Active Electronics Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wannabe_bassist, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. wannabe_bassist

    wannabe_bassist Guest

    Jan 25, 2002
    What is the difference between active pickups and active EQ?

    Or is this just semantics between vendors advertisements?

    Which is better and why?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    This is one you could do a search for, but I'll indulge you.

    Active pickups have a preamp in the pickup itself. This allows the pickup to have weak magnets that allow the string to vibrate more freely.

    Active electronics are basically an EQ system that is put between the pickups and amp. You can boost AND cut frequencies with them. Both require external power sources.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    all good info from tmo33

    SO, when you combine the options available you get:

    1. passive pickups, no onboard preamp
    2. passive pickups, onboard preamp
    3. active pickups, no onboard preamp
    4. active pickups, onboard preamp

    There really is no "better" option out of the 4, it's down to what you're looking for tonally. If you want vintage type sounds, then you probably want to stick with passive pickups (option 1 or 2)

    If you don't change your sound much, or are happy with the stock passive sound then maybe you don't need an onboard preamp. Personally, all my basses have onboard preamps as I do many shows playing with house rigs and so I prefer to leave the house amp flat and do my eq on the bass.

    Many basses with onboard preamps, such as Sadowsky, allow you to bypass the preamp for when the battery runs out, or for when you just want the passive sound of the pickups.

    If you have active pickups and no separate preamp, the controls are just like a passive bass - vol / blend / tone.
    If you have a bass with active pickups, and suffer battery or circuit failure then you're pretty much dead in the water.
    Also, some active pickups like EMG apply a small eq pre-shape of their own to the sound, and there's no real way to bypass that once installed so if you don't like that pre-shape there's not much you can do about it.
  4. wannabe_bassist

    wannabe_bassist Guest

    Jan 25, 2002

    thanks for the detailed response. that was just what I was looking for in terms of an answer. you explained it perfectly. perhaps your explanation needs to go into the FAQ section.


    as for searching for this, enter the word "active" or "pickup" or "EQ" and see how many hits you get that do not even remotely pertain to my question.

    damn search police..... :meh: