Mid-Range Active Jazz?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by slapnthebass, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Looking for a mid-priced (hopefully $400-800) Jazz bass with an active preamp. I do not want this to be a project though, I don't enjoy upgrading pickups and all that. This will be my first good bass, since I have an Ibanez GSR200, and I want to make the right choice.

    All I'm asking is your experience with a mid-range active jazz. If you have one, played one, ect, just tell me about it. What was it, how was it, price, tone, feel, ect. What ever you can tell me about your experience will be a huge help.

    Just a little background on my search so far....
    My #1 choice at the moment is a Fender Jaguar.. the versatility is over the top and had me sold from the start. The passive/active switch is a massive plus. I know about the hum on these, and I already know about the easy fix so I'm cool with that.

    My only worry is that people around TB have been recommending that you upgrade the pickups, and other electronics on the Jaguar because they aren't very good. I just don't see the point in me spending hundreds of dollars to get a mediocre bass, then spending more on upgrades to make it good. I want quality from the start. It doesn't have to be top of the line perfect, I'm not expecting a Fender MIA Jazz sound or anything, but I want a true upgrade from what I have now. If it sounds pretty damn good from the start, I'm good to go!

    Then again, I've heard a lot of talk saying that the Jags were great sounding stock basses.. so I have no idea what to believe. :rollno:

    I've looked at a Fender Active Jazz, but when I brought this up on TB, I didn't get too many good responses. It was either "mid-range active jazz basses aren't very good" or "go with a passive jazz". This confused me even more..

    The most frustrating part is that most of the basses I've considered or would consider aren't in stock at local stores. And I don't have the cash at the moment to order a bass for a test run. So no hands-on experience. :meh:

    I went from looking at Ray34s to this.. but I know I want a Jazz now for a more rounded tone. I play mostly with fingers, and use picks to get a more aggressive sound every now and then. I'll get a distortion in the future, probably use a Sansamp BDDI's distortion settings for this, so I want something that'll sit well with that.

    Please help. After reading around on TB, I have no clue which active jazzes are actually good.
  2. Anyone?
  3. darkstorm

    darkstorm Guest

    Oct 13, 2009
    Warwick corvette imports with their Mec J style pups and mec preamp and the Washburn Tauras with active preamp would be my picks for JJ pup bass. The MTD kingston saratoga bass is passive JJ but you could add preamp of choice and still be in your budget range.
  4. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    People on TB recommend that you change the pickups on every bass! It is a recommendation without force because it is repeated too often and then when you do change the pickups you will be told you should have gotten something else. I think in many cases people say that merely because they don't want to appear to be naive enough to believe that the factory installed pickups could be good enough. :D

    I have a Fender Deluxe Active Jazz and I love nearly everything about it. The preamp is great and the "crappy" Noiseless pickups work very well with it. I don't care for the tort pickguard so I will probably change it one of these days, likewise the appearance of the bent metal bridge didn't suit me so I changed it for a black Hipshot. And then there were the strings.

    People change strings all the time and there was nothing wrong with the factory strings other than they were roundwounds so I quickly put flats on it. Then after a long period of store trials I bought an Ibanez SR505 to try the five string world. Then after a few weeks of playing that I began to feel that five strings just wasn't for me. So two weeks ago I put a new set of flats on the Active Jazz tuned CGDA. I think in the long run I am going to like that configuration much better than a five string. Other than the tort pickguard the only further change I might make on the Jazz is to put a Hipshot tuner on the C string so I can reclaim the B I lose with the cello tuning.

    Personally I feel that the Deluxe Active Jazz is a very good bass and at a good price. You can do almost as well with one of the Squier models for less money of course but I do not see anything about my Jazz that disappoints. Yeah, I've made some aesthetic changes but many of us do that to anything we own. Yeah, I changed the tuning but no one makes CGDA basses, that I know of anyway. Basically, I am using it very close to stock condition and I am delighted with it. If the Jaguar appeals to you more then I would expect that it will perform similarly. It has a two band preamp rather than three but then it also has a passive tone control. So it will sound a bit different from the average active Jazz bass. In reality only you can say, so if I were you I would make a significant effort if necessary to get to some dealer who stocks them so you can have a first hand experience with them. If there is a Guitar Center near you they do have an excellent return policy so talk with them about what you are looking for and I suspect that if you are willing to commit to buying some bass from them they will be able to get you the hands on experience you need.

  5. Thanks man, I really appreciate the post! I know for a fact I really want a Fender now, so I'll try to get my hands on both the Fender Active Jazz and the Jaguar at some point. Oh and btw, how do the pickups sound soloed? Not that I know much about "Noiseless" pickups, but do they live up to their name? It'd be nice to not have a lot of buzz on these.
  6. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    The "Noiseless" pickups are hum canceling and they seem to reject the effects of 60 Hz magnetic coupling as well as any hum-canceling or -bucking pickup will. They are individually hum cancelling so you can solo them or use them together without hum. Single coil Jazz pickups will (or should, some have been built wrong over the years) cancel hum only when used at equal volume. "Buzz" is a more generic term for electrical noise and a pickup that rejects hum very well may not reject high frequency, capacitively coupled noise from electronic lighting, etc. That must generally be done with proper to excellent shielding. The Fender Deluxe Active Jazz is properly shielded with conductive paint but in any given venue it may take excellent shielding with metal foil and anal craftsmanship to eliminate "buzz".

    There may be an Active Jazz Bass club here and there are surely other threads that discuss it if you search for them and want other opinions.

  7. Gotcha, I see what you mean. Yeah, the hum is what I meant, I'm not to anal about the overall buzz that you described so it seems like that bass would do the job. I'll probably head over to a thread like the one you recommended to get more suggestions, and get around to testing this thing out somehow eventually. Thanks a lot for your help!

    Btw, if you have any clips of your bass around on the web, could you post them here for me? I'd really like to hear how your setup sounds. I'm pretty interested in it at this point lol
  8. Marihino


    Mar 25, 2010

    within budget, Seymour Duncan pickups, decent preamp, Hipshot tuners. No need to upgrade.
  9. In addition to a good Jazz sound, does it do a Stingray sound well? If its a nice 2-in-1 bass with quality & price to back it, this is a nice option.
  10. Marihino


    Mar 25, 2010
    it's not really two in one, it's more something in between. It won't do 100% jazz tone (unless you go for a front pickup jazz tone, that's done extremely well) because of the humbucker in the bridge position, and it won't do 100% stingray tone because that humbucker is too close to the bridge for that and has ceramic magnets - both this things put more emphasis in higher midrange than alnico pickup in original stingray position. But still, with some tweaking you can get pretty convincing - if not entirely genuine - tones. Both would be easier to get with some modifications (like preamp bypass and/or coil tapping for the hb).
  11. You had me confused until you said cello tuning!
    I tune my bass in C but it comes out C-F-Bflat-E.
    Or something like that.
  12. Sounds good on paper, but not enough meat in the sound for my tastes. Especially with an MM style pickup, I wouldn't want something that sounds thinner than an MM.
  13. fuzzychaos


    Mar 17, 2008
    Dayton, Ohio
    Who makes this bass?
  14. Basso54


    Jul 22, 2003
    Dalhart, TX
    Audere and John East make great drop-in preamps. Very minimal work, especially on the j-retro. Pick a passive jazz you like and add preamp. Just my $.02
  15. Its a Cort

    a GB4-Custom (I think it used to be called GB94)
  16. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Nothing really wrong with the Fender Jaguar's pickups - they sound fine to me. I just picked up a brand new Squier Jaguar today for 189 bucks out the door, I might get around to putting in some different ones someday but it really does sound ok out of the box.

    I'm not sure why you insist on it being active, if you'd be willing to go passive you'll have more options. Anyways, check out the Fender Standard Jazzes, used Deluxe Jazzes, that sort of thing. There's an MIM Fender Jazz Deluxe for sale near me for under 300 bucks, I almost picked it up but I saved a hundred and got the Jag, hehe..

  17. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    NM, "300 firm", not under. Very solid deal regardless.
  18. I like both passive and active basses, they each have their good qualities.. and while a bass with a passive/active option would be ideal, I know my entire search for my new bass started with an active sound over passive.

    I was originally set on a Ray34 because I love the sound of a Stingray, and I think the desire for that active sound kind of carried over in my search for other basses. I'm not expecting a Stingray sound from a Jazz, I know better than that. But I really do like having that hot kind of sound that active basses give.

    When it comes to passive Jazz basses in this price range, I think the only one I've really considered is a Highway One. This one sounded the best to me.. but I'm sure there's other basses I haven't even heard that could top it. Even though I'd probably be more satisfied if i got a passive/active bass, if I can't find one that really works for me, I'd probably be more likely to look into a passive Jazz.

    So far, the Jaguar honestly seems like the best option. It does the passive Jazz sounds that I like, and the active sounds I want, plus more

    I guess my second guessing just comes from the first time I picked out my own bass (around when I first started playing). I listened to all the good reviews on the GSR200 as a great low price bass, so I went ahead and got it.. but when I actually had an ear for what sounds good a few years later, I knew (for my sound at least) it was lacking, especially compared to some of the Squiers in that price range.

    Now that I can finally start saving for a new bass, I just REALLY don't want that to happen again lol. I know after I get this new bass, I won't be getting another for a while, so to get a bass that can cover almost everything I want to do would be great.

    I was just curious about what else is out there. This thread is helping a lot already, because a week ago I didn't even consider Cort basses, but now I know more about them that I would've known otherwise.

    TalkBass is awesome. :D
  19. And btw, that's a REALLY good deal. wow, if that was in my area, I'd probably have to jump on it!
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I saw a killer special edition active Seventies style Jazz at GC today for $899. I only played it a bit, but I think it is whole lot of bass for the money.