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Active or Passive

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tiemyshoe, Feb 9, 2001.

  1. Tiemyshoe


    Feb 5, 2001
    Hey ppl, wuts the difference between active and passive....also are soapbars any better than p or j's?
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Active gives you a higher output signal than passive, by using a 9V battery or two, (depending on the make/model). Among the things active electronics do is improve signal to noise ratio when you use effects. Guitarist who want to overdrive their amps can do so more easily with the higher active output.

    So, like on one of my basses, if I pull up on the volume knob, which takes it out of active mode, the bass is in passive mode and the volume decreases. So, why even have that option? Well, passive can have its own tonal colors, and can be better suited for certain softer styles. Active tends to be more "bass in your face." So, guess who demands actives? Slaphappy bassists.

    This doesn't mean that active is "better" than passive. Actives can sound too bright and sterile for some players. They find more warmth and character in passive. It's subjective, like most things musical. Some high dollar custom basses I've seen are intentionally built with passives.
  3. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    To add to Rick's post, there are two kinds of active. One is using standard (passive) pups, in which case what Rick has said is applicable. However, there are also basses, such as Alembics that use special, high-impedance pickups. The idea behind these is that they more faithfully reproduce the sound, but the output is too low. Therefore, a preamp is needed to bring the ouput to the required level.

    For example, my Alembic Essence (active with active pups) has lower output than my G&L in passive mode.

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