active vs. passive

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by leogdud, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. leogdud


    Apr 16, 2005
    i'm trying to decide if i should spend an extra $100 so i can get active humbucker pickups on a carvin kit bass. also if the swampash nec for an extra $30 is worth it
  2. Hi! Welcome to Talkbass!

    I certainly no expert on pickups, but from my limited experience I prefer active. Most passive pup basses that I've played sent out a pretty week signal compared to active ones like my Stingray. This was a bit of a problem when running effects like an envelope filter because the weak signal meant I had to seriously crank the sensitivity settings to open the filter. With my stingray, the stronger output made it easy to use these kind of effects and allowed more variety because I could use the whole range of settings, rather than constantly having to leave certains settings on full to get the effect to work.

    Apart from that tho, I have not really noticed any other great differences. I have found that active pups in my experience are generally brighter sounding, which I found good for slap and other percussive sounds.

    About the neck... what are your other options? Swamp ash or what?

    As always tho, it's best to do a search first. I'm sure you'll find the information you're after.
  3. leogdud


    Apr 16, 2005
    maple is the alternative

    and do active pickups sound more metalic or how bright? worth $100 plus humbucker?
  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I don't know about metallic, but an active setup gives you more flexibility than a passive one. Active circuits allow you to boost the bass, treble or (if available) the midrange of the bass's sound. Passive pups only give you volume and tone.

    Still, it's better to have a god passive circuit than a bad active one, and there are people who prefer one over the other. Best thing to do is get a bass with an active/passive switch and see which mode you prefer.

    By the way, this is a pretty common question, so you might want to get friendly with the search function. Also, check out the "Pickups" forum, where most questions like this should be found.
  5. 100 bucks isnt that bad... if you can afford it go for it.... My bass is passive.... but i would likealittle moretonal range.
  6. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    My Carvin is passive. I definitely prefer passive to active. To my ears, active basses take on more of the sound of the pickup, where as passive ones take on more of the tonal characteristics of the woods used. Passive just sounds more organic to me, and suits me very well. (btw, I play jazz, fusion, and funk, and my bass is a B4 w/ mahogany body, maple neck, ebony fretboard, J99's.)

    Carvin's J99 pickups have the reputation of having unusually high output, and I can confirm this. You won't have any problems getting a strong signal from J99 pups. However, I've heard that the H50 stacked humbuckers have low output, so you may want to stay away from those. My bass is so well shielded that there is no noticeable hum coming from my pickups. Great stuff.
  7. All of my basses are passive, and I like it ;)

    My amp has a four band EQ, so I can pretty much dial in whatever I'm looking for at the need for an EQ at the bass for me.

    Volume for individual pups and tone cut is how all of my basses are wired - I'm not a big fan of blend pots. I find that individual volume for each pup and a tone knob is all I need, and combined with the EQ at my amp I have a huge degree of flexibilty.

    One of my basses (a Warwick Rockbass Streamer with dual MEC soapbar humbuckers) has a fairly low output, but my other passive basses all have quite a strong signal. Noise and hum shouldn't be a problem if your bass is shielded well. I guess if you're soloing a single coil jazz pup you're going to get some hum, but I guess that's the nature of the beast.

    So, for me - passive is my prefered option, I like it's simplicity, no need for keeping batteries in my bass, and less in the signal chain to colour my sound.