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Bass with no volume/tone controls?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lo end PUNCH, May 5, 2005.

  1. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'm starting to see a lot of bassists go with this particular option, my question is: what are, if any, the advantages of this? I think it LOOKS really cool but...
  2. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Im sure Stewart will chime in on this thread. But bassically a lot of people prefer a passive bass, tend to run their basses at full volume, and use their preamp for tone shaping, so no need to clutter up the bass with knobs and do-hickeys :)
  3. Stew wil be in here at some point. He has several basses that are completely passive. I guess the thought is that if you just wire the pups to the output with no vol, tone, or EQ controls, you get the sound of the bass and the dynamics are controlled by the player. Sort of a purist approach I guess. Hope that helps. Stew and some others will no a ton more about why they do this as I have more knobs than the average bass. ;)
  4. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    Plus you could always have a volume and tone pedal one your pedal board too.
  5. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    I remember seeing a Conklin like this somewhere, it really looked cool but I am NOT a big fan of passive basses. can this be done someway with active circuitry?
  6. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    See Ritter's website. He actually puts all the controls on the back of one of his models to keep the front looking clean. Good compromise if you ask me. And you could do a bass with no knobs that was active, but only active pickups, not active EQ as you wouldnt have any way to adjust the EQ without them :)
  7. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Damn!! That Ritter is freaky man, me likey :p , And it has a quadracoil pickup in there too, anyone here ever heard what that bass sounds like? I know its waaay out of my price range though.
  8. did someone mention my name? :p

    hey all,

    I do indeed use passive and knobless basses for 95% of my work. occasionally, like last week at Jazz Fest, I am asked specifically to use something more "traditional", but that isn't in my own music.

    what's my rationale? man, I have to find those threads where I went off about this stuff. well, let's see...

    I got the idea from Gary Willis back in '88 when I was studying with him at BIT. his thinking was that the lack of tone circuit puts all the responsibility on the player. I like that. it really forces one to hone in on how to get the sound from his/her hands.

    second, I have always been one of those cats who finds a single tone setting and leaves it. unfortunately on a standard bass this means that dust can get into the pots and give off some unexpected, unpleasant noise on the gig or in the studio... not cool!

    third, with no battery for an active circuit there is no way for the bass to crap out in the middle of a gig. a small consideration, but if it's ever happened to you, you know how it feels.

    fourth, there is a nominal savings in weight without an onboard preamp. it isn't much, but when your basses are freakin' enormous...


    ... every little bit helps.

    fifth, as Dave has pointed out, it looks more sleek. this is not really a factor in the decision for me, but it is a nice benefit.

    really what it came down to was a few things. I wanted the challenge of being my own tone control. if the woods and pickups are right, then the bass should be able to deliver the sound I want, so why not swing away from electronics that make me sound like anyone I want and try to figure out what my sound is?

    also, I got to a point where I had to choose between pursuing studio work or trying to be an artist. a good studio player, for the most part, has to be a chameleon. while there are a handful of cats hired for their sound and approach (Mick Karn, Anthony Jackson, Pino Palladino...) most cats working in that field are truly hired guns. an artist defines him or herself.

    now this is not to say that I'm any great shakes as either one of these things. I am not Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, Laurence Cottle, Jaco, or any name player you can think of, but I wanted to try and find my sound.

    does this mean I'll turn down studio or sideman work if it's offered to me? not at all! as I wrote, I keep a few more "standard" basses lying around for just such situations. I just wanted to start cutting my own path.

    does that make any sense?

    from the lows,

  9. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Stew, very well put and thank you, Love that lacewood top on your bass!!!(it IS lacewood isnt it?)
  10. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Makes more sense than a majority of posts here even Stew. Im glad you chimed in, if anyone could explain it, it would be you :)

    And yes, its Lacewood :D
  11. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Yes Stew, it makes perfect sense .......

    As one of those "hired guns" working locally here in NJ studios, I have to say you are exactly right. I'm regularly asked to sound like "xxxx does on the xxxx" recording, very much a mimic of an established sound/tone developed by someone else. This is not meant to be a negative for those who do this for a full-time living (I'm a very busy part-time player), there is a definitely high skill set required to be that "mimic". However, you eventually want to be your own person, or at least I do.

    I generally play flat when I'm not being paid to "mimic" a sound, it's definitely more expressive and it sounds like "me" rather than someone else.
  12. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    And it does sound better without pots and wires. More full and present.
    I used to do that but it was a pain in the butt on TV during talk-shows.
  13. Justice


    May 24, 2002
    Houston TX.
    I had my last bass wired without a tone knob (volume only and coil splitting switch) and I think that is part of the reason the output from the pickup is so hot.
  14. thanks, cats. I'm glad I still have a shred of articulation left in me!

    and as the man points out, it's a lacewood top.

    from the lows,

  15. Great idea in a single pickup bass. Also a tone pot bypass switch in a P bass is a great mod and I am really surprised that there aren't a ton of "pull to bypass" P basses out there. In a 2 pickup bass I'd do the same thing because I want to control the individual volumes of the pickups. If you can't roll back the neck pickup of a passive J style for that mid-dip sound... well is it worth going on? :bassist:
  16. Don't active electronics come with an option to switch to passive incase the battery craps out?? I know my Carvins do... :ninja:
    This way a dead battery isn't much more then a minor inconvienence, I worry more about breaking a string.
  17. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Not always, and sometimes the pickups themselves are active and with no battery, ya got no sound.
  18. what Dave said! ;)
  19. I think Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) has one of his Sadowsky basses with no controls on the outside: everything is full up on the inside control cavity: volume, bass boost, treble boost, and I guess pickup blend is non-existent or preset.

  20. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    I've been wondering about this myself since I read another more recent thread about knobless basses. I play a Jazz Bass and while I have the tone and neck volume on full all of the time I find that the bass sounds a little better with the neck pickup down in the 9-8 range.

    I'd also imagine that the bass could have a better sound to it because if it the pickups were wired straight to the input, because the signal would get less resistance. Am I correct in assuming this?

    Sorry for reviving an old thread.

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