Going Wireless with Double Bass

So, you want to go wireless?

michaelquiroz.jpgThere are a handful of good reasons to use a wireless system with upright bass; though it's largely a static instrument (meaning, most players don't move around a whole lot onstage with it) there are exceptions.

Take our good longtime buddy Michael Quiroz in the photo to the right - he looks like it would be helpful to be free of that tangled cord, there! And lots of rockabilly and rock and roll players do some pretty acrobatic stuff with/on their basses.

Also, maybe you're working in a stage show and need to bring the bass out on stage quickly, and get it back offstage just as quickly. A wireless makes that a far easier prospect.

We've been asked about this a few times over the years. I've looked into the options every now and again, and here's my conclusion (all of the below assumes that you're using a piezo-based upright bass pickup, like a Bass MaxRealistDouble Big TwinFull Circle, etc.)

You might want a wireless that has the proper buffering for your piezo pickup if you don't want it to sound pretty crummy. Here's the straight dope:

  1. If you have an impedance-buffering preamp on the bass - basically, the pickup is plugged into the preamp, which will then, in turn, plug into the wireless transmitter - then the impedance of the wireless doesn't really matter. It only matters that you get a system of quality, with a good frequency range for bass. Most any of the big names can offer a system that will jive with your needs, your budget, etc.

    Note: If you are using a dual-pickup system like the Bass Master Rockabilly Plus or the Bass Master Pro, you MUST use the blending preamp between the pickup and the wireless, so the two channels will be mixed before the one-channel wireless. Otherwise, you'll need a second wireless unit (and some adapter cords or re-wiring) so you can send both pickups separately to the amp. Needlessly complicated, more expensive, more gear... seriously, just mount the mini preamp to the tailpiece and be done with it.

  2. If you need to plug the pickup output directly into the wireless transmitter (no preamp on the bass) then it limits you to a smaller number of units. Basically, the impedance levels for many wireless units are designed for electric bass, and they tend to make piezos sound quacky and weak. (Here's why.)

    You'd ideally like the input impedance to be 1 megohm or higher. A manufacturer who seems to have several options with a 1 megohm input is Line6, which we've tested with upright bass -- we know it works well! I've personally used a Line6 wireless (for electric bass) and they are reliable and sound good. A difficulty I ran into is that many manufacturers don't clearly or openly spec their input impedance.

xvive1.jpgWe also carry a very affordable and convenient wireless system by XVIVE - super cool, very small and inconspicuous, high impedance input, great sound and range, and it's fully (and easily) rechargeable.

Side note: If you're using a magnetic pickup like a Krivo or Schaller, you can use most any wireless system that is good for bass guitar - the magnetic output is similar to that of an electric bass, so impedance is not really an issue.

Beyond that, if you need help figuring out the best pickup, or want to add the preamp to simplify things, let me know - I can help you figure out what should work best for you.


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