Help me spend my money - Onboard preamp with passive tone control

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by MHeardOnBass, Sep 30, 2021.

  1. MHeardOnBass

    MHeardOnBass Supporting Member

    Hello Folks,

    Hoping to tap the TB hivemind for some options that I might have overlooked.

    I have one of the older American Deluxe Precision basses with a 3 band active-only preamp. This has been my number one for over a decade and I love the way it sounds. However, I've wanted to add some passive P flavor and am unwilling to purchase another instrument. Cutting the treble and boosting the bass just doesn't hit like a passive P with a tone controls. Therefore, I am considering replacing the preamp. I have the following requirements:
    • Necessities:
      • 4 hole/side jack configuration. Willing to drill for a switch, but don't have the space to add a 5th control.
      • Must have active/passive capabilities.
      • Must have a passive tone knob. I don't need for it to work in active mode.
      • Must be 3 band (b/m/t).
    • Niceties:
      • Active passive being push/pull rather than having to drill the pickguard for a switch.
      • Sweepable/selectable mids.
      • 18V.
    * Note that I have extremely limited skill with electronics/soldering gun so I'd like to keep this as plug-and-play as possible. Piecemeal or highly modified options are likely out my wheelhouse.

    The options:
    • John East Retro 4 band. This hits all of my necessities and niceties with the exception that it is 9V. The sweepable mids combined with the push/pull passive switch are very appealing. However, I emailed John and he said that the rear cavity unit likely wouldn't mount to the pickguard. Bummer.
    • The Fender American Ultra series P has a 3 band active/passive preamp with a passive tone control. This is the direction I'm currently leaning but I can't seem to find just the electronics for sale anywhere.
    That's what I've found so far in my search. What options are out there that I'm missing? Thanks in advance.
    InhumanResource likes this.
  2. powerplant


    Apr 8, 2019
    I think you can run John East on 18 V. Seen it at several places.
    logdrum, funkinbottom and tekhedd like this.
  3. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Your must haves are really focused on the installation and aren't inherent properties of the preamp itself. Nearly any popular preamp can be installed with a push/pull active passive switch and a passive tone control. Are you looking specifically for something that will drop in, or would you consider options that need minor changes to the wiring harness?
    M0ses and MHeardOnBass like this.
  4. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Living for the groove Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    Mike Pope preamp. Stock in my Fodera YYS, it sounds exceptionally good. Thinking about modding my Aerodyne with one, but I'd have to get a luthier involved. I think it checks off most of those boxes. Front jack but I would think that's mainly a routing thing? Good luck with your search.
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  5. MHeardOnBass

    MHeardOnBass Supporting Member

    It depends on exactly what would need to be modified. I'm have very limited skills with a soldering iron so ease of installation is a priority. I'd prefer a drop-in option.

    Good suggestion, thank you. Lots of options when it comes to layouts.
    seve545, dwizum and DrThumpenstein like this.
  6. pepj


    Mar 25, 2021
    I'm assuming you have a J pickup on the bridge.
    If so, the best pre I've found is Glock.
    4 controls, Vol, active/passive push pull.
    Bass/treble stack pot.
    I'm quite happy to use passive but mostly i just dial a bit of the pre to run transparent.
    Of course, extreme use can be harsh but thats because anything over about 5db can be harsh, but the Glock remains pretty musical with no line drop between active/passive unless, of course, the batts are on the way out.
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  7. MHeardOnBass

    MHeardOnBass Supporting Member

    Very enticing. Another one to add to the list. Thank you.
  8. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    The Fender preamp, I believe has the pots on a board. It's designed for that particular control layout only.
    MHeardOnBass and BobKos like this.
  9. tekhedd

    tekhedd Tone chaser Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Colorado, USA
    Owner/operator of BYTE HEAVEN
    This is actually what I've been planning to do with one of my basses.

    I'm trying to do this with a 2-pickup 4-hole least you only have a single pickup, wait did you say "deluxe"? Oh you're in trouble. Sourcing parts for a stacked volume/tone setup is difficult, because the volume will be part of an active preamp, low impedance, whereas the tone will be a passive (high impedance ) pot. So best avoided. :( They do exist, they're just...kind of unusual. I wouildn't want a stacked volume/anything actually but sometimes you have to compromise for tone.

    I'd definitely say "John East" but I read OP and I guess it won't fit? That's a bummer. The Glock preamps are wonderfully clean, quiet, and transparent but I find the treble knob soulless. Then again, if you're using a passive that might be just what you want. :)
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  10. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    I recently got a Maruszczyk bass with a Maruszczyk preamp, whose sound I am very happy with. Mine is a five-knob arrangement, but they make a four-knob version that seems to check all of your requirements.
    Maruszczyk 4-knob preamp.jpg

    Oh, and the price is very competitive, around $100 (89 euro).
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
    tekhedd and MHeardOnBass like this.
  11. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    Get the John East. I have the Mike Pope on another bass and it does not have a passive tone control. East would work on 18V. East passive control works as well when active.
    mcnach and MHeardOnBass like this.
  12. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    If john says it won't fir he is probably right. Too bad. But if the East won't fit the Pope will not also. Audere may be your next choice.
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  13. The Noll TM3-JB might work for you. It can be 18v and is made to fit a Jazz Bass format with side jack. The Volume push -pull controls the active/passive in most Noll pre amps.

    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  14. John graham

    John graham

    Feb 20, 2015
    Audure and tone monster make some good preamps for folks on a budget
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  15. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Most clearheaded answer we've seen so far. A passive component (like a tone knob) is, by definition, not really part of the preamp. It sounds like all OP really needs is a 3 band preamp with only 2 knobs, installed the way he likes it.
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  16. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
  17. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    I haven’t played anything better than John’s stuff.
    mcnach and MHeardOnBass like this.
  18. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    The Glockenklang preamps made for Sandberg basses seem to do what you need. Particularly the EL00033 and EL00051 models. 9V, both.
    MHeardOnBass likes this.
  19. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    The John East Uni-Pre included a passive treble control. I’d have to dig further to discover whether that control will or won’t work in either active or passive mode.
    mcnach and MHeardOnBass like this.
  20. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    3-band plus passive tone in 4 knob holes is a bit of a stretch - achievable but you'll probably be confined to just a few options (probably already listed) that use proprietary stacked pots.
    If you could settle for 2 bands (my preference) or use a J plate with 5 holes (just Googled it and they are a thing) that would open up more possibilities.
    Just want to add: passive tone in passive mode only might be cool, but passive tone in conjunction with active bass boost is a thing of real beauty IME. (It effectively cancels the active treble boost I use for modern tones so I can go from Marcus Miller to Motown and back with the twist of just one knob.) I would at least add that to my "niceties" list (though I may eventually put a Glockenklang pre which I understand is not that way in a Warwick).
    Good luck with your quest! :bassist:
    mcnach and MHeardOnBass like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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