Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup
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From David Gage, the ones who brought you the Realist and Realist SoundClip pickups - the LifeLine.
It uses a simple, but clever design; the element of the pickup wedges between the adjuster and wood of your adjustable bass bridge. (Its two "fingers" straddle the post of the adjuster.) While its use is therefore limited to basses with an adjustable bridge, it does NOT require you to swap those bridge adjusters out for a replacement set. So, whether you have fancy hardwood, aluminum, or delrin adjusters, it doesn't matter -- you can use this pickup without any changes.
It pops in and out relatively easy, and does not require professional installation -- simply loosen the E and A and pull them off the bridge out of the way, detune the D and G, and create a little separation between the bridge wood and adjuster (on the non-threaded side.) Slip the pickup between the adjuster and bridge, restring and tune back up. Done!
The pickup is only about 1/16th of an inch thick, so it makes only a very slight potential difference in the setup; and of course, you can just back the adjuster down about 1/4 turn or so to compensate. Most people don't even bother, I'd bet.
What does it sound like? Good question! As we anticipated, it has some similarities in tone to other pickups placed about midpoint on the bridge, due to its similar position on the bass, but with a more "open" sounding midrange that enhances realism to my ears - though many of those other pickups have a more "direct" sounding midrange, which can enhance clarity in a dense mix of players.
On my personal bass, it had a nicely defined tone without a lot of top-end clack, somewhat like the Full Circle - but I could still hear the distinct "ping" playing pizz on my Pirastro Evah Pirazzi strings. Arco was full and well-balanced, with really nice warmth on all strings. And digging in, the more aggressive bow tones came through the amp well.
The pickup has quite a bit of low end firmness, not entirely unlike the dominant character you'd usually get from the original under-foot Realist pickup. In fact, it might have too much bottom end for some players; Christopher found it a bit too "wooly" on the bottom end for his taste. After he plugged in his Radial PZ-Deluxe preamp and flipped on the high-pass filter, he found the results much more to his liking. We both agreed that - especially using a filter like this to cut out some of the very low boom - the pickup would probably cut quite nicely in the mix of a dense band setting. It seemed pretty good about not feeding back too easily, too.
Threads up vs. Threads down? At our shop, we tested the pickup on two different basses; Mark's personal carved bass, which has our popular adjustable bridge on it (aluminum adjusters, threads up), and our shop Estle Louis laminated bass, which has a similar quality adjustable bridge with threads down. Why does it matter? the pickup goes in-between the adjuster and the wood on the unthreaded side. So on Mark's bass, the pickup is against the feet side of the bridge, UNDER the adjuster. On the Estle Louis bass, it's on the TOP side of the adjuster, against the upper portion of the bridge.
On those two basses, it definitely sounded better on Mark's carved bass -- but before we jump to unjust conclusions, clearly, there are many other differences (strings, setup, carved/laminate, etc.) -- and this is a very small sample size (two basses)! In fact, now that the pickup has been out for a while, it's become apparent that it may be more of an individual bass thing -- plenty of people have installed them on threads-down basses and been very happy with the results. Though it does seem that the threads-up basses give more of that deep response like the original copperhead Realist, while the threads-down orientation favors a bit more midrange response. But again - your bass is a different animal altogether, so your mileage may vary. But reports are very good, and I almost never have to take returns under our 7-day audition period (see below) on this pickup. But we offer the trial period anyway, because we don't want you to be "stuck" with it -- so no worries!
The LifeLine pickup comes in a standard size and a newer "Large" size; the standard size is generally preferable unless your adjusters have posts that are larger than 1/4" in diameter. So the standard size is confirmed to work with adjusters made with 1/4" or 6mm posts. It should also fit most 5/16" posts.*
For Kolstein Deluxe bridges (with hardwood adjusters), and others like it -- with posts up to 3/8" (9.5mm) -- choose the LARGER size.
PLEASE be aware of this size distinction before making your purchase. 1/4" posts are the most common size, in our experience, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to measure. If you get the wrong size, we do accept the LifeLine back for return within 7 days (see below), but you'll be responsible for all shipping costs -- and a small credit card recapture cost if we refund your order -- so it's worth the trouble to double-check.
To clarify, the larger sized model is specially manufactured by David Gage's shop specifically for larger post adjusters - it is not a "standard" pickup modified (by us or anyone else).
* We did put the 1/4" model on our Estle Louis shop bass, which has a 5/16" adjuster - but since the opening that you slide the un-threaded side of the adjuster through is 5/16", it may be a tight squeeze to put on, initially. But once the adjuster is straddling the post, it should be fine, as the opening widens (see photo to right.)
- move your Realist LifeLine from one instrument to another instrument
- bring your LifeLine for use on rental instruments while on the road
- remove the pickup from your bass when not playing amplified
- No Bass Modification Necessary since the LifeLine simply fits into an adjustable bridge... there is no filing, cutting, or custom fitting. Just loosen the strings and slip between the bridge and adjuster wheel.
Includes FREE Jack Mount Kit
What's that? David Gage specifies in the instructions that you are to mount the jack to the tailpiece using the included plastic loop. The way that's done is, you remove the E string, feed it through the hole, and reinstall.
We think that's a pain. And it's not good for your strings to remove and reinstall them unnecessarily.
So we've devised a better way. We include, at no additional charge, some low-key plastic hardware that allows you to mount the jack -- in the same place on the tailpiece -- without removing the string. This could also come in really handy if you have to remove/reinstall the pickup frequently.
Just another one of those situations where we're looking out for you! Included at no extra charge.
Most of our pickups cannot be returned once installed, because they show evidence of use and cannot be re-sold as new. However, we are happy to offer a 7-day "audition period" on this pickup, so that you may try the pickup on your own bass and be certain that it will work for you. As long as you handle the pickup and all of its packaging and materials carefully, you may contact us for a return authorization within seven days of delivery if it's not everything you'd hoped it would be.
Note that we will make the following small deductions from any refund or credit:
• Outgoing "free shipping" costs
• A $10 deduction to cover our processing costs
These deductions merely cover our costs for running your credit card (they are not refunded, even if the charge is) as well as our shipping costs if you're not keeping the pickup.
7-Day Trial Period
Your purchase of this item is covered by the exclusive Gollihur Music 7-day Trial Period, under the following terms:
You may contact us to return this item, for any reason (or no reason), within the first seven days of ownership. The timer starts on the day that you receive the item, not the order date.
Returns are subject to deductions as follows:
- Any shipping costs you paid are not refunded, and if the item shipped free, the costs we incurred to ship the item to you will be deducted from your refund or credit.
- All shipping costs you incur to return the item are your responsibility.
- A small fee is deducted from your refund to cover credit card/PayPal fees which are not refunded to us even if we refund your charge. Note that if you choose to accept a store credit instead of a refund, this deduction does not apply.
Items must be returned in 100% "as new" condition, with all original packaging, shipping materials, and accessories/manuals/bonus items. Deductions are assessed for missing or damaged items.
IMPORTANT: You must contact us for authorization BEFORE shipping the item back.
- Labor: One (1) year from the date of original purchase at retail. New or rebuilt parts in exchange for defective parts for one (1) year from the date of original purchase.
- Parts: To ascertain your eligibility for the warranty, the registration form must be filled out completely and legibly and sent to the address provided within 30 days of initial purchase of the Realist. If the pick-up was bought directly from David Gage, the customer will be automatically registered for the warranty.
This warranty is extended only to the original purchaser, and applies to the product from the original date of purchase at retail. Therefore, if the customer has not registered for warranty at the time of purchase, the owner must furnish proof of original purchase at retail, such as a retail receipt with date printed clearly. This warranty covers failure due to defects in material or workmanship which occur during normal consumer use and does not cover damage which occurs in shipment or failures which result from alteration, accident, misuse, abuses, neglect, or improper maintenance.
Easy to install on my Merchant Vertical Bass (EUB), and sounds strong. Should have done this decades ago.
Hi, got my David Gage lifeline pickup this week and was very glad to have your jack mounting alternative. Made things easier and probably more stable. So, just wanted to say thanks for all the little extras you do at Gollihur.
Just installed my new Realist Lifeline pickup- A/B'ed it with my R********* S*** - it's a LOT hotter and gives a big fat sound without fussing around with it. On last night's gig in a fairly large room, playing rockabilly with a drummer that uses his sticks as anger management devices, had no feedback issues playing at pretty high volumes- loud enough to feel the bass thump through the stage. Love, love love it! I was playing through my also new EA micro 550/Wizzy 10 rig. I anticipated using direct out to the house PA, and using my amp for stage volume only. Well that wasn't so. I was going it alone, and my teensy little rig just blew the house down! The whole set up was nice and loud when I hit the string, and when I really dug in, it just got louder! And finally, the tone was great too- I hate fussing with controls on the amp; just set and forget is my motto. The sound from this set up was nice and big and fat. Very much "my bass only louder". 18 pounds! My favorite rig ever!
I received the Realist Lifeline last Friday 10/9. Saturday morning, I was at a local Bluegrass festival, and I installed the pickup on site. As you said, it took about 10 minutes or less. So far, it's wonderful. Great string to string balance, smooth, full low end with no string touch / rub noise. I know there's going to be some time and place it's not perfect, but it's so much better than what I've had, it's "currently perfect".
Gentlemen, I recently purchased the Realist Lifeline from you, after reading your as always helpful comments. I would like to add my experience. I am playing a 1946 NY Epiphone spruce veneer. bass with Obligato solo strings tuned G-D-A-E. (hand problems) The sound is perfection. After refinishing the bass it was very bright. Switching from my admittedly strident Fishman BP 100. Now that I've played the new pickup at a few rehearsals and gigs, I give it my highest marks. It added the body, and what ever amp and speaker combinations I use, it is warm yet defined. Thanks for being my source of quality equipment, parts, and advice.
(I) got the Gage LIFE LINE pick up yesterday... you guys have nailed it again... I have finally found something that works on my shen sb150. This thing rocks! 1 cord, straight to amp no preamp BS, sounds terrific and works perfectly with the EA doubler or my PJB! By the way this is on a Despiau maple bridge with Otto walnut adjusters threads down. Now I can check that off my list and move on. AS always you guys are the best!