By Dave Eichenberger
When looking over the history of popular music, it is safe to say that passive basses are really the most common of the basses used. After all, this is what Leo Fender designed, when active circuitry in a bass was still 30 years away. But these days, bassists need more options. Maybe they get tired of everything being geared towards guitarists, from most pedals to most magazines. Modern bassists playing a variety of styles can benefit from the features of an active system: an expanded dynamic range, and the ability to boost or cut bass, treble, and mid frequencies. This article will explain the active pickups we have available for your beloved P-Bass, and showcase a few preamps that will help you get the most out of your active system.
Lightnin’ Rods P-Bass
Do you love the look of a traditional P-Bass pickup, but want the benefits of an active system? The Lightnin’ Rods P-Bass pickup looks like its passive cousin, but beneath that vintage cover, it hides a higher-output vintage voice that is ideal for when you want a vintage tone, only louder. Alnico V magnets and 3-conductor lead wire will insure that it fits into any American P-Bass, while the audience guesses how you can get such a dynamic sound out of a bass that looks like it has a vintage pickup in it.. These are also available in a PJ configuration, for those that like that sort of thing.
Pro Active P-Bass
Our take on a modern active P-Bass pickup, the Pro-Active P-Bass looks sleek and sexy with it’s all black cover hiding the power within. Years ago, when we built this line with 3 microswitches, we found that bassists mostly kept them on one setting. We hardwired that setting right into these modern versions, so you don’t have to mess with microscopic switches between your groovin’ bass lines. These are ready to be wired right into your favorite preamp, too, so you can boost or cut each frequency band.
Pro Active PJ Bass
If you have one of those fancy-schmancy PJ basses, and need a kick in output, check out the Pro-Active PJ Set. Combining increased clarity with increased low-mids, the Pro Active PJ Set looks and feels very modern, and sits in dense mixes just right. This set also comes with volume, active bass & treble pots and a special jack that turns the battery off when you are not plugged in. We even included hookup wire so your will be ready to rock right away. This set is perfect for those with hybrid PJ designs that are looking for a more aggressive tone.
Keep in mind, that with any bass pickup, it might help to use a compressor pedal specifically voiced for bass.
3 Band Active Bass Preamp
To get the most out of an active pickup system, you’re gonna need a great preamp. Perfect for 2 pickup designs, the 3 Band Active Bass Preamp takes advantage of the benefits of having active pickups. It combines 3 band active EQ (with stacked bass and treble), a blend knob and a proprietary Slap Switch via push/pull volume knob for a special pre-set EQ designed for slap playing. Now, you can control your cut or boost bass, mids, and treble separately, and still have control over the pre-set EQ function with 2 trip pots on the circuitboard. All you need is a bass with a big enough cavity to fit the 4 control knobs, PC board, and battery inside. Comes with knobs, pots, jack & wire…everything except the battery.
2 Band Active Bass Preamp
If you want to preserve the look of your bass, and don’t need all of the options, the 2 Band Active Bass Preamp is another option for a 2 pickup bass. Much like our 3 Band Active Preamp, the 2 Band version includes the Slap Switch and the PC-mounted trim pots. You will get the best active bass and treble control out there, with the ability to boost or cut specifically-chosen frequencies to get the best modern or vintage bass tones, and everything in between. We include everything you need: wired harness including pots, jack, knobs and PC board. You supply the 9 volt battery and the bass. For extra headroom, you can even wire in a second 9 volt battery.
For wiring options with our active P-Bass pickups, check out our groovy wiring diagram page.
Do you ever use an active bass? Who gets your favorite modern bass tones?