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I need help to understand amplification!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bassman74, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. bassman74

    bassman74 Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Hello everyone,

    Some people say i’m Wrong or crazy! I’m only gigging in family or office parties and never or rarely use P. A. support. Throughout the years, I came up with those conclusions.

    1. You either sit in the mix or cut through. Personally, I prefer the later one.

    2. If you want to cut through the mix, you need an active bass or a very high wattage bass head.

    3. Passive basses just sit in the mix, unless you use an outboard preamp or a 800 watts bass head.

    4. Passive basses are great for recording and active basses are for live shows.

    Do you agree?

    Is that what you all mean by headroom? You need an amp with such power in order to cut thru the mix ?


    You need an inboard or outboard preamp to provide more oomph to the amp in order to sound huge?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2019
    jamro217 likes this.
  2. You have a lot of wild preconceptions about active vs. passive that frankly just aren't true.
    A G&L with MFD pickups is as hot or hotter than most active basses.
    Mingo Sanders, rohi, DrZ and 19 others like this.
  3. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    1. Both would be ideal.
    2. Not necessarily.
    3. Not necessarily.
    4. Not necessarily.

    Not necessarily.

    Sorta, but not necessarily.

  4. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    Passive basses just sit in the mix... if that is how you set up the amp. Following that reasoning, active basses would do the same if set the same. Control of a bass is up to the user, not to a battery or lack thereof. Volume is one of the ways to cut through the mix, but it is only one of the ways. Punch, finger technique, amount of pressure on the strings, hand position on the strings, type of strings used, etc., all this comes from YOU. We haven't even begun to discuss an amp yet. And these will do the same for a passive or an active bass. Many, many variables.
  5. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
  6. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Yeah... you’re wrong.
  7. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    You’re not crazy. You just believe in a lot of misinformation.

    I’d have to say I disagree with all four of your points.
    cbnutt, Uncle Hanky, CapnSev and 4 others like this.
  8. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    hmmm. I never thought of "sit in the mix" and "cut through" as either or. Odd concept. If everyone in the band cuts through equally, does that mean everyone sits in the mix? Or is it the other way around? Since you have provided such sensationally incorrect assumptions, I'll bet this one will go on meaninglessly for days. Oh well - that's T.B.
  9. The hottest bass in my arsenal is passive. Go figure.

    There is no reason you can't be ''cutting through'', I mean heard tonefully, while still sitting in the mix. I don't think they teach that at sound guy school these days.
    chaak likes this.
  10. You're both wrong and crazy. 800 watts and an active bass at an office party? Wow. You really do hate your boss. :roflmao:

    All kidding aside, in response to your question:
    1.) Depends on what kind of mix there is. A ten piece horn band requires a different approach than an acoustic trio, and the instrumentation, volume requirements and mix are worlds apart.
    2.) Depending on the answer to the first question this may or not be true. I never had a problem cutting through any mix and I usually use a 300 watt head, 2-10 cab and a P bass.
    3.) See above.
    4.) Very true. Also, active basses can be successfully recorded and passive basses are great in a live application.

    The thing about music is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every situation is different and must be handled as such. That's why there is so much controversy over such mundane things as twin 2-10s vs. a 4x10. On paper it's the same thing, in practice it isn't. Is a Jazz Bass punchier than a P bass? Not if it's run through a crappy amp and a single 15 trying to compete with a Marshall stack. Hope this helps.
    Wasnex and ObsessiveArcher like this.
  11. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Ewww what's active?

    All those basses have distinct tone I guess you could say. Which can change things

    Then again Tone is a lot to do with the player and their hands. And note consistency and not cheating. (Compression) lol

    Likewise no, too cut through or sit in the mix. Either works well with alot of speakers. Just piles n piles of back breaking speakers

    Muah hah hah hah.

    Just kidding, just more knowing how much SPL you need for your particular band situation. And if you want clean or distortion.

    So it takes whatever amplifier/ speaker overhead it takes to get you in the mix if you want clean at a certain level, or dirty at certain level and where you want the dirt to come from. Pedal, amp, speaker etc etc. Or all darn 3.

    All depends man.
  12. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Hold on... @bassman74 youve been on this site for 12 ish years?
  13. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Your final question seems to indicate a misconception that you have regarding on-board preamps: “You need an inboard or outboard preamp to provide more oomph to the amp in order to sound huge?”
    Typically, the purpose of an on-board preamp is to provide EQ capability on the instrument. The tone control on a passive bass, such as a P-bass, is a low pass filter which suppresses higher frequencies. The tone controls for an on-board preamp, like the Aguilar OBP-3, allow you to boost and cut at different frequency points. To me, an ideal on-board preamp has unity gain, so you can switch between active/passive without adjusting volume. You seem to view the purpose of the on-board preamp to be to produce a hotter signal. While some do produce a hotter signal, this is not really the primary purpose as I view it. A stand alone rack preamp, (in addition to providing EQ and possibly other functions), typically accepts instrument level input and produces line level output, intended to feed a power amp. An on-board preamp does not typically do this. To me the name on-board preamp is a misnomer, as it would be better called active EQ or on-board EQ.
    rtav, ObsessiveArcher and bassman74 like this.
  14. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    You're greenin' me, right?

    You should go into politics, brother. You're a natural.
    You boldly misidentify the problem, then come up with the exact wrong solution to it.
  15. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Cutting through is for band mixes so muddy you might as well not play at all and nobody would be the wiser. Gotta love those! In all other scenarios, I also find the dichotomy to be non-existent. Makes me wonder why that's such a big deal on TB, do they all have to live with terrible mixes? Hard to fathom.
  16. dBChad


    Aug 17, 2018
    Daytona Beach, FL
    I find an amp's EQ knobs to be the best tools for cutting through a mix. A slight boost in the frequencies between the kick drum and guitar and start turning down in a gradual slope on either side will clear yourself a nice lane. Playing without PA support, adding more speaker surface area helps in preference to adding more power to fewer drivers; that's why scalable rigs are so popular (bring as many cabs is as appropriate for the venue).

    Trying to plow through the mix with brute strength (very high powered amps) tends to start volume wars.
  17. Turbo Sparky

    Turbo Sparky Supporting Member

    May 14, 2018
    South Eastern U.S.
    No matter the instrument of choice, much of what you imply/state is subject to a myriad of things so elloquently stated by other commentors.
    "Sitting/cutting through" is subject to which general frequencies a player chooses to accentuate or diminish (cut/boost).
    Other factors as well are to be considered; number of speakers, total surface area of speakers (3.14 x (Radius x Radius)) , input gain level vs Master, venue/stage construction and any treatments therein and or on (carpets, draperies, baffles, and even dimensions etc. Of course, some of these can be mitigated and or accentuated when using FOH etc.
    While I prefer active basses, I have heard some killer tones/sounds come from a 350W 112 combos with a passive, and quite crappy tones emminating from actives w/bazzilion watt amps with a Great Wall of China cabs. Hell, even the thickness of any given pick or angle of fingers striking strings, finger pad thicknesses and or widths can determine end sound user results.
    IMO, whether its active or passive, and no matter the total size of your rig package...perhaps trying setting all Eqs at about noon, to even a tad thin before setting-up; thicken at amp FIRST if needed, bump the mids at amp FIRST and color adjust at the instrument last.
    Shed tone, rehearse tone, and gig/venue tone are NOT all equal and will ALL sound different.
    Or, it could be as simple as the distance you are standing to/from your rig, not to mention the angle(s) you are also standing.
    Or even your possible physical hearing health.
    Good luck.
    bassman74 and dBChad like this.
  18. OP posted at 4:20. I feel there may have been other factors at play. Just saying.
    rd2rk, LBS-bass, BOOG and 6 others like this.
  19. bassman74

    bassman74 Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    First, I’d like to thank you all for your answers. It is exactly what I was looking for.

    Yes, i’ve been on talkbass for 12 years, I think i’m a good bass player, at least that is why my teachers told me but to be honest, I have no real gigging experience, I played like 40 shows in the past 10-12 years. There are many pros here and I am not. I play bass for fun, that’s it.

    My questioning reflects my lack of gigging experience. It’s easily explained because since I sold my active Warwick bass and 580 watts GK amp I struggle to get the tone I hear in my head for live application.

    I get that now that I switched equipment I need to learn how to eq really works in live application.

    Thank you all for your comments!
  20. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    You didn't even cover active or passive mojo.
    PillO and bassman74 like this.

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