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active vs. passive

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by directory, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. total "new to bass" question

    what is the difference between active bass and passive bass?

    i understand the active bass has a battery..but for what? what sound difference is there?
  2. softscrubmonkey


    Nov 19, 2004
    St. Louis
    i hate to be a jerk. but you should use the search function.

    and heres the link from the FAQ:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=42075</p><p style=
  3. i did, and what i got was a bunch of unrelated posts that had the word active or passive in them...

    post your gear, etc...
  4. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 on the searches... I never have much luck either in finding specific answers to specific questions.

    In general, when people talk about 'active' basses, they are talking about basses that typically still have passive pickups (just like 'passive' basses) but that have battery driven preamps installed inside the cavity in the body. In some basses, the cavity is covered by a back plate, and in others, you get to it through the pickguard or the metal plate that the knobs are attached.

    Basically, this preamp gives you a few things:

    1) Typically higher output (i.e., a louder signal going into your amp (usually not that big of a deal).

    2) It takes the 'load' off your pickups. I'm not an EE, so I don't know all the technical issues in this, but basically it allows for longer cable runs with less loss of treble response.

    3) (This is the big one)... it allows you to have treble and bass controls (and sometimes mid controls, depending on the model and brand) right on your bass.. which allows for more variation in sound and also quite a bit of control of your tone right on the bass vs. having to turn around and adjust the tone controls on your amp.

    That being said, some players prefer the natural sound of a passive bass for a number of reasons. This is true especially in the studio, where a passive bass through a very expensive studio preamp (sometimes costing thousands of dollars) doesn't benefit that much for a 9 volt on-board 'active' bass preamp usually costing around $100.

    Hope that helps.

  5. that's very helpful. thanks!
  6. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    You're welcome. I really like active preamps in my bass. It's great to have that control and ability to, for example, put just a little more bass in your sound for slap style, and tweek the mids up a touch for a very punchy sound, without having to go back to your amp.