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Why don't my active basses work?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by cfsporn, Nov 29, 2012.


  1. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    I own several active basses, all of them high end (USA Spector, Status Graphite, Alembic, MIJ ESP), and the preamps in all of them (except the Alembic) never seem to work. It is obvious that something I am doing is causing this, but for the life of me, I don't know what it is. It could be that I leave them unplugged and with the battery in most of the time, but that doesn't seem likely. Any ideas on how I could be killing my actives so quickly? I am almost about to go all passive!
     
  2. two fingers

    two fingers You tahkin 'uh me? Yeah, you. You tahkin 'uh me? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern NC USA
    Most active basses don't drain the battery when unplugged. Also, some batteries suck for things like active electronics, wirelesses and such. Someone with more knowledge than me will make a good battery suggestion any second now. So, answer a few more questions for us.

    What kind of batteries?
    How often do you play them?
    Do you ever leave them plugged in for long periods?
    Have you opened up the back and checked the simple things (like a possible short or some broken strands in the battery connection wires)?
    Quite often the input jack is the "switch" that makes the connection to "turn on" the active pre. If you have messed up your input jacks, or possibly used some of the rumored "too big" connector cables, the active pre might be staying on even if you have left the basses unplugged. (BTW I have no idea if there's anything to the "too big" connector cables. But many have claimed that they messed up their input jacks.)
     
  3. Waterpilot

    Waterpilot

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Location:
    North of Seattle
    Yeah I've never had a problem with any of my actives. I always leave the batteries in them and always unplug when not in use.
     
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Location:
    Southern California
    Based on what you've said it doesn't sound like you're abusing or even mistreating your instruments. But to be clear, are you actually frying preamps or is it something less serious like bad output jacks?
     
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  6. ras1983

    ras1983

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    And what do you mean by "not working"?
     
  7. grendle

    grendle

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Location:
    Central FL
    been playing active basses only since 92. Never any problems unless I left one plugged in for a few days.
     
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    Newport News, VA via NYC
    Disclosures:
    Kohlman Bassworks
    By chance are you using Monster Cable Bass Cables?

    Seems odd that all of them don't work! I'd have a competent tech have a look see! Could be bad jacks. Loose wires.... Do you get any sound at all?
     
  9. Dave W

    Dave W Previously bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    What do you mean by not working?
     
  10. Stealth

    Stealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    So... either all of your basses use mono jacks or have faulty wiring on the stereo jacks (battery ground connected to tip or sleeve instead of ring), you're using a stereo cable (will not connect the battery properly because of the extra contact, might be a non-issue on the Alembic if they have a switching stereo jack) or all of your basses somehow have blown preamps or preamp ICs.
     
  11. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    Some details of "not working" would help in trouble-shooting.

    I would suspect bad batteries (my experience being that only Duracells or Procells are consistently reliable), or perhaps you routinely plug or unplug the cord from the bass while the other end is connected to a powered up amp, or effects. That might possibly cause a spike that cooks the IC.

    John
     
  12. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Yeah, early 90s for me, too - other than having to replace a jack or two due to normal "wear and tear", no problems with actives for me, either...


    - georgestrings
     
  13. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    I usually use Duracell batteries, but I sometimes use Energizers.

    I almost never plug in my basses, let alone leave them plugged in. Since I don't gig, most of my playing is done in my bedroom or dining room unplugged.

    I couldn't see any obvious shorts or cold solders, but I will check again later tonight. I can also post high res pictures of the control cavities if that will help.

    I doubt I have messed up the jacks, but anything is possible. How can I check this?
     
  14. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    On my Status, I get very little output, and it always sounds weird. It is difficult to describe, but I will try to post some soundclips tonight.

    On my Spector, I get no sound at all. When I first got the bass (used from GC, they said it was in perfect working condition), the sound cut out whenever I dimed the midrange, that evolved into no sound at all.

    On my ESP, I get this very distorted sound, and the knobs are for decorative purposes only.
     
  15. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    Hmmm, one of my favorite cables is a stereo 1/4" to mono 1/8". I am 99% sure I have tried with other cables, but this could be the problem. Tonight, I will swing by my local Radio Shack and get a true mono-mono cable.

    I don't think my Alembic has a stereo jack. It only has one pickup.
     
  16. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    Nope. I can't afford them!
     
  17. hdracer

    hdracer Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Elk River, MN.
    Have you tried different cords?

    edit,
    I see you answered while I was writing.
     
  18. cfsporn

    cfsporn

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Location:
    New York City
    How would I be able to tell?
     
  19. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    The jacks are "stereo", technically tip/ring/sleeve so that when you plug in a mono plug, the ring and sleeve connectors short together and act as a switch. Has NOTHING to do with number of PUPs, nor any kind of stereo output.

    You have to use a mono 1/4" plug to make them work, and make sure it's plugged in all the way.

    John
     
  20. Dave W

    Dave W Previously bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    Start with picking up the right cable, just a standard instrument cable.
     
  21. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    :) :D
     

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