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onboard preamp

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by marineman227, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. I am looking to get a richer fuller tone out of my bass and was thinking of one of the aguilar onboard preamps. First question would one of those give me a stronger tone out of my bass (Fender P Special)? and second question is wiring one of those something i could do on my own or would i have to take my bass to a music store and have them do it? thanks
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    For me adding a preamp has been the best way to get rid of richer/fuller tone. All the common aftermarket preamps (NTMB, OBP-3, BQC) will do is cut or boost the signal your pups are already sending and vary some of the frequency curves. In that respect I've had better luck with EQ's. You might give an NE-1 Parametric EQ outboard a thought or preamp with one cause they permit a lot more frequency variation and can really fatten up a tone. The Boss GEB-7 graphic has 7 bands with +/- 15dB cut/boost and a seperate 15 dB volume boost/cut control. From your description I'd say both would get you more of what you're looking for and are outboard so you don't have to do anything to your bass and you can use them on other basses. And both are currently going used for right at $50 or under - considerably cheaper than the preamps used (and less than half of one with a parametric eq - which are rare). By boosting passive output equal to what the preamps at, I haven't found a difference in the sound of any consequence - except it's more hi-fi: cleaner/quieter, which seldom is worth the loss in quality tone it filters along with the noise.

    But any passive pup I had with a good raw tone to it had it sucked right out of them by all the above. They become more hi-fi like most active pups. If you like the tone of the pups you have, I'd try the NE-1 or Boss to give a ballpark too see if the preamp line is what your looking for. If you don't like the tone of the pups - I'd look into other pups.

    I wouldn't recommend installing a preamp as a first self project - unless it's a drop-in (like an EMG BTC with a 3 pot harness to go into a bass with 3 pots). If you go with an outboard, all you'll need is a patch cord (couple bucks) - no expense, no alteration to your bass, no grief trying to get it to fire. And if you alter your bass to where you can't put it back to stock - you may sell it quicker but you'll unlikely recover any of the investment from the ungrade.
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I've been thinking about my post practically since it was posted. It's even motivated some experimentation I've thought about for sometime.

    I hate it when I come across so biased - especially when nobody follows up and says the dudes nuts and doesn't know what he's talking about, then follows with a contradictory experience. After all, feedback of different experiences and sharing information is what these forums are all about. So you can pick out what you want and leave the rest and find out what works for you.

    At any rate, to add some balance to what I posted, I'm not saying you can't get a great tone using an onboard preamp, cause you definitely can. I started out with all onboard preamped basses. If you don't have an amp that has cut and boost then an onboard preamp will give you that (at the least the newer ones) along with less noise and more of a hi-fi tone. You'll just loose a noticeable amount or all of the rawness to the tone of the pickups in the process. You can get a rich, full tone from a preamp. To me it's just an electronic richer, fuller tone along the lines of a chorus effect (or whatever), and not what I would call a more natural one. At any rate, personal taste is the bottom line and you learn by trying different things or finding a bass and rig you like you've heard. You already know you want something different so just try something different and draw your own conclusions.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    ok, fair enough luknfur. I disagree.

    I've tried the same bass with pickups and no preamp, and then tried it with a preamp. There are some preamps, such as the J-Retro, which have a pre-shape and make a difference. But I swear, with Aguilar preamps I can tell no difference between passive / no preamp and passive / preamp flat.

    That's been my experience, but you've obviously had your experiences too and as you say there's no right or wrong answer - just personal preference.

    I love the sound of a good passive bass, and sometimes love the simple 'plug and play' approach. But I prefer to have an onboard preamp close to hand so I can make quick adjustments mid song. Not everyone needs / wants that, and that's fine.