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What's your "Never Play Without!" DI/preamp for your passive bass?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. I've been an active player for most of the time I've been into (insert dramatic reverb here) The Bass Guitar DUN Dun dun ... ;) (1992).

    Of the twenty seven basses I've owned only two passive basses come to mind (a fairly nice MIM Precision, and a Ric 4003), both of which have gone the eBay route long ago. A few weeks ago I bought a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz 70's bass. I bought it as a testbed for some ideas I'm working through. I eventually will use whatever I end up developing to construct my 12th Warmoth bass. I figured it was better to spend $300 on a "cheap" test-bed bass to get these ideas worked through than it was to wait to save the money and build a Warmoth and use it to work out the prototypical ideas.

    It's sortof backfired on me though. I've come to really like the sound of this VM-J. I was also rudely reminded that passive basses really need impedance buffers (so to speak) to make them sound good in things other than dedicated bass amps. So I've been using some mic preamps, and a few DIs I have (passive and active) to provide the passive electronics in the VM-J the loading it likes to make it sound good. I've kinda landed on one cheaper mic preamp that seems to work good, for now.

    So my question would be -- What do you folks like to use? Do you have a "never play without" DI or mic-preamp that you use with your passive bass? I used to have a pair of Avalon U5 preamps - sold them because I thought I'd never need them. Dang me!

    Anyhow, what say you? I'm just seeking opinions and conversation about this topic. It may help steer me to something I'm not aware of (and there is a LOT I'm not aware of!)

    Thank you! :)
  2. Also, I have this going on .....


    Each pickup has it's own dedicated output and volume control. I've eliminated the tone control (I don't use it anyhow). If I only plug a cord into the farthest back jack, I have standard Jazz mixable two-pickup output, but if I plug into both jacks each pickup is routed through it's own output. So .. 2-channel I guess?

    So I've been using a mic preamp on each output. I run both pickups' volume knobs at full-on to retain the humbucking affect and then use the mic-pres to adjust the pickup mix to obtain whatever sound it is that I want. This works very well, and it keeps the noise and hum to absolutely minimum levels. Something not available with standard Jazz bass wiring schemes. I found that if I changed the pickup mix using the volume knobs on the bass, the instant I went from full-on with both knobs there would be little noises, a little hum and such (I guess because it upsets the humbucking balance between the two pickups, or something along those lines). Using both pickup volumes wide open cures the heck out of that problem and using the level controls on the mic-preamps restores pickup mixing ability so I can still produce different sounds. This works well.

    This is sortof "jsyk" info.

  3. I had a Squire VM 70's bass. I really liked it, but had to sacrifice it to purchase my Fender Jag. I sort of miss that bass.

    My preamp/DI of choice is the Sansamp Programmable Bass DI. It has three "channels", I have them set up for Clean, Dirty, and Fuzz. I often use it as a preamp in band rehearsals or recording, and I use it to plug directly into FOH at gigs. I am sure there are better "bass specific" DI boxes out there, but this one seems to be the gold standard and would be worth your time to research.

    I've never worked with a two channel or stereo bass, so I'm not sure how to exploit that. I'd probably send the bridge pickup to an effects loop and keep the neck pickup clean. You would need sort of gadget to mix the signals before the amp... there are a variety of solutions for that.
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    There are a hypermetric butt-ton of options out there, and I can name well over two dozen that are professional-grade and excellent for a variety of reasons. So it really comes down to your own narrowing-down process, based on budget, physical form factor, number of channels, specific features and functions, etc.

    That said, and if budget is left open, I'd suggest you get a "500 series" lunchbox rack, and fit it out with a variety of preamp and EQ modules, and a mixer module to combine the channels. Radial makes a 500 series rack that includes a mixer. That way you get to choose different voicings per pickup.
  5. I should have mentioned I'm using this as preamp and EQ ...



    I will most asuredly look into what you've suggested. I'm needing something to sortof "precondition" the signal before it goes into this, or the Line-6 M13 I also use. I don't use a regular sortof bass amp per se, I run it through stuff like this, then out to a PA amp and then out to bass cabs (a Baer and a Carvin).

    So the DIs (or whatever) are to be in their own module/rack that the bass will ALWAYS pass through, (I think of that module as pretty much an extension of the bass' internal electronics). So from this "D/I input module" then on to the EQ/Filters module (the stuff in these pics). Then out to the power amp and cabs.

    BTW .. what's a "lunchbox rack"? I mean, I would guess it's a smallish rack, like 5U or something. Er ?????
  6. GreggBummer: I checked out the Sans Amp Programmable Bass DI like you suggested - nice, I'd need two of them though. But still, nice! Love the analog aspect of it.

    Bongomania: I looked up the 500 series racks - yea, ok - MONDO cool. That's the kind of stuff I dig. Thanks for turning me on to that format.

    What are some other favorites? Is there some "go-to" DI or mic preamp that the masses use for the most part? I've been using a pair of ART Studio Tube Pre mic preamps with fairly good success. The limiter is handy, seems to work well. I mean for $30 bucks each they're difficult to dislike, as long as one keeps in mind they are $30 mic pres and don't expect U5 performance.

    Anyone else?

    Thanks ...
  7. Not derail the thread, but if you have a sound clip of the contraption that you posted above... I'd love to hear it!

    As far as the Sansamp goes, it migrates on and off my board. Between gigs, I tend to play with lots of "toys"... but come the day of the gig, everything gets pulled and the Sansamp, Tuner, and Compressor are all that stays. I've tried alot of other preamp/DI boxes... but I always come back to the Sansamp. I even prefer it to the VT Bass... although I am in the minority here on TB. ;)
  8. I'm nearly there ... I should have something soon. I'm just finishing up with re-configuring my recording computer and recording rig. It had been in stasis for a few years and needed cleaning up and reinstallation of the DAW (Sonar 6.3 Producer's Edition). And I'm still working on ways of getting what I hear coming from the cabs to the hard drive. ~Ahem~ ... y'know, like with DIs! ;) Check the link I provided in that post above for mega-details about Yon Contraptionitus Thus.

    T'heck with the status quo. It is what it is. Along the same road, I own a Baer ML112 cab and am a minority member of it's use in the manner in which I use it, just as you don't fit in with the ~other~ Sans Amp/Tech21 users. But in the end, it doesn't matter ... (See my sig ...)

    I had a Sans Amp Bass DI in 2003. I wasn't overly impressed with it ... BUT ... I had a bad case of cranial rectitus back then as well as a very difficult to please bandleader who HATED (with as much strength as can be put behind that word) any kind of musicianship that he considered "show-offy". So if you had a sound that drew ANY attention away from him then said actions were deeply frowned upon and verbotten. Since the Bass DI added clarity to my bass parts, it's use was strictly forbidden. I think I'd been wiffing his insecure egotistical vapors for too long because I found myself agreeing with him about it. (He considered himself a ~better rendition of Morrissey~ .. I kid you not). So off the eBay it went. And I went back to my Souxie and the Banshees bass tone. One of a number of regrets from that time period.

    I may wish to give one another go at some point soon. :)
  9. If you can fit it in there, I would suggest a simple buffer circuit for each pickup. The smallest parts count would use something like a TL072, with two opamps on one chip. Per pickup, you're looking at 3 components (not counting the chip). Maybe more if you want to use dual supply rails.

    Or you could use a JFET buffer if opamps aren't your thing. JFETs have a nice tone to them, compared to the more transparent opamp. The downside is a higher parts count.

    Either of these could also be fit into a small external box. Perhaps a 1590a bur maybe a bit bigger. The tone shaping wouldn't be there but they're a simple and inexpensive way to just buffer the bass.
  10. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    I have a small Martin preamp that was made for acoustic instruments. Simple vol bass treb & it's always on--there is no switch on it. Looks like the old sadowsky belt clip job.
    Turns out it sounds great with passive ebg. Maybe not the answer you're looking for.
    They're discontinued now hard to find so I'm glad I held on to it. The only drawback as with some dated gear it's not silent.
    I hve a thing for preamp/eq's.
  11. Yea, simple enough, but what would the input impedance be? So far these pickups seem to like it pretty high, upwards of 650k +

    I think that might be part of why these $30 mic preamps are working out so well. They're close to 700k+. So what would something like a TL072 work out to be, or perhaps a Burr Brown OPA2134, or even the good old JRC4558D?

    I was kinda wondering what sort of DIs other folks were going with. I guess they're not. I mean - yea - there's the U5, but I'd need two of them for my rig, and that would set me back an easy $1k+. Yikes! Too big of a jump right now.

    Well, I guess I'll just stick with the ART mic pres for now. They have a couple of nice features that are handy, the phase inverter button offers a second sound set, it kinda acts like a HPF if I invert one pickup. The limiter is decent as well. If you hit it pretty hard it can provide some thump, I think it's because it has some attack time built into it.

    I may have to look over the Bass DI (SansAmp) again too. I will need to set up a small board (or perhaps I'll look into the "lunchbox rack" .. whatever that is) that will house two of something, along with power supplies. May as well just rack it all up with the panning modules so it's all together.

    Thanks for the input folks. Btw that Martin box sounds really nice! Vintage stuff like that is bitchen! I'd be afraid to damage it though if they are so rare. But I bet it sounds good though. :)

    Anyone used the Tech 21 Acoustic DI .. the Para something?? something? I always wondered how effective the sweepable semi-parametric midrange EQ worked out.

    I suppose there are those rack mount Tech 21 thingies too, the ones that are essentially the Bass DI and the Para-widget but racked .. ?? Hmm, I suppose it's like Bongo said ... many and varied.

    I was just wondering if there was a sortof popular "go to" DI. I figured there would a be ton of replies to this, I figured wrong! :)

    Not the first time, won't be the last either.

    Thanks again. :) L8r Sk8rs!
  12. Leo Smith

    Leo Smith

    Oct 21, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I use a Radial Bassbone for all my live and studio stuff. Good EQ, a quiet XLR out, and very reliable.
  13. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    Radial & reddi & sansamp seem to have a strong following here. I was excited about the Eden wtdi preamp but it wa sproblematic. The idea of an inexpensive eden pre+comp in pedal form was too good to be true.
  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Radial J48. If I want tone shaping, then SansAmp Paradriver DI. For just a footstomp preamp, maybe the Fodera 2010.
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I have both the Acoustic DI and the ParaDriver DI (also the SABDDI). Of the three, the ParaDriver is by far my favorite. It has all the advantages of the SABDDI plus the semi-parametric mid control. Works bitchen.

    You're going to need some serious budget if you're going to go with a 500-series "lunchbox." The 3-unit (small) frame is $350, and the modules each run from $250 to $700. The 8-unit frame is $750. Other manufacturers make 500-series modules in the $800 to $1,000 range, per module.
  16. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    I'm using a Dave Hall Amps VT1-EQ Bass drive as my "always on" preamp/tone shaper/whatever.

    it definitely leans more towards a "vintage" sound, but overall it's pretty versatile and adds a pleasing chunkiness to my passive basses.

    my only quibble is that for function/wedding type gigs it would be handy to have something with multiple channels... but i didn't think of that at the time :facepalm:
  17. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    One of the cool things anout that, for the OP, is that Dave at DHA can fairly easily custom-make you a two-channel version, or a single channel with two blendable inputs. Same goes for Max at [sfx] if you want solid state instead of tube. Of course custom pieces cost more and take a bit more time, but it's worth it IMO.

    Also check out the Summit half-rack preamps, as one of the models has the ability to blend two inputs.
  18. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    indeed... to be honest, when i ordered it i just wanted a nice tone-shaper, which is what i got. i didn't know i'd end up taking on the kind of work where multiple channels would be handy - no beef with the unit itself.

    ...OP, it's definitely worth checking out DHA. Dave is a good guy to deal with as well.
  19. Mad Tango

    Mad Tango

    Apr 18, 2006
    Pearland, Tx.
    My fav for my passive 74' Jazz is to use either my Alleva-Coppollo Kah-Boom or Yamaha NE-1 pedal to an Effectrode PC-2A tube compressor (really used to warm up/enhance/boost signal as threshold is set really high) then out to amp & Radial JDI. I like this set up over my old set up using a REDDI as the robust tube sound only went to the mains. Also, I can adjust the level of signal to the passive Jensen transformer inside the JDI to vary the amount of punch.

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