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Active pickups, do they have a lower output than passive pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by SullyB, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. SullyB


    Nov 22, 2005
    Hey friends,

    I just had an active pickup installed in my MIM Fender and I have a few questions:

    I know the advantages of using active electronics over passive electronics, but I don't undertand how the output of my instrument seems to have dropped/lessened. What's goin' on?! :help: Do I need to add an additional tone circuit? The pickup came with an internal pre-amp, so what would the benifit of having an extra tone circuit? More flexibility? I understand that more headroom means that the amp can handle more of a signal without clipping, but if the output is less, how can there be more signal to handle? Sigh. :confused: Any idea how those Stingrays and G&L 2000s sound so huge and rockin'?


  2. What pickups/preamp did you get?

    You probably have passive pickups with an active preamp (which is different from true active pickups like EMG's).

    Most preamps have an internal POT that allows you to adjust the output. Some players like the active output very hot.. other's like the output to be the same in active versus passive mode.

    Some preamps, like the AgOB-3 do not have an output adjustment, and are set IMO at very low output... lower than some passive pickups' output. However, all you need to do if this is the case is adjust the preamp gain up... that's what it's for. There's very little difference in a weaker signal going into a preamp and turning up the gain a little to compensate versus a very strong signal going in with the gain turned down (and actually if the level of the active preamp is set too high, you can actually overdrive the input stage prior to the gain control.. which is not a good thing).
  3. Active pickups aren't going to do much without a preamp. They aren't designed to be used alone. Active electronics would be a onboard preamp combined with either passive or active pickups. Passive pickups like the G&L MFD units, are plenty rockin on their own, the preamp adds the EQ and boost functions.

    Which pickups did you get?
  4. KJ, it sounds like he got active pickups with no preamp. I think he is confusing the onboard buffer in the active pickups with an onboard pre.
  5. Ah... if that's the case.... he needs a preamp!
  6. SullyB


    Nov 22, 2005
    Hey guys,

    First, in response to both your questions, I purchased and installed a Basslines Pro Active P-Bass pickup (APB-1). The description can be found at this address, www.seymourduncan.com/products.bassesdescr.shthml#apb1. Damn, I need to buy an additional piece of gear? Crapburger. :spit: That'll cost a pretty penny. But the darn thing came with a battery clip only. You would think...Never mind. I'll just install a tone circuit. What do you suggest? Aguilar? Seymour Duncan? Crap! I should have stayed passive. :D

  7. SullyB


    Nov 22, 2005
    What about a "stompbox" pre-amp? You know, like a Sadowsky, or an Aguilar? That would mean I wouldn't have to pay someone to install the on board preamp like I had to do with the pickup itself? What do you think, guys? I really am a novice with this active/passive jazz. (I had a passive Jazz once. :D )
  8. OK, now that we know what pickup it is, you might have a wiring problem and not need a preamp.

    here is the wiring diagram in pdf:

    Make sure that you have everything wired correctly. It could be that it is not getting power and that explains the low output. This diagram shows it wired like a normal passive P, but it needs 9v and it is wired a little differently that might be intuitive. If you are going to take it to the tech then bring alog a copy of the diagram.

    Also, It needs a TRS output jack to do the power switching. If you don;t have this set up then something went very wrong.
  9. SullyB


    Nov 22, 2005
    Thanks Fretlessrock.

    Cool. It doesn't NOT have any kind of output, just less than the stock pickup. I have never soldered anything on an instrument before. Everyone tells me it's easy, but I remember reading an article by upright repairman David Gage where he states that if you are not "handy", and I am not( :)), then you should rely on the expertise of an experianced repairman. He was refering to uprights, of course, but the advice applies to electric basses as well.

    Thanks again, bro. BTW, would the Sadowsky help the tone of my instrument?

    Keep rockin'! :bassist:

  10. My suggestion is to make sure that you don't have a problem with the electronics first. If the bass is a lot quieter then there is a chance that it isn't wired correctly. But... notice that SD rates the pickup as moderate output as opposed to hot output like a Hot P or Quarter Pounder.

    If everything is OK then yes, a preamp can help. The Sad is a nice unit and the price isn't too bad. Also check out the Aguilar. You could also look into having an onboard pre installed. It wouldn't be too much more $$, if any.