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For those of you who (like me) primarily like active basses...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Oct 12, 2009.


  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    ...what's your opinion on this tone? Although I'm mostly an "active" kind of player, this is the kind of "active" tone I definitely don't like. It has some growl, but the overall tone quality is too "smooth" and "polished" for my taste (any guesses on what instrument is it, BTW?).

    Of course, my opinion has nothing to do with the tasteful playing on the recording. And this is not a "bashing" thread. Again, I primarily play active basses, but I wanted to post this because lots of times I've read complaints/criticisms about active basses' tone being "unnatural" and "sterile" and most of the times I'm in frank disagreement, but here's an example of an active tone that I feel very incongruent with my personality as a player because of qualities that may be described with similar adjectives (feel free to disagree, but the Bongo and the XL2 are way far from being sterile-sounding to me).

    Just curious. I find it interesting to know your take on this. Thank you in advance for your input! :)
     
  2. I actually like it. It has just enough bite and growl to cut through while being really clear and defined. Stern always uses great bass players. I'm not sure who this one is, but it is really tasteful.
     
  3. edubb

    edubb

    Dec 6, 2006
    great videos!, love your playing and diverse choice of music. as for the clip, I like the tone, but not in love with it. I am of the belief that a lot of active basses do sound "sterile" and "cold". There are a few that sound a lot like a good passive bass and others still that just sound great, period. You really don't think there is a significant difference in the sound of active and passive basses on average?.
    I also believe less is more so having an active eq on my bass and my amp seems like overkill to me. Of course I think I am in the minority big time on that one!, lol.
     
  4. LDonnie

    LDonnie

    Aug 3, 2008
    Netherlands
    Sounds like some sort of Music Man with a HS config?
     
  5. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    That might be Richard Bona playing his Fodera on that track. I love it.
     
  6. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    I like it personally and think it fits the music pretty well. Sounds kinda like the Jazz bass on steroids thing.

    Someone linked this video yesterday and while the guy can definitely play, he sports the type of active tone that's a tad too much for me, too scooped and glassy.
     
  7. I like it too, and I generally don't like active stuff.
    We don't really know it's an active bass, do we? I couldn't find the track on any Stern albums I searched- don't know who it is.
    Fodera is a good bet. Or maybe a Smith bass?
     
  8. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX
    Sounds good to me.....that is the tone I would strive to get.
     
  9. lefty007

    lefty007

    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I think that active vs. passive is more of a "feel" thing than sound. It gives the player a different feel, and of course, flexibility at the bass. But in the studio you can make a passive bass sound active. Just boost the EQ enough, add a bit of compression, and you can get there. A preamp is nothing more than an amplifying circuit with EQ, so it doesn't necessarily has to have a sound (although, of course, many preamps do have a inherent color to them).

    About the recording, I like the tone. Clean, growly and defined.


    Alvaro, I do think that Bongos sound sterile and overly active, but I like their sound in a band context because of the punch, attack, and the flexibility to boost or cut frequencies to fit the room/gig. But a lot of that powerful sound of the Bongos comes from the humbucker, and MM-style humbuckers are never smooth or especially "organic" to my ears.

    I used to play a StingRay5 fretless with flats for long time, and although it was nice and warm, it was still a very "active" sounding to me, but it fit the bill while I had it.
     
  10. Mike McGibney

    Mike McGibney Not impossible ... Inevitable

    Apr 13, 2005
    Essex, UK.
    I love it! Great tone!
     
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Sounded great to me.
     
  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    I only play actives- I think it's a bad stereotype that all active basses sound like the clip above, or sterile, inorganic (as if the pickups on a passive grew on a tree), etc.

    There are several brands I've owned that have a distinctly "active sound" to them (Zon, EBMMM), but in general my active basses just sound like they're passive basses with an additional EQ that I can use. Which is basically what they are.
     
  13. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Eh. The tone on the clip is kind of boring. It's just there; it's got all the attributes it needs to compliment the song, but it's far from distinctive. I wouldn't blame it on being active. I've heard plenty of P and J bass tones that sounded bland and boring, too.
     
  14. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Great point. And, figure that the passive basses have gone through all the same post-recording signal processing that the active basses have in the recordings we listen to. Unless you have a sound engineer with a conscious tone goal of retaining the tone of a passive bass (and I am sure those do exist), the DNA of the final recorded product is almost always "active" as we might think of it here.
     
  15. Bona plays a vintage Fender on the track Ba Senge on his album Tiki, and there are a couple of fills in that song you would swear it was a high end active bass. He's a great player for sure.
     
  16. Sounded great, I love it!
     
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Bleh... That, to me, is the typical active bass sound that I can't stand. The playing is superb though, so I still found myself nodding my head through the whole track.
     
  18. I think it's a solid tone. I do think the overall production is a bit sterile, it's all so clean, but I can't say it's bad - just not my cup of tea.
     
  19. krustwell

    krustwell

    May 18, 2007
    Raleigh, NC
    liked the 1st clip. couldn't sit through the youtube clip. but that may have to do with one being somewhat funky and soulful and one "not having much soul at all", to be polite.

    but as for the tone, i preferred the audio clip tone to the video clip tone.
     
  20. Mr. BassmanPT

    Mr. BassmanPT

    Aug 15, 2009
    Europe
    i like the sound and the groove of the guy. very good job in my opinion, that is why this bass player plays with Mike Stern! Maybe Jeff Andrews? he played a jazz bass so it could be it in this track!
     

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