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Active versus passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Murf, Jun 11, 2001.

  1. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Hi guys
    Just wondering how y'all feel about the differences between active and passive pickups, not being a particularly technical minded person I always assumed the active pickups would give a bit more 'oommph' however I recently picked up an old fender p bass with passive pickups and the difference is incredible I get a real thump when I slap (which is bloody great seeing as I spent 90% of my time slapping) and to think I spent years mucking about with my amps EQ.

    So could anyone enlighten me as to the advantage of having active over passive pick ups?

  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    There really isn't an advantage of one over the other, IMO, other than an active system doesn't have the signal loss you get with passives when you use a long cable.

    I wouldn't trade the sound of my passive on my pre-CBS Precis for any active. The passives always follow a certain tone curve and if that curve just happens to result in a singularly great tone, you can't beat it.

    The actives I have give you more control to shape the tone curve. They give more dynamic range and bite, (not necessarily a good thing). But, I don't think the inherent sound of MY actives is as good as MY passives. The situation could be easily reversed, possibly, if I had top notch actives and low end passives made in someplace like Korea.

    One isn't categorically superior to the other. It depends on the right pickups installed in the right instrument, just like some SS amps can "out-tube" (soundwise) a tube amp.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Here's where an FAQ would come in handy;)

    Generally speaking:

    Active pickups have a preamp built in...passive pickups don't

    Most active basses have passive pickups.

    There are several combinations (active pickups with passive controls, passive pickups/passive controls, passive pickups w/onboard preamp with or without tone controls and more...).

    The bass I just got is passive pickup w/passive controls with active piezo transducer (pickup) in the bridge with a buffer between the two.

    Which is better?...it depends;)
  4. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Thanks guys

    I guess it's a matter of personal taste I must say I was blown away by the sound of the passives on the p-bass although I can see situations where the actives would come into their own as well.

    I agree an FAQ would be very very useful.

    'specially for the 'technically challenged' like myself
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Even for the non-challenged, Murf. People on all levels have misconceptions. Active electronics is an area most people have trouble in.
  6. Too right, Brad, and it's been my profession for 25 years at least.....:D

    Rockin John

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