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Onboard vs. Outboard Preamp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by count_funkula, Apr 25, 2001.

  1. What are the pros and cons of onboard and outboard preamps? I have been considering putting a J-retro or something like that in my jazz bass but now I'm thinking, why not just buy a Tech-21 Sansamp Bass Driver or something like that.

    What are some good preamps in the $150-$200 range that will provide a wide range of sound? Something that will complement my Jazz with DiMarzio Model J pups.
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    count - My take on the difference is that the onboards will fundamentally change the tonal characteristics of your bass, e.g., better/crisper/glassier highs, and deeper, more full bodied, transparent/thick lows, etc.

    My Tech 21 Bass Driver only takes what my basses give it and makes the signal more robust, more in-your-face. By that, I don't mean necessarily louder, (it can easily do that), but it's a "bigger", more full sound. Nonetheless, my LB75/Precis/Rick still sound like they always did, for better or worse.

    To get one luthiers take on preamps, check out www.kingbass.com/pickups.html and look towards the bottom of the page, below the pickups
  3. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Aren't you making a difference between apples and apples now? E.g. the Sadowsky preamp can be had either onboard and outboard, and I'll be damned if the same circuit sounds different depending on where it's installed? Isn't a preamp a preamp, unless it's a different preamp? That's what I always have thought.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    No. From what I've read at places like the one I referred to count, and others like Matt Pulcinella's, they can change it dramatically. There is a Seymour Duncan, for instance, that actually adds "slap contour" and this has two distinct sounds you never had before. They talk about the different "shaping" and "shelving" characteristics of some makes.
  5. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    So you're saying that, for instance, the Sadowsky on-boarder and out-boarder sound different, although they have the same circuit? I have to say I'm a bit puzzled, really, but at same time, what the heck do I know anyway? ;)
  6. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    If you have an onboard preamp, the preamp will be connected to the PU instead of being connected after the volume and tone control. It might make a difference.

    I would go with an outboard preamp. Cheaper because there is no modification (if you can't do it yourself) and you can use it with more than one bass.

    Check out the Sadowsky preamp, it's the best out there.
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    No. I'm comparing onboards to the SansAmp BD, which is what was mentioned in count's original questions.
  8. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Ah, of course, there actually was a question that started this topic. My bad. I shall be silent hereafter.
  9. What will the Sadowsky Outboard preamp do for me? I have heard a lot of good things about the Tech21 unit but not much about Sadowsky.
  10. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    I never heard the Sadowsky, but it seems to have favor with some in the forums. Isn't that the one with a basic high and low boost? I wonder if people like them for a unique sound bias they have. I can't imagine it would be for just the boost alone. Guess I'll have to check it out sometime.

    I have the Tech 21, and I like it. It also has high and low boost, in addition to presence, drive, blend, and level. I'd say it strives to do more than some onboard/outboard preamps. It definitely lends a unique sound to the signal, but you can blend in how much.

    It makes an admirable attempt at tube emulation, but I realize it's not a real world 'replacement' for a tube preamp, so let's not go there. All too many threads in these forums are reduced to self serving SS v. tube battles, and I'll not be the one to start one here. Having said that, I think it takes a decent stab at tube emulation, case closed.

    Personally, I find myself using the Tech 21 inline at all times. I feel like when I am too lazy to put it in the chain, my basses don't sound as good as they could...like something is missing. I must have taken a liking to the character of this box rather quickly, I feel like I am robbing myself of a better sound when I don't use it.

    I like the way it fills things out, and the controls are varied enough for effective tweaks. I don't use distortion, but it can do an ok job at that too I guess(kick up the drive).

    Sorry if that all sounds like a plug, it's not intended to. I'm not one to say buy this or that, I just like it. Call it a spur of the moment review I guess. :)

    Good luck whatever you decide to go with.
  11. Right, and sure it's not so usual, but I don't feel the lack of tones cut as I supposed it (I own it for 7 years and used through several passive basses).
    It has a really smooth sound.
    I say sound and not sounds because it doesn't change your axe sound but it enhances it.
    If I want more aggressive things I use other effects.
  12. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Count I'm in the same boat but I think I settled on the sansamp though. Not only does it help with the high and low boost it does a pretty good job of tube emulation as Seamus said. In my case I've only played through a tube amp once and have been trying to find that warm growlly tone since. I think this pedal is a good solution without having to completely change my equipment. Also the instructions come with good presets for other tonal variations like for slap, reggae, and punk. I've heard good things about the J-retro also but haven't actually played one so it makes comparisson diffficult.
  13. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    I wonder how long it will be 'til someone rips the SansAmp circuitry out of the housing and stuffs it into their bass' control cavity. Hmmm...tube emulation, overdrive, tone shaping, and an XLR direct-out right on the bass...
  14. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Yet another great feature John. You can plug into it with any bass to any rig.

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