I've had this Ibanez BTB 405 that I've been playing for years, its always required 2 9 Volt batteries so I've always assumed it was equipped with active pickups.

However, someone told me that I do not have active pickups, I have an active preamp built into the bass, and that there is a significant difference.

Every time I look for the specs of the bass, the retailers that list the bass list it as having active pickups, however those are all equipped with Bartolini pickups, and mine came stock with Ibanez soapbars. So I can't be sure.

It doesn't make much a difference to me, I could care less if it was active or passive, the reason I'm asking is because I play on a number of amps for the bands I practice with.

I usually switch my amps to the "Active pickup" setting because I've always thought I had active pickups, but the other day I noticed when I switched it to the passive setting, the tone was alot more "boomy". I took a liking to the subtle change, but was warned that not having the amp configured right could screw it up - and I'm in no position to be replacing any bass amps. So, what the professional take on this situation?
Treble>Epiphone Prophecy EX - MXR micro Amp - MXR Blue Box - MXR Fullbore - MXR Noise Clamp - Vox AD30VT
Bass>Ibanez BTB505 - MXR Blowtorch - MXR D.I. - Peavey MaxBass 700 - Peavey TVX410
Last edited by Vypor at Jan 30, 2012,
Active pickups are pickups are different from active preamps. Active pickups have less windings on them so produce a weaker signal (but with better treble response) and so need a battery to increase the voltage to the same sort of level that passive pickups put out.

A preamp (what is most commonly meant when someone says "my bass has active pickups") is a circuit that boosts the signal, and usually contains some sort of tone shaping circuitry (also requiring a battery)

The BTB (I am pretty certain) contains passive pickups, and a preamp (the most common sort of "active bass"). In fact, unless you have EMGs or MECs, it's probably very unlikely that your instrument has active pickups.

Now, the inputs on your amp. Essentially the "active" input has less gain than the "passive" input, to try and compensate between the two different types of instrument. This could, potentially, lead you to overloading the preamp on your amp, but other than that, I doubt much will happen.
Current Gear:

Warwick Thumb BO 4
Musicman "StatusRay" Stingray 4 - Carbon Fibre Neck
Musicman Stingray 5 HH
Sadowsky MV4 Jazz

Markbass LittleMark II
AccuGroove Tri12l
Sansamp VT Bass
Line6 BassPodXT Live

Eh... they TECHNICALLY told you correctly. But confused you in the process.

While almost ubiquitously referred to as active pickups, the pre-amp is what needs the battery. Both the pickup AND the pre-amp are collectively referred to as "Active Pickups".
"Punk Rock should mean freedom, liking and accepting anything that you like, as sloppy as you want, as long as it's good and has passion."
It doesn't matter what jack you plug into unless it sounds bad to your ears.

If it's distorting, turn down the gain. If that doesn't help, use the active input.
In the bass chat:

<Jon> take the quote of me out your sig plx
<Jon> i hate seeing what i said around lol

Leader of the Bass Militia PM to join!

And now on BANDCAMP!

Officially the funniest member of the Bass Forum.
Quote by Nutter_101
It doesn't matter what jack you plug into unless it sounds bad to your ears.

If it's distorting, turn down the gain. If that doesn't help, use the active input.


So has anyone ever used a pedal with a lot of gain and switched the active switch on their amp? Same sound less loud?
I actually read the manual to my amp!
It suggests using the passive input first. If there's distortion, then switch to the active input.

It's also taken the step of not talking about pickups at all -- it talks about passive instuments and active insturments, the latter having a preamp.