Author Topic: Alembicize my Upright bass.  (Read 967 times)

edwardofhuncote

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Alembicize my Upright bass.
« on: December 23, 2017, 10:07:40 AM »
Played my last gig of 2017 yesterday... a company Christmas party for a local lawnmower and small engine repair shop. It was four sets in five hours on upright, which I can do...  :P ...but man I missed my fretless Alembics.

Thing is; I need my upright for gigs like that one, and I have some pickup equipment on it that includes a small condenser mic, a piezo strip fastened to the bridge, and a small blender preamp on the back of the tailpiece. It's old, and twitchy to set, but it works... just very unsatisfying, particularly if I need a lot of gain. Most of the time, I can tame it with a 10-band EQ, but I also have a parametric equalizer with dual notch filter if things get really tough.  ;)

I've tried several of the currently available pickup systems for upright bass; the David Gage stuff is nice unless you have to bow, the Fishman "Full Circle" is okay too, but I felt lacked a little in capturing that natural 'woof'.  To be fair, all the above is equipment I have installed on other folks basses, not mine. Honestly haven't heard anything yet that blew me away enough to scrap what I already have. (after that gig yesterday though, I'm getting there...)

So I was thinking... with the acoustic/electric Alembics on the horizon, what if there were some way to come up with something for us stubborn old gut-bucket playing switch-hitters?  I'm wide open to what they would come up with... or maybe my next Custom is a 5-string birdseye maple Classico with East-Meets-West electronics - YES!  ;D

Here's some pictures of what's on my bass now... I have no problems with how it works or is secured to the instrument, all that is fine... only concerned with how it sounds and not having to carry around so much outboard gear.

nosimplehighway

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 03:17:06 PM »
I have an old Kay that I've put a minimal setup on for amping: a Barcus Berry B3150 pickup with a Schatten mini-preamp that's attached to the tailpiece with Velcro. Works well enough to get me in the mix for acoustic groups that are miced through a p.a. Didn't like the B-B preamp sound, and I didn't want to spend big bucks on anything until I've reviewed all of my options. I sit in with bluegrass groups and I get to see a lot of other upright players and always quiz them on their setups. Everything I've heard on other folks' uprights hasn't impressed me any more than my own setup, but I have noticed that just about every upright is running through an amp. I'm surprised that no one has come up with anything better than what's out there already.
I've read that the original idea for Ampeg was to mount a mic on the end pin (or peg) that goes up into the body thus the name Ampeg.
I've never heard that used by anyone I know. Apparently that idea was scrapped some time ago as everyone pretty much uses piezo transducers attached to the bridge or body.
I think you might be on to something as far as Alembic goes. They have as good or even better chance than anyone to innovate a way to bring out the natural tone of any instrument. --RL

David Houck

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 04:10:12 PM »
I don't know anything about upright basses, but I'm wondering if it might help to run into a flat response powered PA cab/monitor with good low range support.

nosimplehighway

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 05:32:17 PM »
Well, the most frequently used amps I'm seeing are the kickback style like the Ampeg BA210V2 or a Markbass CMD 102P. Those combos are a lot like p.a. monitors as you suggest. One of the principal issues I've encountered in a live setting is resonant feedback. Of course, angle and proximity to the drivers are fundamental to the issue, but that seems to be the case with all acoustic instrument amplification. I feel the overall shortcoming when it comes to upright is that a quality bass has characteristic tone and projection that piezo and magnetic pickups just aren't capable of reproducing. A nice amp helps, but in the end it just sounds like a lot of attack with very little harmonic resonance to my ears. --RL

charles_holmes

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 05:24:31 PM »
I use a Fishmen and an Underwood. I run both of them through my EBS Micro bass which goes into my Little Mark Tube 800 and I have 2 custom made 15" cabinets  which weigh about 2-3 lbs each.  It sounds great! (well to me anyway) ;) My Double Bass is made by Sinoman and it's fully carved (if you were interested what type of Double bass it is).I'll get some photos up for ya soon.

edwardofhuncote

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 05:15:14 AM »
Hey Chalie!   :) Thanks for your input here... and yes -by all means- please post us some shots of your upright here:

http://club.alembic.com/index.php?topic=22703.0

moongerm

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 12:20:56 PM »
Charles Holmes gave great advise. I have a Fishman  full circle and a K & K bass max (Underwood copy) and I blend them together with a dual channel amp.   The  most important thing with piezo pickups is that they require a high impedance amp input. So if you are using an amp that doesn't have one built in like the Acoustic Image Focus 2r then you will need an external preamp to be the impedance buffer like the Fishman Platinum Pro or EBS etc. 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 12:24:54 PM by moongerm »

edwardofhuncote

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 02:42:52 PM »
Interestingly Brian, I actually do use an Acoustic Image Clarus II (older model I think...) and most often with a little Bag End S10-D cabinet. Like I was saying, using either a 10-band or parametric EQ, plus the notch filter on the Acoustic Image, I'm able to tweak it in, but it's right much of a PITA.   ;)

I really should just break down and buy a better pickup... the more I play with the David Gage stuff, the more I like it.  :)

moongerm

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2018, 08:43:11 AM »
The 2nd mic channel on my Focus 2R is low impedance which requires from the K&K Bass max pickup to be run through the Fishman Platinum Pro which has a DI out, xlr to that 2nd channel. Works really well and brings  that  extra channel and pickup to life with that preamp as the impedance buffer. Good luck. Underwood is a great choice but it all depends on what you are going for and what sounds good with your bass and other set up. Sprocket at David Guage in NYC is where and who I go to for work on my bass. I tried their pickups and rhry sounded pretty good but not for me. I like that mid range growl (Underwood) mixed with the full circle pickup for th e scooped hi fi tones.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 08:48:41 AM by moongerm »

mica

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2018, 04:03:30 PM »
I have seen people mount a split P pickup on the end of the fingerboard on an upright bass. I don't think I've ever heard it used, but we used to supply a maker in I think Florida with P Activators for this purpose. He  bought a lot of them, so I guess his customers were happy. Just a thought!

edwardofhuncote

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2018, 05:01:22 PM »
I have seen people mount a split P pickup on the end of the fingerboard on an upright bass. I don't think I've ever heard it used, but we used to supply a maker in I think Florida with P Activators for this purpose. He  bought a lot of them, so I guess his customers were happy. Just a thought!

Hmm. Now there's a thought that's going to tie my brain in a square knot.

I'm imagining a kind of attachment that would work like a fingerboard extension with a battery and electronics onboard. The pickups could be suspended under the strings this way... possibly mounted something like the sliding pickups on the Casady bass. 

CaseyVancouver

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Re: Alembicize my Upright bass.
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018, 11:07:56 PM »
I have seen people mount a split P pickup on the end of the fingerboard on an upright bass. I don't think I've ever heard it used, but we used to supply a maker in I think Florida with P Activators for this purpose. He  bought a lot of them, so I guess his customers were happy. Just a thought!

Funny you bring this up.

I purchased a fender pre split pickup around '71 to add onto my EKO bass. That did not work out so well. 1972 age 17 I bought a new Fender Precision bass and got rid of the EKO but kept the pickup. 

In '73 or so I installed the pre pickup on the end of my Kay upright finger board. Did not use it long as the sound just was not right. Next I used a Polytone pickup with an Ampeg b15n which was a good combination. I still use the b15n today.

Upright scale length is crazy (compared to an electric) and the sound is too boomy with a electric bass guitar pickup. It was even worse than my Gibson eb2, the king of boomy bass.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 11:17:35 PM by CaseyVancouver »