Curious wondering about differences between passive and active pick ups and electronics

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ivanfeg, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. ivanfeg


    Mar 15, 2012
    Hello all, I believe you can have a bass with passive pickups and active electronics, or active pickups and active electronics. Is this correct? So what is the difference between passive and active pick ups if the elecTronics are still active? Or am I just confused?
  2. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    In a nutshell active pickups and electronics need power, to run some kind of preamp. Passive do not. You can have either without the other or both, but you need the right value pots to match the pickups.
    ivanfeg likes this.
  3. mikewalker


    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Passive pickups are "magnet+wire"

    Active pickups are "magnet+wire+opamp(embedded in the pickup)"...
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Part of the confusion comes from the term “active electronics.” I prefer to think “onboard preamp” instead of “active electronics.” I also tend to try to avoid the term “active bass” for the same reason.

    A bass can have active or passive pickups.

    A bass can have an onboard preamp or a passive tone stack.

    And to further muddy the waters, some onboard preamps also have a passive mode. Which basically means that when the preamp is switched off, a passive tone stack gets switched in.

    So a passive bass is a bass with passive pickups and a passive tone stack.

    An “active bass” can be a bass with:
    • passive pickups and an onboard preamp (this is the most common configuration)
    • active pickups and a passive tone stack (rare)
    • active pickups and an onboard preamp (uncommon)
    Bottom line: if it requires a battery it’s active.
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