#1
Ok, I've never owned a guitar with active pickups. I know nothing about them other than the fact that they require a battery. If you don't use a battery will they still work? What are the benefits, if any, over regular pickups?
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#2
No the battery basically powers them it wont work without it

They basically have more gain then regular pickups so they are more geared towards the hard rock/metal player.
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#3
Nope. No sound without batteries.

Advantages? They can be much higher output and can offer greater variation on tone before the sound reaches the amplifier itself.
#5
anyone who has experience... do the batteries need changing often? and is it a pain to do?
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#6
Since I love metal they sound like a great idea. But, how low will the batteries last? On average?
Gear:
B.C. Rich Warlock Nj Series
Ibanez TBX150R 2x12 (Crap/Junk, don't buy one)
Original Crybaby
Boss MT-2
Boss DD-3
Boss CS-2
Boss FV500H Volume Pedal

I Hate Everyone
#7
Quote by Sokkeh
anyone who has experience... do the batteries need changing often? and is it a pain to do?

Not at all on both counts. I'm not sure of an estimate for time, but it was a while.
Quote by Cole419
Active Pickups = Heavy ****in' Metal!!!

Not necessarily. There's more to active pickups than the EMG 81. Take these, for example. I firmly maintain that they can do anything you want them to.

Also, an addendum to my last post: they're typically a lot less noisy than passives.
#8
every 3 months you want to replace the battires, just to keep it sounding good, but if you leave your guitar pluged in it will kill it 5 million times faster. DO NOT LEAVE ACTIVE GUITAR PLUGGED IN. i replace my battire every time i change strings.
#9
Quote by GraveMistake
Ok, I've never owned a guitar with active pickups. I know nothing about them other than the fact that they require a battery. If you don't use a battery will they still work? What are the benefits, if any, over regular pickups?

pros: high gain with clarity and a wide frequency response.
cons: sterile tone, characterless, zero transparency
#10
After having used both EMGs and passives, i gotta say passives sound much better. Alot of folks say the EMG-81 is THE pickup for metal, but to my ears at least, the X2N ****s all over any high gain actives EMG puts out. In the end its all about what sounds better.
#11
Quote by al112987
pros: high gain with clarity and a wide frequency response.
cons: sterile tone, characterless, zero transparency


You can't mix active and passive and actives.
There is 100 times more variety in passive.
Actives have ****ty to mediocre clean sounds.
The sound quality starts to go down when the battery starts to get low.

The best for metal but pretty crappy for anything else.
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#12
Hm that reminds me, it's about time I replace the battery in my bass.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
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#13
the kind of wood your guitar is made of also changes the tone from the PUPs
mahogany and EMGs are sweet IMO
#14
The thing you need to remember with active pickups is there's not point getting them if you're not going to dedicate your entire rig to them.

If you use pedals for overdrive, fuzz, gain boosts or distortion, there is no point in active pickups.
If you use an amp's preamp gain control, there is no point using active pickups.
If you do not already fully crank your amp, there is no point using active pickups.
If you don't know how to use an EQ, there is no point using active pickups.
If your amp is not naturally high-gain, there is no point using active pickups.
If your amp is a solid state or hybrid amp, there is no point using active pickups.
If you ever want a usable clean tone and can't have/don't want a second amp set up for that with a line select footswitch, there is no point using active pickups.

In any of those instances, passive pickups will be a vastly better choice.
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#15
you have to have batteries because it uses the power from the battery to power the active circuits in the pickups. This produces more gain and they are much more sensitive. You want to unplug your guitar after you play it because leaving it plugged in will drain the batteries. They usually last quite a while so its not a huge pain. Depends on ur music stylewhether you want them or not. Just watch some youtube videos.
Stay thirsty my friends...


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#16
Quote by GraveMistake
Ok, I've never owned a guitar with active pickups. I know nothing about them other than the fact that they require a battery. If you don't use a battery will they still work? What are the benefits, if any, over regular pickups?


not a dumb question - if you've never had them, you wouldn't know right?

consider active pickups like an amp in your guitar..they are going to push more sound by amplifying it before sending it to your amp. you'll get a more powerful tone - at least from my experiences.
#17
Quote by MrFlibble

If you ever want a usable clean tone and can't have/don't want a second amp set up for that with a line select footswitch, there is no point using active pickups.

In any of those instances, passive pickups will be a vastly better choice.

What, why a second amp?
#18
Because your first one is busy being driven hard by the actives - exactly what is supposed to be happening.

You can't just put a stop to that though. You can roll the volume way back, but active pickups you'll still be causing some overdrive. It's also not really a practical solution if you ever need to switch from dirty to clean tones instantly.

So you get a second amp set up that is naturally lower gain. You don't crank it as hard, as hopefully even with active pickups you should still get a fairly clean tone out of it. Combine with a line footswitch and you can then change from dirty to clean tones instantly.

Even then though, that's making the best of a bad situation. You'd still be better off with passive pickups.
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#19
Hmmm, what about amps with multiple channels? Mine I have volume and gain controls for both channels, so I don't see why you'd need two amps if you can have one good versatile one. Just sayin.
#20
I was looking at a guitar that came with active pickups. I am starting to think that I don't want them. I like to play clean as well and want a nice full sound. Maybe time to consider a different guitar.
Gear:
B.C. Rich Warlock Nj Series
Ibanez TBX150R 2x12 (Crap/Junk, don't buy one)
Original Crybaby
Boss MT-2
Boss DD-3
Boss CS-2
Boss FV500H Volume Pedal

I Hate Everyone
#21
i got emgs in my g-400 and hte cleans are pretty nice imo, iv also played my buddys gibson and the cleans wernt that much nicer, barely noticable imo
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#22
Quote by JimmyBanks6
i got emgs in my g-400 and hte cleans are pretty nice imo, iv also played my buddys gibson and the cleans wernt that much nicer, barely noticable imo

Yeah if you played through a crap SS practice amp as I assume you did.

[waits for a lie saying that you actually played through (insert good amp name here)]

TS if you want good cleans don't get a guitar with active p-ups, you can find plenty passive pick-ups that can do metal just as well and have good cleans.
Last edited by G-man05 at Jan 27, 2009,
#23
Quote by G-man05
Yeah if you played through a crap SS practice amp as I assume you did.

[waits for a lie saying that you actually played through (insert good amp name here)]

TS if you want good cleans don't get a guitar with active p-ups, you can find plenty passive pick-ups that can do metal just as well and have good cleans.



well it was my buddys amp, it was a peavey 5150 huge thing, dunno how good htey are though. you tell me lol.
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Quote by jimmyled
jimmybanks youre a genius.


aparently i ar smrt?
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jimmybanks youre a genius


GO SENS GO
#24
Quote by JimmyBanks6
well it was my buddys amp, it was a peavey 5150 huge thing, dunno how good htey are though. you tell me lol.

The cleans on the 5150 left a lot to be desired, in my opinion.

But TS, active pickups don't equal bad clean tone. It all depends on which pickups.
If it is the stereotypical EMG 81, well then yeah, the cleans will be lacking.
If you want a huge output for the bridge and a warmer, smoother tone for the neck, put a Dimarzio X2N or a Gibson 500T in the bridge (arguably the hottest passive pickups) and a Seymour Duncan Jazz or Pearly Gates in the neck.

But if the guitar you're looking at comes with the EMG 81 + 85 combo, the cleans won't be great.
Member of the Laney Cult
#25
I think epiphone have just released an active p-up that can go to non battery,normal pick-up (I don't know what you would call it).
I'm not sure though.
Seagulls,the chicken of the ocean.

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Everyone just jumps on the bandwagon and gives the same advice in these situations. You know what? I'm going to be different. Call the firemen.
#26
Quote by Ian hawkins
I think epiphone have just released an active p-up that can go to non battery,normal pick-up (I don't know what you would call it).
I'm not sure though.

Yeah on the EM-2 guitar they have EpiActive pickups which can be toggled from Active to Passive.
#27
Quote by CapnKickass
Hmmm, what about amps with multiple channels? Mine I have volume and gain controls for both channels, so I don't see why you'd need two amps if you can have one good versatile one. Just sayin.
This would be okay for high output passive pickups if you're not playing large places, but once you get past a certain level you're going to want different speakers for each, not to mention that multiple channel amps tend to not produce the best tone.

I mean one of the best set-ups I've ever heard in terms of tonal quality used four different amps, one for clean, one for crunch, one for overdrive and one for a solo tone with very heavy distortion. I've since heard the same person using the same guitar playing the same songs through a Marshall DSL (multi channel) and it sounded nowhere near as good.
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#28
Quote by monotony777
You can't mix active and passive and actives.
There is 100 times more variety in passive.
Actives have ****ty to mediocre clean sounds.
The sound quality starts to go down when the battery starts to get low.

The best for metal but pretty crappy for anything else.


You CAN mix active and passive if done correctly.
Diagrams are here:

http://www.sonic.net/~emgman/wiringbook.html
#29
Quote by GraveMistake
Since I love metal they sound like a great idea. But, how low will the batteries last? On average?

EMG states 3000 hours (if not left plugged in)
#30
you need to change the battery about once every 2nd yr, but i'd do it once a yr if you play alot, just to be safe... changing batteries takes like 5 seconds.

I like to have at least one guitar with actives, and at least one with passives, just for the flavour of both. If this is your one and only guitar and you play more than just metal, then passives.

Actives will sound pretty poor through SS amps..you need a good tube amp to get the most of em.

And active pickups do work without the batteries...they are just in passive mode and sound weak and totally useless.
Last edited by yenners at Jan 28, 2009,
#31
You all have to stop thinking like programmed consumers and start doing a little bit of research. I've written about this at least five times now, so behold...

Mo Jiggity’s Copypasta about Active Pickups

"lolol active pickups drive teh tube harder" "active pickups are HOT for teh br00talz" "your amp will explode with the metalz if you mix active and passive"

All of these are HALF-TRUTHS at best coming from people who are obviously musicians and brainwashed consumers first and informed researchers second. I'm sorry for going off on a rail but I am SO sick and tired of hearing people treat active pickups like some sort of mystic beast that sounds horrible for anything except metal through a high-gain amplifier.

Here's the real skinny on how active pickups work. A pickup works by creating a magnetic field above it. When this magnetic field is disturbed by a ferrous material, like a metal string, an electrical signal is created, which is sent to the amplifier and turned into sound at the speaker. The difference between active and passive pickups is the mechanism by which the input signal is achieved. A passive pickup is passive in that it is merely a part of the circuit of the guitar amplifier and has only passive components powered by the amplifier - there are no batteries or power sources in your guitar. Because of this, the pickup must be wound quite a few times with wire to create a signal "hot" enough to be suitable for input to the preamp.

Because there are so many turns of wire, the pickup is high resistance, or impedance. Additionally, there will be significant tonal "coloring" of the pickup in the form of a midrange hump, or what we perceive as "warmth."

An active pickup, on the other hand, is active because it has a battery and a preamp that makes the signal low-impedance by way of buffering circuitry. In the case of EMGs, active pickups are actually wound far less than their passive counterparts, so the magnetic field and therefore normal output is weaker. However, because of the preamp, this weak signal can be boosted to whatever output desired, within electrical limits of headroom and such. Active pickups also do not exhibit as drastic of a midrange hump as passive pickups do - they are more consistent in response across the spectrum. Additionally, the low-impedance nature of the signal means that the guitar is "impedance matched" to floor effects and the input of the amplifier, which results in less loss of tone and high end. Sustain is also technically increased due to lower magnetic pull, although this might or might not be noticeable.

What this all means is that active pickups can be as high or low output as one wants, as dictated by a potentiometer and design, as well as that they do not generally experience as much tonal coloring as passive pickups, which is why they sound "sterile" to some. This also means that chords sound more defined due to the lack of naturally-present lower midrange.

EMGs are NOT always hot - look at the 85 or SA. EMGs are NOT solely designed for overdriving tube amps - jazz guys play active pickups through solid-state setups all the time. They are NOT solely designed for metal. They do NOT always sound sterile. You CAN play them clean and make them sound good (that's why Bartolini makes active jazz pickups). And you CAN mix actives and passives, although as mentioned it is not economically or practically feasible. It won't, however, make your amp die. Any increase in volume from the guitar is negligible because volume and electrical output are logarithmically related - 100 watts is not twice as loud as 50 watts. Switching between active and passive pickups won’t hurt your amp.

/end rant.
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Last edited by Mo Jiggity at Jan 28, 2009,
#32
Quote by MrFlibble
This would be okay for high output passive pickups if you're not playing large places, but once you get past a certain level you're going to want different speakers for each, not to mention that multiple channel amps tend to not produce the best tone.

I mean one of the best set-ups I've ever heard in terms of tonal quality used four different amps, one for clean, one for crunch, one for overdrive and one for a solo tone with very heavy distortion. I've since heard the same person using the same guitar playing the same songs through a Marshall DSL (multi channel) and it sounded nowhere near as good.

I dunno, it seems like you're making generalizations here. And is it different speakers for each channel or each amp? And why?
lol it's learning time ...
#33
Quote by Mo Jiggity
You all have to stop thinking like programmed consumers and start doing a little bit of research. I've written about this at least five times now, so behold...

Mo Jiggity’s Copypasta about Active Pickups

"lolol active pickups drive teh tube harder" "active pickups are HOT for teh br00talz" "your amp will explode with the metalz if you mix active and passive"

All of these are HALF-TRUTHS at best coming from people who are obviously musicians and brainwashed consumers first and informed researchers second. I'm sorry for going off on a rail but I am SO sick and tired of hearing people treat active pickups like some sort of mystic beast that sounds horrible for anything except metal through a high-gain amplifier.

Here's the real skinny on how active pickups work. A pickup works by creating a magnetic field above it. When this magnetic field is disturbed by a ferrous material, like a metal string, an electrical signal is created, which is sent to the amplifier and turned into sound at the speaker. The difference between active and passive pickups is the mechanism by which the input signal is achieved. A passive pickup is passive in that it is merely a part of the circuit of the guitar amplifier and has only passive components powered by the amplifier - there are no batteries or power sources in your guitar. Because of this, the pickup must be wound quite a few times with wire to create a signal "hot" enough to be suitable for input to the preamp.

Because there are so many turns of wire, the pickup is high resistance, or impedance. Additionally, there will be significant tonal "coloring" of the pickup in the form of a midrange hump, or what we perceive as "warmth."

An active pickup, on the other hand, is active because it has a battery and a preamp that makes the signal low-impedance by way of buffering circuitry. In the case of EMGs, active pickups are actually wound far less than their passive counterparts, so the magnetic field and therefore normal output is weaker. However, because of the preamp, this weak signal can be boosted to whatever output desired, within electrical limits of headroom and such. Active pickups also do not exhibit as drastic of a midrange hump as passive pickups do - they are more consistent in response across the spectrum. Additionally, the low-impedance nature of the signal means that the guitar is "impedance matched" to floor effects and the input of the amplifier, which results in less loss of tone and high end. Sustain is also technically increased due to lower magnetic pull, although this might or might not be noticeable.

What this all means is that active pickups can be as high or low output as one wants, as dictated by a potentiometer and design, as well as that they do not generally experience as much tonal coloring as passive pickups, which is why they sound "sterile" to some. This also means that chords sound more defined due to the lack of naturally-present lower midrange.

EMGs are NOT always hot - look at the 85 or SA. EMGs are NOT solely designed for overdriving tube amps - jazz guys play active pickups through solid-state setups all the time. They are NOT solely designed for metal. They do NOT always sound sterile. You CAN play them clean and make them sound good (that's why Bartolini makes active jazz pickups). And you CAN mix actives and passives, although as mentioned it is not economically or practically feasible. It won't, however, make your amp die. Any increase in volume from the guitar is negligible because volume and electrical output are logarithmically related - 100 watts is only twice as loud as 50 watts. Switching between active and passive pickups won’t hurt your amp.

/end rant.


hmm... interesting points, (being picky here) but 100 watts are not twice as loud as 50 watts, 100 watts are twice as loud as 10 watts.
Last edited by G-man05 at Jan 28, 2009,
#34
Quote by Sokkeh
anyone who has experience... do the batteries need changing often? and is it a pain to do?


ive had my guitar for over a year and only changed the battery once. and no, its very easy to do
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Jackson Dinky DKMGT
PRS SE Paul Allender
Peavey 6505+ 112
#35
Quote by G-man05
hmm... interesting points, (being picky here) but 100 watts are not twice as loud as 50 watts, 100 watts are twice as loud as 10 watts.


Oops! By that I mean "is not..." You only gain 3db every time you double wattage (so current assuming a constant voltage.)

My bad... thanks for catching that.
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Furman Power Conditioner
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Peak FCB4N
#36
EMG Active = metal
Dimarzio Active = variety

EMG are geared towards metal more then anything it's pretty much what they do so they aren't great for cleans but i've played dimarzio that are great for cleans. my bands rhythm guitarist keeps it simple he plays mesa dual recto which aren't the best cleans ever but still more then effective hes got one esp with EMG's in it for songs that never go clean for songs with clean he uses his epiphone les paul our lead player uses a 6505 again not the best for cleans but he uses passive pickups and still gets that metal tone. If you aren't stone set on having the sound of active pickups don't get them get good passive
Keep On Keepen' On
#37
Seymour Duncan Blackouts from my experience have an incredible spectrum of tone, they're twice as good EMG's easily, and they definitely sound better.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#38
is it possible to play passively through an active pickup?
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