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Better with EMGs: BTC preamp or passive tone?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by The Thinker, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. The Thinker

    The Thinker Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Hi all:

    Has anyone actually compared the sound of EMGs (J set, PJ set, or JV set) with only a passive tone to the same pickups with the EMG BTS preamp?

    I'd be interested in your thoughts!
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I've had all the above. Those EMG's are all active pups therefore a passive comparison does not apply. Their selects and HZ's are passive pups. Given you've thrown J and PJ in with the JV I assume you're talking about all active pups.

    Bass Tone Glossary has definitions for active/passive pickups

    To me a decent preamp (whoevers) enhances the tone of active EMG's. They sounded comparatively anemic without an additional preamp. This would be my response to what I'm guessing is the actual question.
  3. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    What? Luknfur, you know that EMG made passive P, J, and soapbar type pups in the HZ and Select series so lets compare those to the their active counterparts. I think thats what he is looking for here.

    I think the passive models tend to have more warmth yet are still clear but not as hi-fi as their actives. The passive's lows are definately fat but not quite as punchy as the actives.

    BTW, I have had basses with all three series of pups and like them all. :)

    I admit a pre could be just the thing for some but not necessarily for everyone. I run my EMG P/J actives with no pre at 18v and love them. I set it up just like EMG sells them with V-V-T controls and I can get all the thump or zing out of them I need.
  4. The Thinker

    The Thinker Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the replies, and sorry for being unclear.

    What I'm really after is a comparison of a set of active EMGs (of the types listed) with the EMG BTC vs. the same pickups with a regular tone pot, as in a standard Fender Jazz or Fender P.

    The reasoning behind my question is that the EMGs I've played have a lot of ringy highs. Sometimes I like that, but on say a Motown song I'd like less highs and more (relative) bottom. Will the treble knob on the BTC control those highs similarly/better than/worse than a passive tone knob?

    I hope this clears up my question.
  5. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    yep, that's how I read it given the JV's are active.

    I liked the BTC pre and had it in a bass with the EMG active PJ set for a year. It was a thudder bass however (acoustically dark) with TI flats to boot. The BTC is B/T boost/cut plus and it has two pairs of internal dips for various adjustment of the treble knee frequency (where treble drops off). A lot more tone control than over a passive tone control cause you can cut treble and boost bass to put a lid on the top end (aside from the dips). I've ran them both ways. I'm not a preamp fan as a rule but the Pups sounded comparatively thin/anemic through passive control.

    I used the standard EMG recommended setting for the dips and never had an issue with too much top. If you've got an acoustically bright bass and some Hibeams or something it would accentuate the top end but I can't imagine a bass being too bright for the BTC to corrale. In my recall the JV set was brighter than the standard J's. Sort of EMG's Ultra Jazz version to me. Vintage they didn't sound to me. They're both reviewed in the J experiment so you can double check to make sure my memory is up to snuff on that.
  6. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    I've not used those specific pickups in both settings, but I used to have a Steinberger L-2 (active EMG HB's) that started out with a passive tone control, and I eventually replaced it with a BTC.

    The two things work differently, obviously. The BTC gives more flexibility, but if we're talking strictly about "taming the highs", I'd say a passive tone control is actually a little more effective. The reason for that is that active treble controls (including the BTC) aren't exactly "shelving" controls--they don't cut and boost everything above a certain frequency, but cut and boost a range centered around a particular frequency--the same frequency for both cut and boost, typically.

    By contrast, a passive tone control really is a shelving control, cutting all frequencies above a certain cutoff point (actually a slope rather than a hard cutoff, but you get the idea). The cutoff frequency might be much lower than anything you'd want to boost with an active EQ. So, you cut a wider range of frequencies, and have the option to cut them to a greater degree--rather more than the 12dB of cut or boost an active treble control might have. In my experience, that works better for making the tone smoother, and you can get a much darker tone with a passive tone than an active treble control.

    If the setup is already very bright and you know that all you'll want to do with the treble is cut it, a passive control may better do what you want. Of course, unlike the BTC, a passive control doesn't give you the option to boost the bass as well.

  7. The Thinker

    The Thinker Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks, Mike and luknfur--those are very helpul replies. And I'm going to go and reread the Dimento's J thread.

    Odd, luknfur, that you found the JVs to be brighter than the Js. I seem to recall exactly the opposite, but it's been so long since I've used either that maybe my recollection is off.