Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by IvanBassist, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. IvanBassist


    Jun 8, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Dingwall & Aguilar Artist
    Well, maybe this is going to sound kinda silly, but...whats the difference between an active bass and a passive one?
    Thanks, Iván
  2. A totally passive bass has very simple pickups and tone controls. The pickup consist of a magnetic bar surrounded by a coil of wires. The controls usually consist of a volume control and a tone control that will only roll off highs. This is a standard p-bass. A standard J-bass is very similar only it has two pickups. The wire coils are wound in opposite directions which makes it hum cancelling. The p-bass pup is actually 2 pickups very close together with the coils wound in opposite directions too. There are a lot of totally passive basses out there and many people feel they are still the best sounding.

    You can take a bass with passive pickups and add a powered preamp to it. These basses have passive pickups with active electronics. MusicMan basses are this way and so are a bunch of others. The active preamp adds more tone controls like treble, mid, and bass. You can add and subtract from the sound. Active electronics require a battery of some sort usually 1 or 2 9 volt batteries. I personally prefer this type of setup. Fender Deluxe basses are setup this way too.

    The third type uses active pickups and electronics. Active pickups have a built in preamp right in the pickup. Basses with active pickups usually have an active pre-amp for tone controls as well. EMG, Seymore Duncan, and Bartolini make active pickups along with several other companies. Basses like Spector , Alembic and Steinberger use active pickups. These pickups have an ultra clear highly articulate sound. They are not for everybody.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Passive = no battery or other power source required. Active = battery or other power source required. Note that some "active basses" default to passive operation if the battery dies; also some active basses have a switch for passive operation, that bypasses the preamp.
  4. Guest043

    Guest043 Guest

    Apr 8, 2008
    greybeard is right on the ball. very good description.

    most high end instruments will be active, and have bass/mid/treble eq right there on your bass. a nice thing to have..only downside is that when your battery is dying, youve got to have one onhand to replace it..unless your bass has an active/passive switch (some dont. for good reasons, too.)

    your average p bass or J bass is passive...low maintanance, being that there is no battery. less control over your sound- however you can EQ your bass on your amp if you want, you dont neccesarily need it on the bass itself.

  5. What's the advantage to not having a bypass?
  6. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    well, *the* DISadvantage to not having a passive bypass on MY bass is that when the battery dies, so do the bass. it happens quick too--- like fine one minute and completely gone 20 minutes later, with 10 minutes of increasing fartiness leading up to its death. that is a hassle all by itself. but on mine, i dont have a battery door, so the control cover has to come off to change it. it just *cant* happen during a set without stopping.

    one of the main reasons i will always have two basses on "stage" (even if it is just a parking lot or the corner of a patio), no matter how pretentious it looks.
  7. Yeah yeah, I dig that toobalicious, but what I don't get is tomvelsor hinting that some basses might be better off w/out a active/passive switch. I for one wouldn't own an active bass that can't go passive.
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Many preamps with buffered blend controls do not have active/passive switches, because the blend pot is not set up to work with a passive signal. Other active basses have active pickups (i.e. EMGs) that don't have a passive mode, or pickups with low enough output that they have to be boosted to be usable.

  9. Yeah, that must'a been what toobalicious was talking about. I didn't think about active pups.
  10. IvanBassist


    Jun 8, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Dingwall & Aguilar Artist
    where do you exactly put this/these battery(ies) ? is there any other way to use your bass without them? a charger for example (to practice at home)
  11. max2002


    Jun 19, 2008
    San Diego CA
    how long does the battery last?