David Gage

Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup

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  • Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup, installed closeup
  • Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup, 1/4 jack and transducer
  • Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup, installed w tailpiece 1
  • Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup, standard and xl width
  • Realist LifeLine Upright Bass Pickup,  installed w tailpiece 2
Our Low Price: $249.95

Price shown may adjust with options selected below (if applicable)


Quick Guide for Realist LifelineGollihur Music has your back -- This pickup Includes FREE Jack Mount Kit -- See below for details.

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.

Lifeline pickup placement on bass bridge tipThreads 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!

Includes our exclusive Gollihur Music tipsheet to get the most out of your purchaseIMPORTANT:

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). And it doesn't benefit you to just get the larger size - you want the pickup to fit more closely, so that it won't "wander" in place.

* 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.

An Important Note About "Tapered" Adjusters

Rounded Tapered Bridge Adjuster InstallationSome luthiers, when installing adjusters into a bridge, will "round off" the wood that contacts the adjuster, to limit the amount of contact and thereby make it easier to turn the adjuster wheel, since less contact = less friction. Likewise, I've seen some adjuster wheels that are slightly "conical" to do essentially the same thing.

If your bridge and/or adjuster is shaped this way, I strongly discourage you from choosing this pickup.

Why? The wide, flat surface of the Lifeline is designed to maximize contact with the wood and adjuster for the best possible transmission of sound from the bridge to the pickup. The much smaller contact patch will likely compromise the sound quality - but more importantly, probably damage the pickup in fairly short order. So take a look at your bridge before you order the Lifeline!



  • 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.


Gollihur EXCLUSIVE! 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! One set is ncluded at no extra charge.

We've also added the ability to get an EXTRA set of the hardware, in case you want to have an extra secure mounting for the jack; some customers have asked for it, so you can get a second bolt, washer and nut (to go with the extra loop provided by David Gage) to have two mounting points for your pickup - choose this option, above, and it only adds $1 to the cost (We charge $2 for a mounting kit, normally).



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:

  1. 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.
  2. All shipping costs you incur to return the item are your responsibility.
  3. 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.

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Warranty Information

David Gage String Instrument Repair, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as "David Gage") will repair this product with new or rebuilt parts, free of charge, in the event of a defect in materials or workmanship as follows:
  • 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.
The unit must not have been previously altered, modified, repaired or serviced by anyone other than the technicians at David Gage to render such services. The serial number on the unit must not have been altered or removed. The unit must not have been subject to accident, misuse, abuse, or installed in a manner contrary to that described in the installation instructions, or used as a rental unit at any time prior to or after original purchase at retail.

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.
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14 Reviews

  • 4

    Constant as the North Star.

    Posted by Scott Hershman on Nov 26th 2023

    The Realist Lifeline offers the most consistent output from any piezo pickup I have used but the unprocessed sound may not be everyones ideal. I have been using Piezo pickups on my German Plywood Bass for almost 20 years now. I started with the K&K bass max and preamp, then went to a Clef Revolution Solo I followed by a Clef Revolution Solo II. All three of these are wing mounted options. My struggle with this style is that they rely on the proper fit in the bridge. Not enough pressure and the sound is thin, too much and it is muddy and prone to feedback. Despite careful fitting, changes in humidity would often leave me adjusting the pickup during a set, to maintain my ideal sound. At Mark's suggestion I ordered the Realist Lifeline XL which was an easy fit for my Kolstein bridge with wood adjusters. Fitment was a 5 minute project and I am thrilled with the consistent results. No more fiddling with the pickup between songs and plenty of volume without feedback. The pickup is more mid focused than the others I have used and too much so for the genres I am playing. Presently, I am doubling in a Blues band and use a Headway EDB-2 for impedance matching and to switch between the EBG and Upright. The EDB-2 has a five band tone control to tame the mids, and balance the lows but I don't have enough shows under my belt to confirm i have been successful with this.

  • 5

    David Gage Lifeline

    Posted by Brad Benefield on Sep 12th 2023

    I’ve gone through Fishman, K&K, and Upton pickups on my Upton hybrid over the years. All are good enough pickups but all of them have some degree of that piezo “ping” - it’s a given that you need to roll off the high end and boost the low end to try and dial in a good sound. I got the Lifeline the other day, installed it in less than five minutes, set the controls on my GK combo flat and plugged it in. I swear, I could have gone straight to a gig without tweaking anything. Out of the box, it was big, fat, and dark with no hint of the dreaded “ping”. In fact, I had to boost some highs and mids and roll off a bit of the low end. Within two minutes, I had dialed in a great sound - no preamp, direct to the amp. An awesome pickup, just awesome. Taking it to a trio gig later this week and will see how it does live, but right now I’m very, very happy with it.

  • 5

    Great upgrade for my bass

    Posted by Chris Thomas on Mar 30th 2023

    I have used a BassMax for years for the occasional gig and just could never get a sound in my ears that I liked. I use a Fishman Platinum Pro and would always be tweaking knobs to get a sound I liked. Put on the Lifeline and pretty much set everything flat...and everything sounded fantastic right out of the gate. (for the record, it is on a threads-down bridge). I think this one is a keeper and worth the money.

  • 5

    Lifeline awesome bass pickup

    Posted by Rich on Mar 25th 2023

    This pickup is great, affordable and portable. I’m primarily a jazz bassist so I needed something that would cut through the mix. It’s warm and defined. I like the fact that it can be taken off and put on another bass. I highly recommend.

  • 5

    Realist Lifeline

    Posted by Vince Forcier on Feb 17th 2023

    First, the most important point: The guidance I received from Gollihur was so spot on, and always is. I rarely make an URB accessory purchase without calling first. For 8 years, I have played with a KK BassMax and a microphone through a Headway EDB-2. It worked great, a bit fussy with 2 sources, but once dialed in...good sound. My mic died and I wanted a pickup that I would not feel the need for a mic to round out the sound. The KK is great for the price, but I was left wanting when I was forced to not use the mic. Gollihur recommended this or the Full Circle. I chose this because I wanted something that can be off and on quickly and did not require me to replace adjusters. Fast install, sounded great, Exactly what I needed. I do prefer the jack install on the strings like the KK and Fishman, but that is a small quibble on an otherwise great pickup.

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