Price paid: $ 50
Purchased from: Guitarheads.net
Sound: I bought a set of these to populate my Flying V. I wanted a high gain pickup that would push an amp into overdrive naturally and the output of these pickups is really high like an EMG 81. I play through a Marshall Mode 4 stack, but I've used this with many different rigs (direct into a sound card), combos (Proel Stinger 100 watt 1x12 and Marshall JCM900 combo), stacks (Stinger 200 watt, Marshall Mode Four, Marshall MGX50 stack, Crate GL120 Stack) and rack gear (100 watt Marshall EL84 stereo power amp and a JMP1 preamp).
Tonally, the pickups are fairly well balanced, but that's going to depend entirely on you're setup. I can't compare them to other pickups in the dame guitar as its the only pickup I used in this one. Compared to EMG 81's and 707's I have to say the the Guitarheads Active is up there with them, in fact I get a better tone that my friend who has a mid range ESP Viper 7 string with 707's in it!
I haven't tried the neck pickup in the V. I still have it here in my gear box. You will need 25k pots with this pickup and I suggest you spend a bit on some decent ones. I actually use a 47k volume pot and nothing else. I'm a firm believer that the less pots in the way of the pickups signal will achieve better tone, and having one volume pot works ok for me.
Most noticeable is the increase in harmonic resonance. The tone just came to life when I started using this. All of a sudden, it was far easier to pull off harmonic pinch's on the 1st fret. Rated at 7 because its not a job I would recommend beginners or inexperienced people tackle, and the specific pots you need to run actives, plus finding somewhere for the battery (Neck pickup holes make good battery compartments!) // 7
Reliability & Durability: I've been using it for a number of years and as of yet, this pickup hasn't let me down at all. I change the battery periodically and hoover out any dirt that gets into the guitar. So far, the only think that needed fixing was a faulty 25k pot supplied by Guitarheads which lasted about a month. My local Maplins don't stiock 25k pots, but sticking a 47K pot in there didn't hurt! // 7
Overall Impression: I love the gain I get from this. It pushes an amp far harder than a passive equivalent. I hate the pickup surrounds and extras that Guitarheads supply because they are basically cheap rubbish compared to the pickups. As I said, in the bridge of my Flying V and I get oodles of lovely gain sound through any amp. Most suited to metal players, this is a cheap way to take a plunge into the world of active electronics nad they sound far better than their cheap price would have you believe. // 8