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Preamp to Emulate Active Bass Tone

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ed_in_NE_Ohio, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. Ed_in_NE_Ohio

    Ed_in_NE_Ohio

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    I absolutely love my two bass guitars (see below), but they are both passive.

    There are a handful of songs in our repertoire on which I'd like to have an active bass sound (I've played our drummer's active Ibanez on these songs, and really liked the vibe I got), but, I don't want to invest in an active bass just for these few songs.

    So, I'd like recommendations for a good stomp-box style preamp (price range up to $200) that will nicely emulate an active bass tone.

    During a quick web search this morning I found the Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum Bass Preamp (for $165). Is this a good choice? I've been very pleased with Fishman products when it comes to my acoustic guitars.

    What other off-board preamps should I consider?

    Thanks in advance. LOVE this forum!
  2. George Himmel

    George Himmel

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    Well, as a stomp box is literally the same sort of circuit you'd find in an active bass, anything would do the trick. But if you want suggestions, you can't go wrong with a TECH-21 SansAmp, and they run around $209 new. The Sadowsky DI would give you a nice modern active boost too, but they're about $240 new, so you might need to find one used. Happy hunting!
  3. Spent

    Spent Supporting Member

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    I second the sansamp, but would suggest the programmable version. It about the same price but more flexible.
  4. mimaz

    mimaz Gold Supporting Member

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    As mentioned above, the SansAmp is good (I have the rack mount version), the Sadowsky is near-legendary 'round these parts (have a stomp box, and in my Sadowsky Metro). Another good one to consider is the Radial BassBone....I'm using that for my acoustic gig currently. Great for switching between 2 basses, or to set up 2 different sounds with one bass.
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

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    The SansAmp would not be my first choice as they're designed to emulate a mic'd up speaker cab. Don't get me wrong...I have two rackmounts and absolutely love 'em. I would go with the Sadowsky, Aguilar, etc or something that is essentially an onboard preamp dressed-up in a nice, neat external pedal version.

    Do you have enough room in the bass's control cavity for the addition of an onboard pre? The EMG BTC, for example, is a compact stacked tone control with battery harness. May be an option when dealing with limited real estate.

    Riis
  6. wcriley

    wcriley

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    Can someone tell me what "Active Bass Tone" is?

    Any properly designed onboard preamp should be transparent when the EQ knobs are centered unless you're using a really long crappy cable or effects boxes that don't like low impedence signals.
  7. bluebird28

    bluebird28

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    I've been told the Fishman Pro EQ is for Pizeo instruments and the Aguilar Tone Hammer is for electric bass guitars. I have both and when I used the Tone Hammer with my Gold Tone Micro Bass and compared it to the Fishman the difference was right there for my ears to hear.
  8. Ed_in_NE_Ohio

    Ed_in_NE_Ohio

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    Awesome! Thanks for the replies.

    Looks like the Sadowsky is $290 new (more than I want to drop right now), so:

    Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI or Aguilar Tone Hammer?

    I'm leaning toward the Aguilar since it seems to be more straight forward (read as: easier to understand controls) and would take up less pedal board real estate. BTW, when it comes to these things I'm very much a "dial it in once & then don't mess with it" guy.

    The more I think about it the more sure I am that passive bass + external preamp is the way to go for me. Love the flexibility of this, and one more pedal will be no big deal.

    Thanks again!
  9. MuthaFunk

    MuthaFunk

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    To me the active sound is boosted deep lows that are still tight and an extended treble range with a peak higher then 4 kHz. Passive pickups produce these frequencies but don't produce them as loud as the others more predominantly heard with natural bass frequencies.

    Active tone cheap in a stomp pedal?? One answer comes to my mind, Eden WTDI. In addition to an extensive eq, it also has a decent compressor for those modern active slap sounds. I've used mine to "Actify" my old '63 Pbass with Flats!! It's really that powerfull.

    You can find them used here on TB for $90 sometimes.
  10. Rodslinger

    Rodslinger Supporting Member

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  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind Charlie Escher Supporting Member

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  12. Ed_in_NE_Ohio

    Ed_in_NE_Ohio

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    Totally agree with MuthaFunk, especially on the extended treble range. Also, to use a complex audio term I'd say that active bass tone is "ruder" than passive bass tone. :) :bassist:
  13. line6man

    line6man

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    +1. There is no inherent tonal difference between active and passive basses. All of these misconceptions that people have about active basses sounding a certain way are related to specific design choices.
  14. MuthaFunk

    MuthaFunk

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    +1 agreed with your comment on design choices dictating the active sound of an instrument. But in the interest of the OPs question and the reference to an Ibanez active bass, I believe my description of an active sound is what the OP and many others would consider an "Active" sound. Often the active preamps have EQ centers around 40 Hz which is wayyy lower than most normal pickups peak out at. Once placed in active a bass equipped with one of these preamps will naturally sound very different tonally when the EQ points are boosted or cut.
  15. wcriley

    wcriley

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    So, if I'm understanding correctly:
    "Active Tone" isn't something inherent to having a buffer/EQ in the bass, it's the ability to change the tone inherent to a particular instrument?
  16. MuthaFunk

    MuthaFunk

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    I guess it would depend on who's referencing on what "Active Tone" is. It's as subjective a term as any tone discussed here on TB.
  17. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

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    I think a cliche active tone would be a smilie scooped EQ, because of the way so many people set the traditional 2 band bass/treble full on. Rumbling lows, ear piercing highs.
    Otherwise there shouldn't be a big difference other than slightly reduced high range on passive because of the loss induced by cable length at high impedance.
  18. RobbieK

    RobbieK

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    I don't want to wade in on comments about transparent on-board pre being the best way to design things - (I design pres and I disagree with this.)

    Anyway, sticking with the OP's Q, I would think an eq pedal is perfect for what you are chasing. You can wind up the treble and bass for that "scooped" tone and also tweak the volume so that you don't get a big jump when you kick it on. You'll find a boss GEB7 on ebay for under 100 bucks I'd think...
  19. wmheilma

    wmheilma

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    Sadowski makes one that is great! Enables you to get an active tone from a passive bass when you want to without doing any bass mods.

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