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Why So Few Passive 5'ers?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Plucky The Bassist, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Boutique aside, the trend with 5'ers seems to lean in the direction of active electronics. We know there isn't some inability for an passive 5'er to be a quality instrument, because there are some in every price range. I wonder why we don't see more passive 5'ers out there, I know I'm certainly interested in one. Kicking around a Peavey Millenium BXP 5'er.

    What do you guys think their (builders) logic is in this? Insufficient pickups that need a little "help" from the preamp? Market perception that the preamp makes it "better" or a "professional instrument"? Lack of demand? Preamps making up for lackluster body design that can't produce a good, solid low B note?
  2. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I think it probably has to do with the low B and the pick ups needing the preamp for the lower frequency. That's just my thought.
  3. jbrooks


    Sep 7, 2007
    I agree. I have a Fender American Standard Five String Jazz. Beautiful bass but the B was definitely lacking. I was looking to trade it but the guys at the Bass Place talked me into trying something different. Bartolini pick ups and a John East pre-am really brought this beauty to life. The B sounds great and balanced with the other strings.

    I would be interested in other people's experience with a passive B.
  4. RadioRob


    Dec 15, 2012
    I have V Jazz. The B was weak until raised that side of the pickup.
  5. Lefty7


    Oct 18, 2007
    San Pedro, CA
    I know it's a bit on the lower end of things, but the B on my Schecter Diamond P5 Custom isn't bad. It took some adjusting, and although it lacks just a little clarity in comparison to the other strings (I may just need a different string gauge), it's pretty damned strong. I use DR Low Riders for their extra stiffness as I sometimes tune down to ADGCF. The stock passive pickups on it are super hot; I usually clip an input (padless) if I have even one of the two volume knobs turned all the way up.
  6. nolezmaj


    Sep 22, 2011
    I have a custom jazz-ish bass (maybe I should post some pics, can someone direct me where?) with custom wound Aero pickups and Bartolini 5.3 preamp. Preamp has push-pull master volume pot, that switches from active to passive.

    Recently, I find myself playing in passive mode all the time. I just don't think Bart is transparent enough. I can hear the discrete lack of details when I go active, as if there is a vail or cloth over the speaker.

    So, even though my bass has onboard preamp, I will count it as passive fiver.

    I guess the reason why fivers get active it to add to its versatility (which is one of main reasons to go fiver root). Not neccesary - IMHO.

    P.S. Having passive/active switch is very usefull, I can set preamp eq one way (i.e. scooped, for slap), than bypass preamp and play passive, and when needed - switch back to preamp preset in a second.
  7. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I think Lakland does a great job with the Skyline JO5 and the DJ5. I haven't played their P clone yet but I bet it rocks.

  8. Muckaluck


    Oct 11, 2005
    Whitby, Ontario
    I always played my Lakland 55-01 in passive mode. I found it responded better to touch and sat nicer in the mix.

    I had a Fender 5 string p bass that was passive and now a Lakland 5 string p bass copy that is also passive. I wanted the passive electronics because I wanted the traditional p bass sound but with the versatility of having the B string for Eb tuning and playing in D.

    I'd suspect there are not many active 5s out there because 5s are less popular than 4s. Either manufacturers include the active electronics to justify the higher price of a 5 (and which helps make a profit on a less popular instrument) or the select population looking for a 5 is also the population looking for active instruments...... or perhaps both!
  9. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    I had my passive MIM Jazz 5 professionally setup and the B is very solid and was actually very good before as well. Now she sings though. Love that bass.
  10. I think this, at least with moderately priced instruments. I got into actives, then into 5s - just that "try something new" spirit. The 5er OLP I bought used, perhaps by prejudice although I did try it stock, had the electronics ripped out and activated almost immediately.

    A seasoned player who knows what he wants can spec a booteeq, passive 5 but the curious will probably take an active over a passive.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Why So Few Passive 5'ers?


    A 3 or 4 band preamp can bring out the mids and give the B string definition.
  12. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Somebody will probably object to my statement but this might have to do with the fact that a lot of 5 string basses are used for heavy metal or for funk music. Active electronics help with cutting through a very high decibel mix in the case of heavy metal and help with low frequency definition in the case of funk/r&B.
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    A better question would be, why so few passive instruments at all?
    Active dominates the market. Out of classics like Ric and Fender, quality passive instruments are uncommon.
  14. HuntYouDown


    Jan 3, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    I got a American Std Jazz V and never put this thought in my mind. I like it just how it is, I think the RotoSounds (66) also make it fun to play, it grinds and growls.
  15. RJHall


    Dec 25, 2012
    New York City
    I just picked up an American Std P5 (my first 5er in about 8 years). It's the only 5er I ever played that felt good in my hands and sounded good to my ears. I always loved the 2-knob simplicity of a P bass and I'm thrilled to add (a great sounding) low B to my passive P-bass playing.
  16. bassbombs84


    Dec 26, 2008
    5 stringers= non traditional players by definition. Therefore they are much less likely to be turned off by the concept of an active preamp.
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    My MIM Standard Jazz V is passive and it sounds fine. I rather prefer active basses and I am spending some time with this bass to see if I really want a fiver. If the answer is yes I will put a preamp in it. Now a previous owner had put a pair of somewhat beat up looking Barts in this bass but I can't tell that it sounds any better than my passive MIM Jazz Fretless which is downtuned to the same bottom note as my fiver, a C instead of the traditional B in my case.

  18. Because most of the bassists who use 5 strings prefer the sound of active basses. Most passive 5 string players don't fit the bill as your "typical" 5 string player. By typical, I mean people who play either metal, solo, funk, R&B, etc.
  19. sorry to break the mold but a passive 5'er player here, and I'm lovin' it.

  20. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Most of my 5'ers are passive, and I've never had an issue with the B not being loud enough or lacking focus.

    I think a big part of it is that the 5 string (with a low B) is a much more recent development in the electric bass world. 4 stringers came first, and they were passive. 5 strings came along near the time you started to see more active electronics, and I think both became associated with the idea of more "modern" basses. Thus the trend where you see mor traditional ideas of the electric bass being passive and 4 string, and the more modern version being active and 5 or more strings. There are exceptions of course, MusicMan being perhaps the most notable, but this trend is very strong.

    It also has nothing to do with pickups being able to "pick up" the B string. You can string up any decent P bass with a BEAD tuning and that B will sound just fine. I've done this on many recording projects and it works great.

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