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Passive Basses vs Active Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by timbass2882, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. timbass2882


    Apr 6, 2008
    My bass is set up to be played in passive or active mode. In the past I would just play my bass in active mode, until one day while changing my battery the battery clip broke. So I played in passive mode until I got the clip repaired. Once I had the clip replaced I decided to go back to active mode. After converting back I found out I like passive mode better. For some reason I could not stand active mode anymore. It's funny because I was always a fan of active basses. Have this ever happen to anyone else.
  2. Well, lots going on here.

    First, even a very neutral on-board preamp will 'buffer' the signal, which means the low end and top end will extend a bit, and the midrange will sound more 'clean and polite'. So, that is a difference, and both tones are wonderful for what they are.

    However, some preamps are STRONGLY voiced even with the tone controls are set 'flat', some adding a lot of gain, big low end boosts, sizzly top end boosts, etc. That can be a good thing or a bad thing.

    The cool thing is, with a bypass switch, you can have the best of both worlds, especially if you preamp has an internal volume pot that allows you to set it at unity with your passive output, so you can easily switch back and forth on the fly.

    With more 'vintage' voiced instruments, like P Basses and instruments influence by the 60's J Bass spec, I pretty much go passive.
  3. Yes! I went from strictly playing acitve (it was great live), to only passive because my carrer shifted from touring to recording and writing sessions. I just find the passive tone more true to the instrument, not to mention actually workable in a studio. Active electronics always seem to have too much grind for me. Unless you get a very 'gentle' pre.
  4. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I had a Warwick FNA Jazzman and I loved how it sounded in passive mode. I used that as a tonal option, not just as an "Oh crap, my battery died, thank God I have this capability as a backup option." kind of thing.

    I still prefer active basses, but that's just my personal preference. I also have a Precision V (passive P goodness) that sounds great.
  5. snyderz

    snyderz Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Down to just passive the last few years. I've gotten so used to them, I really don't even look at actives anymore.
  6. DaniKettu


    Aug 18, 2008
    i was an active bass guy for years. I didn't even want to try passive basses. but that was when I didn't play in a bands that much. and once i return to band playing i never got the active basses cut through the mix that good and after I tried p-bass with a band i haven't looked back. nowdays i have five basses which all are passive except the active piezo bridge in one of my bass.

    but last months i have been thinking about active basses. i've been thinking about putting bartolini pups and john east retro preamp to my jazz bass. but we'll see about that.
  7. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Started Passive, was active for years, 2 band, 3 band and for the last 8 years its all about passive basses for me, they just have this Bark you dont get from an actrive bass. Active basses sound modern and are great for THAT sound or if you do lots of sessions and the gear you play out of always changes, thats the only REAL advantage ive seen with a passive bass. I recently had a Bass built for me with custom pick ups and it was all passive.
  8. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    I'm a younger guy (18) and most of the guys who actually know what they're talking about who're my age love actives. Tried it with an Ibanez SR600 for almost 4 years. Never got a great tone out of it. Same with most actives I've tried in stores. I like my passives (Dingwall ABZ and 1977 Fender Jazz). They sound great from the get go-no eq'ing to try and make it sound good. I have heard actives I like, but generally actives are just what I prefer.
  9. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    *passives are what I prefer

  10. DaniKettu


    Aug 18, 2008
    you have some nice basses for a 18 year old.:bassist:
  11. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast.

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I have both and love both. The type of gig that I do governs the type of bass. Blues and Country get my passive basses, Rock get my active basses. For Classic Rock, I take one of each.
  12. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    For me and for my tastes I prefer passive basses. I grew up listening to those sounds and I figure if it worked for my musical hero's then it's good enough for me. And it is!

    Nothing against those who prefer active basses because there are some great sounds out there with them. I guess the thing that never worked for me is how the high end sounds. I'd get a nice clarity going on the bottom end but then the high end always sounds too "hi-fi" for my liking. I still have my SR505 and while it is a great bass it very seldom gets used. I find I'm very happy with my passive J, the P and my 5 string AM STD J bass.
  13. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    My Carvin LB76 offers both active and passive modes.

    Between having dual MM style humbuckers with a split switch, active/passive modes via push/pull volume pot, and a three band mid sweepable EQ I couldn't be happier. There is a cool "rawness" to a passive bass for sure, but then again there is some huge tone shaping available with the on board EQ which has saved my but on those admittedly few gigs where I had to use somebody elses amp. I prefer havin both active and passive options whether a modern electrical beast or my trusty Squier P-bass Special. They both have their place.
  14. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    Haha, thanks man. The 77' Jazz I got a great deal on after working for my parents company (commercial painting company) just recently, and I will admit that I got the Dingwall for Christmas. That was a nice Christmas morning, haha. Of course I'm expected to play it till I'm dead (not saying it's a problem, don't worry!). Sorry for hijacking the thread folks, carry on.
  15. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I find the active and passive modes of my Carvin LB70 to sound very similar. If pressed, I would say that the passive mode sounds just slightly better soloed, but the active mode (with everything flat) sits better in the mix in most situations.

    Right now, the main benefit to the active mode is being able to more easily compensate for differences in multiple basses at a gig. For example, I'll be playing my LB70 and a Gibson Flying V bass at my next show. The passive Gibson has hotter pickups and far more of a bass-heavy sound the the more midrangey LB70, so I'll bump the LB70's active volume/gain and bass settings so that they will both sound good with the same amp and effect settings.