plug 'er in.

  13. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    This is a very interesting topic. Any comments on the sounds of various pickups when used with, and without, a pre-amp like the one made by FDeck would be appreciated.
  14. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007

    That's exactly what is happening. :D
  15. MR PC

    MR PC Inactive

    Dec 1, 2007
    The Underwood works very well on some basses and not so on others.
  16. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    On my laminated New Standard Cleveland I've had a Realist, BassMax, Schertler Stat-B, Underwood, Revolution Solo I, and Full Circle. Over that time I've used an LR Baggs Para DI preamp, SansAmp ParaDriver, and Fishman Platinum Pro. Assorted amps (GK200MB, SWR WM12, GK 400RB, Eden WT-400 and EA iAmp800 heads into EA Wizzy and Bergantino HT-112 cabinets)

    When I had Spiro Mittels on the bass, the Underwood sounded scratchy in the mids regardless of the EQ setting, whether or not I was using a preamp. Better tone with just one element, but the string balance was not very good.

    When I switched to lighter strings (Pirastro Jazzers) the change in tension made for less pressure on the bridge wings (elements were easier to slide in and out). The change in pressure totally mellowed out the Underwood: using both elements, there was a full rich tone with a beautiful growl.

    Even stranger, I got the best amplified arco tone I had experienced with any pickup before getting the FC. Somehow, the phase cancellation between the elements knocked out the harsh frequencies and equalized the volume boost you usually get when switching from pizz to arco. Unfortunately I didn't really like the acoustic tone of the Jazzers and went back to the Mittels and Obligatos. Underwood was once again Scratchmaster 5000 and I sold it.

    The Full Circle is my favorite pickup out of all. Its basic tone on my bass is full (but not boomy) and detailed (without harshness). Moving the wheel between center and corner gives a small but noticeable change in the "focus" of the tone.

    Also, IME the FC reproduces the dynamic response of different techniques more accurately than other pickups I've used. I always felt like the Realist and Stat-B had a slightly mushy response that got in the way of fast aggressive playing, while the Rev Solo and Underwood had a strong attack, even when playing lightly. Of all the non-FC pickups I always found the BassMax easiest for quickly getting a good, useable pizz & arco tone in most situations.

    I like the fact that the FC's mounting doesn't affect the acoustic tone of the instrument. I found the effect of the other pickups on the acoustic response of the lower strings annoying.

    Of course all this is IMO with my ears/gear, etc.
  17. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Just listened to the end of Steve Rodby's interview on the doublebassblog. Very interesting insight on how piezos work and things you can do to make them sound better. I'm not very technically oriented, so I need to make another listen or two, but it sounds like he's got a very good handle on the subject. Here 'tis:


  18. wilsonn


    Sep 26, 2005
    New York
    Thanks for that, Ike. It was very informative and fun to listen to. Now if someone could just provide the schematic for a variable impedance box or preamp as Steve described, I'd build one. That sounds like a very inexpensive solution to what we're all after--great tone from our amplified basses.

  19. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Interesting speach by Rodby.

    We've talked about all this stuff here over the last several years. Variable impedance, phase flipping etc.

    The arrogance that he's the only one who addresses these issues is laughable and mildly offensive.

    He discusses all of it very well regardless, and it is very informative.

    Interesting that he likes the Wilson and the Full Circle and does complex mixing with them both. Sometimes I think multisourcing creates more problems than it solves. It's hard to address all the phase relationships present with acoustic pickups that live on different parts of the waveform.

    The Wilson picks up directly under the string and has very little body involvement other than the relationship between the body and the strings that exist acoustically. The Full Circle is seeing that same waveform further down the bridge. In addition it's proximity to the top brings in more of that waveform. Mixing the two together can often present more phase cancellations from pickup location than using one or the other.

    In my experience with basses and acoustic guitars I find multisourcing is a perilous slippery slope that can create more problems than it solves. That vs. point sourcing where you pick a spot on the instrument and go with that. More often than not it provides a focus that keeps you away from knobs and more into what you're playing.

    Less really is more.
  20. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Isn't that what FDeck's box does?