Would Leo want an Active Fender?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Surprise Panda!, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. yes

    145 vote(s)
  2. no

    39 vote(s)
  1. I know he put active electronics in Musicman's and G&L's, but would he want the same fate for his original design?

  2. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I voted no because he's dead.
  3. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    I voted yes since he went active with his last two product lines, he must have thought it was a good idea. Plus, his day job before starting Fender was as a radio repairman so I think he'd be into the more sophisticated electronics.
  4. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I heard a 'Ray style bass with an MM pickup but no preamp...it wasn't pretty.

    The P and J work fine as passive.
  5. davec

    davec Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 4, 2006
    Fort Wayne Indiana
    Owner; Cody Electric Basses ( Now Closed) sales @ Sweetwater
    Leo was not a historian, he was not a musician, he was a inventor. Passive pups with an active pre and a passive bypass offer more tones
  6. superfunk47


    Sep 9, 2007
    I think he would've.

    The man was all about progress - once he viewed an idea to be obsolete, he abandoned it. He gave no consideration to nostalgia, which is why he created some of the most lasting legacies in the bass world.

    It's clear that in his mind, active electronics were one of the steps toward the ideal bass - he put them on his most recent bass designs, as has been said already. I think that progression speaks for itself, as that was what he was building on.
  7. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    There are a LOT of problems in passive basses. The high impedance of the pickups causes the sound to be affected by EVERYTHING in the signal path up to and including the input circuit of the amp. When you change the volume of a pickup, it's frequency response is affected as well as the level, and also any other pickups connected to it. The cable loading cuts off high end. Any pedals affect the sound.

    Leo worked REALLY hard to make the P and Jazz basses as good as possible with the given technology. Even the pickup covers on the P bass were designed to even out the magnetic field of the pickups (They are not for shielding - they are not grounded).

    The only cure for this constant variance in the sound is to use active, buffered pickups.

    SO - my vote is YES - Leo would do it, and do it in the best way possible.
  8. GeddyisGod

    GeddyisGod Four on the floor and nothing more!

    Feb 4, 2004
    Moberly, MO
  9. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Obviously, as everyone's said, he designed primarily active basses after leaving Fender, so I'm sure he was fine with it.* I'm not personally a fan of active basses, but that's cool--to each his own.

    *It's worth noting that active Ps and Js were made while he was still alive.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    what difference does it make?
  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The pickup cover of the original P bass was infact grounded through a wire that went under the cover and connected to ground.

    The P bass anodized guard and the cover screw through the guard provided grounding for the pickup cover in '57-'59 P bass and the "shield plate" under the nitro pickguard and cover screw grounded the cover in P basses so equipped.

    And while they definitely did not function as shields, they were grounded in those versions.

    AFAIK the pickup cover for the J bass was never grounded.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What would a chair look like if your knees bent the other way, and how would you sit down? ;)
  13. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    Did he put active electronics in his Fender-style G&L basses?
  14. envika


    Nov 27, 2007
    Bronx, NY
    He'd be fine with it as long as it sounded good. Leo Fender wasn't at all prejudiced against new technology.
  15. jon118


    Apr 19, 2008
    While I don't want to speak for him, I would guess that as someone that liked to innovate he would have. He was no stranger to using new tech and I'm sure that active electronics would not be something he would have ignored at Fender.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    If Leo Fender was here right now, I'd ask him that same question. But he wouldn't answer because he's dead. But my personal feeling is that Leo wouldn't care one way or another as long as you bought a Fender.
  17. +1 As we can't ask him without John Edwards & I don't trust him anyway :eek: Thats MY take also!:p
  18. mythmaker


    Jun 24, 2008
  19. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    I fixed that for you.

    G&L JB-2 - passive.
    G&L SB-2 - passive, heck it doesn't even have a tone control, just two volume knobs, presumably to keep the visual aesthetic of a P without going nuts with stacked knobs.

    Clearly Leo believed that P and J basses are best served as passive basses since the most recent P and J style basses he designed - those produced by G&L - were passive.
  20. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Leo was all about evolving thing as an inovator and an engineer. Wether or not evolution is progress can be debated. The die hard Fenderites say no active electronics, no high mass bridge, and no round wounds. While I understand some of their sentiments, Leo, as history tells us, was about the evolution and his last two product lines had the very things his most loyal advocates despise. Kinda ironic. Kinda like religion and politics. But then I digress into forbidden topics...

    As for me personally I prefer his Fender stuff over the G&L stuff. I have a 1961 Jazz and a hot rodded P bass and to me those basic designs are pretty much all I need. But then I guess I need the 5 string RV5 which is a great evolution of the J IMHO.

    Leo was about making money. During his life time there was no JB-2s at G&L as I understand it. There was the SB-1 and SB-2. The early forms contained single coil MFD pickups (no split coil Ps). The SB as I understand it stands for "student bass". They were the Chevies and the active L2000E was the flagship product. He also had the passive L-1000 and a few other models in small quanities (Lynx, El Torro, L5000) that were passive or came with passive options. But I would guess they were passive due to the cost point of the market more so than any great philosophical feelings. But I could be wrong.

    Originally the L2000 was called the L2000E with E standing for "electronics". And the catalog supposedly contained a L2000 that was passive. But no one has ever seen an original L2000 from G&L that is all passive (would be quite a collectable). At some point they dropped the E and just sold them all with preamps. Probably all about marketing.