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Active vs. Passive Electronics & F/X

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Discount Saint, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Question here.. I do use a fair amount of effects.. at least I should say I use effects all the time in the form of my B2.1u which I use quite a lot to get different tones and EQ settings, along with my MXR Blowtorch distortion pedal, and I'd like to get a few more.

    Anyway I've only got one bass at present, which is a Fender MIA Jazz Bass Plus 5-string, active electronics, lace sensor pickups, etc, etc .. and I am wanting to look into getting a backup bass like a Schecter C-5 or possibly a MIM P-Bass or something like that, both of which would be passive. Is there going to be a huge difference in the sounds I am getting out of my effects going from active to passive (like if I wanted the ability to switch-out in mid-set), or would it be mostly a difference in volume that would be noticeable?
  2. assboglin

    assboglin Banned

    Jul 13, 2007
    Passive and active basses work differently with effects. I prefer most effects with passive basses.

    Also different guitars in general are going to sound very different through any effects as well.
  3. Sir Edward V

    Sir Edward V Not Actually Knighted... Yet!

    Dec 11, 2006
    there is definitely a big difference
  4. andrewd


    Sep 5, 2003
    Pretty much everything works better with passive instruments, although there are exceptions.
  5. ^ In his opinion! ^

    The volume difference is usually quite significant, that's why there's tools like the EBS MicroBass II and the Radial BassBone to help you match the level of two very different basses.
  6. Sir Edward V

    Sir Edward V Not Actually Knighted... Yet!

    Dec 11, 2006
    +1 passive vs active: each has its positives, try both with effects to see which you like better. if you like your active bass, but like the sound of passives with effects you can get a box to take your signal down to what a passive would be like. it works the other way around as well
  7. There is the volume difference for starters, but I also find that passive basses don't work so well with certain auto wahs or envelopes....fuzzes seem less aggressive too.

    Personally I prefer an active bass with effects.
  8. Depends on the circumstance, for sure.

    Active is useful for me, because I have a wah-pedal that sucks my signal dry:rollno:
  9. Swift713


    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    My P bass is just as loud as my Tony Levin. I like some effects better with the P, some need to be set up differently. This is one of the strengths of the multi-effect units. Some of my patches are for one bass or the other, others just sound different with different basses.
  10. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    I'm personally a huge fan of how effects pedals interact with active basses. If a pedal isn't working out too well, I switch the pedal, not the bass!

    I plan on getting a custom passive P-bass, but I aim to make sure its output is hot - otherwise, it's getting an active preamp! :D
  11. "Don't you wish your pickup were hot like me?" ;)

  12. With my setup, the key to a good effects "trigger" seems to have little to do with active vs passive.

    I get best results from my basses (active and passive) that have the most clarity, and brightest overall tone.

    Lakie 4401 = works great.
    G&L basses = not so good.
    Jon Hill w/passive Jackson PJ array = superb.
    Rumblefishes = not so good.
    Dean B2 = fantastic.
    And so on...

    All the above basses sound terrific sans effects, but some are just not as effects-freindly as the others. Two cent opine.
  13. guermo43


    Jun 13, 2008
    A question -
    I run a passive bass through multiple effects and it seems at times that the effects sound underpowered. Especially the EHX bassballs when slapping. What's the word on this?
  14. You need to adjust the "level" knobs on your effect pedals.
  15. guermo43


    Jun 13, 2008
    Thanks for the reply - I appreciate it.

    So in reference to the bassballs, it has no level adjustment - do the other pedals in the chain's levels have to be adjusted to compensate for an upstream pedal?
  16. It's been a while (years) since I've played bass, or played with effects. I suppose you could do that (compensate for no level knob).

    If I'm not mistaken, the generally accepted place for an envelope filter is at the beginning (before any other effects). I can't help but feel like if you have a ton of effects before the bassballs you won't get a proper response from the pedal.
  17. guermo43


    Jun 13, 2008
    Thanks Meev,

    I've got the Bassballs at the beginning, followed by a BBM, BOD, RC-2, TU-3. Running through an Ampeg B2-R effects loop. Passive bass. Sounds underpowered to me here and there.
  18. If you're running effects through the loop, there should also be a line-level knob. Although this is just speculation because I've never owned an Ampeg.
  19. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I would not use the fx loop. Those pedals are meant to be run between the bass and the amp input. I don't know what you mean exactly by "sounds underpowered", though. Too quiet? Not enough sweep/response from the filter? Weak tone, regardless of volume?
  20. guermo43


    Jun 13, 2008
    A bit quieter, but mostly kinda distorted and garbled like it's not getting enough juice. I thought running through the FX loop was the way to go for keeping background noise quiet, I'll try it between the FX and amp input now.

    So what is the correct situation to use the FX loop?

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