"Active" vs "Passive" Bass | The Canadian Guitar Forum

"Active" vs "Passive" Bass

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Dorian2, Oct 26, 2019.

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  1. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Can I get some real world playing and, more importantly, tone insight into Active vs Passive systems for Bass guitar. I have an ESP LTD Viper 54 Bass with a single passive bridge pup (LTD DB-4). The tone system relies on an active circuit powered by a 9V battery (ESP ATB-1 active tone boost).

    From the research I've done, these active tone circuits and designs are not all created equally, being from different manufacturers. With this in mind, I'm going to assume that my particular tone boost circuit is designed for the DB-4B pup. So far I'm quite happy with the sounds I can get with this setup, but if, in the future, I decide I either want to change the pup to a different brand (not saying I do, just for informational purposes), would I run into an issue of deciding on a passive or active tone circuit for the change?

    What are some of your Bass playing experiences regarding the different setups? I'm digging into more of the specifics on Bass tone structure and sound so you understand I'm coming from a 35 year guitar playing perspective here. I wanted to try to keep the thread focused on active vs passive tone and pickup choices/sounds, but I have many of the same types of questions regarding Bass Amps and effects as well.

    So let's talk about your Bass experience with this! Help a guitar player out here. I know not ALL Bass players are dumb as shit, just a very high percentage. ;)
     
  2. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Oh, and thanks for any helpful insight. I appreciate it.
     
  3. keto

    keto Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    Edmonton
    I have lots of experience with both. You will generally get more tonal diversity and output from active, but if 9v, possibly less clean headroom. They all sound different (preamps), so if there’s something specific you’re after, you can probably find it. Batteries will last a long time, typically an annual change is enough.

    any passive pickup can be used with any preamp.
     
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  4. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    My Bass has a single 9V. My preference would be for more clean headroom, at least from my guitarist POV. All my Bass gear is stored right now due to a flood earlier in the summer, but I'll haul it out and see how things stack up. I'm assuming because I'm going through a SS Bass amp that I can compensate for more headroom by turning the volume down on the Bass and cranking the Amp. It's only a 16W SS Kustom with an 8" spaker, so I've got a very limited range of real options.
     
  5. zontar

    zontar

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2007
    Location:
    Somewhere around here
    When I got my active bass -which I play every so often at church, the sound guys liked it better than my passive bass--they found it easier to do sound for, and easier to keep it from taking over.
    Although there could be other factors as well.

    The passive bass has weaker pickups--so maybe it was me having to crank it more that made a difference?

    In any case I do like the greater flexibility in tone--but I am good with either myself.
    I mostly play the active bass because it's fretless & I prefer playing fretless.
     
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  6. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Thanks for the perspectives guys. Keep em coming. I'm new to Bass tone structure and how it sounds to my guitar centric ears. Are there drawbacks to plugging in an active EQ'd Bass into certain Amps and effects/pedals? Maybe a little too much gain for certain applications? Or does that just go back to using the Volume Pot efficiently for the need at hand? I'm constantly manipulating by LP's Volume and Tone knobs but I've only always used Ceramic Pups and and the necessary passive components to get where I want it to be. I'm just trying to mitigate any future expense if I decide to change a component or 2 in the rig I currently own. If you guys need any extra info from me let me know. I think I've already established in other guitar related sections that I'm mainly into Hard/Progressive rock and some Blues, but I'm always trying different things as well.
     
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  7. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Another one. When recording, will the Active EQ in the Bass result in no need for Hi-Z and/or DI box? I have a UR-22MK2 that will facilitate both, but it will leave me options if I don't need the Hi-Z function.
     
  8. keto

    keto Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    Edmonton
    A 16W bass amp isn’t going to have much volume likely, no idea that model’s headroom. No DI out from it I assume?

    Lots of higher end amps have a) a dB cut switch for active/high output and b) both pre vol and master vol. I find the dB cut too much in all cases and adjust the amp around how much headroom I want, higher master/lower pre for max headroom - just like a guitar amp, and just like a guitar amp, doesn’t always sound best set that way. If you’re used to adjusting some vol on guitar you’ll do the same on bass, I expect.

    Some preamps have grind in them by default, that is part of their charm. MusicMan Stingray is a good example, they changed last year to an 18v higher headroom/higher range but the old 9v pre just growls, and sounds great....but really no such thing as a clinical clean tone.
     
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  9. GTmaker

    GTmaker Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Location:
    Guelph, Ontario
    you really really should look into getting a real bass amp....
    unless you where kidding, playing a bass thru a 16W SS Kustom with an 8" speaker makes worrying about passive or active circuits kinda silly.
    G.
     
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  10. jb welder

    jb welder

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Location:
    Melonville, Canada
    From what I read, that's just his practice set-up, his real rig is packed away right now due to flood issues.
     
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  11. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    Bass growl is probably what I'm after. I'll relate more to this post once I set it up.
     
  12. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I know I need both a better Amp and Bass than this $120 Kijiji special. I posted this as a question because I'd mentioned this in the OP:

    I'm just doing some info gathering and research right now. Avoid past mistakes with possible gear acquisition and such. I also want to get real world info from some of the Bassists on this site. Just trying to figure out shit I don't know about is all. I've only played passive electronics previously.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
  13. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    This IS my real rig! lol. Right now. I'm looking to build on it.
     
  14. Dorian2

    Dorian2

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB
    I might change the title of this thread to "Teach me some Bass shit guys." or sumthin.
     
  15. jb welder

    jb welder

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    Location:
    Melonville, Canada
    Well then, you plug that sucker into a 4x12 and let it show you what's what! :D
     
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