Active vs. Passive pickups and Flatwounds

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by gsummer, Feb 28, 2001.

  1. gsummer


    Feb 11, 2001
    I was wondering if active or passive pickups are better for flatwound strings. I currently use flats on my active bass, but I am thinking about buying a new bass and I don't know whether to get active or passive PU's. I don't like lots of highs or that clanky sound that you can get with actives. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
  2. I'm a big fan of flats, but I've never liked the results on any of my active basses. IMO, they seem to sound a lot better with a passive bass.

    Of course, passive Fender type basses work really well with flats. I would personally recommend one of the passive G&L's to stock with flats. I have an SB-2 and it sounds really great with flats on it. Their other passive models are the LB-100 and SB-1 which are Precision style basses and the new JB-2 is the their passive Jazz type bass.

    Here's a shot of a G&L LB-100. That's a bass that sounds really sweet with flats.

  3. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    If your new bass is gonna' be an Epi Jack Casady, then I'll vote PASSIVE.
    I think the way that Electar pup is setup is it's LOW impedance with
    some taps, but then the signal's run through a transformer to make
    it HIGH Z. Flatwounds love this pup. I've tried GHS Precision Flats
    and T/I Jazz Flats with good results. Right now, I've actually got
    Rotosound TAPES on it :D:D:D.

    I stuck a (passive) DiMarzio DP127 on my "Frankenstein"
    Yamaha RBX260F (fretless). It sports T/I Jazz Flats => schweet :) .
  4. gsummer


    Feb 11, 2001
    Thanks guys, that's what I needed to know. Are the G&L's expensive? I mean the particular models you are talking about. I am looking to stay under $900, although I guess I would make a slight exception for a really superior bass. Also, in your opinion, do flats sound better on precision or jazz type basses?
  5. That particular G&L LB-100 shown above was selling for around $625 in fact. A new passive G&L should certainly be well under $900.

    Have a look at and serch under G&L basses. You'll get a range of prices from a variety of stores.

    As far as P or J being better with flats, I think they both sound great. I'm probably a little partial to the P but I can really appreciate both. If you can't decide, the SB-2 sounds like either. :)
  6. gsummer


    Feb 11, 2001
    Oh, I thought they were more expensive than that? Well I'm glad I'm wrong. Do you personally think G&L's are much better than Fenders? I have noticed that alot of people on this site think Fenders are no good. I personally like Fenders, but that is probably because they are really all I've played and because basically all my favorite old-school players use them. Anyway, I'd like your opinion because I want to know what it is that people don't like (other than the mass production). Of course maybe you do like Fenders, I don't know. Basically I am wondering why I would wnat to buy a G&L Fender style bass instead of a Fender. Hope that makes sense.

  7. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    To get back to the original question, I have flats (tapes, actually) on both active and passive fretlesses, and while both sound good, I prefer the passives. To me, it gives a slightly "sweeter" tone. The active sounds good, but it doesn't seem to improve the sound as much as it did with roundwounds.
  8. Good passives are fantastic, but I also like the EMG P with flats and the treble turned all the way up. A whole different way to hear flats. With Thomastiks, plucking the strings down by the base of the neck, it sounds a whole lot like an acoustic with Spirocores and piezos. With Pyramids, it has the classic flatwound P sound but livelier. Overall, the response is a lot flatter and more hi-fi than most folks like, but it gathers some interesting and uncommon sounds from nickel flatwounds.