What's so good about active?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Zirc, Jun 30, 2001.

  1. Active without EQ on the bass

    11 vote(s)
  2. Passive without EQ on the bass

    14 vote(s)
  1. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Recently, I just got a lefty Carvin LB75 with active electronics (there'a battery in there). I like the bass and all, but I do think the active electronics is quite a pain. You gotta unscrew a million screws to unhook a 9 volt battery when you don't play it, and if you leave it in there, the bass sounds like crap.

    Personally, I think my Squier Special P-Bass electronics sound just as good if not better (I think I'm not supposed to think that way, but I do) than the active electronics in the LB75. BTW, these aren't Carvin pickups, they're EMG (the guy who I got it from also believed Carvin pickups were crap, and replaced them).

    Basically, my question is... What's the advantage that Active has over Passive? (keep in mind, this setup DOES NOT have an active EQ) Is active really worth all that work changing the battery? Also, could I maybe switch the setup to passive?

    Also, I've included a little poll about active and passive (ya it's prolly been done before, bite me :D)

    - Chris
  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Well, the former owner did wrong.
    Normally to turn off the battery drain you just have to Unplug the cord from the bass.
    Thats it.

    EMG´s are totally active, so they wont work without the battery, and the "Sounds like crap" is because the battery has drained. (I know maybe you already knew that)

    The EMG´s wont work passively (As far as I know).
    -Reduced String Pull
    -The sound is more "live"

    -Tone might get too harsh
    -Dead Battery on a Gig = Dead Bassist.

    I prefeer having Passive Bartolini Pickups and Active 18volt electronics.
    But I believe I will have to check some EMG´s for some aplications I want to try.
  3. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    What kinda' pups are in that lefty Carvin? Couple J's, or
    J & M/M? It probably wouldn't be much trouble to gut it
    and install some Seymour Duncans or similar.

    I've never been a big fan of onboard pre-amps. The only
    semi-decent ones I've heard were in my old Pre E/B Stingray,
    and the one in the GT-7 I sold was pretty good. This is
    kinda' weird coz I'm an electronics futzer from wayyy back.
    It's all too d@mn easy to create some half-a$$ed circuit,
    then stick a zillion knobs on a bass and call it "high-tech".
    Simple's a b!tch.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Sounds like this bass has no preamp and active pickups. The advantage is, if you like the sound of EMG's...this bass has them;)

    Sounds like Carvin is using a lot more screws than they used to:D

    So, why do you have to unhook a 9 volt battery when you don't play it?
  5. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Reduced string pull? Explain that one...

    I unhook the battery so it doesn't drain. I guess pulling the cord out would do it.

    And personally, I'd prefer the sound of my Squier than the sound of the EMGs :/
  6. leftybassdog

    leftybassdog Senior Supporting Member

    ok the bass will not drain the battery if the cord is not plugged in you will get about 2,000 hours of operation,CLEAN the jack !!!!!!!! the jack is a switch for the battery , also EMGs are in the bass for recording . Read the owners sheet you got with the bass, the bass was changed to EMGs due to the change in carvin bass pick-ups. this is a 1980s carvin that had the old type pick-ups not the new jazz type ! as far as the sound EMGs are humbucking design to reject all common-mode noise sources even at high gain levels .it has a single battery preamp to deliver low impedance output with excellant dynamic range, your fender is high impedance and will be hotter when full open but when you turn down the out put the tone will change,
  7. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Interesting :)
  8. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    The term "active electronics" can mean several things. In the case of EMG pickups (not Select or EMG-HZ), there is a tiny preamplifier built into the pickup itself. The advantage of this is that there is almost no loss of signal or frequency range such as occurs with passive electronics. The pickups themselves work the same way as passive pickups, but the preamp is in the housing with the magnets, coils, etc. If you want to hear what EMG's can really do, listen to Victor Wooten.

    Another type of active bass is one that has a passive pickup with a preamp on-board, usually with some on-board EQ as well. A good example of this is the Music Man Stingray. The Stingray has a big passive humbucker and a two- or three-band EQ. If you put a J-Retro into your Jazz Bass, you get a similar setup, that is, similar in having passive pickups and a preamp, not similar in sound.

    You can also have active pickups and a preamp, such as using EMG active pickups and an EMG BTQ System or something like that.

    There's a lot more to this story, but I just wanted to give you a (very) brief overview.

    I've had active basses, but I've been playing a Precision for a couple of years now, and I absolutely love it.
  9. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I really like the sound of passive pickups and I would rather play a totally passive bass than one with low-quality active electronics. I was at Guitar Center last week and I tried out a bunch of basses. I played some passive American series Fender Precisions and Jazzes and they had warm, full, clear tone. When I tried their American Deluxe counterparts (with Fender active EQ) there was much more noise--60hz hum, and weird high frequency harshness.

    The Deluxe Jazz with "Noiseless" pickups had a very noticeable buzz that wouldn't go a way and the Deluxe Precision almost completely lacked the warm, rich tone that the all-passive ax had. I was pleasantly surprised by the pickups and active EQ on the Yamaha RBX765-they were pretty quiet and sounded great for a $569 bass. What's my point? I think a lot of bass makers put less-than wonderful active electronics into their basses because many people (mistakenly) think that an onboard preamp will automatically make a bass sound better. But active electronics will only help your tone if they're well-designed and made from quality components.
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Active electronics have many advantages. And please, don't let the sound of those EMGs serve as your model of active electronics.

    For 4 string basses, I think it is a matter of tone. Actives color the sound. Good or bad. With 5 string basses, I think active electronics are almost a must have. Frequencies as low as the B string produces suck tons of gain. Active electronics help balance this out.
  11. leftybassdog

    leftybassdog Senior Supporting Member

    Put very well Chasarms !
  12. Personally, I love actives. More output, louder, better:).

    However, changing batteries becomes a concern, especially if the batteries are recessed behind screws instead of a battery holder(ala MM - coolest battery holder ever). I'd be pretty pissed if I had an 18V preamp and some 9V pups, that's three batteries to worry about!
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    One of the most open, massive B's I've experienced is on my new fretless. It's passive.

    It's the sum of the parts that counts.
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Active isn't the end all, cure all. Other factors such as scale, body materials and overall quality of the instrument effect the performance of the B string. But on equal ground, I have gotten better performance out of actives.

    OF course there are exceptions. The Roscoe beck Five string is passive and performs wonderfully. I am sure there are others.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'm guessing by "equal ground" you mean identical basses, one passive, one active?

    I have two Elrick NJS 5's, one active, one passive. They both sound great. They're not identical though.

    I've been through a ton of basses and I can't honestly give the edge to active or passive electronics, of any particular configuration. I own both types that sound amazing and can't imagine that changing them would be advantageous.
  16. Active electronics & solid state amps do not mix. You get really twangy highs....
  17. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    That's simply not true in general. Especially when you leave the cabs out of the equation.

    I've never played an active bass that didn't sound good on a solid-state rig.
  18. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I have both, but I prefer passive. I like a really deep, fat sound, and passives deliver better for me. If I played a lot of slap, I would probably prefer active, but I play fretless almost exclusively.
    I also disagree about the five-string needing active electronics. I've had both, and my main bass, a homemade semi-hollow, has powerful (14.5k ohms) passive humbuckers, and it sounds awesome.
  19. It's Passive for me even though my current bass is active.

    After quite a bit of listening, looking and playing I've come to the conclusion that there's not much to beat a really nice Precision with a big sounding pup. It might not be the fanciest bass around but it's still one of the best, especially with the Jazz neck profile.

  20. On my Ibanez SR885 there seems to be a point where when I turn the sweepable midrange down far enough, it's almost like I shut the electronics off...idk maybe i'm just wierd...