High end bass active vs. passive

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by crewlattitude, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. crewlattitude


    Mar 18, 2004
    I apologize if this has already been discussed, I could not find it. and unlike my previous post, hopefully this question won't get me called names:meh:

    For those of you out there with high end basses that have active/passive switches. Do you normally play in active or passive mode, and why? Or if you use both, please explain what and why you use each.

  2. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    My Jerzy Drozd has an active/passive switch. I use it in active mode, exclusively. The passive switch has a huge dropoff in output and is intended as a lifesaver. If I'm on stage and the battery dies, I can switch to passive mode and still be able to finish the set.

    I've had discussions with Dan Lakin of Lakland about this and he agrees, at least with the Bartolini preamps he installs, the passive mode is generally meant more for life-saving than for additional tone controls.
  3. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I use both. When I'm practicing at home, and occasionally at rehearsals, I usually go passive just to go easy on the batteries. For gigs, I always go active as it gives me just a bit more volume and the ability to tweak my tone based on how the room is responding throughout the set (at least until I can make the changes at my rig if necessary during breaks, etc.). Hope that helps. ;)

    NOTE: Unlike RAM above, I'm mainly using an active/passive jazz, and the passive tone is just like the active tone, minus the ability to severely tweak the tone (bass/treble). Unlike RAMs situation, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using my bass in passive mode...that's how Leo designed it, after all! :D

  4. On my side of the lake, A 9 volt battery is about $1.50. I play many hours a week and it usually lasts about 2 months. :p

    (Just havin' fun) ;)
  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL

    Very well, then! ;)
    I never said the "why" was a good reason...just a reason. Most batteries should last for several hundred hours of playing, if I'm not mistaken, so there really isn't any "good" excuse not to go active all the time (unless you have a situation where the passive mode only works well as a safety if your batteries run low-see above). I'm just an odd-ball, I guess. :p
  6. crewlattitude


    Mar 18, 2004
    Thanks for the input. I enjoy hearing peoples opinions!!

    I guess what I was really wondering, was if there were any tonal differences between active or passive. Or if the pup's acted differently depending on which mode you were in. For instance... maybe the pickups sound too hot in active so you use passive for certain situation.

    I've never had the opportunity to play a high end bass that had the option so that's why I was wondering. (that & I ditched my classes today... who needs college anyway:rolleyes: )
  7. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    I haven't played a high end bass that had a killer passive sound. not to say they aren't out there, but I haven't played one that has. In my experience, when it comes to passive tone, Fender SMOKES all the high end basses passive tone that I have heard (and that includes Sadowsky, Elrick, Lakland, and Fodera)
  8. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    A true active bass can't go passive. Most active basses use their active boost to compensate for very weak magnets. If you go into passive mode, you'll have a very weak signal that'll degrade quite a bit. As others have said, it's a live saver, not something you'd actually use. The main difference in tone is that active pickups tend to be very full range; they have a very flat frequency response. Passive pickups tend to emphasize the mids and cut out the extreme low bass and high treble frequencies, yeilding a more organic tone. That's why most slappers prefer actives. Personally, I'm a passive dude, but my next bass will be active.
  9. I've owned active-pickup instruments that effectively cut off the battery supply merely by turning the volume knob to zero.

    I know this to be the case because I've left them plugged in for months on end with the volume knob on zero, and the battery didn't drain.
  10. Don W

    Don W

    Jan 30, 2004
    East Bay, CA.
    My Warwicks have a Push-Pull Volume know that bypasses the active electronics. I always keep it set to active though. I just think its a much better sound.
  11. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    My last two high end basses.
    1- FBB Fretless 6-string
    2- Stambaugh fretless 4-string
    Both have Passive pickups.
    FBB-Bart. MC-56
    Stambaugh-Lane Poor soapbar.
    Both have great tone, yes there output is less than active mode.
    Simple tweeking of Amp. can ajust for lack of volume.
    The more you put on a pickup, changes pickup tone.
    ex. tone, volume, midrange, boost thus the need for pre-amp.
    This is one reason the Anthony Jackson model bass sounds so good.