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Passive or Active. Is too much EQ Possible?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by freshmeat1989, May 24, 2005.

  1. It's coming close to being new bass time in a couple months and I've just been wondering. I have a few possibilities in my head.

    -Active Fender Jazz
    -Passive Fender Jazz
    -Stingray HH 4 3 Band EQ

    I got to thinkin if too much EQ is possible. I like simple set-ups, and stay away from Graphic EQ's, and was just thinkin. Do you think its overkill/redundant if you have a 3 band EQ on your bass, and a 3 band EQ on your amp too? Or does it make for extra tonal possibilities?
  2. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I like the sound of passive. More natural, organic, etc. For me, active is usually lifeless. But, that's on its own, since I don't play in many groups, and I've only played passive in groups. So . . . I don't know how a nice active bass would sound for me in a mix. I recently heard some Bruce Hornsby on which the bass player played an active Tobias (pre-Gibson). It sounded great. Sooo . . . in a roundabout way, I just said "I don't know ****." Just that I love my passive basses.
  3. My opinion differs from that of "Snarf".. I absolutely LOVE the 3-band active preamp on my ESP. And.. I don't think too much EQ is actually an issue. More likely it would be more EQ than a bassist knows how to use.
    With the 3-band and p'up blend controls, I can virtually get any sound from my bass that I need without touching the amp. This is great if one plays a mixed variety of music which my band plays. Lately I've had the chance to play several passive bass guitars. Although they do not sound bad, they seem lacking in the tone area. I especially like being able to boost or cut the mids. I don't think I'd be as happy with a 2-band bass/treble active.
    Of course, I'm a firm believer in a good EQ on the amp as well. Accoustics will change so much from gig to gig, and even a 5-band on the amp is sometimes insufficient for my tastes.
    I guess alot of this depends upon the amp and speakers. Even less expensive electronics will sound really good on a good amp/cab setup..

  4. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    And here I find myself somewhere in between what Snarf and Magneto say. I have an active stingray and passive jazz. I find that the 3 band EQ of my ray lets me accentuate the sound of my bass without fiddling with any knobs on my amp depending on the song/sound im going for. On the other hand I find that the passive sound of my jazz just seems to fit anything I play, so basically theres no fiddling around with knobs on the amp or bass. So being the simple man I am, I usually go and grab my Jazz bass first because i know its gonna work for whatevers gonna get thrown at me. Just my 2 cents, but as a wise man once said, play before you buy.
  5. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I don't like graphic EQ's on my amp much, either. I love the eq controls on a bass, be it a passive tone knob or active EQ. With the amp set properly, I can get a wide array of tones from my Steiny's active tone knob (a wierd blend of high/low eq) or my Warwick's 2-band. The tonal controls on most basses just seem to make more of a meaningful difference to tone, to my ears at least. If you don't like graphic EQ then I'd recommend giving a few preamps a shot.
  6. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine

    I rarely use much EQ, but I love the convenience of being able to tweak stuff righ on my bass without having to go back to the amp (which, in some of the smaller venues we play, can be a bummer).

    For example, I LOVE the tone of my Geddy J, but I do find I miss the ability to dial in a bit of extra bass when soloing the bridge pickup (which I LOVE to do for some extra growl and bite on some songs).

    I will say that, IMHO, if you're using a lot of your bass's EQ, your amp is probably set wrong, tho. I do most of my "sound selection" with the pickup blend, and then tweak the tone as needed with the EQ. Works great for me.
  7. Fishman


    May 24, 2005
    Hamilton ON
    Passive pickups and no EQ for me, I bypass it on my SVT. I go for those classic tones and I like to keep it simple, I want to play it, not operate it ;-)

  8. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I'm turning more and more into a passive guy.I'm thinking about ripping the J retro out of one of my Lakalnd JO's

    That said I'm going to build a effect Board and guess what? I'll have a sadowsky or aguilar pre on there as a Effect.

  9. Fishman


    May 24, 2005
    Hamilton ON
    Sorry, forgot to mention, recently picked up a American Standard Jazz, the model just before the S1 switching gear. Passive, and through the SVT, it is the best bass I own for tone and playability, I would go for the passive Jazz in a second (maple fretboard as well).

  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The way I see it If you've got a decent EQ on the amp and you set it the way you want, you don't need an EQ on the bass, too. Too many boosts and cuts at differing frequencies can cause some really funny frequency interactions.

    I prefer passive EQ, but if I found a bass that "spoke to me" with an active EQ I would be happy with it. It's a personal preference, there's no absolutes, and both active and passive basses have their plusses and minuses. I personally like to keep things simple myself.

    Some people like being able to tweak till the cows come home, some leave their actives at the center detent and only use them for very slight on-stage variations as needed (that's what I would do with an active EQ bass).
  11. I don't think *having* too much EQ is possible. I think *using* too much EQ is possible.
  12. Dell


    Apr 7, 2005
    It depends what you want to do with it. Ive played a few Stingrays and the ability to change sound drasticly without having to do more than turn three knobs that are by your hand is great BUT as much as I love the sound of a stingray it doesnt suit my playing style or the band Im in... I use a passive Jazz and I love it for what I'm doing. I think if I was a session bassist and was doing many different styles I'd get myself a stingray.
  13. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Exactly. Actually, I also forgot to mention in my previous post that, if you find yourself using a bunch of EQ on EITHER the bass OR the amp, you probably have either the wrong amp and/or the wrong instrument. IMHO.

    In other words, if I plug stuff in and the first thing I do is start fretting over the tone, something is fundamentally wrong.
  14. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    I bought the GEB-7 Bass Graphic EQ a while back. I boost the bass a bit, cut the mids, and boost the treble. I use it to shape the natural tone of the bass that never really changes. From that I use my new onboard EQ to make the major tonal changes. Every once in a blue moon I boost the Mids on my amp all the way to get a gritty tone. Other than that, I leave the Amp EQ flat.

    I will hopefully be getting a SansAmp soon for the gritty mid sound.

  15. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I'm going to take a middle path here. I generally prefer passive basses for all the usual reasons folks cite for that preference. I've sold all my active ones.

    But if I went active, I would definitely want three band EQ. For playing rock, as I do, a midrange control is useful to adjust the bass's presence in the mix. I'm not sure I'd even consider two band on-board EQ, unless it were very high end, a la Sadowsky.
  16. I love Passive too.

    A great compromise if you love a passive bass is to get an outboard preamp (pedal like).

    you can have your cake, not mess around with its innards, and eat it too.
  17. dls59

    dls59 Supporting Member

    I've always been a passive kind of guy, but i just added a 3-band Aggie to my MTD Heir. WOW! Supercharged. And I installed an active/passive switch, so I can still get those nice passive tones when I want them.
  18. I love my active Fender MIA Deluxe Jazz. It's three band eq, and i like that because i usually up the treb/bass while cutting the mids. I put it on a great setting that I love and keep it that way. I can get some great funky growl and rock tones on it. Not once have I thought of the sound as too fake or overdone. I have a passive MIM Precision too, and it's great for just getting out a low down thick bassy grove. I dont really adjust anything on that bass, and I dont think I would mess with it even if I had eq on my Precision. I guess it just really depends on the bass and what you're trying to get out of it.
  19. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I don't know if I totally agree. I have a bypass on both my Bartolini equipped basses and the passive mode isn't quite the same as a passive bass.

    I like the flexibility of my active basses but I kinda long for a good old passive P...with flats. :)
  20. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    If all of your band's material requires the same sound, then theres no reason to have a bunch of flexibility on the bass. Sometime I'll post my current cover band's set list ... and you'll see why some onboard EQ and a flexible pickup array is a real blessing.

    But still, 80% of the time I use no EQ at the bass, and when I do, its subltle and mostly just to adjust for different blend positions.

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