The Power Of Passive Basses


I have never been a big fan of active basses, although I have to admit that the idea behind them does seem pretty cool.

Adding a battery powered active tone circuit so you can boost your signal and control the sound of your bass even more than before.

With a passive bass you're limited to only cutting the signal (sound) coming from your bass.

An active bass can boost lows, highs or mids. It's basically a built in pre-amp for tone shaping and boosting your volume. Seems like an awesome set up, so why don't I like them?

One of the main issues I have with active basses is their sound. I've played several of them and they all seem to sound too clean and smooth for my taste. They sound OK on their own I suppose but in a band setting they tend to get lost and sound kind of sterile and artificial to my ears.

That Passive Sound

For some reason a passive bass just cuts through a mix better. It's weird because you would think it should be just the opposite, more power and options should equal more tone. But it just doesn't work that way. A passive bass has a certain sound that no active bass can cop. There's an organic grittiness, a natural and open tone to a passive bass that just sounds so right. Active basses to me sound artificial and sterile in comparison.

The other thing that's always turned me off active basses is the battery. Just the idea of having a battery or two in my bass seems silly. I would also be constantly worried that the battery would go dead at the worst time or that it would be losing power and effecting the tone, distorting or cutting in and out.

With a passive bass you don't have to worry about any of that. Plus there's just way less stuff to go wrong. Just a simple tone circuit, your amp and you are good to go. I do realize they have basses with both passive/active switches, but what's the point? If I had one of those I would always have it set to passive anyways.

Bottom line is that passive is best....Keep it simple and play a passive four string, preferably a Fender and you're pretty much ready for anything.

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