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so why all the knocking of Fender's active pre?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adrian garcia, May 26, 2004.

  1. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    ok, i may be absolutely nuts here. As some may know, i recently bought an American Deluxe Jazz 5 - the price was right and i was wanting a bass i would have to worry about scratching, etc...
    i found i loved the Fender tone. I have been diggin on the sound since i got it. So here's my question.. why do i keep reading here that the Fender pre sucks? it has , to me, huge lo end, and very responsive mids and treble. I can get a really big wrap around tone reminiscent of Marcus Miller. Frankly, many other basses I have tried do not have the bottom this bass has. I am even considering putting an FMT ( same as the AM Deluxe) pre in my Nordstrand. I have an F bass pre in there now that I love, but have to admit being able to cut mids really brings that slap tone around. And the lows seem bigger... what gives?
    I am losing my mind? ( you don't have to answer that last part, i know the answer)
  2. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    ive heard the americn deluxe preamp in the 5er is alot nicer than their other basses. You might of also got a good one, considering fender puts out more lemons than good ones.
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Adrian, I suspect a lot of the knocking occurs because people are looking for or expecting the "vintage tone", and the active pre tends to change that a bit. As you know, if you can work with your pre for a while, you'll be able to find a setting where the tone is pretty close to that of a vintage passive instrument. Although, there may still be small differences. Many of the active pre's tend to deliver a good deal more clarity and definition in the upper midrange and highs, so you can hear the string noise and some of the other stuff that's not necessarily emphasized in the passive basses (and some of this may be deliberate, or at least some musicians may consider it to be a useful thing). As a f'r instance, lately I've been looking for a 5-string P bass that sounds "exactly like" the real (4-string) thing. Turns out there's not very many basses around with that capability. So when I find one with a more "modern" sound than I'm looking for, it's easy to let my mind go to the place where "that sucks", and really it's just "relative to my expectations" (as they happen to be "at the moment"). There's a lot of vintage snobbery going around. I try not to pay any attention to it, but sometimes it's hard to figure out what' real and what's just snobbery. Sometimes there is valid information embedded in the snobbery. The only complaint I have with the "Fender" active pre's is that I've heard quite a bit of distortion in some of them. I do agree though, that they are generally very flexible, and if used properly they can be helpful, and they can contribute to the tonal versatility of the instrument and the sounds that the player can dial up.
  4. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    If they are still using preamps designed by John Suhr they should kick but. He makes a great preamp.
  5. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    the messed up thing is, i can't seem to be able to find a way to communictae with Fender- I want to know if this is the Suhr designed pre as well.
  6. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    cool, I'll try that.
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Maybe the American pre is different than the MIM pre? But I found it to be the crappist tone I ever heard. How can anyone not like the tone of a Fender? Let's face it passive Fenders prolly are used in more recordings than any other bass. But the active MIM I owned was horrible, it coloured the tone for the worst! To my ear it was the most horrible tone I ever heard in a live mix. I play and Eden Wt800 head with an Ampeg 4x10 cab, no mater what Eq'ing I did it still sounded bad. This is just my take on it , maybe the Americans sound better? :eyebrow:
  8. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I love my MIA deluxe. It has the Suhr electronics though. As I remember, 98 was the last year Suhr was making preamps for fender. That is also the last year that they used the side by side humbucker. 99 on I think had the actual noisless branded pickups, and a different preamp. Leave it to Fender to change a good thing.... but mine is a 98, so I am happy! I was getting a bit fed up from the lack of growl and punch, but i put on my current favorite set of strings, and HOLY COWS FEET! Punch, and growl like I have not heard in a long time. I love it.
  9. I have a 98 with the Suhr preamp, and it sounds quite similar to the new pre they've been using. I didn't notice a major difference between the newer and older model. That said, my bass sounds very good, and so do other American Deluxes I've played. I personally love the tone.
  10. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    I have a $1600 AMerican Dlx Jazz V on order and it better not be a lemon!!!! :mad:

    Why do people tend to say this though? I've owned several Fenders and played 100's over the years - there are good ones and bad ones - but more than another brand?
  11. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    From my experience? Yes- by far. I've played Mexican fenders taht felt like anythign from $100 to $800 basses. The consistency just isn't there. Of all the "big" brands that make production basses under $1,000 (Ibanez, Fender, Yamaha, Spector, Warwick Rockbass, Peavey, etc), Fender has had teh worst track record int eh consistency department by a mile. I can nearly always pick up an Ibanez, Warwick, or Spector and know hwo it will sound and play, but with Fender's I am surprised a good deal of teh time. Granted, I did play an MIM fender jazz the other day that played and sounded like mid-priced european bass, so the door swings both ways. You can work the inconsistency to your advantage. :D

    I barely ever get a chance to play a deluxe MIA, so I can't really comment on the pre'. If it is highly similar to the MIM deluxe, then I don't really like much. Vintage tone is cool, but I prefer a more modern or hi-fi tone for the most part. The new fenders I've played were neither hi-fi nor vintage- just bland sounding. Just a matter of taste I guess.
  12. woodster


    Apr 24, 2004
    I`m from the old school.I owned 62 Fender Jazz,man did it sound good.All good things come to a end,it was stolen!!Now i have a MIA Fender Deluxe Jazz V.It has the Jazz sound,but not as thick and punchy.

    It be like it was :bassist:
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I can't figure out a polite way to answer your question;)

    I gigged with my FMT V last night and it just flat out killed. Ran it through a ThunderFunk (EQ set flat) through 1-12 and 1-15 Nahas cabs. Wow. The B string was phat and tight. The top was all Fender Jazz. Punch galore and very easy to play. In other words, everything it's "not" supposed to be according to some people.

    I took my Fodera Anthony Jackson 6 on the gig and used it for one song... then right back to the FMT V. Party Time:D

    Aw hell, I'll answer it anyway...I've found that most bassists simply don't have a clue. And not having one, they don't know they don't have one. That's why.

    There's nothing "special" about my FMT nor my JD5s that I've owned. 18v pre in the FMT, 9v in the JDs. Noiseless pickups in the FMT. Just as noiseless pickups in the JD5s. Both sound great live. Great. Brings to mind all the talk about endorsers having "special" basses, as if it couldn't simply be that they know what they're doing:D

    People hate Fenders for all kinds of reasons and I'm not saying some aren't legit. By the same token I get people coming up to me at gigs who are more than happy to express their dislike for Fenders AND their amazement at how good mine sounds. What did I do to it? What did I change? What kind of strings am I using... ad nauseum.

    The simple fact is I leave the damn thing alone and let it sound like it sounds. No drastic EQing necessary. Maybe bump the bass control up a touch to really fatten the B string, maybe bump the treble control (maybe not). No Enhance, no mid cuts, no tone sucking effects.

    I'm one charmed individual apparently. While others find "bad" examples at every turn for some reason I keep coming across very nice Fender basses. I bought the first FMT I tried... so much for having to kiss a bunch of frogs. I found good deals on my used JD5s and I bought them... and they've performed flawlessly. Sold one, gave the other to my son, who also is having no issues with the bass. I still haven't come across an FMT or JD that I thought actually sucked... and I've checked out a bunch over the years. A good setup and decent strings are highly underrated... and knowing how to get what you want out of an instrument seems to border on alchemy.

    That's what's wrong with the preamps, AG. I'm nuts right along with you. Here's how nuts I am... I had installed a J-Retro so I could get some real world experience with it. I had two stock JD5s so I got a chance to do a long term a/b with the two preamps. I found that while the J-Retro was nice, the stock pre worked as well as I wanted and had less noise. The EQ center were well placed and did what I wanted them to do. Sold the J-Retro.

    I've owned the FMT V for a couple of years now. Two years of drama-free rock solid use and even though it may sit inactive for a period of time I can take it out of it's case and it's ready to go. I'd still put it up against any of the super Jazzes out there.

    They don't suck.

    IMO of course;)
  14. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    post of the week for sure.. maybe even the month!
    i just walked into this room from sitting on my bed watching Discovery Channel with my rig bedside and an Accugroove Tri 112 in my ear. (a small benefit of being single again) Amazed at how thick this Fender sounds. Granted, my Nordstrand allows me to play things I cannot execute on the Jazz- it's probably too busy anyway.. ;)
    the tone is so growly and the slap tone is so sweet. I am a happy camper.
    It will be an experiment to put an FMT pre in the Nordie. Nuts indeed, while everyone is dropping boutique pres in the Fenders, I am dropping a Fender in my boutique bass! which i gotta say, is so damn fine!!
    It just so happened that a friend had yanked out the pre from his FMT (there it goes again) and has it is selling it to me for a whopping $50. I know, ripoff!
  15. i used to feel that way until i got my peavey millennium usa 4... its the 1st of the 30+ basses that ive owned where i can easily make adjustments while playing to get exactly the sound i want... i attribute this to it having a j at the neck and a mm humbucker at the bridge + volumes for both, bass, treble, high and low mid cut and boost controls... its simply fantastic... none of my other basses have ever given me this level of control at my fingertips... its an amazing feeling
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I love my FMT 5. No complaints about the pre at all. For comparison, my 4 string jazz has a JRetro (which I also love).
  17. Great post by Brad! I am very happy with the MIM Jazz I bought a month ago. While I love my Neuser and still consider it my main bass, I am very impressed with my Fender´s ability to sound good straight out of the box, without any EQ. In fact, my pre has an switchable EQ that I only use with Neuser; when I plug in my Jazz, I just switch the EQ into bypass mode.
  18. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Cheers to Brad!!! Adrian, it's been awhile but I once purchased an Amer Del 5 from you (you know the one) and it killed. I loved that bass. It was by far the best sounding J I have ever owned (and I've owned a few), with thick, but never muddy, low end, nicely tuned mids, not dark, harsh, or grinding, and very nicely rounded highs, clean but never brittle. That preamp kicked.

    While I have now found a bass better suited to my needs that is very different, I would always consider or recommend an Amer Dlx model. They're good stuff and not just "good for a Fender."

  19. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004

    BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!
  20. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    The pre in my Victor Bailey 4 string is killer (supposed to be a tad bit different from the FMT pre).

    I dunno, maybe I'm like Brad. I always get compliments on my tone with the Vic Bailey Jazz (and Sadowsky as well). And I've heard the same thing before as well, "I don't like the newer Fenders, but yours sounded great. You must have had it worked on". Well, no, I just don't "over EQ" the **** out of everything and POOF! My tone doesn't suck!!

    I have a friend who (sit down, this is nuts) maxes out the EQ on his bass (all the way up, all the time) and wonders why he can't dial in a sound he's happy with. Did this with a MIA Dlx (as well as others) and will tell everyone that Fenders really suck.

    Well, idiot, your starting out with frequencies that are boosted 12-15 db and cannot figure out why your sound isn't at the very least workable. He sat in with my band, on my bass/rig. The first thing he did (not kidding) was turn up the pre on the bass.
    I stopped him real quick like and told him to leave it be and give it a shot. At the same time I asked him if it sounded good out front and he said "Yeah, sounds real nice". Then why on Gods green earth would you instantly start changing everything?? "Well, thats how I run it" he replied.
    None the less, he tried it like I had it set and really dug it. He was really shocked on how little EQ I had going.

    The next week he was still complaining about his sound. Bass still set the same. Crazy EQ on the amp.

    Fender pre-amps dont' suck.