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Low but distorted sound from active bass

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by muxis, Feb 10, 2021.

  1. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007

    I have an SX jazz bass with active Bassline pickups in it.
    Recently been having this strange problem.
    Every time when I plug it in, the level is substantially soft and it's slightly distorted.
    After like 5-10minutes leaving it plugged in the sound will eventually go back to normal.
    If I start playing it, I can hear it going back to being soft and distorted again but after maybe 10minutes leaving it plugged it the bass will function as usual.
    (sorry for the poor explanation, not too sure how else I can describe the problem :/ )

    I have change the battery.

    Anyone have experienced this before? and know how to fix this?
  2. dwizum

    dwizum Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2018
    Step zero should be to open the control cavity up and check for any visible issues in terms of bad solder joints (look for corrosion creeping in over time), broken wires, or stray hairs from stranded wires contacting something they shouldn't.

    You've tried the battery, which is usually the number one culprit in an active bass. So we can rule that out.

    Next up would be pots. Dirt or scoring on the guts of a pot can lead to intermittent problems like this. Try spraying electronics cleaner in them (there's usually a little dimpled vent hole on the back of the pot) and working them back and forth many times. Often that will clear the dirt and the problem goes away (although, it may soon return).

    The jack is another common problem spot. If it's a normal open-style jack make sure the contacts are working well and have good pressure against the cable. You can bend them slightly to help.

    If none of that works, and/or the bass has an enclosed barrel jack, I usually just replace the pots and jack as a final step, since the parts are cheap and it's not worth spending more than a few minutes trying to diagnose or fix them.
  3. Have you eliminated the amp and if it’s a head the speaker cable as culprits?
  4. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007
    thanks for the reply!

    I’ll give the ur advice a shot. I’m doubting that will work tho.
    If it’s a contact thing how would level get better over time?

    could it possibly be the capacitor ? I am clueless with electronics but I googled capacitors and it says it stores little energy/power .
  5. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007
    I am not using an amp. Direct into audio interface .tried with other cable :/
  6. dwizum

    dwizum Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2018
    Loose or poor contacts can be highly intermittent. If the jack contacts are in poor shape, very small changes in how the cable is inserted into the jack can cause the signal to get stronger or weaker. Or simple things like if you stand up, sit down, turn around, and so on. In other cases, a very weak short to ground can come and go as parts heat up, or other changes happen. There could be a pot in your controls that is dirty, and the dirt moves around in a way that makes it seem intermittent. Or a mini toggle switch with dirty contacts that change resistance over time. It's hard to predict exactly what the issue is, but pretty common for these issues to be intermittent, mostly because the signals in the wiring in our instruments are incredibly weak - it doesn't take much to cause a loss of signal strength. I've had basses with jacks, pots, and toggle switches failed that behaved like you're explaining - they would be fine for a few minutes, and then "out of nowhere" the signal gets cruddy or weak. Sometimes you don't know what causes it until you replace the problematic item.

    Capacitors store energy, but the time it takes them to charge and discharge is orders of magnitude shorter than the problem you're experiencing - in a guitar circuit, a tone cap would charge and discharge thousands of times per second. There are no caps in your bass that would take 5 or 10 minutes to charge or discharge.
  7. bpc


    Mar 29, 2016
    Central Scotland
    Please don't be offended by this, sometimes we don't see the obvious in front of us. You're using a computer as an amp via an audio interface yes? Have you checked the computer is behaving correctly? If you play music through the computer does it play OK? No wierd filters on your DAW? Ideally borrow an amp to make sure it really is the bass that is the problem.

    I mention this as you might spend a lot of time trying to diagnose a bass that is working fine. Any debug process starts by determining for certain which piece of equipment is causing the fault.
  8. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007
    Thanks! Appreciate any advice I can get. I'll check with another amp
  9. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007

    Thank you so much for ur reply. I'll try some contact cleaners.
    The problem is not exactly intermittent tho. Once pass like ten minutes it works good. Even if I move around, tweaking the knobs and all.

    But again I'll contact cleaner it
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Have you changed the changed battery to a better battery? Do you know the new battery is fully functional?
  11. muxis


    Oct 2, 2007
    Brand new energizer battery... Should be OK right?
    Killing Floor likes this.
  12. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Wiggle your pickups. If nothing happens, smack your bass. If it turns on when doing that, your pickups are shorting out. I've fixed 2 Ibanez basses with this problem. SR605 had a few bad solder joints in the preamp. Talman had an exposed wire end on the pickup. Sr - fixed solder. Talman - put silicone on the exposed wire leads. Both fixed perfectly with no hassle at all.
  13. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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