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If you are looking for a way to increase the sound on your upright bass, you have any amplification options. A pickup is one such option.
But there are a lot of considerations you have to review including how the different designs work, where they get installed on your instrument, and what type of sound you want to achieve.
If you’re looking for a good Realist bass pickup review, this article will go over what makes this particular pick up stand out and in what situations it’s best used so that you can decide when it works for you.
What is pickup and how is it useful with upright bass?
The pick up function as a transducer so it captures all of the vibrations from your strings when you play by way of a magnetic field.
These vibrations get amplified and heard through whatever speaker system you were using or simply get amplified if you are using the pick up without any other system.
Pickups are a wonderful way to improve the sound you would get from an acoustic instrument especially if you’re performing with a group and need to be heard over the higher frequencies of smaller string instruments like violins or fiddles.
Considerations in choosing a pickup
When you are choosing a pickup manufacturer it really comes down to personal preference.
You need to determine how loud you want the volume to be, whether you need just a small amount of reinforcement or you want your pick up to be the primary output for your sound during a performance.
The Realist is intended to be that primary output so it isn’t the best option if you just want a little bit of reinforcement.
If you plan to use other amplifications like an acoustic amp or a combo amp, the sound provided by this particular design might be too much because, again, it is designed to be your one-and-only output for sound when you perform.
You also want to consider the type of music that you’re playing.
If you need a specific character with string detail, this might not be the best option for you.
By comparison if you want a natural, open tone that simply amplified, this will work well.
Playing as a soloist you might not need any other components to get the amplification you require.
But if you are part of a group you might need to cut through the mix of other instruments and be heard just as evenly as the rest of the group in which case the extra volume provided by this stand-alone pickup would be perfect.
It was designed by Ned Steinberger and David Gage and is making a name for itself.
David Gage stated that microphones and traditional transducers had some limitations and they decided to recreate the acoustic Arco and Pizzicato sound through the regular pickup so that musicians could perform more effectively.
They wanted a dependable but simple design for the pickup that would more accurately draw out the sound of a natural instrument via amplification.
They used musical professionals and recording Engineers to make sure the tone and the responsiveness playing with Arco or Pizzicato were well received by the audience.
Ned Steinberger revealed that this particular pick up was the result of collaboration in order to fix one of the biggest complaints by acoustic string players which was the poor quality of sound associated with the available pickups at the time.
So they work to find a structure that would fit around the piezo crystal and respond to the acoustic resonance of each instrument.
The transducer is placed under the foot of the bridge so that it hangs out exactly where sound is transferred to the soundboard from the strings.
This gives it the more powerful, Rich response forebode or Pizzicato Styles.
The output level from the pickup is unusually high compared to other pickups because of its location and that means it gives you a higher signal-to-noise ratio without any preamp.
The copper foil sandwich construction behind this design gives total shielding so you have no home or interference, electrical or radio.
It’s also flexible enough that it will fit the curve along the top of your instrument and concentrate full pressure from the bridge evenly onto the surface.
There are currently two models available the first of which uses the original copper foil design. The second uses a slice of wood veneer that is compressed.
The differences between the original copper foil and the wood are very, very subtle.
You would likely not notice any difference between the two as they have the same level of Arco and Pizzicato response with the same volume.
They have nearly identical levels of thickness. The real reason you would choose one over the other is a matter of aesthetics.
Who should use the realist?
This particular pickup has a unique location on the body of your instrument and gives a natural bass sound.
Realistically this comes down to personal preference.
If you want sound with a lot of detail and string artifacts, this isn’t going to be the perfect solution.
If instead you want less detail and you want it to sound bolder and richer from a distance, this is perfect.
When you install this pickup you will have a larger body sounds that takes over the up front detail and it’s particularly well-suited to a bowed response and for classical Pizzicato sounds.
Other pickups by comparison might give you more detail but they can sound a little scratchy with too much trouble especially when you are using a bow.
The pickup performs best when it’s used on carved bases so if you have the carved instrument with a quality laminate on top it will respond nicely.
As is the case with all transducers, the characteristics and the material of your instrument will slightly dictate the results you receive.
Realist Bass Pickup Review: Right for you?
Now that you have a better understanding as to what type of sound this pickup provides for you and how it works on your instrument it’s important to compare the qualities that you can find in the different versions.
This section will make that a little bit easier by looking at the two most common iterations so that you can figure out which one is best for you.
It’s important to always consult an industry professional before using any new product with your instrument.
The Realist Double Bass Transducer Pickup For Bass
Designed by Ned Steinberger and David Gage, this transducer pickup is intended to function on its own without a preamp.
It has a very flexible element that you place under the Footbridge which allows it to pick up sound from the top plate and the bridge can currently produce a more powerful response.
It’s designed to be played for acoustic instruments using either Pizzicato or Arco style without having to adjust any controls.
The installation is quite easy. David Gage actually includes the free jack mount kit and specifies in the instructions how to mount it to the tailpiece.
Once it is installed it will give you a clean sound with a lot of response no matter the frequency.
It is long-lasting and stands to serve as the one source of amplification you can use across many different genres, playing styles, and venues.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could potentially work for you.
- It will make your bass sound exactly as the acoustic instrument does when you play without any amplification, but much louder because of the amplification it gives
- There is no power source needed, it draws passive power
- No preamp is needed to get better sound
- The installation, though seemingly easy, can be tricky so you might want to use a professional
The Realist RLSTSWB1Orchestral Bass Transducer w/ Wood Element
This design was crafted by Ned Steinberger and David Gage and much like the other realist, it is meant to fit under the Footbridge.
Once it is installed it gives you a rich, powerful response amplifying the truest most natural acoustic sound produced by your instrument whether you use Arco or Pizzicato style.
The output level because of the unique placement is unusually high and this gives you a very high signal-to-noise ratio at the same time.
With this particular model you don’t need any preamp.
It is made for members of an orchestra who need to play both Pizzicato and Arco Styles without changing the controls and who need to maximize the sound for the lower ranges on their instruments over the higher frequencies played by other string instruments like fiddles or violins.
The original realist was crafted from copper but the wood version was introduced for those players who don’t want to put something metallic between the instrument and the bridge.
This is perfect again for people who are part of an orchestra and need to maintain that natural, woody sound from wood components.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product might work for you.
- Loud amplification without a preamp
- Suitable for Pizzicato and Arco style without having to change any controls
- Wood design instead of copper
- Installation can be tricky
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