On Board Active Electronics Vs an Outboard Bass PreAmp?

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jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 517
Are there any significant advantages to having on-board active electronics on a bass guitar - that a floor pedal preamp won't give me?

Expert opinions much appreciated...
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Comments

  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 15498
    Not really.
    different preamps have different flavours and the EQ centres will be different too. Some are guilt to be very clean, others to give a warmth to the tone.

    Some manufacturer’s make pedal and onboard versions of the same thing, like Sadowsky’s preamp pedal is the same as the onboard.

    on board can be easier depending on the stage set up, but can also be limiting to just that. But onboards can still be plugged into another one.

    I have some actives and some passive basses. They are all different.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 8837
    The one obvious advantage to onboard active EQ is that its controls are within easy reach. This is convenient for live performers who need to make adjustments from song to song. Set and forget players might just as well go outboard (or choose amplification with semi-parametric EQ).

    The main advantage to outboard EQ is that it can be applied to all of one's instruments. If it fails on stage, outboard EQ can be bypassed or a changed to a substitute device between songs.

    An outboard device might have a balanced Line Out socket to feed the P.A. Handy if your backline lacks this feature.

    I have some active and some passive basses. They are all different.
    Indeed. Signal processing electronics can be helpful some times. Other times, one pickup, two pots and four flatwound strings really is all that is required.

    If I had to name one essential feature of active EQ for bass guitar, it would be the ability to sweep the mid range cut/boost frequency.

    Be seeing you.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 56898
    The only real advantage of having the electronics in the instrument is ease of reach to the controls mid-song. In every other way, the advantages are all to having them in an outboard box. There is also a possible marginal advantage in keeping the wiring from the pickups to the preamp as short as possible which avoids 'tone suck', but it's far more of an issue for acoustic pickups and not much (if at all) for bass ones.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

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  • JeremiahJeremiah Frets: 415
    On-board EQ is a nightmare for the sound engineer if the bass player keeps fiddling with them and messing with the mix.
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  • jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 517
    Thanks guys - that was very useful...
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 1492
    edited April 29
    Outboard pre-amps (usually) don't need batteries replacing.

    Also, if you decide you want a different tone, or more flexible gain/compression options etc, you can sell/buy/upgrade outboard units far easier. You can also use modelling-based outboards (such as an HX Stomp).
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  • JayGeeJayGee Frets: 861
    Speaking as a newcomer to both bass and on-board active electronics the active eq in my Sire MM is currently set and forget with the passive tone control (which remains in circuit in active mode), volume, and pickup blend covering all my on-the-fly tweaking needs. On that basis if I was offered the choice of moving the active bits into a separate box and having a less busy control layout without the need for coaxial pots (which I’m really not a fan of) at a similar price without losing any functionality  I’d probably prefer it. Mind you, I have a sneaking feeling that in active mode the passive tone control comes after the active eq circuit[1] rather than before it, in which case moving it to the other side would probably change the way the whole thing interacts...

    [1] You can set a bright percussive sound with the active electronics and then trim it off nicely to an old-school thump with the passive tone control, if you were filtering treble off with a passive tone pot and then trying to boost it back with an active treble control I don’t think that would work anything like as well as the setup in the MM does...
    Don't ask me, I just play the damned thing...
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 8837
    The original reason for having buffers, pre-amplifiers or cut/boost tone controls built into electric bass guitars was for ease of direct injection studio recording.

    The only instruments on which I think the powered EQ circuitry is integral to the sound are the bespoke Alembic stuff and the Musicman Stingray/Sabre.

    The original Ibanez Musician and Aria SB certainly benefitted from onboard active EQ but I am not certain that it was essential.
    Be seeing you.
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 4893
    I recently got the Peter Hook signature Yamaha - it's got an active/passive selector which is really effective. On bypass, the treble pot (when on active) becomes a tone pot so it transforms the bass from a three way active eq with volume to a one tone one volume P bass config.  Neat.
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