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Is passive for me?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Absumone, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. Absumone


    Nov 20, 2012
    I currently have 2 basses, a passive Squier P-Bass Affinity and an active Ibanez SRX430.
    I play them both just as often, because I can only bring my Squier to rehearsals on tuesday, and my Ibanez on saturday.

    Now the difference between these 2 is immense and I seem to favour the sound my Ibanez makes way better than my Squier. It seems as if my Squier lacks power, character and punch, while my Ibanez seems to pack way more power and is just more powerful overall.

    Would it be better if I changed my passive Squier pickups to something new or am I better off just sticking to Active and not wasting money upgrading to better passive pickups on my Squier?
  2. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    If I were you, I'd take my Ibanez into a music shop with a lot of bass variety. Plug you Ibanez into a rig there, to get an idea of what that rig does to your Ibanez. Then grab an American Fender that's passive and see how it compares. Then grab a different active and see if you like it more.

    Some people prefer stricly passive, others strictly active, and some change it up to match the tone/character they want out of each bass.
  3. Absumone


    Nov 20, 2012
    The thing is, here in Belgium the shops are quite limited in size and stock so it's not easy to just go around and test everything to a big extent, sadly.

    Are there passive pickups that come close to the general punch and grown of active pickups or would it be better to just leave my Squier as it is, not replace its pickups and get another active bass instead?
    EDIT: Apparently Gibson Thunderbird pickups are close to the sound I want, and they are passive. Which pickups come close to that?
  4. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I think you are chasing a ghost! The thing is that Ibby SR basses and Squier Fender clone basses are two different animals. You are thinking that it's only a case of passive vs. active. And sure that contributes to the effect but it's not the real story.

    The real story is that an Ibanez SR is THE classic "modern" bass tone. It's just as you describe, fat, powerful, and punchy. The tone is easily tweaked for even more by the active on-board EQ. A Squier is a Fender clone and Fender is THE classic "old school" bass sound. If you want it to sound "modern" like an Ibby it's not gonna do that no matter what. Usually they are passive, sure, but my Fender Deluxe Jazz is active and it STILL sounds just like a Fender Jazz bass! Duh. My G&L can run either active or passive and they both sound very much alike (and NOT like an SR!)

    So you are thinking that the difference is active vs passive, but really that's not it. It's "old school" vs "Modern" and active-passive is just an added attraction to put the EQ knobs on the bass rather than on your amp. I'm thinking that if you make your Squire bass active to make it more like an Ibby, you are going to be disappointed because it's still going to sound like your Squier!

    That's why people here are saying to TRY basses to see what you think. It's about the BASS and not passive or active even though that does contribute a certain amount to the final tone.
  5. jtm3183


    Feb 10, 2014
    It depends on the bass. I played a brand new Fender MIA Deluxe jazz that has active, and I liked the sound of the MIM passive better. But I played a used 2000 MIA Deluxe jazz and it was the nicest sounding thing I ever played. I have a 20th anniversary squier affinity precision, it is a decent bass, but only for learning. If you're really going for the precision sound, believe me the affinity doesn't do it. I played a MIA precision and the sound blew me away, you could just tell that's how it was supposed to sound. Just play around. An affinity isn't worth the money to upgrade. You should bring it to a guitar store and trade it in and play around on some, but a nice really cheap bass that places usually have is a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz. A place by where I am is 280, you can get them new for a little more than that though.
    Bottom line, I wouldn't put in more money into an instrument than what it's worth unless you really love it, and believe me, the affinity squier isn't that instrument.
  6. jtm3183


    Feb 10, 2014
    Also, new pickups would be around half the price of that bass new. A thing with the Squier's is also they don't have alder or ash bodies and that does a good amount to the sound. I also was avoiding looking at precision basses because I didn't like the sound of my squier, but when I actually played one it was incredible. You won't get the authentic precision sound out of a squier affinity.
  7. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    One other point, does your amp have either 2 inputs, or a -15 buffer pad (button or switch labeled as -15 or -10). If so, use that with the ibby. Active basses tend to have stronger outputs, so either adjust the gain/volume knobs to compensate, or plug into the padded input, as this is designed to normalize the input.
  8. Absumone


    Nov 20, 2012
    Aha, I see. Then I will just be saving up some money (will be working during summer holiday anyways) and just play basses everywhere I find them and buy one when I fall in love with it.

    I'm going to London for a weekend in september with my girlfriend anyway, so there I'll have some chances of trying out basses too and maybe bring one.

    I don't seem to have either. I'm using a Orange Crush PiX CR100BXT Combo (https://www.orangeamps.com/products/bass-guitar-amp-combos/crush-pix-series/crush-pix-cr100bxt/)
  9. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    Very subjective matter, but I never like active basses. I don't know why.
  10. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    Hm, definitely don't see any buffer pad. Next easiest solution would be to set the volume on the active a bit lower than the passive.
  11. Absumone


    Nov 20, 2012
    Yeah, but it's just that the power on the Squier isn't sufficient compared to what the SRX430 can do. I can even get more power out of my SRX430, but the Squier doesn't even compare on it's best setting. It just doesn't have the sound I need/want.
  12. Dogghouse


    Jan 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara
    Bass Guy @ Seymour Duncan
    Boy there's some great info and advice here. Way to go guys. A cheap solution would be to get a hotter set of P Bass pickups. Seymour Duncan (shameless plug) offers several.
    The SPB-2 (Hot) & the SPB-3 (Quarter Pound) both would bring your overall volume up closer to the other bass and still provide a P bass style tone. There's a place in this world for both. I think then you'd have similiar volume and some variety of tone for different styles of music.
  13. wolffire99


    Feb 19, 2013
    St. Louis
    I just switched from a very hot g&l bass to a fender jazz and had some of the same issues. Then I realized I needed to completely rethink how I was EQ'ing the passive fender compared to the hotter g&l. I did make small adjustments at first but it wasn't enough and I wasn't happy with the tone. Once I realized the fender needed 2x the amount of gain and a bit of a bass boost I was in business.

    What I'm getting at is to just make sure you aren't comparing two very different basses on the same or even a similar EQ.
  14. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Here are two examples from my experiences that may help add to what everyone else has said:

    My Carvin LB70 has an active preamp with a toggle to switch between active and passive operation. I usually set the gain on the active preamp so that the active and passive modes have similar volumes. When I do that, the bass sounds nearly identical whether I use it active or passive -- certainly similar enough that no one would notice in a band mix.

    My loudest and "thickest" sounding bass, by far, is my passive Gibson Flying V bass (which uses Thunderbird pickups). I rarely use it on my current band's songs because my less-fat-sounding Carvin (and my two other active basses) have more clarity on fast/intricate passes due to their more even frequency response.
  15. Absumone


    Nov 20, 2012
    I've been looking into some stuff since starting this thread, and I will probably be saving up for a new, more expensive bass by the late summer.

    Currently I've got my mind set on something like a Jaguar Bass with either the normal pickup setup or a PJ setup. I've noticed a fair amount of them, like the Troy Sanders Silverburst Jaguar, have an active/passive switch + there is a lot of control on that bass. I've been quite fond of what I heard in demo's of them.