Pre-Amp me understand

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by fragernackyl, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. fragernackyl


    Nov 17, 2011
    Trying to wrap my head around this...

    I guess I'm a purist in that I like the idea of the shortest possible link between instrument and amp, specifically in terms of EQ. Effects (chorus, delay, evenlope filter) seem like a different animal to me, as in, AFTER I've tailored the baseline tone I want, make sense? So, when it comes to pre-amp pedals, I have some cognitive dissonance. First, I want an amp that most effectively simply amplifies the sound of my bass with little or no coloring (I know most amps have varying degrees of coloring). Next, the amp has a pre-amp, and my bass has a preamp (GGi5), so adding yet another pre-amp in the form of a pedal would be three pre-amps my signal would transit and be subject to shaping prior to power amp, am I understanding that correctly?

    If so, therein lies my dilemma as it seems they'd all kinda be competing and further confusing the sound rather than enhancing it. For instance, I imagine myself during a gig wanting a tad more low mids and asking myself, "should I boost them on the bass, the pre-amp pedal, or the amp?" Seems needlessly complicated to me, but I'm pretty simple.

    How do you pros approach this? Am I overthinking things? I play a Genzler Magellan 800 which I like, but as is my habit, I get bored and like to try new gear. I can't go buy new amps on a whim, so the idea of pre-amp pedals is appealing, but only if I can use that pre-amp rather the pre-amp inside the amp as I don't want to further confuse my sound (and, let's be honest, myself).

    My idea is to get several pre-amp pedals and then just use the power section of my Magellan when I want to switch it up. So, my signal chain would be:

    bass--effects pedals (with pre-amp first)--effects return of Magellan

    Anyone using the Magellan (or any amp) in this way? Any other ideas, suggestions?
  2. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
  3. Preamp pedals offer you the chance to introduce different amplifier "flavors" or "Colors" to your existing bass and amplifier system. This can be something subtle or more drastic depending on how you use the settings and patch it in your signal chain.

    You have a modern clean amplifier so you might want to look at one of the classic vintage tube style pre-amps and tone stacks to broaden your selection of tones. Putting it in front of your preamp will be more subtle sounding but more versatile / while using the insert will be more "effect" but less versatile. There are a lot of choices for a preamp AMPEG B15 and SVT are classic standbys but just as popular are Fender Bassman, Marshall, Orange and many others so shop carefully as the names can get confusing especially with all the boutique makers out there doing their own versions.

    Even more confusing is there are several types of preamps and no one really defines those.
    1. Preamps based on a particular amplifier gain stage and EQ section (Sansamp)
    2. Preamps based on an on bass preamp (Sadowski for example)
    3. Preamps based on a mixer or recording style preamp (MXR for example)
    4. Preamps built to duplicate exact circuits from amplifiers ( JohnK, Broughtion...)

    If instead you want to keep your tone as is but want to occasionally boost lows or highs you would be better off with an EQ as that would be a more pure tool not imparting a particular tone.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  4. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Supporting Member

    I do something similar to what you want to do. I ditched the rack pre's and got a very clean sounding pedal based pre-amp that I send directly to a power amp. I have 5 preamp stomp boxes (some even with tubes in them) that all emulate classic amps/pre's. With these, I can switch which "amp" I'm playing through or I can even stack them if so desired. I love having the different voices at my disposal.

    As for the pre in your bass, your amp, and your pedals...yes, they all impact each other. They are all shaping your sound and all serve a purpose, you can choose to use one or all of them. I tend to use an amp pre to help me set my sound for a room. Your bass is in your hands when you are playing, IMO/IME that pre-amp is best utilized when you need to tweak your sound while playing since the knobs are right there. Pedal pre's offer a different voicing or additional shaping, sometimes even just a volume boost. It's really all up to you. Plenty of people use a bass > direct box > PA and they just have the controls on their instruments...on the flip, you have people with several tone shapers in their chain (common is HPF > Pre > Cab simulator > Amps).
    blindrabbit likes this.
  5. Nighttrain1127

    Nighttrain1127 Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Near Worcester MA
    A lot of amps cut out the built in Pre amp if you put your pre pedal in the effects loop. So then only going through 2 pre stages. And the Pre in your bass does not have enough output to drive an amp properly(in most cases).