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Whats the difference between active and passive pickups?


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Active has a preamp either within the pickup (like some EMG) or in the control cavity. A passive bass does not, basic mag pickup and the usual controls.

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An active bass has a small onboard pre-amp which shapes the signal before it leaves the bass. The pre-amp is powered by either one or two 9-volt batteries.


A passive bass has no powered on-board tone shaping system.


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An true active pickup has a small internal preamp and is powered. An active bass can have these or have passive pickups going to a preamp in the cavity that is powered. You can also run a passive bass (no power/battery) to a external outboard preamp such as an Aguilar DB924 or Sadowsky before your amp and achieve about the same thing.

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Two separate issues...


*** Pickups ***

Active (least common): smaller magnet so it has less "pull" on the strings, has built-in preamp, requires battery

Passive (most common): bigger magnet, no power required


*** Electronics (EQ) ***

Can be used with both "active" or "passive" pickups.

Can have "boost", "gain" or both in various frequency-ranges, as well as overall volume

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