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Converting active bass to passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jazzbass127, Mar 9, 2016.


  1. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Hey everyone,

    I have an active American deluxe jazz bass with a volume, pickup blend, stacked bass treble, and mid control. Recently, I've become pretty uninterested with the onboard preamp, (all my basses are active and I bought them in high school before I knew that I'd rather play passive) so I'm wondering if there's a way to rewire the bass to passive or somehow install a passive/active switch. The newer models of my bass have this toggle switch, but I'd be okay just going to passive as well. The bass has N3 single-coil jazz bass pickups. Also, I wouldn't personally be making the modifications, just wondering if it's possible. Let me know if you need more info, serial number, etc.

    Thanks!
     
  2. FourBanger

    FourBanger

    Sep 2, 2012
    SE Como
    It is certainly possible to either remove the preamp altogether or to add a bypass switch. On your bass as is it might take more than simply adding a switch to get the passive sounds you want as you would not have any tone control. That could be added or a preamp with that feature like Sadowsky put in.
     
  3. if you need a passive tone control, I'd replace the mid pot with a push-pull active-passive switch, then replace the volume control with a stacked 250ka pot for vol & passive tone.

    there other options as well...
     
    MatronMother likes this.
  4. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    I see. Thanks! It would be ideal if I could set it so I'd have a master volume knob, a pan for the pickups and a tone control, 3 seperate knobs, one could be stacked. Do you think configuring for both passive/active would be more expensive than just making it passive? And I wouldn't need to mess with the installed pickups right? This would just be rewiring the electronics and taking out/moving around or adding pots?
     
  5. Yeah probably. You'd have to price those parts in your part of the world. For a push-pull mid pot, I'd think you'd need to source a 100k pot for a fender pre. And that would be more expensive than a 50K push-pull because 50K is more standard these days and more common. The stacked vol/tone wouldn't be too hard to find though, and not too expensive I'd say.

    To make it passive, you'd most likely just need a tone pot and cap. If you have an electronics store near you, these would be 5-6 bucks. If you buy online from all parts or something they'll be more expensive.

    There's a small chance you'd need a different vol pot as well, but unlikely.

    Unlikely, being a fender. Unless it was some signature model or something with active pickups.

    If the volume is a 250K it means it is wired on the input, and really all you need to do is remove the preamp and its trb/mid/bass pots, then run the wire that ran to the input of the pre to the output jack. Then run a standard tone pot & cap from this same place.

    Then you need to work out what to put in the spare hole. (There is a gazzillion threads on that here!).
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016
  6. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Thanks a bunch! Any ideas on what I could put in the spare whole? Or could you perhaps post a link to one of those threads?
     
  7. SamuelSandoval

    SamuelSandoval Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I have an American Deluxe Jazz as well. Mine is a 2014 and the stock electronics are terrible.
    I ended up swapping everything. I took out the N3s and put some boutique single coils and eventually took out the terrible preamp and put on a built to order preamp from an amazing luthier in California. It now is a volume, volume, bass boost, treble boost. The second volume knob is a push/pull for active/passive.
     
  8. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Cool! Yeah I like having just one master volume on my basses, so do you think I could keep the pickup pan and volume knob and then convert something else to a tone knob? I think I don't really need the active option.
     
  9. SamuelSandoval

    SamuelSandoval Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I'm sure you could do volume, pan, tone. You'd have an extra knob that you could probably simply take out or perhaps you could have a control knob for each pickup... which might be kinda weird to some people but if you dig it, go for it!
     
  10. SamuelSandoval

    SamuelSandoval Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I actually went from having tone control on the stock preamp to no tone control on the new preamp setup so now it's fully open. I initially thought I'd miss it cause I would normally play with the tone dialed back, and hardly ever left it all the way open but I actually love it. It did however force me to play with different technique on my right hand, but I dig it!
     
  11. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Interesting! So turns out I actually have the Samarium Colbalt noiseless pickups on my bass (older model). What do you know about those compared to the N3's?
     
  12. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Also, just out of curiosity, do any of you know what the progression of pickups on active fender deluxe jazz basses has been over the years? And any favorites of those pickups?
     
  13. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Oops I mean the American deluxe, not just the deluxe.
     
  14. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    You could pull the entire control plate and install a prewired passive Jazz control plate. Soldering would be minimal. You would also be able to return it to original down the road if you want.
     
  15. jazzbass127

    jazzbass127

    Jul 27, 2012
    Huh, I didn't think of that...you think that might be easier then?
     
  16. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    I believe so. Your replacement could be a relatively inexpensive passive setup, or it could be an active preamp that has a passive switch.

    If it's passive it will likely have an output jack on the control plate. If that's the case you can leave your side output jack disconnected - or vice versa - or have both output jacks wired in parallel so either would work.

    There are a number of active prewired control plates available as well. I'm considering the Sadowsky at the moment but have a thread looking for additional suggestions. John East also has a few options available.

    Rewiring the existing controls would be somewhat more complex. In any case it's necessary to ensure the N3 pickups you have will work with whatever route you take.

    (Just avoid the $8.99 junk kits on Amazon)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016

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