The creation of the electric bass guitar altered the music industry. Before that, in case you’re a bassist, then you performed with an upright. When Fender introduced the first production electric bass guitar, the Precision bass, to advertise in 1951 and get a few decades afterward, active electronics weren’t an alternative. Exotic basses were the only real option until the early 1970s.
At first glance, the selection may seem to be between contemporary sophistication and time-tested simplicity; however, there is quite a little more for this. They serve their functions based on what you are after. So, the actual question is: Which is best for you? Keep reading Fidlar’s post to see the difference in Active Vs Passive Bass.
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First off, let us specify, in the context of bass guitars, what’s meant by passive and active. Exotic basses are simple creatures. They have a pickup (or 2 ), which creates an electric current that moves through a volume pot and tone control.
Be aware that this tone controller isn’t an equalizer (EQ); it is a straightforward lowpass filter (consisting of a variable resistor that functions on the present once you dial it ).
It will take something: rolls off highs. It can’t boost frequencies, which would call for additional electricity inactive electronic equipment. We generally describe a passive bass’s noise as being fat, round, earthy, or punchy, ideal for natural genres like rock, jazz, blues, and so on.
- Passive basses use more uncomplicated circuitry than their active counterparts, providing a purer and more touch-sensitive sound for your playing dynamics. That is why bass players, engineers, and producers often use phrases such as around or fat to describe a bass’s noise.
- The design controls on a passive bass will also be considerably more comfortable than those on active, without miniature switches or pots within the control cavity to correct.
- You will have no ear-splitting drops or flourishing lows to cope with just uncomplicated tone and volume controls, virtually out of this circuit when fully clockwise and cut frequencies or quantity when you dial down them.
- This leaves you with the pure sound: it was created to sound using a natural, lively attack, which does not need to push against the compression inherent in several basses.
- Playing with a passive bass means never worrying about what can go wrong with active onboard electronics. Granted, any bass may create problems, but you will find fewer elements, relations, and total circuitry that could malfunction at a straightforward passive layout.
- There aren’t any pesky batteries that may begin to expire amid a session or live place, no circuit boards which could loosen up, and fewer cables that could get unsoldered. And as you might not have the powerful tone-shaping prowess of a busy bass, you could always get that from just about any bass.
- There is no denying how the signal produced by a passive bass isn’t quite as powerful as an energetic bass. That will not matter whether the pickup on such passive bass provides a sufficiently alluring sign, and you are keeping your cable spans to, say, 30 ft or shorter.
- If, however, the pickup on your bass sets out a weak signal, you are likely to have a problem if you use long wires, a problem that gets worse with each extra foot of cable span.
- In a situation like this, your sign wouldn’t only seem puny, but it might also have sound and RF interference from nearby electrical equipment like fluorescent lighting.
- And you’ll probably crank your amp to compensate for weak output, introducing much more sound in the amp circuitry the storm. Gain Maintaining your sign chain. This manner isn’t suggested.
- Luckily, there’s a means to guarantee you’re getting a silent, reasonably healthy sign to a remote amp using a passive bass. You can use a very large cable run system such as the Radial SGI, which includes different transmitter and receiver modules.
- The transmitter, used in the root of your pedalboard, is a direct box using a 1/4″ input and an XLR output that lower impedance and accounts for the sign.
- You can run the balanced signal through an XLR cable up to 300 feet into the recipient box stationed close to your amp with this system. A “reverse DI,” the receiver chooses the balanced XLR input, increases the impedance, and sparks an unbalanced signal to your amp will adore. You use a brief 1/4″ tool cable from your receiver output to your amp.
An energetic bass has an internal, battery-powered preamplifier, not as the front of a conventional bass amp. Basses with active electronics don’t automatically possess active pickups in actuality.
Nowadays, lively basses are more inclined to be armed with passive pickups and a dynamic preamp/EQ. These powered circuits typically operate on a single 9-volt battery, but recently we see a trend: devices that run on 18 volts with compartments for two 9-volt batteries.
Doubling the power provides you many benefits that active electronics offer more than passive, for example, a more generous headroom. Bass players frequently use phrases such as “bright,” snappy,” or even “hi-fi” to explain the way an energetic bass sounds. Still, those descriptors probably stem from the fact that active bass guitar enables you to form your tone considerably greater than passive basses.
Because of this inherent tone-shaping capability, we frequently hear busy basses used in much more competitive audio such as progressive metal, mix, and (slap-style) funk.
- As a result of its preamp flowing and greater output level, a bass with active electronics can drive long cable runs with no dreaded “tone suck” indicate degradation, noise, and interference you’d get with bass.
- This provides your amp using a more powerful, cleaner signal to operate with. If your busy bass is looking a bit too hi-fi, you could always roll back the quantity or dial the highs back to accomplish a more passive sound.
- The tone control on passive basses can attenuate frequencies, but also, the equalizers on busy tools allow you to boost frequencies also for more massive tonal flexibility.
- The preamps in busy basses typically provide 2- or 3-band EQ (a few have varying mid-frequency choice ), providing you with the sound-sculpting capacities of a bass built into your device suitable to fine-tuning your tone in the source when you are going into a PA system or an audio port.
- If you do session work or perform in a pay band in which you have to jump genres through a semester or live place, an energetic bass will probably serve you well.
- To all those opinionated bassists securely from the camp, the sexy, consistent sign produced by active bass guitar seems compacted in other words, not quite lively.
- And we have all heard dynamic bass EQ gone wrong in the kind of unpleasant hiss from treble frequencies which were promoted too harshly. A more powerful output signal may also wreak havoc with your pedalboard: specific pedals not play nice with the active guitar. And then, there is the problem of managing batteries.
- After the battery on your busy bass expires, your audio dies with it unless the bass may change between passive and active modes. Swapping batteries out on a dynamic basis using a hinged battery compartment is not a massive deal provided that you’ve got an original battery available!
- Should you don’t or when your device’s battery compartment screws, it is a significant hassle, especially when you are on stage in the center of some set.
- And for bassists who prefer to leave their tool cable plugged in, here is a word of advice: Get used to purchasing batteries in bulk since you’ll be replacing batteries regularly!
What Is The Difference Between Active and Passive?
So to start with, what’s the distinction between active and passive basses? Well, It is about to do with all the pickups or, more correctly, the electronic equipment and preamp that operate together with the pickups.
A Passive bass is a standard, run of the mill bass using a total single tone control. The term active electronics generally indicates a dream’s accession, just like the one on your amp, and a battery powers this preamp. So think Lively is powered, Passive isn’t.
The most active bass guitars have passive pickups with energetic frequencies. However, some basses have real active pickups such as those produced by EMG. In those instances, you are taking a look at pickups that are battery-powered instead of the preamp.
So it is essential to make this distinction. But for the large part, once you’re searching around for a new device, the word active bass will refer to the active preamp is not the pickups.
How Pickups Work
All of the basses have a pair of pickups that make an electrical signal in the strings’ plucking. I will not give you the more complicated details of how that occurs. Check out Faraday’s Law Of Induction, and google ‘How Pickups Work,’ and it must make a bit more sense.
We receive a voltage out of the motion of the strings via a magnetic field. If you have ever taken the case off your pickups, you will notice the copper wire around a magnet. That is our magnetic field. Pluck the series. It goes through that area. Hey, presto. Electricity.
On a standard passive bass, the electric current out of our pickups moves through one tone control, volume control, and outside throughout the result in an amp.
The critical thing to realize here is that the tone control is only a very simple resistor acting on this present we have created. We can remove the sign. We can not add anything to it. Boosting would indicate bringing additional power from someplace. The hands-on tone bass may cut. It can not grow.
On an active bass, that electrical signal comes out of our pickups in the same way but then runs into a powered pre-amplifier.
This allows us to have all kinds of tone controls like we would on a regular bass amp. This is simply because we’re supplying more electricity into the mix from the battery. Instead of cutting the tone like on a passive bass, we can boost any frequency.
This means we can have a bass control, treble control, mid-power, and even parametric central controls where you select the frequency required. Anything you might have on a bass amp can be fitted on the bass itself. That’s all it is. We’re taking the features of a preamp and putting them on the bass, so it’s all right there at the fingertips.
The most active bass guitars will have a bypass switch so you can go between the direct passive signal and the affected busy signal. If you set everything flat on your tone controls, you’ll pretty much have the same sound. The main difference will be your level. Because an active circuit is powered, you’ll get more output in active mode. But in terms of tone, it’s just a case of having more options right there on the bass.
In the case of active pickups, like the EMG’s mentioned earlier, the pickups themselves have to be powered. The pickups are wound to have less output, which is then boosted via the battery. It’s often said this results in low noise and a more Hi-Fi kind of tone. Some players love them; it all depends on what you’re going for.
Which Is Better? Passive Or Active?
Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, the answer is neither. It all depends on what you want from the instrument. Regular passive tools are great. If you wish to bass, you can pick up and play with no extra bells and whistles, then go passive.
In deciding whether to go active or not, you have to look at the pros and cons. Active bass guitars require a battery, so that’s you’re the first issue right there.
As the battery starts to die, you start to get multiple issues in the sound. Your level starts to drop. The tone begins to thin out, and eventually, distortion starts to creep in before its final last gasp.
If you’re on stage as this starts to happen, all kinds of things can go through your mind because you might not initially realize it’s the battery. You can start looking to every bit of your other gear for problems because many of the symptoms are similar to issues you might get from a wrong lead or a faulty amp.
Luckily most actives have a bypass switch so that you can get around it that way, but it’s still something many players don’t want to ever deal with.
As for the pros of going active, it’s all about choice. You can adjust your tone right there on stage, on the fly, without having to go over to the amp. Setting up your tone at source also helps if you’re going direct to the mixer pre-eq or before your amp.
Another pro for some is the preamp buffering and added output level. This can help retain your sound on long cable runs and give you more signal to play within various inputs on amps and recording equipment.
However, this additional output level is also another con for some people in that it can be too much level for some effects pedals. Some pedals don’t play nice among active basses.
As I said, it’s all about your needs as a player. Don’t just think, “Oh, I need an active bass because I hear they’re better!” That’s not the case at all. If you want to go for a more traditional kind of sound, you can’t do better than grabbing a passive p bass or jazz.
No need for active circuits. No need for tons of tone shaping. They are what they are. The lack of variables in there can make everything a lot more straightforward. But if you want that extra tone shaping on the bass itself and some additional output level, then Active bass guitars are the way to go.