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Preamp question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JDjbass, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. JDjbass


    Aug 24, 2007
    956 TX
    So Ive recently been looking at amps and although i have been playing bass for about 5 years now I am still not sure what a preamp exactly does? Does it shape tone more then whats available on your amp or head? Is there any way to play with a preamp that runs through a cab? Any help would be great thanks for the time :bassist:
  2. JDjbass


    Aug 24, 2007
    956 TX
  3. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Try the Search function.

    I'll help you out this time: A bass rig consists of a bass, a preamp, a power amp, and a cab. Sometimes, the preamp and poweramp are combined into one box, which is then called a head. If the preamp, power amp, and cab are ALL in the same box, which would be called a "combo."

    A lot of bassists prefer to use a separate preamp and poweramp, because it gives you a lot more flexibility in your rig. On the other hand, it's easier to transport (and sometimes easier to get a good tone and faster to set up) a head.

    Some examples of preamps are the Alembic FX-1, the Line6 Bass POD, or the Sansamp BDDI. These would either be run directly into a PA, or a mixer (for recording), or you can run them into a power amp (like a Crown, Crest, QSC), and then into a cabinet (for a live setup).

    - Dave
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    +1 on all of that (including the bit about searching), and I'll add that you have to be careful when you see a pedal marketed as a "preamp", because not all preamp pedals are able to drive a power amp; some of them are just a tone-shaper with some boost. Those tone-shaping-boost "preamp" pedals are designed to be used like an effect, between your bass and a different preamp, the one that is built into your amp head or driving your power amp.
  5. mgray87


    Sep 5, 2006
    The Other Mike
    If this wasn't a bass forum, I'da thought my band's "percussionist" had replied to JDjbass post. In his (her?)defense, my own search yielded several pages of preamp *related* threads, but after reading for almost an hour now, I haven't come across the information I was seeking.
    What's the harm in asking a politely worded question?
    *biting my tongue*
  6. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    No harm at all. beside the information provided above, many basses have an active preamp on board. This gives you active tone controls on the instrument and can provide a hotter signal to the amp as there is usually a battery or two powering the bass.

    Again, this type of pre amp will not drive a power amp and is designed more for tone shaping. These type of pre amps are also available as pedals or seperate boxes so you canuse the same pre amp with several basses.

    Be aware of using too many "pre amps" at once. For instance taking an active bass with on board pre amp, plugging it into a pedal type preamp-tone shaper, then to an eq type pedal, then into an amp head or pre-power setup.

    What can happen is that your noise increases, it can become very hard to get the tone you are seeking and things get muddied up fast.

    I find that I keep the pre amp on my bass set flat and do a little tweaking on the amp if required. sometimes the opposite is true, and its better to keep the amp flat and use the bass controls.

    Its all in good fun to experiment and find what works best for you. Sometimes, simple is best!!!!!!
  7. No harm at all in the question. None in suggesting the use of search either, although if you make a point of saying you're going to help "this time" you should probably actually include an explanation of what a preamp does... ;)

    Use the site google search (search talkbass.com) and enter "what is a preamp". The first link will give you a pretty good explanation (posts #2 and #3). Here's another, more detailed one.

    To answer JDjbass's 3rd question, no. A power amplifier is required to drive the cab.


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