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Is this an issue or inherent in all active basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dbt25677, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Dbt25677


    Jun 9, 2013
    I recently picked up a SbMM SUB Ray4 in black..
    It's playing awesome but when I play the E string or even some of the higher frets (>7) on the D and G string too hard, it comes out really, REALLY distorted. Is this caused by-
    1. The battery
    2. The pickup
    3. The preamp

    Otherwise, I am impressed with this bass, it sounds just as good as a USA stingray to me.

  2. solderjunkie


    Jan 27, 2008
    Nashville TN
    Possible reasons:

    1: The pickup is too close to the strings

    2: Your amp's pre is turned too loud for an active bass

    3: You have the preamp controls set with too much bass for your amp
  3. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    A lot, if not most, basses with active electronics start to distort when the battery is dying.

    Maybe bring a fresh battery with you and see if you can install it and then check it out.
  4. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    These are also good possibilities, #2 especially.
  5. Bread Knife

    Bread Knife

    Oct 8, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Echoing Matthew here, I would definitely replace the battery before worrying about any possibilities. My Stingray and SUB make some nasty sounds when the batteries are on the way out.
  6. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I agree on replacing the battery first to see if that's it. On some of my other active basses, that distortion is the first indication the battery needs replacing. However, I've been reading some posts about the pickup possibly being too high causing the distortion. I'll see if I can find the posts. I don't have this problem on my 4 string Sub Ray.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I am with Matthew, it is probably the battery.

    You are using the padded input for active basses on your amp, right? This could definitely cause your issue.
  8. Dbt25677


    Jun 9, 2013
    Nope... Only 1 input.
    I'll replace the battery to see what it does.
  9. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    1. Replace battery
    2. Turn down input gain on amp
    3. Lower pickup
    4. If applicable, turn down the preamp's trim pot for output volume. Some have this, some don't.
    5. Throw bass in river.

    Perform these in order until your problem is fixed. If you make it to number 5, well then I'm truly sorry :)
  10. Rano Bass

    Rano Bass

    Sep 9, 2006
    Tijuana Mex.
    Don't turn up bass and treble too much on bass ;)
  11. Dbt25677


    Jun 9, 2013
    K I replaced the battery... Nothing.
    Same problem.

    Bugger. I'll have to take it back..
  12. I used to have a EBMM sterling and the pick up screws would back themselves out and it would distort because the pup was too close to the strings..lowering the pup would always fix the problem..
  13. solderjunkie


    Jan 27, 2008
    Nashville TN
    Giving up already?!? :eyebrow:

    I assumed you already replaced the battery, since that would be the natural first-choice.

    How far is the pickup from the strings?

    What amp are you playing?

    How are your EQ's set? (on the bass and on the amp)
  14. msact


    Jan 8, 2013
    Somewhere in NJ
    Turn down the gain or boost on your amp. I have similar problems with a couple of my basses. Turning down the boost does the trick for me.
  15. In short, "no". I've played nothing but active since 04 and never experienced this...
  16. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    When I first got a Stingray it was way too hot for my amp, even without boosting any EQ, and it was distorted as you describe.

    It's been said, repeated and I'll repeat it again: Lower the pickup, leave almost a centimetre between the poles and the strings.
  17. Two things you could look at:

    Input gain on your amp - no more than 10 o clock or you may start to clip it

    Try to even out how hard you hit the strings - hit the lower strings too hard and the sound may distort. Simply because you have a hotter signal and potentially more dynamics available.

    You could also try adjusting the pick up - the correct heights for a Stingray are in the FAQ on the Musicman bass forum (but bear in mind that is for aStingray).
  18. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    What happens (assuming you've lowered your pickup already) if you lower the volume on the bass and maybe the amp's gain and turn up the amp's master volume to compensate?
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    With an active bass you can boost volume, treble, bass, and mids. The more you boost the more it distorts.

    Take care of your gain chain.

    The signal follows a chain starting from your bass and ending at the speaker. If the gain gets too loud at any single part of the chain, (your bass, your effects, your amp, tone controls, equalizers, pickup height, pickup impedance, pickup magnet strength, etc) then there will be distortion.

    This is why some people prefer old basses with weak passive pickups. They can play through old style bass amps that have little or no headroom and not distort too much. When the active bass shines is when you play through a modern amp with a lot of headroom.