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Preamp question


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I'm thinking of upgrading my bass rig and I have a question about preamps.

 

I have a bass with passive pickups and a built in preamp. My question is: If I use an outboard preamp, will it ''improve'' my sound? Or maybe I don't need one since I already have one in my bass? What does the preamp actually do? I have no idea.

 

I hardly know anything about these stuff so I appreciate all answers you can give me.

 

Thanks! :)

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A preamp's purpose is to alter your sound to your liking (or unliking in some cases). You can theoretically go right into a power amp, but all you'll get is whatever tone your bass gives you. If you like the preamp on your bass and you need nothing more, I believe it is possible to run without an outboard preamp. I wouldn't do it myself simply because I only use the controls on my bass to fine tune when it's inconvenient to run over and do it on my amp. Basically, yes you can do without an outboard preamp, but it will give you limitations that having that extra preamp eliminates.
Don't drink and drive. Get high and fly there.
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The on board "preamp" is really a misnomer.

 

It's better thought of as an "active eq circuit".

 

There are very, very few on board units that have the gain necessary to drive an amp properly and those that can require that you turn everything up to 10 and beat the heck out of the strings to generate 1.5V so you end up with zero control of tone.

 

A true instrument preamp be it seperate or integrated, is doing a lot more work then just giving you EQ.

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Originally posted by Mikael S:

I have a bass with passive pickups and a built in preamp. My question is: If I use an outboard preamp, will it ''improve'' my sound? Or maybe I don't need one since I already have one in my bass? What does the preamp actually do? I have no idea.

 

The 'preamp' in your bass? Well, let's just forget about it for a second, okay? It probably does a bunch of cool stuff, but it does not replace the preamp needed in the amplification system.

 

So what is in a bass amp? Generally, a preamp section, an eq section, and an amplification section. The amp may or may not have speakers.

 

So, some people insist that a seperate preamp, amp, and speakers is the only way to go. Others think that a good quality bass amp will fill the bill.

 

Both positions are valid. Just let me suggest to you that a pile of low end seperates is not going to sound as good as a well designed good quality bass amp. In my opinion, most bass players are well served to buy a good bass amp and to worry about their playing.

 

But if you are working on a signature sound, have the money to buy the best in seperates and the ear to appreciate it, and don't mind an aching back from carting it all around, go for the gold. There is no doubt that a $5k preamp, $10k amp and some custom designed speaker cabinets can be assembled that will sound better than the typical off the shelf bass amp.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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The three primary components of your bass rig are: preamp, amplifier, and speakers. Depending on what your buy, any or all of those can be together in one unit or separate entities.

 

the preamp - Boosts output signal of your instrument and shapes your instrument's tone.

 

amplifier - supplies the power to drive your speaker(s).

 

speakers - produce the actual noises

 

Most amplifiers require far greater input signal strength than your instrument can send it, which is why a preamp of some sort (even if it's just extra gain controls) is absolutely necessary.

 

Here is an example of a preamp (I'm an SWR whore, sue me. :D )

 

Here is an example of an amplifier

 

Here is an example of a preamp/amplifier combo (most of the time, these are referred to as 'heads'.. I'm sure there is some wonderful pieces of trivia as to why they got this name)

 

Here is an example of the entire package in one unit

 

Here is an example of a bad ass speaker cab

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Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

Originally posted by Mikael S:

I have a bass with passive pickups and a built in preamp. My question is: If I use an outboard preamp, will it ''improve'' my sound? Or maybe I don't need one since I already have one in my bass? What does the preamp actually do? I have no idea.

 

The 'preamp' in your bass? Well, let's just forget about it for a second, okay? It probably does a bunch of cool stuff, but it does not replace the preamp needed in the amplification system.

 

So what is in a bass amp? Generally, a preamp section, an eq section, and an amplification section. The amp may or may not have speakers.

 

So, some people insist that a seperate preamp, amp, and speakers is the only way to go. Others think that a good quality bass amp will fill the bill.

 

Both positions are valid. Just let me suggest to you that a pile of low end seperates is not going to sound as good as a well designed good quality bass amp. In my opinion, most bass players are well served to buy a good bass amp and to worry about their playing.

 

But if you are working on a signature sound, have the money to buy the best in seperates and the ear to appreciate it, and don't mind an aching back from carting it all around, go for the gold. There is no doubt that a $5k preamp, $10k amp and some custom designed speaker cabinets can be assembled that will sound better than the typical off the shelf bass amp.

 

Bill

HHMMM. My $425 preamp and $650 power amp sounds better than any of the number of off the rack (pun inteded) quality amps that I've owned,and its lighter than most,so I must be really lucky. My speakers are garden variety Ampeg,too.

Theres nothing wrong with a good amp head,but this statement just isn't true. Maybe it was 15 or more years ago,but the stuff sounds just fine to my ears these days and I know people who have spent even less on good sounding preamps and power amps. Thats my story and I'm stickin' to it. :D

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Originally posted by DONUTHOLE:

There is no doubt that a $5k preamp, $10k amp and some custom designed speaker cabinets can be assembled that will sound better than the typical off the shelf bass amp.

 

Bill

HHMMM. My $425 preamp and $650 power amp sounds better than any of the number of off the rack (pun inteded) quality amps that I've owned,and its lighter than most,so I must be really lucky. My speakers are garden variety Ampeg,too.

Theres nothing wrong with a good amp head,but this statement just isn't true. [/QB]

I did say "there is no doubt...", and I followed with high dollar options, and I think that is very true. (There certainly was an incredible sonic difference when I changed from a $1k amplifier to a $9,500 amp in my monitor system!)I have no doubt that someone fielding a boutique setup of that quality will have a great sounding rig. That does not say that there are not good rigs for less.

 

BUT... you're saying that for $1075, there isn't a head that compares to your seperates? Nothing out there is near as good? And the difference isn't just a matter of preference, but actually a matter of superior tonal quality? Interesting. You should share that setup with the group.

 

For what it is worth, I see a lot of concerts. Most artists (not all artists) are using pretty stock rigs. There is a lot of snake oil being sold to local musicians, and they seem to be particularly succeptable to the wiles of these salesmen. I'm all for buying quality. I believe in it stongly. But I am not a fan of more boxes/pedals/etc/etc just to carry more than the next guy, or to try to look cool. Ashdown, Ampeg, Gallien, SWR... there are plenty of great bass amp choices, with flexible front ends and great amplification. Most players do not need to go to seperate preamp and amplifiers to get good quality sound and plenty of power. It is a choice, not a need.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I agree - choice not need.

 

I have gone through a ridiculous amount of gear over the last 3 years. I have had many nice combinations of preamps, poweramps, heads, cabs, effects, etc.

 

While I can't find a combo amp (unless I spend $2,000) that fits my needs, I have gone back to a basic head and cab set-up. The head is a good old SWR Bass 350. The cab, a Bergantino HT112. There are a couple toys I use, but basically that's it. SImple, loud if I need it, dependable, portable.

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You're right. Its personal taste.Its not a need,and I would never say that it was,or that one was better than the other. I just simply said that it wasn't true that a well designed head is always going to sound better,and you don't need to spend huge coin to get something that sounds good. Why would you want to tell the starter of this thread that? Why would those of us who own pre/power have them? Bad taste? I'm sorry if you took it that way. I even said that there is nothing wrong with a good amp head.It just so happens that a rack works best for some of us. OUR choice.And by the way,my rack weighs in at around 40 pounds which isn't GK light,but its certainly not a bitch to haul around,like you seem to want us to believe.

 

Then to say that a persons time would be better used worrying about playing seems a bit arrogant and maybe aimed at those of us that own these rigs. Wouldn't using the systems that sounds best to us be the right thing for our playing? I know I play better when I'm hearing what I want to hear. Thank you Jeff Berlin,but my playing is just fine,and I don't care what you think I should be doing with my time and niether should anyone else.Its called tact. Look it up.

 

Pissing contest? No. I just wanted to make myself clear. I thought you were wrong. This is all I'm going to say.

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