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Discussion Starter #1
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. ;)
 

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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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Discussion Starter #4
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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter #6
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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Discussion Starter #7
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.
 

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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.
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?

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.
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #11
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?

No DI out.



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.
Bass growl is probably what I'm after. I'll relate more to this post once I set it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
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.
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:

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?
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I might change the title of this thread to "Teach me some Bass shit guys." or sumthin.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well then, you plug that sucker into a 4x12 and let it show you what's what! :D
It does have an 8 Ohm out on the back. Wonder what it sounds like through a couple of V30's! I'm going to spend a bit of time tomorrow to check a few things out. Just dipping my toe in the water right now. Don't want no Rabbit holes which are going to come in force at some point. My intention is for practicing and recording original music.
 

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Im probably in The dumb as shit bass player so here goes nothing.

Some of my basses are dedicated to certain song due to the sound I get from that instrument. Passive instruments are more limited in theyre capability and you need to take your amp in consideration for this... ( just like guitar)

My active basses are more versatile, and I tend to like the ones with boost and EQ. helps you dial the amount of growl for those special moments. add the fact that some of these can be passive with a flick of a switch and you get a super versatile instrument.

I use several basses when I play, a Rick, a Fender Jazz and a Westone Super Headless. The Westone is my No 1 for the last 20 years just for the tonal range it gives me. I can dial almost every tone I need with it.

Active electronics due vary from one Co to another. a 16 watt amp will not allow you to test these out properly...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the insight Frenchy and all others who've responded so far. I realize it's a bit of a pain to really do a "writeup" on tone differences and approaches as there are so many factors involved. I have a much better idea of what the Active circuit is doing now. Again, keep in mind I'm really new to Bass and what goes into the sound, so I'm approaching it from a brand new player perspective. I'm trying to seperate my experience as a guitar player totally, which may or may not be a good idea. The music theory, notes on the fretboard, some technique, and where to place a beat aren't a concern so I think more than half the battle is already there.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So now that we have the Active vs passive sort of figured out, and I've edited the title, what about the other components?

From the OP:
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.
It's been determined that a new Bass Amp is certainly required. I'll also be touching on the effects used to a degree. Along with the Kustom, I also have a Zoom B2 to plug into it. I haven't played around with it much, but it's unlikely to stay as a viable option unless otherwise proven wrong. Any suggestions on a decent Amp and effect unit(s) for recording and possible future live playing. I was thinking along the lines of the Fender Rumble 40 to start. Just due to reviews and pricing. I know what I need to do to figure it out s far as trying different amps to suit my ear/style. But again, looking for real world input, not popularity and trying to cop the tone of a specific player.

That being said, I DO have a couple of Bass players who have influenced my ear and how I view Bass playing in general. Geddy Lee, Steve Harris, Rudy Sarzo, Dave LaRue, and Geezer to name a few.

BTW: I do/have been following a number of Bass amp threads here and elsewhere so I have a fairly good idea of what's available. I really don't think a tube amp is going to be in the cards unless there is a viable option, perhaps a Hybrid model, at a lower price point than I've seen. I'm trying to keep the Amp price to under $400-$500. The setup is in a residential single dwelling home in the basement that is not sound proofed but dampened down with SAfe and Sound in part of the ceiling. So i'm not looking for a 200Watter. Unless otherwise proven wrong. Again. ;)
 
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