Favorite Active Bass?

I have a G&L Tribute L2000 bass and I think it sounds great, lots of variety of tone but it’s so heavy and I don’t love the way the electronics work on it. The two-band EQ is cut only and there’s no single coil mode without modding it.

I’m curious for those that own/have used active basses what your favorites are and maybe what recommendations you’d have for someone interested in an active bass that’s light-ish, has good electronics, and can achieve modern active bass tones and vintage tones well.


2 of my basseses are active basseseseses. First is my ESP LTD 5 String Fretless. If “light” is your goal then this isn’t it. I mentioned in the “how much does your bass weigh” thread that even though my LTD is in the lower end of weights, it feels like it weighs a metric ton.

Oddly enough, my other active bass (Spector NS Dimension) is my heaviest and it doesn’t feel like it weighs much more than my Stratocaster. Super light feeling. If you want versatility, the Fluence system on the Spectors is fan-freakin’-tastic. I can make it sound like a modern rock bass then flip a switch and it’ll have that old school swept mids P-bass growl, flip it to the final position and with the volume knob pulled out it can sound indistinguishable from my Fender Jazz bass. It’s not cheap but dang that guitar can do pretty much anything you want to do.


I have three great active basses from the affordable to…$$$$.

The first two are distinctly different Sire Marcus Miller models: the M5 and what I consider the best Jazz bass available, the killer Signature V8.

Each of these have a Marcus Heritage 3-band preamp that can produce a huge variety of tones.

My other active bass is a Mayones Jabba custom with a Mayo M-BP3 3-band preamp that turns tonal production to 11.

The M5 is lightweight: under 8 pounds. The V8 and Mayones are average weight: 8-9 pounds.

I lucked into great deals on my Sires (M5 from Thomann; V8 from Pitbull Audio). The Mayones costs what it costs.

If you’re looking for a simply great active bass of great value, check out Sire Marcus Miller. The preamp is only the beginning of the great features Sire packs into their basses.


My favorite is a Ibanez EHB1500 with a 3 band EQ, but it also has a mid sweep so you can adjust the frequency of the midrange your boosting/cutting.

Sire makes good basses with electronics, good value for the money, but are not light. My Sire V7 was heavy AF, but it was an earlier gen and I think they’re doing better. My D5 is 9ish pounds.

Ibanez is an option. Something like an SR500 has a 3 band EQ and will come in under 8 pounds. It doesn’t have a sweep but a toggle to let you choose the mid range you boost/cut

They’re others but that’s what I have experience with.


Early Sire models were heavy indeed, especially for having been made with Alder bodies. Both my M5 and V8 have Swamp Ash bodies (my Mayones, too).

The V8 has a few ounces on the Mayones, but it’s beautifully balanced. Coupled with a padded Pinegrove strap, it is very comfortable for me. YMMV


I’ve got two active bases, a 20+ year old Spector and a Dingwall Combustion.

The Spector is pretty growly. It only has a 2 band EQ, it’s cut and boost, and unless you dial it back, is pretty full on. For the right kind of track, it rocks and makes you want to grab it by the neck and play!

The Dingwall is excellent. It’s a two pick up version, rather than the three, but it has a huge tonal range. You can solo the bridge / neck pick ups, or run them in series or parallel. In active mode, there is a there band EQ, with cut and boost on each. Flick the switch and the bass becomes passive with the tonal range offered by clicking through the pick up selection. It should be noted that the 3-band EQ doss not work in passive mode, but ti be honest, it still sounds freakin’ great! Obviously, a Dingwall comes with the multiscale set up. It takes, ummmm, 3 minutes to get used to it and it’s bloody lovely. The frets are also banjo frets, have a go on one, it’s quite a revaluation.


Yamaha BB734A. I have now owned two.

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Sire V8, totally not biased because that’s my main… :joy:


I’m certain it’s your main for many, many reasons. :+1:


Watched a bunch of videos based on the recommendations and so far I think the Sire M5 is the frontrunner… I don’t really care for the look of it but the price for that sound seems really really good.

I really like the sound of the Specter NS options but they are bit too pricey.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sire punches waaaaaaaaaay above its weight. What they lack in color options they make up for in every other aspect of their features and quality thereof.


The L Series basses are kind of a hybrid passive/active deal where the Tri-Tone EQ controls are 100% passive and the preamp will only boost volume a bit or add treble meant to offset longer cable runs. You can run an L Series bass without the preamp engaged and even with the battery removed.

The M Series bass like mine is G&L fully active. It does use an always on 18v preamp with a 3 band EQ and a blend pot rather than the switches used on the L Series basses. But no stock single coil mode either unless there’s a way for their custom shop to do it. The L Series can be ordered with the K mod.

I had an L2500 and like you and others the kind of versatility I was after I found in an M2000. Mine is an ash body Tribute model that weighs around 8.5 lbs give or take an ounce or two so I would say it’s “light-ish” and I believe the key to modern vs vintage is much the same with all MFD pickups.

For a more vintage tonality simply roll back on the volume knob. I’ve found this to be true on all three of the G&L’s I’ve owned or own; an L2500, and M2000, and a Kiloton. Dropping the pickup height is another way to tame the higher output of those pickups, even the under wound M2000 version.

If you find you’re not happy with the electronics of an L2000 you might try the M2000 and find it gets you exactly what you’re looking for like I did. Since G&L no longer offers new Tribute M2000s you’ll need to look at used ones like I did. They aren’t plentiful but they are out there. Mine can from Sam Ash.


I love the M’s lol, had an M2 in the past, liked the blue (that arguably often looks more green) on that than the more see through on the M5 :sweat_smile:

The silky smooth necks and rolled fret/board edges are worth it alone though! Can’t not like those lol


Interesting question - especially since it took me a few minutes to come up with an active bass in the brood that I’d call “favorite”. Had to actually go down and look. Had to also think about what the active part actually got me, which changed my mind from my initial call of the Fender Marcus Miller. But then I remembered that the active circuit isn’t the be all and all, then thought about the Lakland 5er, but then again, it’s the pickups doing the heavy lifting - so - it goes to … and it kinda makes the most sense - my testbed bass that still has the SIMS quad coils in it, for the simple reason that the active circuit gives me 16 different basses in one.

But this question made me realize that in general I don’t think much about active basses as a feature.


I gotta admit, I wasn’t a fan of the looks of the M5 before I got mine, but I love it now. It’s a super-comfortable body shape and it plays so damned effortlessly. It’s a stupid-great deal for its Swamp Ash body, Ebony fretboard, ridiculously great pups and Marcus Heritage preamp, thin 12” profile rolled-edge neck, etc.

If you haven’t already, check out Thomann. Great prices on Sires and superb service.


I’ve only got one so guess it has to be my favourite - it’s the Schecter Riot 4 with EMGs. I’ve still got a lot to learn to describe it properly, but I love the feel, the look and the boom, boom, clank, clank :metal::metal:

It’s similar in price to the Spector Dimension though.

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I don’t own an active bass, yet.
(I have two passive basses. A Fender Player Jazz Bass (fretted) and a Squire Classic Vibe '60s Fretless)
However, I do have some questions.
Would an active fretless bass offer more sound/tone variety?
Does anyone have any specific active fretless bass recommendations?
Are there any active fretless basses anyone has owned or played that they really like?

Yes. Depending on the given preamp, it could potentially boost/cut treble/mids/bass to shape essentially any tone you might want.


I agree with this. It took me quite sometime to hit me, it’s music easier to look the other route, my passive basses which are not many, lol. One active bass stands out from the crowd, Fender ultra noiseless jazz pickups and preamp. It’s probably the worst out of the bunch. It’s quite noisy and hummy not fun.

List of favorites

Cheap and cheerful
Squier contemporary jazz and precision I have both. It’s closest to the Marcus Miller’s Sadowsky preamp, HiFi thick active tone.

Everyday MusicMan.
Except for a handful of models, most of MusicMan basses are active and they are super awesome. 2 or 3 band EQ.

Signature models
Nathan East BBNE2, the variable mid knobs (magic box) is really useful in lives and studio environments.

Mij reissued Marcus Miller with John East Marcus retro preamp, this is one of the decked out preamp I’ve tried on any of my bass, really cool tone, and more importantly it’s 100% Marcus Miller tone.

Too many personally modded active pickup from EMG, Delano, and others. I could spend hours talking about each of them and why I love the tone. :joy:


Yeah the desirable “mawh” comes from pickup position and how the mid is dialed. Rounds or flats doesn’t make as big of the difference as how it’s dialed.

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