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active electronics versus passive with preamp

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Shaky, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. Shaky


    Jul 6, 2006
    Roanoke, VA
    I am sure this has been discussed before, but I have not been able to find a satisfying answer.

    I have never owned a bass with active pickups or electronics. Several years ago I test drove a Deluxe Jazz with active electronics. I was amazed at the response of the controls on the bass and punch I was able to dial in.

    My question is; If you have 2 identical basses with the exception of one having an active on-board preamp, can you get the same response out of the passive bass if you use a good out-bord preamp? Is the main difference between the two setups that you have to dial it in at the amp instead of at the bass?
  2. Hapa


    Apr 21, 2011
    Tustin, CA
    Kinda, there are many threads on this to search through. But functionally for playing, yes. It also gets rid of signal loss in a longer cable. The signal is usually boosted from a passive level so it hits the preamp harder.
  3. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2006
    Like them or not, but there is a reason there are so many basses available active. I have done both and I always lean back to an active simply because I like the flexibility of adjustments at the instrument instead of going to the head or kicking pedals. But, that is just me.
  4. The main difference is the fact that a passive instrument usually has a high impedance output, while an active instrument usually has a low impedance output. If there is an instrument cable between your pickups and the first buffer in your signal path, the capacitance of the cable will cause "tone suck."
  5. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2006
    I know you are correct here, but I always wondered how guitarists deal with that? They are usually passive and get great tone.
  6. Guitars usually need to be tamed, anyway. A lot of people complain when they hear what their instrument really sounds like, when using a wireless system.

    It's not significant enough to be a problem worth dealing with, to most people.