"Rockabilly/Country Slap Special"
Bass Master RB PLUS Double Bass Pickup
Back in 1998 Bob talked with a lot of Rockabilly players about helping them to get THE SOUND. There was nothing out there that could deliver both a strong, feedback-resistant bass signal AND that retro or psychobilly-style fingerboard slap sound. Everybody had all kinds of stuff, expensive bits and lots of wires hanging off their basses trying to get the sound.
As a longtime bassist, he concentrated on coming up with an "out of the box" solution, and came up with a concept for a new pickup system using K&K Sound's compact two channel preamp and excellent transducers. Dieter Kaudel of K&K Sound responded with prototypes, and together they came up with the first pickup system specifically created to serve the need of Rockabilly, Country, Bluegrass, and even Jazz players who need to convey the slap and other fingerboard sounds -- complete with commanding bass signal. This custom creation combines the strong, established Bass Max wing pickup with a unique fingerboard transducer, letting you EQ them separately and mix their output using a tiny two-channel preamp.
Here's how it works:
- The first component is the Bass Max wing transducer, for a powerful and distinct bass voice, with plenty of mids to cut through the mix.
- A purpose-built "clicky" transducer delivers your fingerboard slap. It's designed to be taped to the back side of your fingerboard near the top neck joint. This specially-shaped full range pickup can fit flush into the curvature and will capture as much of those percussive and warm sounds as you like. As I experimented with our prototypes, I found fascinating differences in tonal responses and resonances depending on the location of the transducer; tonal variations were apparent when placing the pickup above, at the edge, and below the area where the back of the fingerboard transitions from straight to scooped out. Extra tape is provided so you can experiment, and achieve exactly the type of response you want - from that Bill Black click to a fat thunk. Complete instructions and advice are included to help you find your own personal sweet spot! Once in place, a length of cable runs down the back of your fingerboard, through a piece of foam in the center of your bridge, joining the Bass Max at a three-conductor output jack held between a pair of strings.
- A five-foot three-conductor cable is provided to convey the individual signals of each pickup to the preamp.
- The special Two Channel Preamp (included) has a belt clip, for easy availability and balancing on the job, and it measures a mere 3.5 x 2.9 x 1.3 inches. Some guys even attach theirs to the bass' tailpiece along with their wireless! (see mounting kit below) This tiny 10 ounce preamp has separate bass, midrange, treble, and gain trimmers on the inside for each channel, with volume controls on the outside. This lets you fine tune the nature of the response you want from each pickup, and then dial in just the right balance of bass signal and slap sounds. The special output options let you blend the two transducers to one output, or send the EQ'd and matched signals to separate outputs for independent external effecting or multiple amps. (See below for details).
The specialized preamp expands your output options; when you use the regular output jack, both the Bass and Slap transducers are mixed to that single output. However, when you plug a second 1/4" cable into the center jack, the Bass pickup emerges from one and the Slap from the other, allowing you to send the slap to another device, like guitar amp with reverb for special effects, to the PA board, or another amp... whatever you like.
K&K's complete instructions are included, and we include several additional tip sheets to help you optimize the pickup system to best suit your personal style.
Note: If you play styles other than Rockabilly, I'd recommend the Bass Master Pro rather than this dedicated system- it will give you slap as well as a wider range of tonal character for other types of music.
Add Rockabilly "Click" to Your Current Double Bass Pickup
Do you already have a "main" pickup that you like, but want to add the Rockabilly "Clicky" pickup and blending preamp to it? Check out the new "Rockabilly Upgrade Kit" - all the stuff you'll need in one pre-configured package!
It's not uncommon for a player to already have a "regular" pickup they like to use. Previously, if you wanted to add the "clicky" pickup (a transducer mounted on the back of the fingerboard) to a pickup you already have, it's been possible - but a little "clunky." We sell the fingerboard pickup separately, and you can get a 2-channel preamp to blend - but you end up with a bit of a tangle of wires.
Mark picked up the mantle and worked with Dieter again, this time to create the new (March 2013) Bass Master Rockabilly UPGRADE System, which streamlines the process of adding the clicky pickup and Rockabilly PLUS preamp to your existing pickup, making it simple (and a whole lot more elegant.) Whether you have a Bass Max, or even some other pickup from another manufacturer (magnetic pickup, anyone?) you can finally get the Rockabilly sound without a rat's nest of wiring.
As before, your fingerboard slap is distinctly delivered by a purpose-built transducer, designed to be taped to the back side of your fingerboard near the top neck joint. This specially-shaped full range pickup can fit flush into the curvature and will capture as much of those percussive and warm sounds as you like. As I experimented with our prototypes, I found fascinating differences in tonal responses and resonances depending on the location of the transducer; tonal variations were apparent when placing the pickup above, at the edge, and below the area where the back of the fingerboard transitions from straight to scooped out. Extra tape is provided so you can experiment, and achieve exactly the type of response you want - from that Bill Black click to a fat thunk.
Complete instructions and advice are included to help you find your own personal sweet spot! Once in place, a length of cable runs down the back of your fingerboard, through a piece of foam in the center of your bridge, joining the Bass Max at a three-conductor output jack held between a pair of strings.
Need to figure out some of the more in-depth features of this product? Here's a copy of the manual, in PDF format, here.
You may wish to visit the manufacturer's website to see if a more recent version is available.
For valid warranty claims, K&K will repair the item and ship it back to the customer for free, via the lowest cost shipping method. Initial shipping charges are to be paid by the customer. We normally have a 1-2 business day turnover time for repairs.
Initiating a Warranty Claim
- Please test the K&K product thoroughly to ensure that it is the source of the problem (not a cable or other unit used in combination with the item). If the product requires a battery, ensure that the battery is new and fresh.
- Call K&K (1-800-867-6863 x107) or e-mail tech support to obtain an RA number. This number is valid for 10 days. Items returned without a valid RA number may not be processed.
- Include proof of purchase to show that the item is within the 12-month warranty period. If proof of purchase cannot be obtained, or if the item is outside the warranty period, a repair fee may be charged.
- Package the product securely. K&K is not responsible for damage incurred during transit.
- Please include the following information with the package:
- RA number
- Description of the problem
- Copy of invoice, sales receipt, or similar proof of purchase
- Complete contact information with phone number
K&K Sound Systems Inc
Attn: RA # [Please indicate your unique RA number here]
92798 Cape Arago Hwy
Coos Bay, OR 97420
I recently about the K&K rockabilly pick up system for my 1944 Kay bass. I installed it a couple of days ago to be used in the production of the Million Dollar Quartet musical. I am thoroughly pleased with the sound I get from my bass. I had tried every other cheap get by system which was all very frustrating. And I was ready to sell my bass. I have already recommended the K&K system to a local recording studio. I really like what has come of this and look forward to playing more. Thank you for your quick service and detailed instructions.
Wow guys, I'm not sure who I talked to the other day, but I called about amplification for rockabilly bass, and was having trouble getting a good click with my wing pickup. I called kind of hoping you would talk me into getting the K&K upgrade package with the preamp and clicky transducer, which you did. It was on my doorstep 2 days later and I'm in LOVE! It's exactly what I needed. It took me maybe a half hour to open the package, find and install a battery, test and eq my wing pickup. I had to cut all the treble and a little mid, but soon had a great pizz sound. Went to work on the clicky and in what couldn't have been a total of 45 minutes, I was in slap bass heaven. Thanks so much. I was scared to pull the trigger on something I'd never tried in person, but it was totally worth it.
After having spent quite a bit of time playing around with it, (actually, after the first few minutes) I love this pick up/preamp! Great design, awesome sound. I'm more of a multi instrumentalist, not really a full time double bassist and I'm fairly new to amplifying double bass, however, I'm picky and I know what I want to hear! Having not been quite satisfied with previous amplification attempts (an Underwood and various mics and cheap clip on mics) I've gotta say this really captures the sound of my bass, if not improves it! I'm encouraged to play more already! I am also very impressed with your fantastic service! All the extra printouts on setting up and mounting the pick up and preamp were very helpful and it was all so very safely packaged.
Got my k&k RAB (Rockabilly) setup today and wow Bob the bass max is everything you said it was and more. The adjustability of the fingerboard pickup phenomenal! Top notch buying experience thank you.