I had a request to install a piezo pickup under the nut on a 8 string bass to do something called tapping. Has anybody ever heard of this. This is new to me. Any info would help.
Thanks again, Michael
Interesting idea. If the frets were in the right divisions, you had a pickup in the bridge, and a pickup in the nut: I assume you could fret a note, and the string on both sides of your fretting position would get picked up. Maybe an E on the bridge pickup, and a B on the Nut pickup.
One would assume you'd put some sort of blend knob on it so you could choose between the more ringing tones of the bridge pickup, and the more muted tones of the nut pickup.
As for applying it, it would probably work better with a captive nut like a fender, so the string pressure over the nut would press down on a piezo element. What kind of bass is it?
He didn't say what kind other than it was a 8 string bass. What I'm wondering is how to get the wire from the pickup under the nut to the output jack. Would the fingerboard have to come off and route a channel for the wire then into the pickup cavities and so on. Oh yeah, he said something about a kill switch to the piezo.
If you really wanted to get into it (which sounds pretty fun, in my opinion) I would look into flat cabling. You might be able to get away with a very flat ribbon cable instead of the usual pickup leads. That being said, I have no clues about the ramifications of amps or ohms through such a piece of cable, but I'm sure some low profile solution could be rigged. Or yes, a small channel could be routed on the side of the neck.
Maybe chuck it up in a vertical mill, run a slot down the neck if the person is willing to accept that? Maybe a wireless solution for the noodling inclined? Can you run the signal down the strings some how? Instead of 8 ridiculous strings, how about 7 and a wire for the piezo? I'm just throwing things out there, for nonsense sake.
Now that I think about it, a touch-style player plays with a bit of a different hand position, so you may tailor it to the player's needs, and not need to do anything intricate to wire it up. Look up the Chapman stick, touch style playing, or Warr Guitars on Youtube to see what I mean. It's tapping style, and it might warrant a different hand position, therefore a wire down the neck may not get in the way.
Frank Zappa had a barcus berry transducer installed on the peghead of a Stratocaster. I believe he would tap on the neck for interesting sounds. I did not hear anything of this so I don't know what it sounded like.
I might ask the customer if he had seen this actually done. You might be able to contact the installer and see if he/she ran into any difficulties, including getting the signal to the output.
For test purposes you also could put the piezo (i'm thinking "Pick up the World) under the nut and just let the leads hang. If the effect wasn't what was anticipates, you would not have pulled the finger board.
Assuming you install the p/u and get the signal out the bass, the bass will need to have a "special" set up so that the strings behind the "tap" do not fret out. Unless that sound, amplified, is the desired effect.
Of course, while the fingerboard is off, you need to install LED fret markers...
Well, as long as we're fantasizing, there is always conductive paint like that used to shield guitar pickup compartments which could be put under a layer of finish (run on the "down" side of the fret board it wouldn't be that noticeable if the finish is less than opaque) - even though I detest the sound of piezo pickups their extremely high impedance means that their signal wouldn't be degraded much by the relatively high resistance of the conductive paint (actually not that high at all but I'm comparing it to copper wire). And even better - is somewhat more robust - are the silver paint "pens" that are made to repair breaks in a printed circuit board that are available from any electronics supply firm. You could use some sort of guide and paint a couple of stripes with this which has much lower resistance than the sheilding paint. But it would definitely need to be protected by a layer or two of finish or it would wear through quickly.
Pulling the fret board or routing a channel are obviously the best routes but perhaps this would be a way of doing a "proof of concept" before going to the complicated/expensive route.
If the neck has a bound fretboard, you could take away the down side, make a channel to install the wire and re-glue the wood or plastic stripe. But you could do it anyway, also if the fretboard is un-bound! Then drill a hidden hole to bring the wire inside the body. Just a theory.
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for their input on this matter, everyone has had great ideas. Secondly, I like to thank Frank for starting this discussion group because we all don't the answers and this site makes life a lot easier having a knowledgeable bunch guys to help out. Again, thanks to everyone.
P.S. This is my website if anyone is interest: www.raveonguitarworks.com
And.....another temporary solution - possibly permanent is covered sufficiently - is the copper "tape" used to repair or make temporary PCBs. It is a thin strip of copper with a vinyl (I think) covering and an adhesive backing. The adhesive isn't that strong so you could make a temporary installation and the covering plastic is sufficiently strong to probably work for several - perhaps tens of hours of playing before wearing through the copper. And, again, under a finish - assuming that the finish compatible with the vinyl(?) layer - might even be a "permanent" installation if the user can accomodate two raised lines along the fret board. Perhaps this could even be a single strip of conductor is the strings were used as the ground conductor. It would require making sure that they make good contact at each end and if I were to go that route I would tin a 1/8" inch portion of the string where it makes contact at each end which should be beyond the vibrating portion and not affecting the overall action. But as you've already guessed no matter how you approach this issue it's going to take planning and careful layout one of the reasons that I've continued to suggest temporary solutions first before commiting to routing or pulling the fretboard.