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Which upright bass pickup delivers the most original, earthly, woody, acoustic sound?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Tony Valenzo, Mar 7, 2021.

  1. Tony Valenzo

    Tony Valenzo

    Mar 6, 2021
    I need your opinions.
  2. bassmanbrent

    bassmanbrent Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Probably the Gage Realist. Just be careful what you wish for though... This pickup sounds good at low volume and has a very nice arco sound compared to most, but many folks, myself included, don't like it for louder situations. For me that's pretty much anything involving a drummer. Just my opinion, as always.
  3. There are tons of threads already discussing this on the forum.
    And the stickies at the top providing direct links to various threads.
    Maybe I suggest to take some time to read some of them?
    Welcome to the board, by the way.
    Also, your budget may be an important variable in the palette of choices.
  4. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've heard good tones come from the Realist(copper foil or Lifeline) and Fishman Full Circle. With that said there are other pickups that sound great as well, but i find those two to be both commonly available and widely used. There is no "best" here unfortunately, and pickup choice is just one of many variables to get a good amplified piezo pickup sound. The person, bass, and gear in the signal chain can all make or break your sound too.
  5. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Ehrlund can sound great and is expensive.

    I`ve been rehearsing-room testing lately my big but resonant carved bass / Evah weichs at good medium height ( Now with Spiro mittel E ) / Realist lifeline to tube pre / hpf to powered speaker on a pole -combination. I`ve been ABing and blending that to a mic setup and it is very promising.
    Tony Valenzo likes this.
  6. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I use both the Realist (on my Eminence EUB) and Full Circle on my DB. I like them both, I think the Realist is a bit more natural and woody sounding.
    Dabndug likes this.
  7. Tony Valenzo

    Tony Valenzo

    Mar 6, 2021
    The impression I got from the David Gage pickup on this video is that is has a more "bassy" sound compared to the others.
  8. BobDeRosa

    BobDeRosa Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 16, 2012
    Finger Lakes area of New York State
    Owner, Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
    I had basically the same criteria when I last shopped for a pickup around seven years ago. My luthier let me try two Gages and the Full Circle. The Full Circle won. I also completely agree with @Seanto about the whole matrix of factors involved.
    Dabndug, Reiska and Seanto like this.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    ^^^This. It's all about the player and the setup. These things are the true front end of any signal chain.
  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    IMHO the answer will vary somewhat from bass to bass.

    Last pickup I used was the Gage Realist. At the time it was about the best you could get for arco, but a bit of a compromise for pizz. I though it worked pretty well with some basses, but it was not a very good choice for the last bass I used it with. That particular bass was extremely resonant, so I think a bridge mounted pickup that picked up more of the strings and less of the body may have been a better choice. I never had any trouble getting a Realist loud enough to kick a professional big band.

    The absolute best results I have heard were from the Ehrlund EAP. Don't put an EAP on a crappy sounding bass. Also you need to experiment to find the best place to mount the pickup and how much of the putty to use. I had the chance to demo a friend of mine's EAP and it was the most mic-like pickup I have ever played through. I also had the chance to mix him on a tour. It sounded great except on the gigs where the provide backline was an Ampeg SVT and 810, which really did not get along with his bass. Usually he played through an Acoustic Image head and an Euphonic Audio NL210 and got a really authentic tone and plenty of volume.
    Pat Harris, LaFaro01 and Tony Valenzo like this.
  11. LaFaro01


    Aug 27, 2018
    I totally agree and would add "and his sound ideas and concepts"... the "best pickup" for me and my instruments is for my ears a really good mic...:p and if it gets louder and miking starts to be "too complicated" I add an Ehrlund EAP, which works for best my ears... as Wasnex said before... if you find the sweet spot or spots (Gerold Genssler gave me the advice to check out the back of the bass, which was a really valuable clue)... looking for some different "sweet spots" is also a sort of "natural eq" to get subtle tonal differences...
    Ric Vice, Chris Fitzgerald and Wasnex like this.
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    Highly subjective indeed.

    I’ve come to rely on the Fishman Full Circle because it amplifies well - not necessarily because it’s the most woody or acoustic sounding. On the same bass I have an Upton Rev Solo which does in fact sound woodier and more organic to me - but gets wildly microphonic at even moderate volume levels. It’s currently installed as a backup.

    I am liking the sound of the Planet Wing on my Kolstein but haven’t had the opportunity to gig it yet. Edit: the Busetto bass may actually be a good candidate for a future magnetic pup - I’ve had my eye on the Krivo.
    Steve Boisen, Wasnex and Ric Vice like this.
  13. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    I prefer the Realist Lifeline. The low end is a bit more solid than the Copperhead and the highs smoother than the Full Circle. As has been said, there are many variables.
  14. I have Lifeline on both my basses. They crank pretty good. I need the volume when playing gigs (which I have quite a few outdoor gigs lined up for 2021). I always carry a backup (K&K BassMax) in my case.
    PBandJazzBass and Jason Hollar like this.
  15. D Garr

    D Garr Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2012
    I have a Krivo and a Beisele magnetic,hands down the Beisele is the better pickup cost more but you are getting a much better pickup.phase switch,volume adjustment for each string.
  16. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Austin, TX
    All bets are off, and it really comes down to finding the best pickup + bass + amp/speaker formula that is specific to what you want.

    I’ll add that, IME, what works well at “almost acoustic” volume is often different from “loud band” gig volume. The louder you have to be on the bandstand, all of the qualities that make an upright sound “acoustic” start to become more problematic.
  17. Indeed, loud volume also obscures frequencies as the instruments combine in the sonic landscape. In the real world, IME, sounding good is more important than sounding all the OP's adjectives. If we strive to be woody, earthly and acoustic at loud volumes and it doesn't sound as such, you can't say we haven't tried.
    PBandJazzBass, AGCurry and Ric Vice like this.
  18. I can't remember who, but someone told me once that all pickups sound bad. You just need to find the one that's "least bad" on your instrument.

    In my experience, between all the pickups I've tried, I find the Realist Lifeline to be the most consistent and have all the best qualities of the Copperhead with none of the drawbacks. My bass is naturally mid-range heavy so pickups like the Full-Circle tend to sound too nasally.
    lrhbass, Ric Vice, Consul and 2 others like this.
  19. Consul


    Nov 29, 2015
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ..................
    AGCurry and Povl Carstensen like this.
  20. Consul


    Nov 29, 2015
    Sorry - I just knew this would end with a hundred different types, and TBH, nothing but a super expensive microphone going through an even more expensive hi-fidelity PA setup will ever sound like your bass only louder. That said, I own and use a Realist soundclip becasue (a) you can adjust the volume and (b) by playing with the weights, you can get different tones. Best part is you don't need to permanently attach it - it comes off after each gig so can be used on any basses you own. but again, all pick ups are a compromise on an acoustic sound
    Dabndug, AGCurry and Sam Reese like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Apr 14, 2021

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