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Need Outboard Preamp 101 - Help!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by rogerbmiller, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Hey there. Wow after 21 years playing bass this is going to be really embarrasing but...

    I need a quick primer on outboard preamps. I have never owned one, though I own an old Boss EQ pedal. Is that even comparable? Here are my questions:

    1) What are some good value outboard preamps that are easy to use in conjunction with passive basses to get a more active sound?

    2) Do I need to get a bass preamp specifically or can I use a generic pre-amp, i.e. a guitar preamp.

    3) What should I look for and listen for when testing preamps?

    4) Are there any substitute outboard effects/electonics that you can use in lieu of a preamp?

  2. Major


    Jan 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    I've got two words for you - Parametric EQ. After years of searching for great bass tone, I can attest that the single most important element is a parametric EQ, 3-band is ideal. The Boss PQ3-B is almost all you need - add a compressor and a chorus and you're away. I can also recommend BBE products.
  3. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I would recommend you look at a few different units, your lucky, you live in NYC and they all should be available. The Sadowsky PRE, The Sans Amp, Yamaha Nathan East, Fodera, and the Avalon U5. There are a few others but all of these will do what you ask. I do not reccomend a basic parametric EQ (they are great for quick stomp second tones) but they don't boost overall signal, just the frequencies that you select. You want a unit that will boost your signal (gives you more headroom) and give you some tone adjustment capabilities. There are Tube pres available but any thing that will really improve your sound will cost considerably more, just because it says "Tube" and glows dosen't mean it's really doing anything for you. These units start at about 250$ and run up to 550$ (the Avalon) and I've tried all but the sans amp and all of them will give a passive bass more headroom and make it sound better! The Avalon is scary good, but try them all, you may have to go to rogers shop to try the sadowsky (don't bring any credit cards with more then a 1000$ limit to that shop, your wife would kill you-GEAR LUST CENTRAL)
  4. I agree with burk48237. The only thing I can add is that the Sadowsky gives you a more modern "Marcus Miller" type of tone, and the Sans Amp Bass Driver will lean towards a more vintage "Ampeg," type of tone. The Sadowsky works best with passive electronics, and only take the $250.00 to but the Pre/DI pedal when you go to Roger Sadowskys shop, unless you want a new bass, or two....
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Roger, when you say 'good value' what's your budget?
    Some units available are:
    1) Sansamp $190 new
    2) Sadowsky $250 new
    3) Fodera $250 new
    4) MXR M-80 $120 new
    5) East u-retro stompbox $300 new (maybe $250)

    You're right, you might get by nicely with just an eq pedal.All these units have different pros/cons and feature sets. Some questions you might want to think about:
    1) Do you want bass/treble, or bass/mid/treble
    2) Do you want DI?
    3) Do you want two channel operation? i.e. being able to kick in/remove mids with second switch
    4) What's your budget?
  6. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Thanks for the suggesitons. I don't really have a budget. But I play so little these days that less is more in terms of expendature. Plus I have very few passive basses.

    I am laughing at how overwhelmed I am by all this. I know nothing about electronics, signals, frequencies, etc. I own about 20 basses of various quality and vintages but I only have one little amp-- the same 100 watt GK combo I bought back in 1986. Does that give you an idea about how much I depend on electronics for sound :)

    Anyway, how can I better educate myself about this stuff? I still don't know if I specifically need a bass preamp. Argh!
  7. Read...Bass Player magazine is very helpful and informative. It's really easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of products out there. Also, you're in NYC, there are a bunch of great music stores out there, go try some stuff out. Go to the Sadowsky shop, NY Guitar and Bass boutique looks great. Good Luck. By the way, maybe you should check out a new amp, there are so many great combo amps out there that use newer technology, not that yours is bad, but maybe a new amp is the answer.