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Passive bass pickups with active EQ--underrated setup?

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  • #16
    I have an Ibanez SR1000e from the 80s that someone threw Duncan Quarter Pounders in and is paired with the original active electronics. Sounds amazing and the active electronics can be switched off to allow the passive tone to come through.

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    • #17
      I've been researching getting a new bass, and I think active/passive setups are becoming pretty common, especially in the models I've seen released in the past 4/5 years
      You will never understand How it feels to live your life With no meaning or control And with nowhere left to go You are amazed that they exist And they burn so bright
      Whilst you can only wonder why

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Chistopher View Post
        I've been researching getting a new bass, and I think active/passive setups are becoming pretty common, especially in the models I've seen released in the past 4/5 years
        I think it goes way before that. Mine is from like 20 years ago, and it's not even a high-end bass or anything. I think Fender has been doing it since the 90's.

        Like I said, I personally think it's overkill. I'm not the guy that needs 79479547954 different tones on bass (or guitar), but if I did, I'd rather step on a pedal than tweak some knobs on my bass on the fly and hope I get it right when most bass knobs don't even have markers.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Chistopher View Post
          It's not as uncommon as you'd think. Stingrays are like this, and I've seen quite a few P/J basses with passive pickups and a 3 band
          Yup. Even my $300 SUB Ray4 has a passive pickup with an active EQ (though it's a 2-band). I wired it back to stock over the weekend, pickup and all. I'm trying to sell it.

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          • #20
            Does the G&L L series count? Even the bass and treble controls are passive, lets you use passice mode with an active mode which brings up the volume to line level, then top boost mode which cuts through perfectly and doesn’t inspire me to gut it and put in a more typical active system because it sounds perfect as is.

            Originally posted by chadd View Post
            I have an Ibanez SR1000e from the 80s that someone threw Duncan Quarter Pounders in and is paired with the original active electronics. Sounds amazing and the active electronics can be switched off to allow the passive tone to come through.
            Right on. When my band recorded our second album, this $200 bass I got for our bassist as a backup, he noticed it had a comfortable spacing, but more importantly the bridge pickup placement gave it a very distinct growl he preferred over his SR. I dropped a QP in the bridge, added an ARTEC 2 band to enhance that sound he loved so much (plus changing the DR hi-beams every other song) and it became the bass sound for it which was effective enough to be notable to the reviewers.

            We tri-amped it between some very clean and edge-of-breakup amps and to this day it sounds awesome. Very chunky and articulate.
            Last edited by El Dunco; 10-18-2023, 08:04 PM.
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            • #21
              Originally posted by El Dunco View Post
              Does the G&L L series count? Even the bass and treble controls are passive, lets you use passice mode with an active mode which brings up the volume to line level, then top boost mode which cuts through perfectly and doesn’t inspire me to gut it and put in a more typical active system because it sounds perfect as is.



              Right on. When my band recorded our second album, this $200 bass I got for our bassist as a backup, he noticed it had a comfortable spacing, but more importantly the bridge pickup placement gave it a very distinct growl he preferred over his SR. I dropped a QP in the bridge, added an ARTEC 2 band to enhance that sound he loved so much (plus changing the DR hi-beams every other song) and it became the bass sound for it which was effective enough to be notable to the reviewers.

              We tri-amped it between some very clean and edge-of-breakup amps and to this day it sounds awesome. Very chunky and articulate.
              I'm a guitar player but have a dual DI system for my bass. I use a buffered split and send one channel to a Tech21 VT Deluxe and the other side goes to a Big Muff in front of an MXR DI. Tons of versatility and can even get by if anything goes down as both DIs can run on phantom power.

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              • #22
                Interesting stuff, guys. I'm generally not up to snuff on all the bi-amped/tri-amped stuff (although I'm surprised the Billy Sheehan dual output stuff isn't more common). It's that whole impedance/level matching and whatnot thing.

                In software it seems kind of unnecessary--just a way to isolate parts of the frequency spectrum. My guess is you can handle this with a multiband compressor and/or dynamic EQ. But live I'm betting it's pretty cool.

                I knew a guy at GIT who had a 90s Parker Nitefly (one of the good, expensive ones) and used to bi-amp his guitar rig because he was in a 3 piece, one guitar band. Huge sound.

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                • #23
                  I'm still figuring out how to "do" bass in my workflow--that is, what balance of DI to amp signal I like, whether I'm going to isolate parts of the signal for EQ/mixing purposes and so forth. Seems to change with every project. I like a pretty up front but clean sound. I find Sansamp themed stuff doesn't steer me wrong most of the time, maybe blended with a Fender bass amp emulation.

                  Don't like a lot of grit or clank bass in my metal guitars. Sounds too much like the low end of the guitar and not its own separate instrument. Generally I dig an 80s Steve Harris tone for fills but something that gels more with the rhythm guitars on the low end.

                  I go by the standard, "If I were to figure this out by ear on bass, can I hear the bass well enough from the guitars for me to transcribe it accurately?" Sadly, that's often not the case as sacrifices need to be made during a mix.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Inflames626 View Post
                    I'm still figuring out how to "do" bass in my workflow--that is, what balance of DI to amp signal I like, whether I'm going to isolate parts of the signal for EQ/mixing purposes and so forth. Seems to change with every project. I like a pretty up front but clean sound. I find Sansamp themed stuff doesn't steer me wrong most of the time, maybe blended with a Fender bass amp emulation.

                    Don't like a lot of grit or clank bass in my metal guitars. Sounds too much like the low end of the guitar and not its own separate instrument. Generally I dig an 80s Steve Harris tone for fills but something that gels more with the rhythm guitars on the low end.

                    I go by the standard, "If I were to figure this out by ear on bass, can I hear the bass well enough from the guitars for me to transcribe it accurately?" Sadly, that's often not the case as sacrifices need to be made during a mix.
                    For me, bass is one of the instruments that needs the most work to sit in a mix.

                    I do have have a very different approach to bass than you do, so take this as a grain of salt.

                    I split my bass in 3, initially. First there's a 100% clean DI that I drastically lopass. It's been ages since I've mixed, but I remember it being like super drastic. Like 150Hz or something extreme like that. I compress and limit that to hell and back. I basically want it to have NO dynamics at all. I like the very low-end of my bass tone to be synth-like. I like a constant bed of low-end for the mix to sit on top of. I do that because, I don't know if you've noticed, but certain basses/pickups have different resonant frequencies. So it's not uncommon for it to, when you play a specific note, just jump out in a boomy unpleasant way. I also hipass at like 40 or 50 Hz. Like REALLY low, but I still want the lowest frequencies in my mix to come from the kick, personally.

                    Then there's another duplicate of the same DI. I duplicate that twice.

                    I usually run one of those duplicates through a compressor pedal and a clean-ish bass amp model. You got POD Farm. You can use the Gallien Krueger Model for that. I like a balanced to bright bass cab for that.

                    Then the other duplicate through a compressor pedal set to light compression, a dirty grindy bass OD pedal, a guitar pedal, or a full-on high-gain metal amp like a Recto and then a guitar cab. I like Greenbacks for that. The uglier it sounds, the better. That depends on how dirty you want that tone. I understand you like cleaner tones. I still recommend just a very very slight hint of breakup in there. Even the Steve Harris tone that you like has some grit in there. I find that 1. really helps further even the peaks from playing agressive, and 2. that helps the bass poke through the wall of high-gain guitars. Plust it also sounds heavy and aggressive. You don't want a Reggae bass tone on your Metal mixes, LOL. I EQ both of those to be treble/mid heavy and light on the bass. I then group both on a bus. I hipass that bus drastically. I like my bass tone pretty scooped, so I usually do so at like 1K (so that I'm left with a big gaping hole in the midrange). I also lopass them at like 3 or 4 K. I like sizzly guitars, so a sizzly bass just gets in the way. In then further compress just a tad to even out the remaining peaks poking through too much.

                    I recommend doing all your cab emulation within POD Farm so that you don't run into phase issues.

                    I then bus everything together and compress even a little more to even out the peaks. The trick is to split the compression in several stages so that your bass tone doesn't sound squashed and like it's pumping while it still sounds even. I mean that in very subtle ways. The only time I REALLY squash things out with a single compressor or limiter is on the very low-end foundation of the tone. The other are just 2-3dB stages together. 5 at max.

                    You seem to like a more old-school approach to bass tones, so maybe you can experiment with hipassing your "dirty" bus a lot lower and hipassing your low-end bus a tad bit higher. I recommend still keeping those low-mids really held back, though. To me, low mids just overall sound muddy in any instrument, but it's particularly bad on bass and VERY detrimental to the mix.

                    JMO.
                    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 10-24-2023, 01:47 PM.

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                    • #25
                      Oh, and that's for a "rhythm" bass tone too. If your bass plays leads at one point, you're going to want that midrange for that section much like you EQ lead and rhythm guitars differently.
                      Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 10-24-2023, 02:07 PM.

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                      • #26
                        Yeah all that channel splitting and bussing is exactly what I was talking about. Seems everybody has their own method for bass. In metal it's probably the least glamorous instrument, but it takes the most work to get right in that genre.

                        I usually roll off guitars below 200 hz at times if I want it really tight in standard tuning. Bass would be an octave below this so maybe 100 hz for that. But then I also like rolling the kick off below 100 hz. Going below 50 hz in my experience leaves a little bit of mud in the kicks.

                        Again depends on the individual project and tuning. I definitely agree on a lot of garbage in the signal between 200 hz-800 hz on bass, maybe even 1000 hz. Generally I leave it flat between say 200 hz and 2 khz, only adding bumps or dips where needed to mesh better with the guitar.

                        Maybe a newer bass tone I like is the Dark Tranquillity tone on "Projector," but that is also much warmer and up front than the norm for metal. But they were going for an ambient feel and this was a softer album (probably the softest besides "Haven"). But it is the essence of their sound IMO. Makes them different from In Flames and At the Gates. I have always liked the bass tone on "Projector" because if I had to learn it by ear it is very easy to hear. Sounds good no matter the speaker size or volume as well.



                        Something older like "Lethe" from "The Gallery" sounds much more like what I imagine an active pickup bass to sound like, or at least a passive bass playing through the bridge only.

                        Thanks. I appreciate the effort, Rex_Rocker .

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                        • #27
                          Also, I find detuning a kick in software for a fuller sound can help a lot, as opposed to trying to add more low end to a higher kick. It doesn't have to be much. 1/2 step is good. Kicks detuned 1/2 step apart make fast double bass sound much more natural for a left foot/right foot feel.

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                          • #28
                            Lethe:



                            Crimson Winds:



                            Shadow Duet. Pretty perfect to me in the intro:

                            Track #7 of our debut album "Skydancer" (1993).Support the band directly - buy from http://darktranquillity.bandcamp.comOFFICIAL SITES:http://www.darktranqui...


                            Through Ebony Archways. May actually be an acoustic bass. Pretty boomy. Snare snaps.

                            I do not own any rights to this song. This is purely promotion for the band and for entertainment. If you like it buy the CD's and support the band (links be...

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Inflames626 View Post
                              Yeah all that channel splitting and bussing is exactly what I was talking about. Seems everybody has their own method for bass. In metal it's probably the least glamorous instrument, but it takes the most work to get right in that genre.

                              I usually roll off guitars below 200 hz at times if I want it really tight in standard tuning. Bass would be an octave below this so maybe 100 hz for that. But then I also like rolling the kick off below 100 hz. Going below 50 hz in my experience leaves a little bit of mud in the kicks.

                              Again depends on the individual project and tuning. I definitely agree on a lot of garbage in the signal between 200 hz-800 hz on bass, maybe even 1000 hz. Generally I leave it flat between say 200 hz and 2 khz, only adding bumps or dips where needed to mesh better with the guitar.

                              Maybe a newer bass tone I like is the Dark Tranquillity tone on "Projector," but that is also much warmer and up front than the norm for metal. But they were going for an ambient feel and this was a softer album (probably the softest besides "Haven"). But it is the essence of their sound IMO. Makes them different from In Flames and At the Gates. I have always liked the bass tone on "Projector" because if I had to learn it by ear it is very easy to hear. Sounds good no matter the speaker size or volume as well.

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4IIaVFuZ7Q&list=OLAK5uy_lISYv6CVeJnoPUe8X SCZgY331FzemR2DU&index=4

                              Something older like "Lethe" from "The Gallery" sounds much more like what I imagine an active pickup bass to sound like, or at least a passive bass playing through the bridge only.
                              I would never hipass guitars that high. The low E's fundamental is 80-something Hz. I feel that by hipassing higher than the fundamental, I pretty much neuter all balls from palm-mutes.

                              I hipass my guitars at 60-something Hz because I tune to C. I like my guitars very full-range, and I kinda dread the whole current forum ethos that guitars should only be midrange and nothing else matters in a guitar tone.

                              Honestly, that's making me re-think how high I used to hipass my bass. But things get crowded down there. I remember my kick punched at 40something Hz because that was what the sample I was using was like. I used the Steven Slate Drums kick that Joey Sturgis used for the Crabcore bands, LOL.

                              JMO, of course.
                              Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 10-24-2023, 04:37 PM.

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                              • #30
                                I cut that high up because a lot of consumer grade speakers are just garbage, especially soundbars and phones. I listen to a 5.1 system on my desktop. I find it adds a little clarity. I also lo pass around 5khz to prevent a lot of crap in the high end. That's probably lower than a lot of people would go. For me the struggle is around 2 khz where everything competes--snare, guitar, bass pick attack, vocal.

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