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active and passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bassplayer666, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. i havnt been playing for that long, so can you guys tell me what the advantages and disadvantages of active and passive pickups are

  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Passive: No batteries. No electronics. Simple, dependable and may have, depending on the actual PU, more of a vintage-y tone.

    Active: higher output and both cut and boost EQ flexibility are probably the most pronounced highlights. Although, on most basses, the actual preamp itself tends to color tone across the complete band of frequencies.

    With a five string, I have never played a passive bass that I like. With a four string, each has its merits.
  3. I switched my passive P/Js out for EMG actives wired 18v with 2 9v batteries. More headroom, more responsive to slides, better tone but it's only a 200L Ibanez so it came with junk pups to begin with.
  4. didier


    Aug 4, 2005
    when you're thinking about this, also keep in mind there that there are active electronics that use passive pickups (probably what most people are talking about when they say "active") and there are active pickups, that require power to work properly.

    The active electronics, the preamp, gan give you boost, and thus more dynamic range and control over eq.
    The active pickups are typically wound less, and on average are quieter, than passive pups.
  5. Mystral Hawk

    Mystral Hawk

    Feb 10, 2006
    I got a MIM Fender Pbass and replaced them recently with some EMG active pickups. The change is remarkable...it has an edgier modern rock tone with a growly rumble bass. Its more responsive it seems and sounds clearer and live.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The active pickups are hellaciously loud on my Brice V2 with a passive EQ.
  7. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I think he was referring to noise. Active p'ups are usually quieter noise wise than passives, but are louder volume wise.
  8. My bass seems to have a little hum still but alot better than it was. Plus, I haven't done any shielding or anything like that. CAUTION!!!!!!!! YOU MIGHT NEED TO REMOVE YOUR BRIDGE GROUND WHEN YOU INSTALL ACTIVE PUPS.
  9. Mystral Hawk

    Mystral Hawk

    Feb 10, 2006
    Yup...but EMG's are internally shielded / ground or something so they're good.
  10. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    For one reason or another, EMG's never worked for me. I've had JJ's, PJ's, P's and soaps both new and old and they all seemed to have hyped lows and a brittle high end. I used to have a nice old Fodera with their PJ's in it and instead of selling the bass, I should've just replaced the pickups. Doh! :crying:

    Speaking strictly for my ERBasses, I've had the most success in both active and passive modes with Bartolinis but for passive-only I recommend Lindy Fralin. Both of my Fenders have Fralins and I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't want my Fender's active for obvious reasons. Going on, I replaced a modern Stingray's stock MM pup with a Bart and tried it in both active and passive modes and with the stock pre and Bart's NTB pre. I ended up going with the Bart preamp with that one and it was a great combination. I was always bothered by the exposed polepieces of the stock MM pup so the Bart's smooth cover was a welcome change. Since then, nearly every bass I've bought has come equipped with Bartolinis. I have yet to try Rough Crystal, Aero, Norstrand and the myriad of other venerable makers. Hopefully that will change soon.

    After many trials with different basses and pickups, I found that I am ultimately content with a system that can do both. My main bass has the capabilities to run active or passive and dual-coil or single-coil. Passive has its advantages over active and vice versa so why not be able to pick from both? I use the active mode about 60% of the time and passive about 40%. Despite the additional signal path with an active/passive switch, I don't notice any sound degradation with my 18V preamp.
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Right on.