David Gage

Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version)

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  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), 1/4 jack and transducer
  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), installed on bass
  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), woodtone
  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), installed under bridge
  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), 1/4 jack and transducer 2
  • Realist Pickup for Double Bass (Original and Wood Version), copperhead
Our Low Price: $242.95

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


Realist Copperhead and Woodtone Quick GuideGollihur Music has your back -- This pickup Includes FREE Jack Mount Kit -- See below for details.

The RealistTM has rapidly become a popular choice of bass pickup, and it is now used by a number of top bassists. It consists of a thin, flexible piezo film that fits between a bridge foot and the top of your instrument, and is carefully and specifically designed so it won't alter the acoustic sound of your bass.

Its sound is very natural and woody, with less focus and more body, due to its location on the body of the instrument. There are many different "natural bass sounds", all of which depend on the vantage point; what's your preference? Do you want the sound from one foot away, with more detail and string artifacts? If so, that's not the sound of The Realist. It has less detail - not necessarily a bad thing - due to the location of the transducer in relation to the strings. It provides more of the sound of the instrument "from a distance," where the body sound takes over from that upfront detail, but it is still sensitive to string sounds. Because of the nature of its sound, the Realist is an excellent choice for bowed response - as well as for the classic pizzicato sound. By comparison, pickups with "more detail" can sound scratchy or overly trebly, particularly when bowed.

Includes our exclusive Gollihur Music tipsheet to get the most out of your purchaseThe pickup seems to perform best on carved basses and quality laminated instruments with a nicely responsive top. As with all transducers, the bass and its characteristics dictate the results. Note that if your volume needs are high, The Realist may not be the best choice... as it seems to feed back more readily than some other pickups. I would suggest the K&K Bass Max as an alternative choice for players with higher volume needs, or the Fishman Full Circle (requires an adjustable bridge), which has a similar character but a bit more feedback resistance and string detail.

The photograph to the right is a close-up of a Realist installed on Bob's Eminence electric upright bass. The Eminence uses a unique, specially-designed version of the Realist, but the installation method is the same. You can see that the pickup has a low-profile appearance and easy installation.

The Bass Realist is available in two types: the original, classic copper foil design (the "Copperhead"), and the new wood veneer version (the "Woodtone.") What's the difference? In a word, very, very subtle. Trusted Gage sources tell us that if you played one on Friday night and the other on Saturday's gig, you wouldn't notice any difference. They have the same volume, the same wonderful arco and pizz response, and each installs in the same easy way.

The Coppertone has a thin piece of doubled-over foil which is the part that goes under the bridge foot. The Woodtone's two inch by one inch slice of wood veneer has a highly compressible black silicone-like material on the side that should face up, which retains your bridge foot/bass top fit. Only the wood shows beyond the foot. 

Thickness? We measured two of the pickups with our electronic caliper and they are nearly the same thickness. The copper foil unit was approximately .060 inches thick, the wood one about .075 inches — that difference of only .015 inches is about the thickness of four sheets of copy paper. The new wood version has been described as being slightly compressed and tighter sounding, with perhaps with a tiny bit more midrange. But again, we're talking subtle, very, very subtle. If one is Vanilla, the other is French Vanilla.

A Realist Purchase at Gollihur Music 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 on the loop, 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 included 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).

The Realist™ acoustic transducer was designed by Ned Steinberger (formerly with Steinberger basses, now NS Design) in collaboration with the well-known NYC-based luthier David Gage.

ARTISTS Sound Off on the Realist

John Patitucci:
"The most natural sounding pick-up I've ever heard. You wouldn't believe the sound of it through my rig. It feels great -- I'm totally into it. I'm really happy with it. It's easy, I love it. I can go from pizzicato to arco without any hesitation."

Michael Moore:
"The best Arco sound of them all. THE REALIST sounds the most like a microphone without the problem of feedback."

Jay Leonhart:
"The Realist is absolutely the best sounding pickup I have ever used. It creates a sound and texture that is very much like the instrument it is on, and you really feel like you are playing acoustically. Yet it can still crank out a lot of sound. Try it."


David Gage on the development of The Realist™:
Recognizing the limitations of microphones and traditional piezo transducers, Ned and I decided that for the working musician things could and should be better. We felt a transducer should be equal in its ability to recreate an acoustic pizzicato and arco sound through commonly used amplifiers.

Furthermore, this pick-up had to be simple, dependable, and affordable. After years of consideration and tests, we have come up with a system that achieves all of these goals.

We understand the hours of practice it takes to draw your sound out of your instrument, and with this pick-up we feel your voice can be heard more accurately through an amplifier. Both recording engineers and professional musicians have been startled by the great tone and even response when playing pizzicato and arco. Finally, you can play both pizz and arco without having to play with your controls.


Ned Steinberger on the development of The Realist™:
This pickup is the result of an intensive collaboration between myself and luthier David Gage. He is one of the first people from the acoustic bass scene to reach out and support my work on the electric upright. It was the piezo bridge pickup in particular that caught his interest because of the full, rich tonality, specially when bowed, that seemed to be missing in other electric instruments. We got to talking about the dissatisfaction so many acoustic string players have with the sound of the pickups that are available. The next thing I know, I've got one of David's prize instruments in my studio, and we are testing all kinds of old and new variations of pickup designs. The result is The Realist™, which is an evolution of the original pickup in the NS Double Bass. Three elements combine to give The Realist™ the exciting tone that has so many players raving. The first is finding the right structure within and around the piezo crystal to respond optimally to the acoustic resonance of the instrument itself. This involves endless comparisons that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and we have David's sensitivity and patience to thank for the excellent result. We owe a debt also the many fine players who were corralled into helping evaluate the various options. Second, placing the transducer under the foot of the bridge puts it exactly were the sound is transferred from the strings to the sound board. This is definitely where the action is, and the rich, powerful response, both pizzicato and bowed, testifies to this simple fact. The output level directly from the pickup is unusually high, and as a result the signal to noise ratio is also very high, so no pre-amp or other active, battery powered gear is necessary. Just plug it in! The copper foil sandwich construction is the third key element in the system. It provides total shielding to eliminate hum from light fixtures and other electrical or radio interference. It is flexible enough to conform to the curve of the top of the instrument, so that the full pressure of the bridge is concentrated evenly onto the piezo surface. But all this technical stuff is beside the point when you are on stage or in the studio, the pressure is mounting, and you need your sound to be there. As both luthier and musician, David has plenty of field experience in the ongoing battle for tone.

Product Manual

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.



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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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4 Reviews

  • 5

    Realist Pick Up

    Posted by Omar Rosado on Feb 17th 2023

    There other pick up in the market that claims to deliver the true sound of your bass. but there is a reason this guy still the top choice of students and professionals alike. Easy to install, is truly install and forget about it, minimum feedback and humming. very pleased

  • 5

    As advertised

    Posted by Johan W on Aug 4th 2012

    The Realist pickup arrived yesterday (Wednesday), and I had some time to install it today. It is as advertised and endorsed. Very nice! Just the sound of my bass but a bit louder. There were some reviews I read which mentioned that the pickup had some feedback issues and I did notice some feedback if the volume was increased dramatically. We have to keep in mind of course that when you turn an instrument as large as a double bass into a giant microphone, some feedback should be expected if the instrument is close to the speakers. As my instrument has a somewhat "soft" sound rather than a "mid-range" tone, the Realist will be ideal. It sounds great on pizz as well as bowed without adjusting the amp and that's great! Thanks for your great communication (now where should I put that BASS sticker, hmmm) ...

  • 5

    Sounds fantastic

    Posted by Rodney Lowe 12/2010 on Dec 15th 2010

    Quick message to say a BIG THANK YOU for your help & expertise with regards to my purchasing a Realist pick up for my New Upright bass. Not only did the info you give me help enormously, the Realist (foil one) arrived quickly & safely. The help on your site was extremely good, as this was my 1st time adding a pick up to an Acoustic upright. The Realist sounds fantastic! I play at least once/week- 99% pizz style- playing Jazz, blues & soul styles, & everyone has commented on the lovely tone of the bass. I also have a Fishman Platinum + pre amp purchased from you a couple of years ago(I used for my cheapo EUB) & this also sounds great with the new Acoustic & Realist. So- a HUGE thanks to Bob & the rest of the guys at Gollihur Music. A source I couldn't have found such wonderful tone with, in such a short time, without. Highly recommended & I make sure I tell ALL who ask- that I got my gear & info from Gollihur Music. Even though We're in Tasmania, Aus.

  • 5

    Works great

    Posted by William Hendrickson on Mar 19th 2010

    BTW I installed the pickup (Realist wood version) and it works great, thanks for the help today guys have the best service and prices...couldn't be happier with any of the purchases I made with you...your knowledge seems endless and helpful!!!

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