Pickup for acoustic bass

Robal

Silver Supporting Member
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1,248
I posted in the Acoustic forum and got no response, so I am re-posting in the Bass forum. I have a Guld B-30 NT acoustic bass from the early 1990s, with a factory installed Fishman piezo pickup. The pickup sounds fine, but it has the distinctive 'quack' of a piezo. Just wondering whether there is a better pickup option nowadays, perhaps a soundboard pickup like K&K. The B-30 has a split bridge saddle, BTW. Any recommendations? Feedback resistance is a factor, so I am ruling out an internal mic.
 

bigtone23

Member
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6,153
Piezos usually need a simple EQ tweak to reduce the quack. Experiment with cutting a few dBs in the 1-3Khz zone. A parametric EQ is invaluable as you can hone right in on the offensive frequency and adjust the Q to tune the notch properly.
 

PB+J

Member
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1,533
In my opinion and experience the key with piezos is getting impedance of the preamp correct. Is there a a battery in that bass? Does it have an onboard preamp? You need a very very high input impedance, which removes a lot of the unpleasant quack. I've tried lots and lots of EQ solutions and also software that detects and cancels specific resonances, and it's very hard to get rid of.

If I had an acoustic bass guitar I'd give up on the piezo and go with a soundhole mag pickup
 

Robal

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,248
I don't like the Fishman's piezo quack, but I would also like to get the acoustic quality of the Guild bass and am not sure a soundhole mag pickup can do that. That's why I was thinking a K&K or a Dazzo.
 

Khromo

Member
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1,004
I've been living with this issue for a few years, since I embraced the Rob Allen/Rick Turner family of basses with undersaddle piezos in acoustic-guitar style bridges.



The piezos capture certain detail on those fretless fingerboards that the magnetic pickup misses. This can be ultra-important in some circumstances, or completely irrelevant in other types of music. The compromise is the quack, and the other extraneous finger noise and fret clicking (if you have frets).

The best compromise between killing the quack ("YOU'RE LISTENING TO A PIEZO!!!") and sacrificing punch and clarity, for me, was cutting about 3-5dB at about 1.7K Hz. A fully adjustable parametric equalizer is a great tool for this job, as bigtone23 points out above.

I set the width or Q at a little under one octave (if it's adjustable) and the level at about -6dB so you can really hear it, and then play eighth notes on the D string with one hand while I sweep the frequency control with the other. I usually find the most relief from quack at about 1.7-1.8 Hz. Then I tune the center freq and the width of the notch by ear, and make the big compromise with the level control.

Cutting 10dB will kill 90% of the quack, but you lose some punch and some clarity every time you trim out that weird, synthetic quack, so you pick your poison. As little as -3dB can get it under control, much more than -6dB starts choking things.

For me, the semi-parametrics found in many amps, preamps, and pedals work well enough, as long as you can adjust to around 1.5-3K Hz. They are mostly set to around 1 octave, which is probably wider than ideal for this purpose, but your bass will sound much better once you get it dialed in.

Most of the notch filters in acoustic guitar preamps seem to be tuned too low to get the offensive frequencies we're looking for.

Technique can help, but again the compromises will be more or less acceptable to different players. Plucking nearer the bridge helps bring out the definition on the low strings, but on the high strings the quack seems worse when I pluck by the bridge.
 
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bigtone23

Member
Messages
6,153
In my opinion and experience the key with piezos is getting impedance of the preamp correct. Is there a a battery in that bass? Does it have an onboard preamp? You need a very very high input impedance, which removes a lot of the unpleasant quack. I've tried lots and lots of EQ solutions and also software that detects and cancels specific resonances, and it's very hard to get rid of.
Good point! This is also very true--impedance matching can really make or break the tone.
 




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