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Active and Passive?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bigbutes89, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. bigbutes89


    Mar 6, 2006
    What the difference between Active and Passive? And how do you know if your bass is active or passive?

  2. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Tell me if I'm wrong but,

    Active has a pre-amp in the guitar and passive doesnt.
  3. mkrtu9


    Mar 2, 2006
    active has a battery
  4. bigbutes89


    Mar 6, 2006
    Thanks guys
  5. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Basically, +1 on the above. However, it's a little more complicated. Most basses called 'active' have passive pickups, and have a battery powered preamp installed in the bass. This preamp serves a couple of functions... it allows more output, reduces pickup loading.. which I believe allows for less treble loss between the bass and the amp, and allows for very handy tone controls (usually bass and treble, but sometimes bass, mid and treble) right on the bass, for quick tone adjustments 'on the fly'. Many times, these sort of basses have an 'active/passive' switch, so you can play the bass with or without the preamp (i.e., the best of both worlds...active and passive in one bass).

    Truly 'active' basses have the preamp as described above, and active pickups, which have some sort of preamp actually built into the pickup. Most EMG pickups are active, and the USA MTD's have highly unusual active Bartolini's installed. From what I understand, the advantage of active pickups has to do with them being 'noise free' (I'm sure there are other positives also). Both the EMG's and the active Barts in the MTD sound very 'modern'.... crips treble, deep, deep bass.

    The disadvantage to these totally active systems is that if the battery fails, the bass will not work at all. However, this is a rare occurence, and not much of an issue, especially if you carry a spare battery.

    The batteries in these active and active/passive basses typically last 6 months or more under regular playing conditions.

    Finally, most of these basses use the input plug as an 'on/off' switch for the circuit, so it's key to always unplug an active bass between gigs or practice sessions, or the batteries will drain quickly.

    Hope that makes sense:)
  6. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    +1 on unplugging. Been caught out many a time.

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