Passive to Active

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by CHELVDOG, May 4, 2004.

  1. I know this has probably been discussed a million times, but.....
    I've never owned an active bass, but lately have been wanting more tone options. Has anyone out there got an opinion on the EMG P & J pick ups which include their own pre-amp, etc. My instrument is a Yamaha BB1000 1978 model with both P & J pickups which are passive. I don't want to have any new routing done to accommidate a larger pre-amp.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Welcome to Talkbass!
    Yes, it has been discussed a million times but we'll call off the attack dogs for a new member :)

    The EMG pickups are very good, but might not be your sound. They're a more modern sound - is that what you're looking for?

    BTW - If you're not installing an onboard preamp, then you're really not going to get 'more' tone options. You'll have a different tone, for sure, but you won't have more versatility than you have right now.
  3. Yeah, you will need a preamp to go to active. You can put some preamps in the control cavity (I'm assuming there's a route where your knobs are?) which means no body modifications, so check the more compact ones first (Aguilar OBP-3 comes to mind). Also, ideally, you can get stacked knobs so you won't have to drill new holes for more knobs.

    EMG's are popular, but more hi-fi and modern sounding. Bartolinis are generally cleaner sounding, in my experience. You can get Seymour Duncan Basslines for hot, punchy tones. Overall, it depends on your tastes. However, if you put in an onboard preamp, you may not even need to change pickups.
  4. The cavity for the pots is quite small, about the same as a Fender Aerodyne, so I don't know what will fit in there. I am worried that if any routing needs to be done, it will effect the resale value of the instrument. Then again, I did pick it up at a pawn shop 15 years ago.

    I like blues, funk and jazz tones ( that's not to say I can play those styles well)

    Are you saying that you can wire up a pre-amp to passive pickups? I'm not very electronically educated, so I don't really understand the concepts very well.
  5. A few years ago I owned a BB1000 which I put a set of EMG's into. There was no routing needed but I did have new black pickup rings made for cosmetic reasons. The bass sounded good but you need to be sold on the EMG sound. It was a bit too crispy in the highs and too weak in the mids for me. I eventually put Dimarzio's in the bass and was much happier. Just make sure you like the EMG sound. Good Luck!
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Yes, you can wire a preamp to passive pickups. If you look at the pickups faq you'll see various threads talking about common topics (this one is very common).

    Passive pickups/active preamp is a very common combination as it generally lets you bypass the preamp in case of battery failure/preamp failure. If you have active pickups and the battery dies, you're up merd creek sans paddle.

    BTW, when people talk about a preamp they basically mean something that boosts the signal level. A preamp doesn't have to have eq controls, but usually does. The EMG pickups have an onboard preamp that boosts the signal level and applies a slight EQ preshape (bass and treble).

    To sum up, you can have:
    Passive pickups, passive eq (i.e. tone control - think Fender P/Jazz)
    Passive pickups, active eq (bass/treble/mid eq)
    Active pickups,passive eq (tone control). This is default EMG installation
    Active pickups, active eq

    Without knowing your cavity size, it's hard to make a recommendation for a preamp. Do you generally have one sound set on your amp, and adjust to taste for room/song requirements? If you don't change your basic sound much, maybe you only need to try new pickups?
  7. I did the exact thing you are thinking about. I had a passive Ibanez EX-series bass guitar. PJ pups. I had the EMG PJ's installed and noticed a big difference. It seemed that the sound was fuller and the harmonics ringed out a lot more. The only thing though was that some minor body work was needed to get the EMGs to fit as they were just a fraction larger than the Ibanez ones. Luckily, the bass tech that installed them did a good job and the finish didn't crack. Just something to think about. But yah, going to active EMGs was a good choice for me.
  8. Thanks for the info guys. I tried out a bass with the EMGs and found them a bit to bright for my liking, however, I've settled on a Dimarzio Will Power Middle pickup with an Aguilar OBP-1 preamp. I played a similar bass with this set up and absolutely love the sound. Time to whip out the router to make the Aguilar fit in!!!!