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pre amp or passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by robert43, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. robert43


    Jun 5, 2007
    Hi my son has a Casino ( stingray knock off ) with SD 1/4 pounder d pickup.
    I was thinking of getting a pre amp for it , or do think I should stay passive.
    Do you like passive or Active basses & why thanks


    Feb 2, 2005
    S. Carolina
    You know how it is passive. I say go ahead and preamp it and then you can decide which way is better for you. Use one that has passive/active on/off.
    I like basses both ways.
    Above all enjoy the journey.
    Peace. David
  3. I strongly prefer passive.

    Every time your signal hits a gain stage, your limiting your headroom and your adding more noise.

    Passive gives me a cleaner and more dynamically responsive sound, and i don't need to **** around with changing batteries.
  4. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    passive FTW!!
  5. takfar


    Dec 21, 2008
    Active will give more tonal variety, but you'll have to watch out for the batteries. You could have a passive/active with a push/pull knob, as suggested.

    Me, I use active EMG pickups and an active preamp. Not for everyone, but I like it.
  6. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    Do you:

    1. Love the basic tone of the instrument but want the ability to adjust it? - Get a preamp

    2. Like the basic tone of the instrument, but think it could use some improving? - Replace the Casino pickup with a better pickup

    3. Honestly dislike the basic tone of the instrument? - Start saving up for a different instrument.

    4. Honestly dislike the basic tone of the instrument, BUT absolutely LOVE how it feels/plays? -- Major parts overhaul, but risky.. could be a lost cause tonally. Get new similar instrument.. Stingray or OLP, etc.
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Personally, I'd leave it passive. I'm not a fan of the active sound, and the 1/4lb PUP you have in that thing is hot enough on its own.
  8. go out and play an active bass and then a passive bass, preferably of the same make or type (pickup arrangement). you will hear a VERY distinct change in the tone even with the preamp flat. then you can decide.

    personally, the strange synthetic nature of the preamp ruins any bass for me.. so i stick with passive only. completely personal taste.

    if its an issue of more gain, you've got one of the hottest passive pickups ive ever heard, and dont think anyone could ever need something with more output.
  9. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    get an "external" preamp, like the new Sadowsky's... it's pretty cool
  10. robert43


    Jun 5, 2007
    Thanks all will do more research before I do any thing
  11. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Active basses are brighter due to the pickups not being loaded by the cable and passive controls. This is why they sound different with the tone controls flat.

    It's not a "strange synthetic nature" of a preamp however, it's the true sound of the pickup. A good Preamp puts out the same signal that comes in. It's just not the way you are used to hearing that pickup, and people often prefer the treble roll off of a passive bass as it seems warmer.

    I have an active/passive switch in my bass, but never use it passive. I always keep the bass boosted slightly, so that makes up for the added brightness, which I like anyway.

    But as other have noted, it's personal preference. :)
  12. well said! I myself use a preamp because I like having the controls on the bass. And you get use a long instrument cable without any loss in clarity (or is that in my head?)
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    That's one of the main reasons to have one. I never adjust my amp after first getting the tone I want. Everything is done right on the bass.

    No, it's not in your head. Cables have a certain amount of capacitance per foot, and that rolls off high end. Different cables have different capacitance ratings.

    Putting a buffer between your bass and the cable/effects/amp cures that.
  14. except all the EQ in the world wont make it sound passive

    the timbre is completely different. cant just be a matter of capacitance and treble roll off. ive played some of the best commercial preamps available, and ill still play a 50 dollar passive bass first. theres something extremely different (and in my opinion horribly wrong) with an active pickup.
  15. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Now are you talking about an active preamp, or an active pickup?

    Two different things.

    It is only a matter of the volume and tone controls loading the pickup and forming a second order low pass filter, and the cable capacitance adds to that treble roll off.

    On the original PRS guitars, they had a "sweet switch". This was on the request of Carlos Santana, who didn't like the way his guitar sounded plugged into a wireless transmitter. So they simulated about 50 feet of cable to smooth out the high end. In this case they used something called a "passive delay line", but the guy who came up with the circuit later said he could have used an RC network to do it.

    You play your bass through an amp, right? So it's an active bass, it's not an acoustic bass.

    As Rick Tuner has said, "active smacktive, they are all active. It just depends on where your first gain stage is"

    In the case of a passive bass the first gain stage is at the amp's preamp, and not in the bass.

    You can make active preamps that sound passive, you just have to adjust the preamp's input impedance, such as with the Audere.

    I like active basses, but all my guitars are passive. They sound too strident with buffers.

    Nothing wrong with passive basses though. I like a nice passive P bass. :)
  16. agree on the Audere, I tried my Nordstrands in a passive VVT setup, and then swapped out the pots for the Audere Classic 4 band preamp. When the EQ is flat, the sound of the pickups is exactly the same as the passive setup. Dave Meadows got that part right!!! :)

    The aguilar was the same way flat, but things got ugly when boosting bass or treble all the way
  17. preamp, pickup.. they both sound awful, so i dont dignify them by calling them different. as far as im concerned, if theres a battery in your bass and its not lighting up your fretboard, your tone sucks butt. regardless of what you do to it.

    i run my basses as bright as humanly possible. considering bypassing the tone pot to make it brighter, and yet, it doesnt sound synthetic and gross like an active bass.

    ive never heard an active bass sound anywhere NEAR a passive bass. no amount of EQ could change that. unless the EQ reduced the signal to a subsonic rumble.. in which case there IS no tone.

    you find me an active bass that sounds passive and i will give you 5 dollars.

    i love the sound of a warwick when its not plugged in. neck is on the thick side, but its a cool bass. i plug it in, im instantly reminded that i hate active. i bypass the preamp.. well that actually sounds worse. cant be the bass.. i loved the sound of it acoustically.
  18. ok, that said, have you ever tried an active bass that has an Audere preamp in it?
  19. edubb


    Dec 6, 2006
    with this statement.
  20. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It's your personal opinion, and I guarantee that my bass with an active preamp would eat your $50 bass for lunch tone wise. ;)

    Here's my bass, passive, and then active.

    I like the active version better. You can hear when I switch in the preamp, all it does it bring out the high end more. The low end is left intact.

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