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Bass with both Active and Passive Pups

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Papa Dangerous, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    As the title suggests, I am inquiring about a bass that can function as active and passive. I tried to do a search but seem to find more about Active vs Passive but not as much about both in one.

    I know the American Fender Deluxe Jazz bass has a switch on it that allows a person to switch between the two styles; however, are there any other basses with that option? Any leads in that direction would be greatly appreciated :)

    Thanks in advance!
  2. i believe there are a lot with the passive/active switch. i think some carvin and g&l's have a puch/pull pot with the same function, but my memory is foggy at best......
  3. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    Thanks for that info. I have a customer at my job inquiring but I am not keen on all that. I fail to find an effective way of searching for this feature when surfing the Google Machine.
  4. eddododo


    Apr 7, 2010
    Pretty common, id say its easier to ask 'which preamps have an active/passive option' , since otherwise you could configure anything if you're handy with an iron and you can find appropriate pots (stacked with passive and active-appropriate values)
  5. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    Okay, I think I am getting closer lol To put it simply, a bass with the option of both will have passive pups but active electronics?
  6. my understanding is that the electronics (eq) is active and by passable, the pickups would be passive. you could most likely expect a volume drop when switching to passive. haven't played active in years, so i'm sure someone more knowledgable will correct me or clarify soon!
  7. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Yes. Thus, passive pickups, with an active preamp, and an active/passive switch will allow you to run your bass in passive mode and run the bass off of the passive pickups.

    FYI: You can also have an all active system (active pickups + active preamp) where you can have a switch to do the same thing as above. However, this switch would be called a 'preamp bypass' switch because in an all-active system, you can bypass the preamp and run off the active pickups.

    Essentially, both systems do the same thing except that with passive pickups you can run the system passive and presumably run it without battery power. For example, I have a bass with passive Delano pickups and an active Aguilar preamp. In active mode, I need battery power. But when I switch to passive mode, I can literally yank out my batteries and I will still get my volume and tone. This comes in handy if for example my batteries die out in the middle of a set. I would just switch to passive mode and keep going. However, with an all-active system, even if you bypass the preamp, your active pickups would still need battery power to work.

    I hope I haven't confused you...
  8. jeffmensch

    jeffmensch Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2012
    Cambridge, Ontario
    Yes, that's it. Most (but not all) active basses use passive pickups with an active preamp. A notable exception would be some EMG pickups which are active and require a special preamp. Some preamps have a active/passive pull-switch on the volume control, such as Nordstrand, Glockenklang, and Bartolini, to name a few. Check out www.bestbassgear.com for more info.
  9. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    My bass does have the option to switch (which I had no idea when I purchased it) and discovered that volume drop when I noticed I had a pull knob. lol

    This information is perfect. I have seen specs that say both, the passive pups and active electronics as well as both active.

    My followup... is it safe to assume a passive/active pup/electronics configuration will always have a switch/pull pot? It makes sense they would but I just wanna make sure just in case I need to search for a spec stating it has a pull pot.

    The A/A combo, I would generally imagine the specs stating it?
  10. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada
    Greetings from the North,

    G&L L2500

  11. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Warwicks have the passive option.

    Just so you know, most "active" basses are actually loaded with passive pickups using an an active preamp. So you in most cases if it doesn't already have a passive switch from the factory, it is possible to wire one in.

    Very few basses are actually active pickups with active preamp.
  12. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Not all passive-pickups/active-preamp basses have the option to switch between passive and active. I don't know why but some just don't. However, if the bass does have that option it will either be a push/pull on the volume knob or a separate toggle switch.

    As far as the A/A combo, the description of the bass should disclose it.

    FYI: another benefit of bypassing a preamp, with either active or passive pickups, is that you can use different preamp pedals or preamps and see how your bass sounds through those preamps in combination with your pickups without your onboard preamp getting in the way and without having to install a different on-board preamp. For example, if you have a bass with Bartolini pickups and an active Bartolini preamp but would like to see how your bass would sound with an Aguilar preamp, then you can bypass the Bartolini preamp and run your bass through an Aguilar Tone Hammer pedal and then into your rig. Of course, you could always keep the bass active and still combine it with an outboard preamp.
  13. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    Thank you all for your help! I feel very educated now and can pass along all this good information!
  14. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
  15. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Fender's Reggie Hamilton Jazz and Select Active Jazz can switch between active and passive.