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Electronics Education please!!!!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Bullitt, Mar 24, 2004.


  1. Bullitt

    Bullitt

    Feb 12, 2004
    Central Indiana
    What good is having passive pickups with active electronics? I am lost.
     
  2. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Active electronics allow you to cut "and" boost each frequency band. Passive electronics are "cut only".

    Active electronics typically have separate bass and treble controls, and sometimes even midrange controls. Passive electronics typically only have "treble-cut" tone controls.

    Active electronics typically provide a low impedance output, allowing you to drive long cables with relative freedom from externally induced hum and RFI. Passive electronics typically connect the pickups directly to the instrument cable, so it's possible that the entire pickup-cable system can become a huge antenna.

    The downside is, that active electronics require a battery or power source, and these die with varying degrees of grace. Sometimes the active electronics can die "instantly" when the battery goes, like you're playing a lick then suddenly you're not. Others die more gracefully, like you can hear the sound getting quieter and a little distorted, and that's your hint that it's time to change the battery at the earliest opportunity.

    All my basses are active.
     
  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt

    Feb 12, 2004
    Central Indiana
    So, was I wrong in assuming that active basses had special "active" pickups while passive basses had their own passive pickups? You do not have to have special "active" pickups for the instrument to be active!

    By the way, thanks for responding to what I am sure other people are thinking is a totally stupid question.
     
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Bullitt, most "active basses" just use ordinary pickups, then put "active electronics" after them for tone adjustment. Some pickups are special "active pickups", and on those you usually have to connect the battery directly to the pickups. Some EMG's are this way, as I recall, but this type is relatively rare. You can turn any passive bass into an active bass just by adding the right kind of onboard active preamp (electronics only).

    The other thing to consider, in the way of context, is that some "passive" pickups are special low impedance pickups, that are really designed specifically for active preamps. They're "passive" pickups, strictly speaking, because they don't require a battery connection, but they won't sound right if they're run straight into the amp. Some of the Alembic pickups are this way.
     
  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt

    Feb 12, 2004
    Central Indiana
    You have been a major help. I see much clearer now.
     
  6. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    Don't think anybody mentioned but by running a preamp to passive pups you can throw in switching that allows for both (though passive is usually only volume and tone). So if the battery takes a dive you can still run passive. With active pups, without fire, you're just SOL.

    I have 9 basses, at the moment, two have active pups, the rest are passive but at one time they all had onboard preamps but I'm in the processing of pulling them. I'm changing the 3 bands into outboards and the 2 bands I'm moving into the hands of someone who will use them (In fact there on that 4 letter word right now - sssshhhh).

    My conclusion is strongly pointing in the direction that if you have a set of good passive pups, they don't need boosting or cutting. They sound louder, fuller, and cleaner without a preamp and the fewer controls the more that is so as well. And, at least with Bartolini, EMG, and Aguilar, the preamps really are essentially transparent. The sound appears to be primarily in the pups when it comes to a bass. And I'll have the answer to that soon cause I'm routing 3 basses to accept any pup configuration that I can swap out within 5 minutes.

    For active pups so far I've had many sets of EMG PJs (which are decent), set of English Reflex (also decent), Duncan Jazz Lightnin rods (not impressive - but I haven't found any impressive J pup set yet period), and Duncan E.Q. PJs. The passives I've had really put out superior sound to me with a lot more punch and usually the same or more volume even when compared to actives with the boosters maxed out. There's really not much comparison. But pretty much everybody makes active pups. Barts are designated with the letter "E". EMGs are usually the only ones you hear about though.

    Probably if you sing much, you would benefit from active onboard. Otherwise, you're standing by your amp anyway, why not use it?

    No doubt someone's done a poll on active vs passive bass use. Would be interesting to see the results. The polls are kind of cool cause, among other things, I thought a lot more people used flat pics and a lot less people use Flat wounds.
     
  7. Mattski

    Mattski

    Jan 6, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    Something in the back of my head seems to remember that pickups for active systems don't have as many winding turns as passive systems.

    But I could be wrong.
     
  8. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    There's a poll going now under setup forum of all places. 57% active, 32% passive, 12% clueless.

    I figured maybe something closer to 50/50 than 60/30. I think there are probably a lot of people like me, that never really gave passive a chance cause the only real passive they ever heard was their beginner bass then went active and have been sailing the same ship ever since.

    Author of this thread should check it out cause there are quite a few responses.