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Going from fully-active to active/passive - Ground wire?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Taylor Livingston, Oct 21, 2010.


  1. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I have a bass that was built for me some years ago, which has an EMG-35TW active pickup and one of their bass/treble EQ systems. For a few reasons I'm swapping out the EMG for a passive Basslines SSB-4, and have built a preamp design that I think will sound very nice.

    I'd like to be able to activate or bypass the preamp to use the bass either in active or passive mode. However, since the bass was built as a fully-active system with no passive mode, there is no ground wire to the bridge, and no hole drilled for that. I'm not very skilled with woodworking and don't particularly want to tackle drilling the hole.

    Are there any other clever things I can do to to quiet the noise I get with this pickup when I switch the preamp out? I currently have the SSB wired straight to the jack and it is indeed noisy. Or is my only option to drill the hole and ground the bridge, or get someone to do this for me?
     
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    If you don't want to drill a hole, you can run a piece of wire from the rear pickup rout to the bridge, on top of the body. This is essentially what Fender did with a few of their J models that have a brass strip running between rear pup and bridge.
     
  3. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Drilling a hole is pretty easy and it doesn't have to be large. I also think it looks much nicer than the copper strip.
     
  4. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I've seen that copper strip setup, always thought it was kind of funny, especially when people want to emulate the "vintage" look by doing that on new basses. ;) I may go ahead with that, but it would be out of laziness, rather than period-accuracy.

    I guess drilling the hole wouldn't be too difficult.
     
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Well, there is one thing to be very careful about, when drilling that hole. You will be using a narrow drill bit, and it is likely to run at an angle to the grain of the body wood. If the grain or wood is strong, the bit may bend to follow the grain and drill through the back of the body, without you even realizing it before it's too late. This has happened to me and to a few other people from what I've read around here. Solution: go slow, don't use too thin of a bit, and work the drill back and forth to feel whether it is binding or bending.
     
  6. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Hmm. The body is solid bubinga, so I was imagining that the difficulty would just be getting the bit to go through this very dense, hard wood. I'll probably wait until I can get a real woodworker to do it, as this bass is not replaceable (I couldn't get the builder to make me another one even if I had the dough).
     

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