Is the piezo pickup the “secret” to the upright bass sound?
The best way to answer that is to say first that nothing sounds like a real upright bass. When you want that low, boomy-in-a-good-way sound, you need a big acoustic bass to do it with.
When attempting to get that sound out of an electric bass, yes it can be done, but it takes the right hardware to do it.
Below you will see a video of the Veillette Paris model bass, which does have a convincing upright bass sound. But of course they used a proprietary “dovetail” wooden bridge along with specialized construction.
Could you get a sound like this on your fretless electric bass? You can – even on a plain solid-body – but it is suggested that in addition to the piezo bass bridge you use tapewound strings (although stainless steel flatwounds could be used), and learning basic upright playing techniques also helps out quite a bit.
If you are planning on installing a piezo bass bridge, you probably have questions about the electronics, some of which may specifically be around grounding. We can help. Ask us.