Author Topic: Alembicize my Upright bass.  (Read 212 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