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Active Electronics

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Vipersassasin, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Vipersassasin


    May 5, 2013
    I am looking to put some active electronics back in my bass and am looking for just a Bass and Treble configuration. What are some good active electronics out there and how easy are they to install? I am also going to wire it up to a true bypass on/off switch because I have independent volume for both humbuckers with separate tone for each p/u as well.
  2. You've not specified the features you want for your application. Transparency? A particular voicing?

    Control schemes are irrelevant to active/passive switching. Most preamps have just a single input and output, so you can wire them into any configuration you want.

    Also, a minor technical point; all electronics are active and active implies electronics, so it is redundant to state both.
  3. Vipersassasin


    May 5, 2013
    True... I do want something that helps put thump in my bass but also doesn't want something that doesn't take away from the sound of the bass but don't want it truly transparent. Not really looking for a big treble presence but something that would help stabilize the low end and add some punchiness or low end... I have a 5-string too.
  4. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    So... pickups, caps and pots aren't electronics? What are they then?

  5. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    In bass parlance, active electronics means the use of a preamp which requires a battery. A preamp can boost the signal or certain frequencies if an eq is part of the preamp, thus"active". Without the preamp, the only signal is generated by the pickups coils and magnets.
  6. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    Thanks, but that's not what I asked. I know what "active" and "passive" mean.

    Let me spell it out clearly: Line6man said " all electronics are active and active implies electronics". That seems to imply that passive circuits aren't "electronics". So what are they?

  7. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    They are passive electronics, as the only power is supplied by the vibrating string.
    The OP asked about active electronics, which use power supplied internally, by a battery.
  8. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    I know that... geez, I didn't realize I was being so cryptic... so let me make my point even clearer:

    I think line6man is wrong. "Active electronics" is not redundant.

    I invite comments for and against this position.

    Thanks for the replies anyway, I appreciate the helpful intentions.

  9. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    I suppose I should try to stay on-topic and help the OP instead of just being ornery.

    The next question is how much you want to spend. For a simple 2 band (bass & treble) control, you could spend about $200 for something really nice (Aguilar, John East, Sadowsky, etc), or at the other extreme, this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-Band-EQ-Preamp-Circuit-for-Active-Bass-Pickup-volume-tone-pots-Balance-volume-/331100370421?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item4d171eb5f5 which I do not recommend.

    What's your budget?

  10. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    And I only replied because I think you're misinforming the OP. There's nothing wrong with the title he chose.

    The articles you cited are talking about "electronics" as a science or field of knowledge; that isn't what the OP is putting in his bass. He's really using the word to refer to electronic components which can indeed be active or passive.



    P.S. Semantics are always constructive (the word doesn't mean what most people think).
  11. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    ...and again, if I'm going to argue like that, I should at least help out the OP.

    If you want active electronic components :) with bass and treble controls, my usual suggestion is the EMG BTC system. The quality is very good, and it can be found for well under $100. Is this within your budget?

    EMG BTC prices

    If not, there are cheaper solutions.

    Bypass (active/passive switching) is achieved by adding a DPDT (double pole, double throw) switch. In one position (the first "throw"), the switch connects your pickups to the preamp input (first "pole"), and the preamp output to the output jack (second "pole"). In the other position (the second "throw"), the pickups are connected to the output jack, the preamp input is grounded, and the preamp output is disconnected. If you don't want to drill yet another hole, you can get a volume pot that incorporates a suitable push/pull switch. A search on this forum will turn up lots of threads about how to do it.

    One thing I'd advise against is this wiring:

    http://www.guitarelectronics.com/product/WIRING_MOD_SW003/Guitar-Wiring-Mod-ActivePassive-True-Bypass-Switch.html. It leaves the preamp floating on both the input and output (ie, it doesn't ground the input). While most decent preamps are probably OK with that, it's possible for the preamp to pick up and amplify noise or even oscillate, either of which can drain the battery and possibly introduce noise into your passive wiring. You want to ensure that the preamp is inert when it's not switched in. This wiring also pretty much ensures a loud POP when you switch it.

    You can also make your passive tone controls switchable as well, if you don't want those and the active eq engaged at the same time.

  12. Vipersassasin


    May 5, 2013
    I am looking for something under $200 as that is my budget... Hadn't thought of the EMG BTC but was thinking about the Aguilar OBP-2... Anyone know how that system is?

    EDIT: Also I am looking for something I can wire up myself not something pre-wired like the EMG if that helps furthur.
  13. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    Aguilar makes great stuff. Again, do a search in this forum, you'll find lots of information.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "pre-wired". The BTC unit supports a lot of different wiring options. If you mean the fact that the pot is mounted on the pc board, why is that an issue? Do you have different pots that you'd rather use?

  14. If you really wanted you could scratch build it for less than 20 $. There are schematics laying around here and there and a quick Google search picks them up. I designed my own active/passive system with EQ not too long ago, although it's a wee bit more complex than a 2 band eq.
  15. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    This is a great suggestion. I didn't think the OP was interested in DIY, but since he said he wants to wire it up himself, this may well be a good option for him.

  16. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    If DIY is an option this is a great sounding 2-bander.
  17. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    I'll bet it is. There's a lot to be said for simple, single gain stage amps. (Batteries probably last years, too!)

  18. +1, I've heard nothing but good things out of people who built them for themselves.