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Multiple Preamps - Why all of the tweaking?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by wisconsindead, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Im a lil bicurious about getting an on board preamp (3 Band or similar). Though I plan to upgrade my rig down the line so it might be silly to get an on board preamp only to add a power and pre later. That will have me at 3 sources of EQ. Not to mention the tone knobs.

    So its got me thinking, why all the EQ? It seems common for bassists to have 2+ locations/sources for EQ. Are preamps selected primarily on the frequencies they adjust? Thus you have this preamp for hitting X Hz and the other for adjusting Y and Z Hz? At what point or you just making everything way too confusing? How do all of these altered signals work together? Ultimately all that we're looking for is a specific frequency response curve, correct? I've got more questions than I could post, maybe a link to some really solid thread on preamps would be good as well.

    Lets get some discussion rolling. TIA.
  2. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    Not sure that I'm representative of the collective wisdom here, but I tend to find having just one preamp is enough. I prefer passive basses, and then utilize a dedicated preamp that I run into the board as well as into the back of the amp (return part of the send/return). Multiple preamps have not worked well for me. The exceptions being having multiple channels (e.g. having the Jule Monique for the clean channel and a Verellen MeatSmoke for the gain channel), each with a different spot in the board and each into the back of a different amp. Another exception would be a MusicMan StingRay, which is only active - I usually run it with the center detents and adjust the external preamps. Again, I am probably not the typical person here on TB, but I find that simpler signal paths are better.
  3. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    A few or a dozen or a hundred or a thousand, maybe. One, not really my cuppa...:cool:

    Lots more to say, but have to go off and play through some random other person's rig for a while now. That right there justifies onboard preamps in my mind.
  4. SquidBass142


    Mar 28, 2014
    Oneonta, NY
    I typically leave my basses on board eq flat and use the eq on my head to make adjustments. However there is one specific reason I love having it there. I play lots of gigs where I share rigs and back line with other bands. One of the best things about the three band eq on my atk 800 is I can make adjustments from my bass when I'm using a rig I'm unfamiliar with. Having the eq on the bass really helps me find my sound in these situations.
  5. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    Some people prefer to leave their amp flat and eq at the bass. Others prefer to get 'their tone' from the amp, and then use the on-board to tweak for the room/venue/what-have-you. Some try to squeeze every bit of the spectrum that they can out of their collective eq's, and so pick amps, pre's, and pedals w/o overlapping frequencies. Still others are obsessive-compulsive knob twiddlers, who will typically spend most of their time chasing tone like it was tail. And then there are the plug-and-play guys, who probably couldn't even tell you the wattage, ohms, or even how many bands of EQ and the frequencies the affected their gear.

    That's what I've encountered in life anyhow. Oh, and by the way,

    was really funny. :p

  6. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Even running an effects board is, in a sense, compound EQs. A tone knob or bass/treble adjuster on a fuzz or distortion pedal acts as an EQ and all the other things in the signal chain with circuitry affect it in some way or another.

    The on-board EQ is to shape how your pickups come out sounding, so you can adjust them and the signal they put out to a fuzz/OD pedal or some other pedal that may require a touchy range of gain to be used optimally. A lot of cats use EQ pedals to bring back in some frequencies that may have gotten lost due to a previous pedal or something else in their chain, or perhaps for a quick mid-scoop on the go. I typically use my amp's EQ as my set-in-stone, adjusting only for the room, in order to get "my tone". I try and adjust different basses to get in that ballpark while adding certain character that comes from their unique setups or mods.

    It's not really stacking as much as it's gain staging or managing your volume/peaks at various stages of your signal chain. A lot of guys like on-board so that they can make adjustments on the fly without having to run to their amp. If it doesn't help you get the sound in your head, don't worry, you don't have to use it if you don't need to! :bassist:
  7. Different EQs have different purposes. Onboard preamps provide instant control, any time you need it. Graphic EQ on amps provides tone shaping. Parametric EQ is for fixing problem frequencies. And so on.
  8. dalahorse


    Apr 14, 2010
    I'm not entirely sure you've chosen the correct wording to describe your dilemma. :confused:
  9. I'm still in the woodshed phase and wouldn't know the logistics of playing live with other's gear, but I love the sound of passive basses. I guess I thought I'd be covered in such a situation with my passive J and my BDDI.

    As far as pre's and pedals and tone controls, I can say I like giving my BDDI a little tube push with a Presonus:bassist:
    But would like a good overdrive dedicated pedal… and then the list goes on and on and on Why? Sound!

    happy gassing,
  10. jmverdugo


    Oct 11, 2012
    Katy TX
    If I would be playing in an originals band I would have a passive bass and set the amp EQ to my liking and be done with it but since I'm only doing covers I wanted to be able to change the EQ from song to song, the best way I came up to do this was to have an on board pre amp, so far so good. I set the amp EQ semi flat, just a tiny bit of bass and the adjust from song to song with the on board pre amp.
  11. He wants to swing both ways. Active and passive.
  12. Well thats the other thing I haven't mentioned, its a guild starfire II with bisonics, so its passive, and Im not entirely sure about making it active and all which that entails. just trying to learn more as I ponder the future of my bass.

    But im very bicurious. With respect to preamps that is :p
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Probably so, but I just don't dig stuff on the floor, and one might argue that as soon as your signal hits an EFX box you are no longer playing a passive bass. In my mind the difference between your approach and mine is 10-15' of guitar cable, more or less...:cool:
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't have onboard pres in all my basses and don't feel the need to have them in all of them, but one really nice thing about them is being able to send tonal changes to the board. Another nice thing is being able to dial in tones that more closely match other basses you're using. The potential for abuse is there, but at the end of the day, it's just another way to get a sound, and it's up to the user to make it sound good or bad.
  15. dalahorse


    Apr 14, 2010
    That makes sense! It would seem the correct term was used after all. :)
  16. OK so other than "on-the-fly" EQing, why have multiple preamps? Certainly some of you utilize different EQs for different affects or different frequencies. I.e. your preamp handles the mids really well while your power amp has some nice controls for bass or w.e.

    People tend to talk about preamps with respect to how they shape your tone, one providing a more punchy or crisp tone where another one gives you a more mid-focused or w.e response. Why are they different? Is it just the frequency that they adjust? and do most of these preamps just boost a frequency range? what about diminishing a response within a certain range (kind of like the EQ on a TC Electronic BG250)?
  17. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    From the bottom: all of mine can do cut as well as boost. The way I conceive of things is EQ in the bass optimized to the specific instrument, EQ in the amp optimized to specific cabs and also to doing room correction. So if I switch pickups, there's an app for EQ'ing that. A hundred more people walk into the room, an app for that, and so on. Make sense?

    In my big rig I also have dedicated EQ just for post-EFX, which is especially handy for distorted signal into cabs with tweeters that handle a wide range of the cabs' signals.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's perfectly OK if you don't feel a need to use one. Likewise, it's perfectly OK to use one if you feel the need. It's very much an optional thing.

    That's exactly why they're different, and yes, the vast majority of onboard preamps allow you to boost and cut.
  19. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I'm guilty. I use 3 pre-amps, but they all have a purpose.

    1.) My main bass these days has an ACG EQ02 filter pre-amp. It's a bit long winded to explain how they work, but they're capable of setting up the filters so they completely change the DNA of your bass. You can change the voicing of the bass to be almost anything you want it to be. Want it to sound like a Ric, a P, a J, a Mudbucker equipped Gibby...yep, right there in the same bass.

    2.) My Zoom B3 gives me the same choice over a number of different amp models and speaker configs, so I can dial in anything from a warm vintage through some valve grind to crystal clear modern vibe at the stomp of a pedal

    3) The parametric on my ART Pro Channel lets me tweak my tone from room to room and so the settings on my bass, and all the patches on the Zoom sound consistent at each venue
  20. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    It's not always just EQ but also the way the gear works with your signal.

    For instance, my amp has a preamp and my pedalboard has a preamp.

    I use my amp's pre/eq for a base tonal response and then chenage the signal that goes to it with my preamp (and pedalboard). I can have a hi-fi tone hit a very oldschool sounding amp which is very different than an oldschool tone hitting a hi-fi sounding amp.

    My rig responds accordingly and it's great to have it on tap if I want to.