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Squier Jaguar VM bass -- active to passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Usidore T Blue, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Usidore T Blue

    Usidore T Blue

    Jun 28, 2017

    The little preamp-like "bass boost" thing on my only bass has freaked out, sending all sorts of knocking and squealing sounds to the amp. There is no sound at all with the battery out, and no active/passive switch.

    I am handy with a soldering iron, so I am going to switch it to passive so that I don't have to deal with this any longer. However, I don't know if I will need new pickups or if the ones in this bass would do. I can get others if that is required, no problem.

    This is the creature here:
    Squier® Vintage Modified Jaguar® Bass Special, Rosewood Fingerboard, Crimson Red Transparent | Squier Bass Guitars

    I am assuming that these pickups are underwound for passive use, since that would save some money on construction, but if all I gotta do is remove the bass boost from the circuit that is what I will do.

    Many thanks for any help you can give!
  2. The Squier Active and Passive basses probably all use the same pickup from wherever they're sourcing it...my guess is Artec or Sky in Korea or someone in China.

    The preamp is most likely just added after the fact. Given how they manufacture things, that's a safe bet. Your pickups will probably be fine, but overall output may be lower given absence of buffer/active boost and cut controls and impedance blah blah.

    However, have you considered installing a simple on-board buffer to replace the preamp and just have passive controls before it? I considered that idea, as I had a couple active instruments converted to passive, and wasn't using the outboard buffer I'm using now.

    EDIT: You could also add a DPDT shorting switch to have an active/passive switch easily. Volume for each pickup still, master tone control still, and where the bass boost used to be, add the switch. A single JFET buffer could probably be mounted in the control cavity, and would use very little current from the battery. You would just have to use a stereo jack to disconnect the battery when the bass is not in use. You can also buy them.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    Usidore T Blue likes this.
  3. Usidore T Blue

    Usidore T Blue

    Jun 28, 2017
    Thank you isher1992! I will consider your ideas for bringing the active circuit back, but so I can keep practicing in the meantime I have just bypassed the bass boost board; in all other respects, the circuit is pretty much the standard PJ one, so all I had to do is snip the battery out of the circuit and solder the jack wires into the tone control pot.

    I think that the sound is actually much improved, so I wonder if there was something wrong with that bass boost board long before it went gaga. The guitar is definitely less bright, but also much less busy, with fewer extraneous overtones--I think the booster was just scooping everything. Amp adjustments seem to make a bigger difference shaping the tone than before. I suppose that with the booster dead and the P pickup wired in parallel the mids are just getting that much more emphasis.

    Thanks again! If I add that buffer and switch I will tell you how it goes, if you would like. Back to my scales.
  4. I feel the same way about active circuits, and used to feel that way about buffers until I started using GOOD buffers. A good buffer will keep your signal strong, but won't really alter it.
  5. Joybass


    Jun 22, 2015
    Leidschendam, NL
    I have read posts of other people on TB who removed the bass boost and implemented a standard VVT wiring on their Squier Jaguar. They all were pleasantly surprised by the improvement of the sound.
    I removed the preamp from my Squier Dimensions and haven't regretted it one second. I don't think the pickups on these affordable basses are specially designed or selected for use in an active setup.
    Usidore T Blue likes this.
  6. Usidore T Blue

    Usidore T Blue

    Jun 28, 2017
    I wish I had found those posts!

    Edit: They are, in fact, easy to find. I never suspected that the subject of modding *this particular bass* in *this particular way* would be here, so I never tried a specific search. This site is fantastic!
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  7. cbuck66


    Jul 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have the same bass and was thinking about adding a toggle switch to bypass the "bass boost" thing. I'm just getting handy with the soldering iron, but have no clue about wiring. Could somebody help me out and explain how I would wire it up? Thanks.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  8. Usidore T Blue

    Usidore T Blue

    Jun 28, 2017
    With the preamp integrated into the control pot (it's glued to the bottom and soldered directly to the lugs on the pot), this operation could get a little tricky. Isher1992's solution might give you what you want and better sound too; put in the shorting switch in combination with an aftermarket on board buffer and ditch this pot. I put in a second cable jack to make connecting sitting or standing comfortable because I loved the passive sound so much more and the Rumble provides all the tonal spectrum I want.

    The preamp on this thing, if it is anything like mine used to be, is not doing the instrument any favors and may have a short lifespan. I would humbly submit that you could avoid throwing effort and money after it and instead improve on it by going VVT (very easy). Adding the active boost afterwards would be easy.

    Edit: I will look at my wiring job and see if this is just a matter of bypassing the pot entirely. If it is, it may not be that tough to do something along the lines you are proposing and I will reply here again.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
    cbuck66 likes this.
  9. bobbycas11


    Jul 15, 2017
    CT, USA
    I made mine passive and replaced all the pots with CTS matched pots (under 5% tolerance) and also later replaced the tone cap with a .068uf orange drop cap (also tried a .1uf paper in oil cap but it was too dark for me) and having had the time to get to know the new passive wiring with the original value .047uf cap (same value as stock but when i rewired everything i used a new cap, not the original one) as well as the .068 which i ended up keeping, and the .1 I think the .068 made a nice sound difference from stock that is pleasant to my ears and I love that quick, easy, and cheap change. I wish I did all this when I had the original pickups in the bass just to see what the difference would be, I replaced the pickups with a Seymour Duncan SPB1 Vintage P bass pickup in the neck and a SD Apollo Jazz bridge pickup for the bridge, and that was an immediate improvement but i felt like the active boost control and possibly low quality pots were holding those awesome pickups back, and once I made the bass passive it sounded awesome, and once I replaced the tone cap that was the final thing for the sound. (i had also put on a gotoh 201b4 bridge, hipshot hb7 tuners, and more recently i replaced my original squier neck with a rosewood board with a brand new Fender MIM Jazz bass neck with a maple board (like the sound of maple with a p bass but like Pau ferro or rosewood with a jazz bass) overall i love the hell out of this bass now and i play it as often or maybe more often than my MIM jazz bass which I also upgraded quite a bit (babicz FCH bridge, hipshot hb7's, dimarzio model j's, and a solderless wiring harness from obsidian wire so i can change pickups easily in the future and also because they make stuff with nice emerson hand matched pots and paper in oil caps)
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  10. Don't waste money on matched pots or paper in oil capacitors. Retailers want to make as money as they can, but you won't gain anything at all from the more expensive parts.
    jebmd likes this.
  11. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood Commercial User

    Sep 1, 2015
    Writer/Ambassador/Artist/Resident Bass Expert for Seymour Duncan
    ^I certainly agree with this.
  12. Usidore T Blue

    Usidore T Blue

    Jun 28, 2017

    Re this, sorry this is so late, I am not positive that the preamp can be bypassed simply with a two-way switch.
  13. bobbycas11


    Jul 15, 2017
    CT, USA
    I got them for free so it was worth it to me. While I generally agree with you, I do find that a PIO or even a film type cap like the orange drops have more usable settings than ceramic ones, probably because ceramic ones have such high tolerance rates and PIO or film caps are supposed to be closer to the stated value, within 6% for the PIO ones I have anyways, while ceramic ones can be over 20% off sometimes, and can change value over time. But yes, 2 caps with the same actual value (not stated value) will sound the same, whether they're the cheap ceramic kind or expensive PIO kind.
    line6man likes this.

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