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The Eminence bass

Pickups

I've had problems with the under foot pickup, a Realist piezo transducer. It is documented elsewhere on the web that it needs to be tweaked to find the 'sweet spot'. I found the sweet spot one night and it was the best gig I'd had on it up until then. I never found it again. The more I tweaked, the more I struggled to get any useable sound, until I realized that all the tweaking had been too much for it and it had stopped working at all.

Such transducers work brilliantly in a fixed location, like buried in a guitar saddle slot, where they can't be moved, and so are well protected. To be fair, I've also heard the under-foot style pickup used successfully on a cello, but this had a rigid bridge, so maybe it's just bad news to use the rotating foot technique on an adjustable bridge.

Realist under-foot pickup

Alternatives

The Stagg's pick-up is a simple compromise, with a polymer piezo cable under the bridge block, very consistent and reliable, if not the best sound in the world.

On one of my previous "real" double-basses, in a bid to emulate the protection afforded a guitar bridge saddle pickup, I routed two slots in the top of a bridge and fitted two guitar piezo strips with ebony saddles over them, which worked very well, for months.

Eventually, the piezo crystals crumbled under the pressure of the two massive strings on each of the tiny ebony saddles. Useful high output; I liked it enough to build a second one after something heavy landed on the first version, which is why, much later, I happened to have a spare double-bass bridge to hand when I was ready to replace the bridge on the Eminence.

Guitar-style piezos under ebony saddles mounted in a bridge

5 string P-bass

I hope this answers those who have asked why I have a Pbass pickup on the end of the Eminence's fingerboard. A typical Ebay rescue operation, at £10 from Hong Kong, gave me an upright bass which sounded like a cheap precision bass guitar copy, which is hardly unexpected, if not ideal. Note my ability to laugh in the face of absurdity. Note also the remains of the second under-foot pick-up (not a Realist this time) which snapped under pressure.

I still carry this Pbass contraption in my gig bag, as a spare pickup which needs no pre-amp, no battery, just plug and play. But things would be going very badly if I ever have to use it again.

Playing my Eminence with a mag pickup

The piezo element

The next pickup under test is a cheap and cheerful Schaller contact piezo transducer, which I chose for its robust metal case. It's now glued with epoxy on the middle of the new bridge, and I find the output is miniscule! It is also clearly in the wrong place, but at the time I was reluctant to glue it to any part of the bass which wasn't detachable. I have a great idea for where it should live, one day; meanwhile this little guy needs a preamp...
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Schaller contact transducer