# TL071-based bass preamp

#### darkroom

Joined Oct 30, 2014
18
Hi! I'm trying to build a very simple (step by step) electric bass preamp based on the TL071 opamp. I choose that opamp since it's cheap and very easy to find, and seems that's a standard for this type of applications.

I'm not copying any design, I'm just learning through the process, so I would want to hear some recommendations up to this point.

Here's my current crude and basic circuit in LTSpice (already mounted on breadboard):

My rationale is:

* 100K resistor pair to bias the single-supply to VCC/2.
* 4k7 resistor pair to form "virtual ground" to VCC/2 ( I also tried 1K / 1K in breadboard to maximize waveform distortion)
* Pot_Gain: a potentiometer to control gain/drive level.

Of course, I expect my first approach (I'm a beginner, remember ) to be very crude.

I want some recommendation on my following thoughts:

- Does the 100K divider form a 50K ohm input impedance? I've seen audio circuits for electric guitar with 1M or 2M impedance at input. For electric bass, it's probably at the same league.
- Does the gain resistor (and the resistor network) affect the input impedance due to the feedback circuit? I tried fairly large values (470K or 1M) and the op-amp clipping seems very distorted (which is what I expected) but signal loss was evident.

Just for completion, here's the output waveform (after the C2 cap) for several pot_gain values from 5K to 100Kohm:

Thank you very much for your patience.

#### #12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
R6 and R7 are going to fight with R1 and R2. Throw them away and connect R5 to ground with a capacitor in series to eliminate the DC considerations.

Edit: Post #8 Crutschow did the math for us. 16 uf for a bottom limit of 10 Hz. 4 uf for a bottom limit of 40 Hz, but that's the -3db point. I would say 8 uf or larger so this capacitor has about zero effect at 40 Hz (bottom note on a typical bass guitar).

Yes, your R1 R2 are making the input impedance too low. This is where you add something like a meg to the input line from the junction of R1 R2. They make the voltage, the meg keeps the signal from leaking out through the voltage divider.

The limitation on how many megs depends on which op-amp you're using. The TL071 is a very good amplifier for creating a high input impedance. Some are better, but this one is good, and low noise, too.

The feedback loop does not affect input impedance. It is being driven by the amplifier, not the input signal.

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#### darkroom

Joined Oct 30, 2014
18
Thank you very much AACFanatic.

My first design included R5 to ground but it didn't work; I connected R5 to "virtual ground" circuit instead. Now thanks to your recommendation, amazingly, R5+capacitor to ground works!. How does it play with the VCC/2 bias and/or the "virtual ground" concept?

RC circuits are a kind of "replacement" for resistor-based voltage divider circuits like these?

Again, thank you for your patience.

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#### #12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
Actually, my name is Number Twelve...#12

You only need one "virtual ground". Make 2 of them and they are guaranteed to not be exactly the same, so you eliminate one with a capacitor to block DC flow and allow the AC gain determined by pot and R5 to continue.

The capacitors are frequency determining components. They pass nothing at DC and pass some current at higher frequencies. Capacitors are not resistors because they change their impedance according to frequency. Resistors are the same at all frequencies. Voltage dividers are made of resistors. Frequency limits are made with capacitors.

#### darkroom

Joined Oct 30, 2014
18
Awesome, thank you #12, i'll report my progress soon!

#### JWHassler

Joined Sep 25, 2013
299
Keep in mind that a capacitor to ground in your feedback network will make a high-pass filter (gain = 1 @ DC and (pot/R5+1) at high-frequencies.)
This will be important in a bass preamp.

#12

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,009
Actually, my name is Number Twelve...#12
If you were under 30, I think it would be read as, "hashtag twelve"!

#12

#### crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
31,140
Keep in mind that a capacitor to ground in your feedback network will make a high-pass filter (gain = 1 @ DC and (pot/R5+1) at high-frequencies.)
This will be important in a bass preamp.
Yes, for a value of 1kΩ for R5, the value of the capacitor to ground should be at least 16μF (electrolytic) for a high-pass corner frequency below 10Hz.

#12

#### Lestraveled

Joined May 19, 2014
1,946
The typical input impedance of a Fender Bassman amplifier is between 50K and 68K ohms. I think you should keep your input impedance in this range.

#### #12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
That's 68k to the first grid and 68k to ground (or the second instrument plugged into that channel). So, 136k if only one input.

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#### Lestraveled

Joined May 19, 2014
1,946
Guitar electronics is a mix of folk lore, cut and try, and who did it first. All, with little regard to us engineers and our ways of doing things.

The guitar input has a 68K resistor in series with it and the grid of the input tube, with a 68K resistor to ground, which acts as an attenuator and filter. The grid capacitance is in parallel with the 68K resistor connected to ground. This is a very common input configuration for guitar amps. The DC resistance is 2 X 68K = 136K, (which is meaningless at AC), but the AC impedance is lower than that.

So, what I am saying is that an preamp for a guitar is not a simple (flat) op-amp amplifier. It has to have a specific impedance verses frequency curve on the input.

#### #12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
Guitar electronics is a mix of folk lore, cut and try, and who did it first. All, with little regard to us engineers and our ways of doing things.
Amen to that!

However...I have designed amplifiers for a guitar player with an amazing sense of sound. One of them was an in-guitar pre-amp that was dead flat from 21Hz to 200 KHz, reduced the impedance to 150 ohms, and let him plug that into his amplifier. He loved it. This is in direct opposition to the idea that you have to have a specific impedance or frequency curve.

#### darkroom

Joined Oct 30, 2014
18
Guitar electronics is a mix of folk lore, cut and try, and who did it first. All, with little regard to us engineers and our ways of doing things.
Yes, totally correct. I would expand the "guitar electronics" concept to the "audio" world. There is not only folklore, but myths, mysticysm and pseudoscience. I care more about musicianship instead of endless cults to some "vintage" (or "NOS") component or miraculous machine.

Thank you.

#### #12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,224
The grid capacitance is in parallel with the 68K resistor connected to ground. This is a very common input configuration for guitar amps. The DC resistance is 2 X 68K = 136K, (which is meaningless at AC), but the AC impedance is lower than that.
The grid capacitance is 1.6 pf according to Tung-Sol
That's 4.9 meg at 20KHz.
In my estimation, that is not very important compared to the 18 pf PER FOOT of guitar cord.

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#### darkroom

Joined Oct 30, 2014
18
I've finally settled on a first design, with a decent sounding overdrive (at least in my equipment on my bass). I modified the input cap to 2.2uF and the capacitor-to-ground in the opamp feedback to 47uF (i got some 100uF on my toolbox but seems unnecessarily high).

Also the R1||R2 divider resistors were changed to 180K for a higher input impedance.

#### Lestraveled

Joined May 19, 2014
1,946
The grid capacitance is 1.6 pf according to Tung-Sol
That's 4.9 meg at 20KHz.
In my estimation, that is not very important compared to the 18 pf PER FOOT of guitar cord.
Good point.