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Well...you only live once so you might as well try everything!

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Mike Carr, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Lately I've had a great deal of curiousity about trying a blend of a magnetic pickup with the piezio types I'm allready using. Right now I've got a Realist on my Kay, sometimes an Underwood too. My hybrid bass has a Bass Max that it likes a lot. My Eminence of course has it's modified Realist. All of these work well enough, still sometimes I want the basses to sound a bit different.
    So..I ordered a Biesele MT from Hammond Ashley last week, it's the one that has the mixer pre-amp attached to the pickup and hangs off the end of the fingerboard. It should be coming any day now, I'm pretty excited. A little scared too because a Biesele is not inexpensive! Nevertheless, I've had a bug to try a magnetic device ever since the last time I was in Los Angeles Bass Works. Lisa has a pickup system that combines a magnetic pickup, and a piezio in the bridge that looked pretty cool, but it's built into a fingerboard extention that is permanent.
    For me, I like the idea of being able to switch pickups from bass to bass. I'm pretty clear on the fact that magnetic pickups can offer a lot in terms of volume, but I am still hoping that by dialing in some of the Realist, I can get a sound that still doesn't sound too electric. People have said that magnetics can make a double bass sound sometimes like a "big P-Bass". That might be cool, not to have to pick up my slab for a loud funk tune! I'll let all of you know how it works out after the Biesele arrives and I can spend some time with it!
  2. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    "Well...you only live once so you may as well try everything!"

    That seems to be my motto, too, although my experimentation is more focused on amps and cabs! ;)
  3. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004

    The Biesele seems like a well-made product, I hope it works out for you! I've considered one, but the cost is pretty substantial. Being a DIY kind of guy, I'm thinking of mounting a precision pickup at the end of my fingerboard and blending it's signal with my piezo pickup. Many people talk about having tried this, but the details seem to be lacking. Does anyone out there have suggestions and/or recipes for mounting a pickup in this manner???

    Paul O'Connell (eh train)
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The problem with a slab pickup is the posts won't align with the strings. You'd have to get a blade style pickup. I know that they have these for guitar so that string-bending works better, but no sure if they have them for bass.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hrmm.. anybody ever thought of using an EMG pickup?

    How does the String Charger compare to the Biesele?

    Too bad Moses/Lace had whatever issues with their pickup. Would've been interesting to try it. Looks like Lace is now backing the Pick-Up-The-World PU now and dropped the Moses pickup altogether.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If that's the sound yer going for, more power to ya.

    There was this guy, first name of Dale (can't remember his last name) at Berklee in 82 played an electric upright that had what looked to be the two different elements of a P bass pickup split and angled so that they were under the string spread and followed the fingerboard curve. I don't know if it was a custom solution or an improvisation on something already commercially available. The bass maker was Elias or Elyas or something like that.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    If you're serious about it, you could buy a pickup winder that uses a drill from Stewart Macdonald and roll yer own and make it fit the URB better than a P-pickup would.
  8. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Pickup maven Bill Lawrence used to have a shop in Hollywood about 20 years ago. He installed some very nice passive P-Bass style pickups in one of the many slabs I've owned. These had blades instead of pole pieces.
    I don't know if he still offers them or not or how to get in touch, the shop is long gone.
    I can also recall seeing a fine double bassist and bass repair man, Bob Douraghty playing at the Baked Potato in the late 70's with Jerome Richardson. Bob had regular Fender P-Bass pickups, with the standard pole piece array mounted on the end of his fingerboard, something he had made. Sounded great! He ran that into a little MXR 10 band graphic EQ stomp box and then into a small bass amp made by Univox. This was one of the few small sized bass combo amps available back then that sounded good, Polytone hadn't introduced the Mini-Brute yet, still featured their model 101, I owned one of these Polytones, sounded good, but still was pretty heavy. The Univox was unusual in that it had an open backed cabinet, like a guitar amp, Bob said a lot of guys in New York used them, I saw Ron Carter and Buster Williams in 1977, playing together, they both were using these Univox amps. Bob's did weigh very much at all, probably put out about 50 watts.(last I heard Bob moved to Arizona, maybe New Mexico, anyway, another fine player that decided to leave town) The bass sound that many seemed to favor in those days was a long growly tone, NHOP was quite the sensation then, cats were real excited if a bass player could come up with a sound like that, with tons of sustain. Seems the trend these days is going back to a more traditional natural tone, which more often than not is what I look for. Still, it's going to be a real gas to be able to go back to that sound that had me so excited when I was a much younger man. Hope the UPS man brings my Biesele tomorrow!

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I think the Beisel is a great product if that is what you are looking for. I have played with the system before(on a friends bass). He had a Piezo on the bridge as well mixed into the signal. I think it was the single element Shadow pickup. Gives it a bit more natural high end. If you going for that type of sound(Neils-Henning smooth sound), then it is great. It is not going to give you a natural reproduction of the bass though.
  10. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    My Biesele arrived today! Came brand new from Hammond Ashley with good directions for the installation and even the proper tools nessasary to do it. Wasn't too hard to install, even for a klutz like me!
    Has a bracket and clip thing that allows one to get it precisely set. The pickup's profile allmost matches exactly to the end of my Kay's fingerboard. It's a good solid connection once everthing gets tightened up.
    The pre-amp & mixer, which is built into the pickup assembly includes individual volume pots for adjusting the string to string balance, these a small pots that are adjusted by a small screwdriver. There is a volume control, a control for the blend between magnetic and whatever other kind of pickup you might want to use, and pad switch the other pickup and a phase switch. The input for an extra pickup is an RCA jack, Biesele includes two patch cords that have an RCA plug and a standard 1/4 inch plug on either end. One of which is somehow attinuated, must be a difference in resitance. This is for cases when a piezio's output might be too hot, in comparison to the magnetic output.
    I tried the Biesele alone, blended with my Realist and also tried it blended with my Underwood. Works well with either pickup. However, my first impresion was that the Biesele/ Realist combo is the more natural sounding of the two.
    I've been a big fan of the Realist some quite sometime now, but like many of you find that it's sound alone can at times be lacking in brillience and definition. I've tried mixing the Realist and Underwood in the past, using my Raven Labs Blender, but found the process rather tedious. Trying to find that "sweet spot", the perfect blend, jockeying the phase switches and tone controls and all got pretty frustrating after awhile! All I've ever wanted was to get the Realist sound, with some extra balls, nothing over the top, just enough of something extra to cut through a loud band or loud bar or bad acoustics or whatever.
    I think I may have found the ticket here in now having the magnetic option at my disposal. I am very much looking forward to trying it out in a real world situation, now it's just a matter of getting my phone to ring! My next test project will be trying it on my Eminence Electric Upright. I've been doing traveling gigs with that bass, just returned to town a few weeks ago after spending the last nine months playing in Osaka and Jakarta. Will be playing in Hong Kong later this year and won't know what to expect in terms of available amps or PA, could be great, or not...so I'm certainly trying to take the gamble out of the deal by having as many sonic options as possable. Sometimes your best pure acoustic-like tone gets lost in a bar full of noisy hookers! But working girls and ex-pats need their jazz too, so I want to make sure they will hear every note, as clearly as I can give it to them!
  11. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    I have a string charger (which is spending time on a shelf these days) but I was blending it with a bass max and got a decent sound out of it. The one thing I did sort of like about it besides being able to play loud when needed and not fight feedback, was that it was a no brainer to get a sound out of it. Just plug it in and turn on the amp. Just like a bass guitar. Only problem is it sounds a bit to much like a bass guitar.

    So, like I said, it now sits on a shelf.

  12. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Yes, the Biesele sound is kind of like a electric bass sort of sound too, when used by itself. That's not in itself a bad thing. Even now though. I'm pretty sure I'll be blending it with something else more often than not. So far, a 50/50 mix of Biesele and Realist is giving me a nice sound, thru my Walter Woods and Raezers Edge, the eq flat on the Woods. A no brainer, yes, but I like that!
  13. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    After spending conciderable time trying the Biesele on three different basses, an old Kay S-8, a German Hybrid bass and my Eminence EUB I have concluded that the Biesele Pickup/Pre-Amp is a fine unit, well built and is indeed a fine magnetic pickup for Double Bass. It blends well with my existing pickups, Realist, Bass Max and Underwood and it's sound on it's own is fine too.
    But I find that the magnetic sound is just not my cup of tea so I decided to return it to Hammond Ashley, for a full refund.
    I'm not in the habit of returning merchandise and often feel a bit akward on the rare occations when I've had to.
    But Matt at Hammond Ashley Seattle didn't miss a beat when I called him today to say I'd be returning the Biesele. He's a bass player too, and said he knows how subjective a pickup choice can be.
    Buying on line can be hit or miss, when you can't try out a pickup or instrument before you pay for it. You just don't know if something is going to work for you until you try it.
    Hammond Ashley made it clear to me that they intend to honor their two week trial policy and will send me my refund just as soon as the pickup gets back to them.
    This is a commendable policy. I look forward to dealing with them again in the near future!