No stupid questions: Active and passive plugs on amp head

While I would likely never pull the trigger on a purchase of one due to my not needing it at all, it hasn’t stopped me from lusting after a sexy amp stack. One thing I see on a bunch of the heads that I’ve liked are separate inputs for active and passive signals.


So if I have both active and passive bass guitars, do I need to constantly swap between the two plugs as I change guitars? If I’m running my signal through a bunch of pedals first does that change which one I would use?


In short, you can probably use the passive one for everything unless your active bass was overdriving the input very easily and you didn’t like it, you would swap to the other one
Both my amps have this but it seems that on one of my amps the impedance is different between the slots where as on the other amp it just seems to be a pad
As far as the pedals go since you can usually adjust your output from the pedals the passive will probably be ok but if you run your signal hot then you might like the other input better
So you would just need to try with your setup and see how it all pans out as to whether you can get away with always on the passive input


Hi @mr.crispy!

@g13dip is correct, you can start with the passive input and then go from there.

The inputs behave differently, and the “Passive” input gives you more gain, or a “louder” signal. The Active input can sound cleaner - but this also depends on the guitar and how much you drive the amp.

Passive/High Impedance = for passive instruments, it should have more gain
Active/Low Impedance = for active instruments and perhaps microphones/line level stuff.

I ran into this when I accidentally plugged myself into the “Low Impedance” input. My passive bass was very quiet. :laughing:

Have a look here: Amp FAQ: What’s the difference between high and low inputs on an amp anyway?



It also affects the tone, specifically the high end. You want a high impedance input for instruments in general, where as line level signals will do fine with the other input.

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Thank for clearing that up for me!