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Has anyone sworn by active electronics forever and changed their mind?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jcburn, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. For the last 20 years or so I've played active basses. Not really because I need different EQ's on the fly, just always THOUGHT I preferred the sound.
    Recently bought an old Aria Integra bass from Alembic83. Bass came with no pickups, originally had Bart W4CBC pickups that are an odd shape so thats what I put back in. Was originally wired passive vol vol tone, that again is basically what I have done (with both the pickups wired series humbucking).
    Man what an incredible tone. My other 2 basses are an active Yamaha TRB5 and an active Aria Pro II Integra 5. Compared there is no real difference in signal level at the same volume but the passive set - all I can say is the tone sounds for more alive and harmonically rich. I run my sound through a Dunlop MXR M80 (which itself has seperate Active EQ and drive sections) and still the passive bass sounds way better. The active basses, whilst sounding cool sound a lot more compressed with less dynamics to the sound.
    It sounds so much better to me I am thinking about converting the other Aria Pro to passive with a set of standard size Bart humbuckers.
    I realise there must be 1000 threads on this - has anyone else done this? It just surprised me how good the passive sound is. Even with the drive circuit engaged in the MXR M80 the resulting sound is better to me!
  2. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008
    I have both active and passive basses. I like active for certain things, and like you said a big one can be having tonal variation/eq available on the fly. That being said, a couple weeks ago I was at a local store and played a used P-Bass, and it just sounded "right". It really depends on what you are looking for.

    My thinking is that perhaps you would be better off just getting a passive bass than modifying an active one...especially if you need to route it to make the pickups you want to use fit. Conversely, if you can make the mods without permanently altering a potentially collectable bass then go for it.
  3. The current pickup routes are standard size so Barts will fit. I think I just really like the passive tone so much better than the active tone. I would keep the Yammie active, basically for 2 reasons. I dont know of any pickup that will be a direct fit, plus it is always nice to have an active bass.
  4. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Inactive

    Jun 30, 2010
    Years ago actives were "high tech" and the way to go -- especially when in competition with synth bass. (Remember when electronic drums were the BIG sound?)

    Today, with better amps, a more organic sound has come back around.

    In short, I use both, choosing one or the other, depending on the type of music.
  5. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I will say that I've discovered more of a respect for the passive abilities and tones in certain situations... but haven't fallen over the edge yet. I UNDERSTAND THOUGH!!!

    Switched to active in 97... Warwick Fortress MM5. Then Stingray. Then Conklin... Modulus... Another... then Status. Finally a Fender Deluxe Jazz.

    Once I added the East preamp to the J Deluxe, I started messing with the Passive tone abilities. Fun, but didn't rock my world. Until I was forced to play through a Sunn head/1x15" no name cab that was older than me. And active was sounding like GARBAGE!

    Since then, I have messed with a few passive ventures. They all sounded pretty darn good to my ears. The kicker was the MPG Level 5 that I put Delanos in. Dual coils. Added switches for tone tweaks - 3 way on each pickup and a series/parallel for both pickups and of course, passive tone. Just that setup was amazingly versatile. Barely used the East U Retro I'd installed before I sold the bass.

    Can't see myself converting back to 100% passive for good... played a gig last night that stretched my preamp out but GOOD and it handled every tone I could possibly use at the tip of my fingers.
    But I will definitely be flirting with some more passive beauties. My project bass to be completed is a Moses/Warmoth custom job with passive Sadowsky pickups.
  6. Me. I was Mr. Carbon-fiber/neck-through/active-electronics guy for a long, long, long time. Until I got an ordinary P bass, the tone of which completely blows my fancy basses out of the water. They haven't seen the light of day in years.
  7. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I'm kind of the other way around. I've been playing passive for the last year and a half or so, and I miss the flexibility of an active preamp. I'll be installing one shortly here soon I think.
  8. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Inactive

    Jun 30, 2010
    Keep in mind a lot of basses have both. Even the Squier J Deluxe is passive with a pre-amp, which is essentially just a power boost and it sounds damn good both ways.
  9. Horses for courses I know, its just the passive sound to me has this rich harmonic tone that I've been looking for and not really found in my active basses (this includes previously owned Warwicks, Spectors, Zons and US Deluxe J).
    Now the only problem - deciding between Barts, Delano's, Nordies and Basslines.
    I want high output, sparkly highs and nice bottom end. Something good for rock/metal.
    Are there any threads on such a thing on TB....?
  10. From that description, I would say go for the Basslines, but I'm not the most pickup savvy person around.

    Hopefully others will chime in though :)
  11. Cool cheers - I put the little hiding Smilie in cause I know there are 1000 "best for rock and metal" threads out there. Just being lazy. I appreciate anyone with opinions though on any of the mentioned pickups! Or any other with standard Bart size humbucker dimensions.
  12. IanAllison

    IanAllison Supporting Member

    May 27, 2006

    I was way into active / graphite / piezo - you name it! The brighter and cleaner the better. Then I listened to a live recording of a band I was playing with. BAD NEWS. It sounded like the bass was on an island - a weird, clicky, sterile island - very far away from the rest of the band.

    Hmmm . . .

    And THEN, I started doing some session work and was FLOORED at how a passive P bass made a track jump. I purchased a few great old Fenders and passive US Laklands and haven't looked back.
  13. Think I've made my mind up. Now just have to decide on pickups.
  14. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Like you said, there are thousands of threads on that, but one thing I'd like to mention is that active EQ seemed to come about to correct some shortcomings in pickup tonality...

    When I put the Delanos into the MPG, it felt like they sounded SO GOOD that EQ was just gilding the lily.
    Nordstrands feel like that, too. Such a great tone!
    And the Sadowskys I put into a Squier made me almost soil myself.

    So active EQ is still great, but at least the pickups we can choose will compensate quite a bit for the old ways of doing things.
  15. Hello,
    A few months ago I switched out my active pre-amp and Bart's out of my GGS 5 string(much like a Modulus) to Nordstrand Big Singles and passive VVT. I'm getting the tone in my head now. Some growl, openess, and better dynamics, to me.
    I'm so happy with the tone that I have stopped using my VT bass and I'm just plugging in directly to my GK MB212. The bass also sounds great on my practice amp(Fender Bassman 150).

    I don't see myself going back to active, but if I did it would be one with a passive tone control and very transparent.

  16. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I'm actually the opposite. I'd been a passive guy for a long time and got frustrated with every active I touched because of what I perceived to be an unnatural harshness to the highs.

    Then I bought a Warwick. Then I swapped out the pickups in my Warwick.

    Now I have trouble envisioning myself as a passive guy again.
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Likewise, I think that active systems are not what they used to be either. I think they've evolved a lot from the sterile sound to being more adaptable and transparent. There are some really good active systems out there that let you keep a nice passive-sounding tone, but allow you to boost or cut frequencies when they are needed, without making a trip to the amp. I also like the buffered input of active systems that prevent a lot of tonal changes from using the volume knob, or using a long cable.
  18. TwinBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    Spokane, WA
    I like both actives and passives for different reasons. If the bass sounds good and feels good, I don't really care if it's active or passive.

    That said, my next bass is going to have an active/passive switch... either a EBMM Big Al or a Fender American Deluxe Jazz.

    How's that for a "politician's answer?" :bag:
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Some basses need an active preamp. Some sound great wthout it. I have both active and passive basses. With active I can make a more saturated sound. With passive I can get a more organic sound.
  20. Me too. I have been using active Jazzes for the past 6 years, going from Aguilar to ACG preamps, and they all rocked. Then I picked up my old all-stock American Jazz, and it has been the main bass for a few months now. I just love the interaction of the pickups with the whole setup....
  21. Primary

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