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why have a battery in your bass?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ngh, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    I don't play any active instruments so this is not a problem I have. but a buddy of mine was complaining about switching out batteries on his active bass. and it got me a'thinking. he uses a pedal board so why not power his bass off of his power supply. he agreed to give me one of his basses as a ginny pig of sorts. and I thought i would share my idea with you guys because i think it is a pretty good idea if I say so myself!

    So, here is the idea!
    in the smallest pedal enclosure i can find I am going to put a boss style power jack, a quarter inch TRS jack as the input, and a quarter inch TS jack as the output. + from DC goes to ring on input, - goes to sleeve, and the tip passes signal straight through to the out jack.

    for the bass:
    i will remove the battery and hook up the + and - in the preamp to the ring and sleeve of a shiny new TRS jack that replaces the old one.

    now placing the box at the beginning of your pedal board and using any old TRS cable to connect your bass to your board. you can say goodbye to buying nine volts, and use whatever power supply you use for your pedals.

    another possibility (if you love your nine volts oh so much) is a battery holder in the box itself that way it can run off of a battery when it is convenient, and that means one battery for all of your basses.

    so what say you all?
    would you want it?
    am I missing some obvious problem with this?
    I realize that noise pickup may be a problem running the power alongside the signal, but am not sure if it will be detrimental to tone in any real way over relatively short cable runs. I may be able to figure out a way to deal with those alias frequencies in the box somehow. any ideas?

  2. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Aside from not being able to go wireless (and I'm not an expert in these matters), but if running the power from a mains adaptor, wouldn't this pose a risk of electric shock, esp when touching strings? Or possibly an earth/ground issue (I'm thinking of that moment in 'The Commitments' when the bass strings touched the mic stand and gave the bassist a wallop.

    That said, the first Line 6 Variax was powered from a mains adaptor with a special cable. Might be worth investigating.

    Also, EBS use a TRS cable to power their pedal from their amps - also worth investigating.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh joy, a box taking up precious space on my pedalboard when I could leave the battery in my bass and use that pedalboard space to add a ring modulator or bitcrusher.


    The batteries in basses with active electronics last a very long time, and it's just not that big a deal to replace a battery every 6 months to a year. I imagine a handful of folks would be interested, but while a decent enough idea, I'm not into it.
  4. BruceBass3901


    Oct 17, 2009
    Wickham, UK
    Biggest problem I can see is that it would require a second cable coming from (or going to) to bass and another cable to potentially go bad after being twisted up too much when tearing down.

    There is potential for a loose connection in the TRS jack to contact any shielding inside the bass, thus grounding the power or possibly making the bass live if the shielding is done badly (somebody please correct me if I am wrong here, as it is early over here in the UK and I may be talking nonsense!)

    This 'solution' assumes that the person has a pedalboard in the first place, which is often not the case.

    Also, quite a few people use a wireless system to get their bass signal to their board / amp, so this would just tether them back down.
  5. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    the power in the bass is still only 9V DC just like the battery,the tip and ring are shielded and isolated in a TRS cable, and the ground is still going to the same place it always goes. as long as the bass is grounded right in the first place there should be no risk of shock.

    also thanks for the homework, much obliged!
  6. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    The John East preamps have some rechargable doohickey in them. When you're not playing, you can charge the pre up with a special lead with a power adaptor on the other end. I wonder if you could replicate that?
  7. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    The advantage to this would be that you could get some serious active stuff running in the bass similar to what Alembic does on their Series 1 and 2 basses. I'd go for it. Let us know how it turns out.
  8. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    i could build you one really badly and it might sound like a ring modulator or bitcrusher:bag:
  9. ngh


    Feb 6, 2013
    brooklyn, ny
    there would be no extra cable, you would just run a trs instead of a ts from your bass to the power box
  10. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    Why not use a sort of "phantom" power with a stereo jack? I have no idea if it would be possible but...

    If it can be done in that way you have one common mass along with two "channels". One for pickup signal to pedal/amp and the other from the powering pedal to the bass preamp/whatever to power. Perhaps it would work.

    I'd test it just to light a LED or something similar first just in case :)
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That actually made me laugh out loud ;)
  12. soaf


    Jul 27, 2013
    Everywhere that bass went, the cable and box were sure to go (Mary Had a Little Lamb). I'd rather a built-in battery. If battery draining is that quick there is a problem.
  13. I thought of something similar. Still, changing batteries is to me easier than having to bring an extra cable and pedal... YMMV.
    If anything, this might be the solution for basses in which a battery won't fit.

    A sag knob comes to mind.
  14. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    The battery in my Lakland lasts a year and I don't have a pedal board. Where's the benefit for me.

    That's a lot of effort when you could just change the battery.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Same here. I typically get at least a year out of a battery.
  16. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    The idea of externally powering pups/preamps is a solid one. Batteries can be a bit unpredictable. Your idea of powering with a PSU through a TRS cable is fine.

    I'm not going to pretend to know, as others here have, what you need to do. Batteries work fine for me, but I do toy with the idea of a PSU for my Music Man every once and a while. Yes, you'll need to carry a spare cable, and spare PSU (I think I'd work in a regulated wall wart that would be easily changed out should the initial one go bad, as well as keep a spare cable). And yes, your wireless days would be over.

    You and you alone will have to decide the best solution for your needs. There's no sin committed going either way. As for me, I'm sitting here thinking of a way to check the battery level, say, every week or so. The Music Man battery (in my 1998 Stingray, anyway) is easy enough to pull out and check. I'm about to put some EMG active pups in my Fretless Jazz and I'll need to make some test ports somehow to use a meter to check the battery. Or have one of my electronic buddies come up with a circuit and green/red LED and a momentary push-button battery level check. Sounds like a bit much sugar for a dime. I'll keep thinking about it, though.

    (EDIT) Let me go back and address a couple of things you mentioned in your OP...

    DO NOT use "just any old TRS cable". You are carrying current, as meager as it may be, to the active electronics in the bass and carrying the signal back to the amp (or processing, or wherever you are sending the output). All connections, cables, and devices MUST be well-made and solid to avoid some nasty noises that will occur at the worst possible time. If you do this, don't skimp on the parts.

    Good luck,
    Geri O
  17. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    I imagine you could rig something up with an XLR connection. You would need a custom box at the end of it to run power to your bass and to serve as an adaptor for the audio half of the circuit as well. I'm not sure if power and audio should share the same ground without stuff getting noisy fast.
  18. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Same here, 6-12 months easily. It's looking to solve a problem many don't have.

    In fact, the only people I continually hear about it being a problem are from bassists who don't play active basses :)
  19. Hate batteries? Go passive...what's being proposed here is an overkill solution to a very small problem...IMO.
  20. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I agree with bassgodOdmw.
    I own 4 active basses.
    Put in a battery box in the bass if it's an issue.
    Slide in, slide out.