J-Style Bass Pickups and Active Electronics

Do JBE J-Style Bass pickups work with on active Pre-amps/EQ?

Many bassists use active electronics on their J-Basses to get a variety of different tones that a flexible EQ can offer.  At the same time, some active electronics can flatten the tone of passive pickups as the signal traverses the circuit.   The answer to the question of whether J-Styles work with active electronics is a qualified, yes.

JBE J-Style Bass pickups will work with active circuitry…. BUT, I qualify the answer based on the ability of the active electronics to support several key features. Specifically:

  • Passive Bypass
  • Input sensitivity adjustment

Passive Bypass

For optimal performance you should be able to route the J-Style signal around the electronics.  A bypass switch or feature should be available for this purpose.   The native passive tone of the J-Styles gives bassists’ superior tone and performance.  However, when the signal passes thru active circuitry the circuit can color it.  Will the J-Styles work with most active electronics?  Yes. But depending on the nature of the circuit design of the active electronics some or much of the sonic benefit of the J-Styles can be lost.

Active electronics that offer a true bypass capability, allowing the J-Style’s signals to be routed around the circuitry, work best and deliver the full sonic benefits of the J-Styles.

Input Sensitivity

Our J-Style bass pickups deliver a strong, articulate and noise-free signal that bassists’ prize.   Active electronics operate best when the circuit board receives an input signal from the pickups that are within the design tolerances of the circuitry.   For some circuits there is no issue, while for others the input signal from the pickups may overdrive the input stage resulting in poor tone.

For optimal performance an on-board input sensitivity adjustment pot or DIP-switch can buffer the signal to keep it within the design spec of the circuit board.  This allows the J-Styles to mate better with active circuits that must see levels within their design tolerances.

Active or Passive?  Which way should I go?

When you want the flexibility of on-board EQ, active electronics can provide this but can also rob the tone of the musicality inherent in the instrument and passive pickups like our J-Styles, so be careful in your selection of a quality active pre-amp/EQ.

If you are looking for pristine bass tone that is strong, clear, articulate, and that allows you to stand out in the mix, you owe it to yourself to be able to use the J-Styles in their native mode using bypass switching.  Some bassists reported to us that they have eliminated active circuitry altogether after installing a set of J-Styles in their 4 or 5 string active J-Basses.

But, only you can decide what is best for you.   So, when considering J-Styles for your active J-Bass, determine if the circuitry has the features cited above.   If looking for a new Active EQ to mate with your J-Style-equipped bass, ensure that those same capabilities are available when making a decision among the various active EQ products on the market.