1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Why can't I even come close without dropping $1500

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by JJBluegrasser, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    So I have a question. My amp rig is the following:

    Realist or Bax Max -> Presonus EQ3B -> Presonus TubePre (tube off for upright, used only for gain) -> QSC PLX1602 -> 1 Cxl 1x12L and 1 Cxl 1x12.

    I can make this thing sound really good for electric bass. With the EQ3B I can dial in almost any sound I can imagine. I realize I'm on the cheap with that preamp setup, but the amp is high quality and "flat" response and I don't think many people would argue with the speaker combination. When I plug in my upright, it sounds really bad. It feeds back at any sort of loud volume. I even use the 90Mhz low pass and it doesn't help. I've use the phase reversal options as well.

    I know there is more expensive gear out there that people seem to be very happy with, but I don't understand why a rig this simple would sound so bad. It doesn't get much more basic than a simple SS pre-amp and an EQ if what we're really going for is "the sound of my bass."

    Why is this so difficult? What is it exactly about some of the more expensive amps that works so much better? What's the "special sauce" as it were and why is it so hard to even come close? And money spent doesn't always equal better (although they do appear to be related)...

    Frazelled and yes, and little frustrated,

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    That rig should sound good. I would recommend trying another preamp with the QSC. Skip all of the little boxes. Just get a good flat sounding preamp. A Fishman B-II would be a good start to experiment with. It should be able to drive the QSC. I would suggest an Avalon U5 but they aren't all that cheap.
  3. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Hi Adrian,
    That's a really good suggestion, and actually, I have a Fishman Platinum Pro-eq that I've tried. The Fishman can't quite drive the QSC to full volume, so that's why I got the TubePre. I figured that running it in line with no tube added in would be able to gain the fishman output just enough to drive the QSC. That's exactly what happened, and that sounds a little better, but not a lot better. I haven't tried that with both cabinets, so that's a good idea. Maybe that will do it for me. Thanks...

  4. JonB


    May 27, 2003

    I agree that your gear is good, and understand your frustration with amplifying DB. It's a more complex sound than electric.
    I use a PLX 1202 with a cxl 12 sometimes, but am not familiar with your pre.
    For louder gigs, I finally started using a Schroeder 1210, which is way overkill for DB. The Schroeder has tons of bottom end, which i can dial out in the pre (Raven Labs PMBII). This gives me a punchy low end that cuts through well. The signal is reverse-phase, which cuts down on feedback and boom.
    Schroeders are real efficient and not much bigger/heavier than cxl's. Perhaps the sound is not "my bass only louder" but it works well live.
    Good luck to you in your search.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    IME, the Realist is a dog for loud amplified playing. The Bass Max can work, but it has to be mounted just right, and it can sound very different on different basses. Are you already muting the afterlength of your strings when amplifying? This is often the source of a lot of feedback.
  6. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I agree. I think the problem is wrong pickup for bass. For higher volumes with no feed back, perhaps something like a
    Wilson or B Band, etc. Maybe a simple preamp for upright, but
    still I would start with the pickup.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I'm wondering, as well, if amp / bass placement problems might not be figuring in. You're using 2 12" speakers, which is unusually large for URB. You might try just one, and try placing yourself and bass so that the cab is not firing directly at the top or back of the bass. Maybe even so that the cab is firing at an angle away from the bass altogether.
  8. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Hi Everyone,
    Thanks a lot for the replies so far.

    I haven't tried to mute the afterlength. I will definitely try that one. That sounds like a good idea.

    The placement issue is a good idea too. I have tried a number of options with regard to my placement. Even so far as to stand beside the amp (90 degrees from the front of the speakers). I've tried the angled approach to, but angled or straight, I get feedback at anything approaching a loud volume.

    There is somewhat of a dirth in pickup choices in this area, so it may take me some time, but that is a good option as well...

    I will definitely work more with all of the proposed options.
  9. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    In my limited experience playing at high volumes I have found the Realist to have real tubby tone and lots of feedback issues. I use that pickup almost exclusively for quieter jazz gigs and love it. For high volumes I use an Underwood with good success. They are very feedback resistant, the tone is a little bright (you'll need to eq), and they are cheap. I have even had success with the overzealous soundman, at ungodly volumes, with subs under the stage.

    A suggestion. Feedback tends to come from the body of the bass vibrating out of control. Sometimes amp placment can help. Often a towel of Nerf ball shoved under the tailpiece is needed.

    Lastly, I played a gig on a borrowed bass with a Wilson. You could really crank that puppy before feedback. A bit electric sounding for my taste but the best high volume pickup I've heard. Only one problem, the number of gigs I'd actually need it for do not justify the $500 pricetag.
  10. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've been able to get some pretty impressive volume (and tone) from a K&K Bass Max. Wedges into the bridge too, so you don't get so much sympathetic body vibration.
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm still really liking the Fishman Full Circle. Nice tone, no feedback problems, unintrusive to acoustic playing.

    +1 on dampening the after-string.
    +1 as well on the Realist being a nightmare on a live bass anywhere above a moderate (piano trio) volume.

    I don't really buy into a 2-12 cab being too huge for DB, although this would depend on the depth/size of the cabinet. I find tight/small cabinet -- in relation to driver size -- to be best for DB'ing with electricity.
  12. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I agree. I used a small 1-15 cab that sounded great with amplified DB and had no more than the usual feedback issues.
    I think that some cabinets (as well as amps) are just designed for maximum output without regard to sound quality.
  13. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    I'll add support for the Full Circle. I'm still looking for the holy grail of pick ups, but the Full Circle beats the others I've had including the Realist, Underwood, Pierre Josephs String Charger and the ol' BP100.

    I have to really crank it to feed back.
  14. christ andronis

    christ andronis Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2001
    +++1 to the afterlength suggestions. I've got a piece of foam insulation that I wind through the strings. I also EQ with a Fishman Bass Pro Platinum and a Realist. I think whatever problems I'm having stem more from me not EQ-ing as well as I should but I can crank it pretty well through my 15" Black Widow and I've had some nice compliments.

    Good luck
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Just another idea, as long as you've got two cabs, move one of them to the other side of the stage.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A nifty item I picked up for dampening the after-string is a short piece of thick tubing, like you'd use to pump air into a fish tank, with little wooden caps shoved into the ends (not sure if these are cosmetic, but probably so). Probably cost all of $.25 to make, but Gage is selling them for $6. I lost my first one, but liked it well enough to buy another. Only takes a couple of seconds to install it for amping and even less to yank it out for acoustic playing -- and it doesn't look like ass. It's installed over the A and D string and under the E and G.

    I don't remember the brand name, but a quick call to Gage would settle that. Or a trip to the pet store.
  17. I agree with Ray Parker on the speakers. I use a 4x8 cab plus a 1x15 cab with a 400 watt head, and I can crank that sucker. (This is my rockabilly rig). The pickup is likely the problem. I use a Barbera bridge system which is quite pricey, but is the bees knees for loud gigs. I once played a gig where the monitor system alone was 5000 watts (!) and had no problems with feedback, even though the bass was loud in the monitor mix.
  18. I have heard others tell of the Barbera being best for high volumes. I have a couple ?'s about it

    1. Being close to the strings, does it sound at all similar to the BP-100 we all hate? (I hope not, for $500)

    2. How does the Full Circle compare WRT tone and feedback resistance.

    3. How does the Barbera do at low to medium volumes?
  19. dfp

    dfp Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2004
    got to meet a gentleman (David Roe?) who gigs around Nashville (formerly with Johnny Cash, maybe still with Dwight Yokam, etc...)... shared the bill at a local theater concert with a band he was playing in. They were a couple of acoustic guitars, acoustic bass, maybe a fiddle... not super loud, but energetic. His sound in the 'house' was very appropriate, very natural. he did some arco, nice clear tone, some fine slap stuff, nice crisp sound, but above all, his bass notes sounded right. the room was medium size, a few hundred seats.
    Backstage he told me he used the Barbara. said he didn't understand why someone would spend super bucks on a bass and then not give the same priority to pickup quality...he told me the Dwight Yokam gigs get pretty loud and rockin' and the Baraba nails it. if i were on tour with a mega star, i'd get the best pickup out there too...
    best wishes
    Dave P
  20. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    i love my barbera. i have it on 3 of my 4 basses. it sounds tons better than a fishman. not even in the same universe. the only reason i didnt install it on my high end bass is because i knew i would want to fiddle around with the curvature of the bridge, and with the barbera you cant do that. once you decide on the curve, you're stuck. i'm glad i didnt get it for that bass becauce i have had the bridge shaved a few times since i got the bass to get the action i like. i suppose i could go get the barbera now that i have the bridge the way i like it, but on that bass a k&k bass max blended with the magnetic string charger (just for alittle added sustain and fullness) sounds great to me.
    i keep the volume low on the string charger, and roll off almost all the mids and all the highs. that way i doesnt sound electric. it just kind of acts like a subwoofer filling up the sound of the piezo bass max, which by itself can come close to a wood like tone... this setup works very well for me live and it is a snap to set up and i always get compliments on how clear and full my sound is.

    another thing you may want to consider is a preamp that has the proper input inpedance for a piezo pickup, and not one intended for bass guitar. it makes a world of difference.