Active Electronics Questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Es-La-Una, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. Es-La-Una


    Oct 27, 2016
    I’m considering buying a bass guitar that has active electronics (built-in battery). I currently play a passive bass (no built-in battery). I mostly practice by playing multiple short sessions with frequent breaks.

    From what I’ve read and been told, an active electronic guitar’s guitar-to-amp cable has to be pulled from the guitar when it’s not in use in order to prevent the bass’s built-in battery from draining.

    Q1. Instead, if I was to turn the bass amplifier’s on/off switch to the OFF position AND leave the guitar-to-amp cable plugged in AND leave the amp-to-wall-outlet cable plugged in, will the bass’s built-in battery be drained?

    Q2. Why don’t bass guitar manufacturers just install an on/off switch on the guitar itself to prevent battery draining instead of having to install/remove a cable every time you start/stop playing?

    Thank you, talkbass forumites.
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    The battery will drain if a plug is in the jack...plugged into the amp or not.
    PortlandBass77 and MobileHolmes like this.
  3. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    You have to unplug the cord from the guitar to disengage the battery. A switch is possible, but hardly needed...
    Herrick likes this.
  4. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Some basses do...Hohner active basses have passive/active switches and also automatically go to passive if battery is removed. Most active basses don't have a switch because they don't work as a passive bass so in those cases, you just have to make sure you unplug it after use.
  5. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Depending on the bass, the drain really isn't that bad. I'd just leave it plugged in while you take a break, unless they are like hours long.
    Doner Designs likes this.
  6. JonathanAlvarez


    Aug 31, 2016
    Some basses have On/Off switch. At least mine has it, and it is an Ibanez copy active bass.
    If your active bass does not has a On/Off switch, as soon as the cable is inserted, the bass is ON.
    That's how the circuit is designed, it is not about the current flowing into the cable, it is the physical contact that turns it on.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    If you have an on/off switch and forget to turn it off when you put the bass away, the circuit is still active and the battery will drain. To overcome this you can design the circuit so that the power is off when the cable is removed even if you leave the switch on. But then what do you need the witch for - just unplug the bass and it's off. It's not a big deal.
  8. I don't leave mine plugged in overnight, but I leave it plugged in for the whole gig, and it still lasts over a year.
    El-Bob and smogg like this.
  9. As soon as you have to buy a few batteries because of forgetting to unplug at $3-$5 each you start to remember really well to just unplug it. It's not a big deal, it just becomes a habit. And as stated above batteries last from several months to well over a year depending frequency and duration of use.
    El-Bob and Gearhead17 like this.
  10. hoangduong212


    Sep 10, 2015
    Once you plug in the jack, the battery start to be drained, turning off the amp won't help.
    unless you take a 4-5 hours break, you don't need to unplug your bass, it won't drain the battery that much. I forgot to unplug my active bass once overnight and it still last for 2 more gigs, after that the battery died in the middle of the 3rd gigs...
    Some bass have switch between active and passive, but I don't really know if that switch help prevent battery from draining.
  11. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Pickups & Electronics [BG]
  12. Strabel


    Jun 28, 2015
    It had 2 reasons (advantages) why "they" designed it like this.
    1th=switch off batterie
    2th= If you alway's leave you're cable in the "clambs" connection will get "lazy" after time.
    So also for passieve basses it would be better to unplug .
    nbsipics likes this.
  13. Kmrumedy


    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    1. Keep spare batteries in your gig bag
    2. As a habit, you should always unplug your cable from your bass ( whether it is passive or active)when not playing it or extended breaks. I have lost count the number of times I have seen students or band members trip over a jack cable and take down an unattended plugged in instrument.
    3. Batteries will last well over a year and are cheap.
    4. Many active basses have a pull out passive mode so even if battery dies you can keep playing.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    I saw a mod somewhere years ago which involved putting a mercury switch inline with the battery + circuit. When the bass is upright, like on a stand, it opens the circuit preventing battery drain.
    FunWithBass likes this.
  15. equill


    Nov 25, 2010
    A switch is another moving part to wear out, to cause intermittent signal problems, and for the player to forget to switch on, as well as off.

    As for the cost of batteries, go for the low-self-discharge ones - they've been available in 9v format for a while now. They last for ages, and supply a very consistent current right up until they're about to fail; whether that's a feature or a problem is a matter of opinion :)
    They do cost more to buy, especially when you get a smart charger to get the best out of them, but they save you money in the long run. Less landfill, too.

    ...and you've just reminded me that I need to keep unplugging my own new bass, which I keep forgetting has a battery to power its preamp :)


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Mercury switch, solder it in and forget about it.
  17. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Generally, they don't. The reason is so that you have immediate sound when you turn the switch to "On". The only way to disconnect the preamp from power on all of the active instruments that I have come in contact with (thereby eliminating drain) is to make a cable with a stereo plug on the instrument end with an inline switch that connects/disconnects the sleeve from the ring. Typically the power is supplied by using a stereo jack where the tip and ring are in the battery circuit and completed when a MONO plug is inserted.

    I made such a cable (I also put a switch on the output side to short to output (thereby muting it) but I only use it at home. I really don't understand why Planet Waves doesn't make something like this, I do use their cables with the mute switch. In fact that is what gave me the idea for my cable.

    Here it is:
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  18. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    take out the active guts and make it passive .. ! no more battery issues ..

    the jack on the bass turns the guts on/off when cable is inserted ... that's just how it works ...
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    I'm curious why unplugging the bass is a big deal? I presume you turn your amp off? Why is unplugging the cord a big deal?

    I'm just curious. I know we all roll in different ways. I also pick up an instrument multiple times during the day. Unplugging when I'm going to put the bass down is just second nature. No big deal for me.

  20. It will drain as long as the plug is inserted on the bass, regardless of anything else.

    I guess they don't put a switch for simplicity, and maybe they think like me: I don't leave the bass plugged in if not in use; people trip over cables and you can end up with a damaged bass, damaged socket or both...
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 19, 2021

Share This Page