Active electronics basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Marc PG, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. Marc PG

    Marc PG

    Jul 25, 2021
    Which was the first electric bass in history that featured an active electronic system?
  2. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Seems to have been Alembic's modifications of Jack Cassady's and Phil Lesh's Guild Starfire basses. Then they built Cassady's Alembic bass.
    kesslari, Roger W, red_rhino and 3 others like this.
  3. Mark 63

    Mark 63 Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2012
    Phil Lesh has played active basses longer than anyone ever.
    Justinian likes this.
  4. svlilioukalani

    svlilioukalani Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2012
    Seattle, Wa
    I love Alembic basses and have 2. But I think Les Paul had bass with active electronics; in the Les Paul Recording Bass, made prior to Alembic. However Alembic was the first to get them out there, and did it right. The Les Paul was made in 1969. Alembic #1 was 1972. I hope I am right here.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
  5. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    May be wrong, but I think Ovation tried to claim to be the first mass manufacturer of an active bass model.
  6. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Wasn't there an earlier bass with a built in "fuzz" circuit?
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Does that qualify as active?
    Jeff Scott and Mili like this.
  8. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    I believe the Hofner 500/8-BZ had a built in fuzz the required an on-board battery (if someone knows different, please correct me).

    How do you want to define "active"? I've always thought the term referred to an on-board, tone-altering circuit which requires a power source. I'm no authority (all my basses are passive) so straighten me out if that's wrong.

    I keep all that stuff on the pedal board run by a Strymon power block because I hate missing with batteries.
    Max Bogosity, Shrubber and JimmyM like this.
  9. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    If the battery was required to get any sound out of it I'd call it active. If the battery was only required to use the fuzz circuit, i wouldn't call it an active bass. That's misleading.
    Jeff Scott and JimmyM like this.
  10. The Les Paul Bass and Triumph bass had low impedance electronics but I'm not sure they were powered i.e. active... I'm sure @Basvarken would know.
    B-Mac and svlilioukalani like this.
  11. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    Wasn't the '76 Music Man StingRay the first viable mass produced active bass? Not totally sure.
  12. Basvarken

    Basvarken Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2010
    Velp Rockcity
    Amateur Luthier / Gibson Bass Book
    They're passive. No batteries required!
    The Les Paul Bass came with a special (external) transformer plug to go from lo-z to hi-z.
    And the Triumph has a built in impedance transformer. You can choose between lo-z to hi-z with the slider switch on the control plate.
    B-Mac and ficelles like this.
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The Les Paul Recording Bass had weird electronics, but it was still passive.

    If you count on-board effects as "active", the Gibson EB0-F in 1962 would be the first production model I can think of.


    Vox started adding onboard FX in 1967 to both guitars and basses, including a Treble/Bass Booster, which could be considered a form of active EQ. They also built a guitar-only model with a strings-triggered organ inside!!!

    Hofner started offering preamps in their guitars as early as the 1950s and they were later available for basses as well.

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  14. Looks like Hofner takes it!
    GIBrat51 and Jeff Scott like this.
  15. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Who'da thunk it? :thumbsup:
  16. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    I don't see how a built in fuzz counts as active.
  17. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Similar experimentation was going on with guitars starting in the late 1960s:

    MCI – 1967-1988
 MusiConics International, Waco Texas, famous for the guitorgan – modified Gibson, Ventura or Univox archtops.
    MCI, Inc., of Waco, Texas, was a distributor for the Daion Guitar Company in Japan. MCI, Inc., was active from 1977 until 1983, and in early 1984 the decision was made to totally restructure the company interest in music and undertake some major expansion programs in manufacturing, merchandising, and marketing. The first expansion was in the manufacturing and marketing of the company’s MCI steel guitars.

    Then, there was also the Vox V251 Guitar Organ

  18. B-Mac likes this.
  19. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
  20. Templar

    Templar Rythm Wrangler Supporting Member

    So which maker was the last to offer active elecs?

    Or, who still doesn't offer actives, even today?
  21. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    I could post a troll post but I won't. :laugh: