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Passive vs Active Eletronics/Pups into Tech21 DI pedal

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by pgribs, Feb 2, 2021.

  1. pgribs


    Feb 2, 2021
    Ottawa, ON
    Greetings everyone

    I am a hobbyist bass player. I lost my last bass (ex roommate jacked it, long sob story). I am looking to get a new 5er. I am left handed and looking for something specific, that means my options are limited and I am looking to make an informed decision.

    I have a Tech21 Sansamp DI/Pedal ran into a small Peavey practice amp. The Tech21 has 3 settings I programmed (Hard Rock/Metal, "Lemmy" and RnB).

    My last bass that is gone, a Yamaha beginner 5er, was passive. However, many of the basses that have caught my eye have active electronics. I have never even played an active bass before let alone owned one. I am aware of the differences between the two, one of them that I know is that active generally produces a hotter signal than passive.

    Is it possible that an active signal when ran through the Sansamp will oversaturate the sound and make the bass sound like junk in the end? Or possibly make it sound like a fuzzy mess since the overdrive is too much? Is passive typically a better option when paired with a Tech21? I really like the Tech21.

    I really like the sounds of a P or J bass but many of the active LTD/Schecter models I've seen on YT sound great as well. My understanding is active is a good option for 5 strings as it is supposed to make the B string sound more clear.

    I am interested in hearing what you all have to say. Thanks in advance for the feedback. Since I'm not a studio guy or pro, I would appreciate it if it was dumbed down as much as possible. :)
  2. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    That's not necessarily true. Depends on the bass and preamp. Remember that active basses EQ can both boost and cut, so start with the tone knobs in their "middle" position.

    The SansAmps have a "drive" control to compensate for this. The Tech21 stuff is usable with any bass, active or passive.
    ctmullins likes this.
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Welcome to the forum!

    “Active is hotter than passive” is the prevailing conventional wisdom, and like other such truisms, it is very often wrong. All of the good quality preamps that I’ve encountered have been (with the tone controls centered at flat) essentially the same output level as the passive signal.

    Also remember that the volume control is there for a reason. Most people treat it as an on/off switch, apparently due to some undesirable tonal characteristics inherent in a passive circuit; many active preamps put the volume control after the buffered output of the preamp, meaning there is no tonal change, and the volume knob suddenly becomes an asset rather than a liability.
    EmaTheMirror likes this.
  4. hbabels

    hbabels Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    I use active and passive basses with tech 21 Sansamps all the time. They work great with either. Get what you want if the active bass is hotter than your old passive bass, you can either turn its volume down a little or turn down the gain/ adjust the settings of the presets you’ve saved. Which really with a new bass unless it’s just like your old one you’re likely to want to make a few tonal adjustments to your presets you dialed in with your old bass. So get the bass that feels / plays best / you want the most and then just make any adjustments to your sounds from there.
    I would compromise on or pick a certain bass just so you didn’t have to make any changes to presets.
  5. pgribs


    Feb 2, 2021
    Ottawa, ON
    Thank you all for the warm welcome and informative replies. I figured that some passives may actually be hotter than actives, despite conventional wisdom. Sort of like the Dimarzio x2n.

    Ultimately, if I can control the output on the bass, that is what matters. What I don't want is something that is so inherently hot from the jump that it makes things fuzz when I don't intend it to (that's what the "Motorhead" setting is for).

    I'm looking at passive Fender and Schecter Ps, Js and several of their actives. Same with ESP/LTD. These two brands are very lefty freindly and seem to make a good bass for my budget.
  6. EmaTheMirror


    Oct 9, 2009
    London, UK
    I second most of the above.

    I have an "old" Ibanez BTB 705 from 1999 (first ever BTB line) and when flat the onboard circuitry doesn't really boost the low/medium output pickups at all. Unless I decide to boost some frequencies, the signal is quieter than some other passive basses I have.

    Regarding the way different impedances work or interact with the pedal I honestly don't know. I generally see Tech21's products as rather versatile anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much.

    There's usually also a good amount of drive on tap if necessary, but the excursion is wide and can be kept at low levels too.

    Depending on active circuitry, the only thing that might happen is that some cheaper onboard electronics or highly coloured ones might have a baked-in peculiar frequency response with certain peaks and valleys that might not be the best match if coupled with the pedal's character. I would not feed a signal which is heavily scooped at the source, for instance.
    In most cases, that's down to the way you set things, anyway.
  7. pgribs


    Feb 2, 2021
    Ottawa, ON
    Yeah, exactly. I don't like a sound that is too scooped anyway because IMO, that scoop sounds like poopie. I want some growl on my bass but I don't want it to sound artificial unless that's what I'm aiming for, to mimic a specific sound like RATM or Motorhead. Geddy Lee is a good example of what I like, you can tell there is gain on his sound, but it sounds like a real bass guitar, not like a buzzsaw or too "fake" sounding.

    That's why I have had reservations about active preamp into a Tech21, but after reading comments here, I figure a good active onboard preamp that is actually good isn't going to sound like junk into a Tech21.
    ctmullins likes this.
  8. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 15, 2021

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