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Plugging an active bass into a normal amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JoeBbass, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. I've just ordered a Peavey Millennium AC BXP 5 String and I'm unsure whether I'd have to do anything different to plug my active bass into an amp. I use 2 extremely different amps, I'll give you a brief outline:
    The first is my old, entry level peavey amp which is a basic as possible.
    The other is in my friend's dad's home studio where my band practices. This is the one I'm really worried about since it's extremely expensive and I want to put the owner at complete ease when/if I tell him it's safe to be used with an active bass. It's got about 5 effects pedals if that makes any difference. (I do know how lucky I am to have access to all this amazing equipment :D )

    I greatly appreciate any and all input, pun intended.
  2. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Active basses do tend to have a higher output signal than passive, and if the amp has a clipping indicator, and a gain pot, (in addition to an output volume pot) pay attention to both pots. It wont hurt the amp to set the gain so the clip indicator lamp flashes briefly. If you are afraid of blowing the speaker, use your ears to listen for overloading. Playing too loud while setting the tone controls so you are boosting the low frequencies too much can cause speaker damage. Be aware that effects pedals, (like distortion) can mask the sound a speaker makes when it is over driven, and approaching failure. Use your ears, and common sense when adjusting to main volume control.

    An "expensive" bass amp might have two inputs, or a switch to pad the input to compensate for a hot input signal. (It might be labeled: "-15dB", or "pad").

    Have the owner of the amp show you how to use the gain, and volume pots to get the sound you need without over driving the speaker.
  3. spector_boogie

    spector_boogie No Limit Honky

    Apr 15, 2012
    The Woodlands, TX
    Just start the Gain at about 9:00 and go from there. You'll hear when it clips. I run both my active basses into my amp's "Passive" input because I don't like the "Active" circuit and I still run the Gain around 1:00 and all is well. What kind of amp is it? If you have to worry about the circuit from a Peavey "cooking" that amp, then maybe you don't want to play it in the first place...
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Never once used an active input with an active bass. As far as I'm concerned, they all suck. They cut the volume, and many of them also change the tone in a not-good way.
  5. Borzi_4


    Apr 3, 2012
  6. Babaghanoush


    Jan 21, 2011
    Ohio, USA
    Same here. You'll be able to plug in without any extra stuff. Just adjust with care. You'll be happy and your bass won't suck. :)
  7. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    I will add, as others here have said, that I don't use the padded input. I have three active basses, and one passive. I plug them all in the same, no pad switch, or -15dB input, and I set the volume control on the instrument all the way up, on active, or passive basses.
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    There's something to be said for active basses with push/pull passive options and internal trim pots for volume matching.

  9. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Agreed 100% - I think where many players get into trouble with active instruments is by diming their EQ knobs, like most do with a passive - I think you get better results with an active by using it's preamp conservatively...

    Also, many of my passives are actually hotter than many of my actives, FWIW...

    - georgestrings
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If you are using effects then you have already been feeding an active signal into the amp. An active bass simply means the signals first gain stage is in the instrument instead of the peamp of the amp of the first pedal in the signal chain.

    Its also a myth that active basses always have more output than passive. My two hottest instruments are both passive, and they are hotter by a long shot.
  11. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Plus your bass in like you normally would. Ignore the active/passive label.
  12. spector_boogie

    spector_boogie No Limit Honky

    Apr 15, 2012
    The Woodlands, TX
    Yeah for some reason that myth gets floated around a lot. I remember hearing that when I just started playing 14+ years ago now and have no idea why or how really. Definitely not the case. My 18V Spector is actually quieter than my 9V Lakky just flat on the bass' preamp.
  13. Agreed
  14. I read that if you plug your bass into the passive input you shouldn't have the volume your bass turned up much. Is that right or just more misinformation?
  15. Misinformation...........
  16. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Nope. Unless, as pointed out above, the EQ is cranked on all of the bands, most active basses do not have materially hotter output than passive basses. And some passive basses do indeed have hotter outputs than most active basses. I've been playing active basses since I got my first StingRay around '78 or '79. I've had a LOT of active basses, and I managed a guitar store for 11 years, with experience with even more active instruments. No active bass I've ever played has been close to the output of an early G&L L-1000 with the MFD pickups, a passive bass.

    Don't worry about the output level unless it's overdriving the first gain stage of either the amp or the board. If it is, and your amp doesn't have a pre-gain control (doubtful as that's always been one of Hartley Peavey's favorite features), then turn the bass down a little. The board should have a trim control to set the gain of the first stage, so that shouldn't be a problem. I can't imagine anyone making a mixer that's so sensitive that the nominal output of any instrument will damage the input stage.

  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Total misinformation. IF it distorts at any gain level, then maybe they would have a point, but that is so rare that I've yet to come across it in 30 years of using active pickups.
  18. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    What he said.

    My G&L's, active and passive, are LOUD. That is the way I like them. That is good.

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