#1
Hi guys. Today i just got my ESP LTD MH-400 NT with EMG 81/85 active pickups. It's absolutely filthy. But im not sure that its.. right..

i've never used active pickups before so i've got some questions :

how come when i turn the volume controls the sound crackles?

why does the clean channel sound .. well.. not clean?

should i put in a new battery (i ordered the guitar online, from musicians friend and it has a battery in it but i dont know if its new or not)

what adjustments need to be made with active pickups?

Does playing through a solid state amp create any issues?

thanks
#2
1) the volume control crackles because you need to wax the pot
2) the clean channel is not really "clean" because with active pups, what they do is they lower the output, but use a battery to increase the gain output, and adding more dirt to your tone
3) put in a new battery just for the sake of you just buying it. Then swap about every 6-9 months
4) not really any adjustments
5) some people find playing active pups through solid state amps to create a distasteful tone
...
#3
Yes you will not get the benefit of active pickups in a SS amp.
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#4
Quote by Ghold125
1) the volume control crackles because you need to wax the pot
2) the clean channel is not really "clean" because with active pups, what they do is they lower the output, but use a battery to increase the gain output, and adding more dirt to your tone
3) put in a new battery just for the sake of you just buying it. Then swap about every 6-9 months
4) not really any adjustments
5) some people find playing active pups through solid state amps to create a distasteful tone



thank you!
#6
Quote by Ghold125
1) the volume control crackles because you need to wax the pot
2) the clean channel is not really "clean" because with active pups, what they do is they lower the output, but use a battery to increase the gain output, and adding more dirt to your tone
3) put in a new battery just for the sake of you just buying it. Then swap about every 6-9 months
4) not really any adjustments
5) some people find playing active pups through solid state amps to create a distasteful tone

How would one go about waxing a pot? I'v got the same prob with one of mine, and I though I had to replace it... how do you wax it???
#7
Quote by Soul Eater
Yes you will not get the benefit of active pickups in a SS amp.


Oh what the hell, you serious?
Quote by hell_monkey
Lmao pantera? you'd think obama listened to some tupac or something
#8
Quote by BackDoorEntry
Oh what the hell, you serious?


SS Amps don't capture the full potential of Active pickups. It's a known fact.
#9
Quote by BackDoorEntry
Oh what the hell, you serious?
He is, entirely.

The entire point of active pickups - and bear in mind they have absolutely no use other than this - is to allow you to drive a naturally high-gain tube amplifier very hard for the hardest natural overdrive possible past what it would normally produce (i.e. once it's already fully cranked), without also causing background noise to be amplified too much.

In other words, there is absolutely no point in you having active pickups if you:
  • Use the amp's preamp gain control to increase the level of drive instead of letting the amp naturally distort.
  • Use pedals to boost (overdrive pedals) or to replace the amp's distortion entirely (distortion and fuzz pedals).
  • Are not fully cranking the amplifier, i.e. having the volume at maximum.
  • Do not own a naturally high-gain amplifier, e.g. Mesa Boogie triple rectifier and the like. A Fender Blues Junior doesn't have the natural gain to make active pickups useful.
  • Have a solid state, hybrid or modelling amplifier, as these do not naturally distort in the same way a tube amplifier does, which is what active pickups are created for.


What this all means is that basically there's hardly a single person on this forum who should really be using active pickups.

For the record if you do 'fail' that list, active pickups will be no different to you than getting some low-output bland passive pickup like an Alnico II Pro, only with the actives you get the added hassle of changing a battery every so often.



Incidently, there's also no point getting high-output passive pickups if you fail' that list too. They're also only of use for the same thing as active pickups are.

Solid state or hybrid amp? Use the amp's gain, don't use pedals or pickups for distortion.
Low-gain amp? use pedals.
Not cranking your amp fully? Use pedals or the amp's gain.
Naturally high-gain amp, fully cranked? Get some high-output passive pickups or active pickups.
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#10
I just got rid of my LTD MH-400NT, I found it had basically no headroom for cleans, I just kicked into the EMG 85 in the neck, dialed down the volume a bit and got a usable clean, I guess...
That guitar felt great though, played really nice, just no headroom. I also got rid of it because I had just got an ESP Eclipse II and an ESP Horizon FRII, both have unreal cleans for active pickups.
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#11
Quote by Tensorspencer
I just got rid of my LTD MH-400NT, I found it had basically no headroom for cleans, I just kicked into the EMG 85 in the neck, dialed down the volume a bit and got a usable clean, I guess...
That guitar felt great though, played really nice, just no headroom. I also got rid of it because I had just got an ESP Eclipse II and an ESP Horizon FRII, both have unreal cleans for active pickups.

That's because both of those have EMG 81/60 combos as opposed to 81/85, if I'm not mistaken.
#12
Quote by MrFlibble
He is, entirely.


That is sooooooooooo disappointing, cos i got the vypyr just recently, so theres no way ill be allowed to buy a newer amp!? And this means i cant go for my beloved esp.... bollocks
Quote by hell_monkey
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#13
Quote by MrFlibble
Stuff.


It seems like every EMG thread that gets made you beat me to the punch and say 'lolol they're only good for high gain.'

EMGs deliver three things - lower impedance, flatter frequency response, and POSSIBLY higher output. A big 'possibly' on that last part - because they are low impedance, EMGs are like any other active circuit and their output can be attenuated by simply adding a resistor, even a variable one like a potentiometer.

EMGs sound PERFECTLY FINE for cleans depending upon your setup and how you equalize. If your clean channel starts to break up, then roll the gain back on the clean channel. Can't do that? Roll the volume on your guitar back - if you do this you're really not 'losing' any gain, you're just taking it back to what it was with your passive pickups. If this is too much of a hassle for you, then wire in a second volume knob and a DPDT switch so you have a rhythm and lead setting on your guitar itself, or get a center-detented volume pot.

EMGs also sound fine on solid-state amps, if the amp is of at least decent quality. If you get preamp distortion, then simply follow the above guidelines - it's not as though there's some mystical force preventing you from lowering input gain.

I might also add with regards to the solid-state sentiment that many jazz players use EMGs through solid-state amps for crystalline cleans, and MANY metal bands play EMG-equipped 6 and 7 strings through Line 6 equipment, and it sounds as djenty and clean as ever. Even classic rock acts like Blue Oyster Cult do - for years their guitarist played EMG 89s through a Line 6 Pod 2.0, and he used a tube power amp - I could SWARE that it was some kind of boutique amp, given how beautiful and creamy his overdrive was.

Point is, active pickups are whatever you make them to be. Don't be a prototypical, programmed sheepish consumer who buys into the EMG hype as MrFlibble has done. With a little research, experience, and understanding of how electronics work in the real world, you can EASILY use active pickups for any sound you want.
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#14
Some good points in this thread, at the end of the day, it's whether the consumer likes the tone of the pickups. They may like them at lower volumes (not cranked) on a tube amp, or like them through a solid state.
Above post may or may not be true.
#15
Quote by Mo Jiggity
It seems like every EMG thread that gets made you beat me to the punch and say 'lolol they're only good for high gain.'
No, pay attention to what I say - their only point is for driving high-gain tube amps hard with as little excess background noise as possible. That doesn't mean that's the only thing that can be good for, it just means that's they only thing they're made for, and as such if you use them for other things they may still give an alright tone, but there will always be a passive pickup that does the same thing better.

You could drive a '63 Mercury Comet across a field and it'd get all the way to the end, but you'd be better off doing it in a Range Rover.

Can't do that? Roll the volume on your guitar back - if you do this you're really not 'losing' any gain, you're just taking it back to what it was with your passive pickups.
And you're also losing responsiveness too, which is something active pickups already struggle for.

Don't be a prototypical, programmed sheepish consumer who buys into the EMG hype as MrFlibble has done. With a little research, experience, and understanding of how electronics work in the real world, you can EASILY use active pickups for any sound you want.
Assumptions are the mother of all **** ups.

FYI, I previously owned an LTD with active EMGs. Of my four guitar playing friends, three of them also own guitars with active pickups (two use EMGs, one uses SD Blackouts).
Yes, I am a programmed consumer who has bought into the negative hype. I have done no research on, have no experience with and have no understanding of how active pickups work. Despite having owned a guitar with active pickups, I do not even know what an active pickup looks like. In fact I had never even heard of the term 'active pickup' until you posted. Until you came along, I was under the belief that all pickups were miniature trucks stored in chrome cases on guitars that used their engine revs to create the sounds, and plucking strings was just a past time to look cool while the music played. And is it true that red guitars are louder than blue ones?

**** sake.
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#17
Quote by MrFlibble
No, pay attention to what I say - their only point is for driving high-gain tube amps hard with as little excess background noise as possible.


But that's simply not true! EMGs were designed first and foremost to be low impedance. It says on EMG's web site:

A natural by-product of the preamp is gain


That's not the "only point" of the product at all.

You could drive a '63 Mercury Comet across a field and it'd get all the way to the end, but you'd be better off doing it in a Range Rover.


The difference is that the Mercury Comet is designed to drive on a road and the Range Rover is designed to drive off-road. EMGs were designed to be low-impedance, it JUST SO HAPPENS that part of the preamp design is that they can provide higher output.

And you're also losing responsiveness too, which is something active pickups already struggle for.


Might you be able to define 'responsiveness?' My EMGs sound perfectly responsive to me. At lower gain levels I can clean up using my pick attack alone, then dirty it up if I dig in for chording and such.

Assumptions are the mother of all **** ups.


Indeed they are - you made one just above! I don't care whether or not you owned or own a guitar with active pickups - running around telling people that they're not good for anything except high gain amplifiers is perpetuating a stereotype and justifying it with your narrow experience.

I'd like to see some support for all that you claim with regards to active pickups outside of what YOU have had experience with and what common opinion on the internets is.

**EDIT: I might also add that I didn't even approach insinuating the entire second half of your post... sorry you feel so threatened, but I've seriously had this EXACT same debate with you once or twice on these forums before and I've still yet to see how anything you say is entirely true, besides that active pickups can distort a clean channel if you're too lazy, stupid or what have you to tweak your controls.

**EDIT 2: Looking at your first post in this thread, I'm gonna go ahead and call BS on where you say that you have to crank the master volume in order for them to sound good... this almost NEVER happens, especially if you have a 'naturally high gain' amplifier such as a Triple Recto. In a regular show situation one won't even approach hitting the volume ceiling on a 120 watt head before the amp gets turned down and mic'd by the sound reinforcement guys anyway. You could argue that you could use an attenuator, but then you'd TOTALLY sacrifice your clean channel beyond the ability to compensate with controls. Even passive purists will agree on this point.
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Last edited by Mo Jiggity at Apr 10, 2009,
#18
I bought a shecter with emg's while i was still using my pod + ss amp, thought it sounded pretty good trough a SS amp, nothing special cause of the active pickups. now that i got a tube amp i see why ppl say its useless to go active on a SS amp. The gain just cuts in way faster on a tube amp while using actives
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#19
Quote by Sokkeh
I bought a shecter with emg's while i was still using my pod + ss amp, thought it sounded pretty good trough a SS amp, nothing special cause of the active pickups. now that i got a tube amp i see why ppl say its useless to go active on a SS amp. The gain just cuts in way faster on a tube amp while using actives


ok now im completely stumped. I can go for active emgs 81 n 60s, or get a passive guitar which is £300 less. Obviously the ESP with emgs in is of a higher quality, but if active pickups aren't as effective on my vypyr then i guess i'll cut the costs n go passive.

And what do you mean 'the gain just cuts in way faster'?
How does it 'cut in' on an SS?
Quote by hell_monkey
Lmao pantera? you'd think obama listened to some tupac or something
#20
Quote by Mo Jiggity
But that's simply not true! EMGs were designed first and foremost to be low impedance. It says on EMG's web site:


That's not the "only point" of the product at all.


The difference is that the Mercury Comet is designed to drive on a road and the Range Rover is designed to drive off-road. EMGs were designed to be low-impedance, it JUST SO HAPPENS that part of the preamp design is that they can provide higher output.
And if you'd bothered to read correctly, you'd notice that providing a higher output was never part of my argument for or against them. In fact what you're arguing is actually in agreement with what I have been saying - that they are intended to allow you to drive an amp hard without causing excess noise.


Might you be able to define 'responsiveness?' My EMGs sound perfectly responsive to me. At lower gain levels I can clean up using my pick attack alone, then dirty it up if I dig in for chording and such.
That's not responsiveness, that's more about how your amp reacts to differing signal level. Responsiveness is how smoothly the slightest change in pitch carries, the quality of the transition between pitch, the quality in and the point at which string resonance is no longer transmitted by the pickups, etc etc.


Indeed they are - you made one just above! I don't care whether or not you owned or own a guitar with active pickups - running around telling people that they're not good for anything except high gain amplifiers is perpetuating a stereotype and justifying it with your narrow experience.
Rather hard to call my experience 'narrow' when quite frankly, it'd be hard to have more experience with them unless you actually worked for EMG or Seymour Duncan (in which case I could quite rightly shout bias). How much more experience do you expect a person to have past "I've owned them and my friends own them"? What, am I mean to become one with the pickup? Must I try to insert the pickup into my body before I can understand how it works?


I'd like to see some support for all that you claim with regards to active pickups outside of what YOU have had experience with and what common opinion on the internets is.
See above. And since you're the one arguing it, it actually falls to you to prove otherwise. After all, what experience do you have with them other than your own personal use?

**EDIT: I might also add that I didn't even approach insinuating the entire second half of your post... sorry you feel so threatened, but I've seriously had this EXACT same debate with you once or twice on these forums before
I seriously can not remember doing so or who you are. No offence.
FYi, I am not 'threatened'. I just don't like stupid people talking bollocks.

and I've still yet to see how anything you say is entirely true, besides that active pickups can distort a clean channel if you're too lazy, stupid or what have you to tweak your controls.
Which proves you've not even read my previous posts properly, because that wasn't my point. Although yes, active pickups (and high-output passives) can very well do that, that's not why and has never been why I have advised people against them. My point is and has always been that active pickups are a specialised tool made for a partiuclar purpose in mind, and if you're not going to use them for that purpose then you're not gaining any benefit from them; you might as well get a more suitable set of passives instead.

If thats' too hard for you to comprehend, see my previous car analogy, it works pretty well and you even proved it's point yourself just now.

**EDIT 2: Looking at your first post in this thread, I'm gonna go ahead and call BS on where you say that you have to crank the master volume in order for them to sound good... this almost NEVER happens, especially if you have a 'naturally high gain' amplifier such as a Triple Recto. In a regular show situation one won't even approach hitting the volume ceiling on a 120 watt head before the amp gets turned down and mic'd by the sound reinforcement guys anyway. You could argue that you could use an attenuator, but then you'd TOTALLY sacrifice your clean channel beyond the ability to compensate with controls. Even passive purists will agree on this point.
Most attenuators can be footswitched out (if you don't mind risking damaging your amp), though I wasn't going down that route anyway, I'll never sacrifice a good clean tone for more manageable distortion.
In a regular typical U-G forum user's show situation you are completely correct, you're not going to be cranking a Mesa triple recti head all the way. Which is in fact entirely my point. You're not going to be doing that, so why bother with active pickups? In a situation where you can't crank your amp like that, high-output passives aren't going to offer you anything that low-output passive wouldn't, and active pickups wouldn't be offering you anything that any passives wouldn't. So... why bother?



Pay close attention because I'm saying this once and once only, and if you can't grasp the concept then I would suggest you simply give up because there is no hope for you:
Active pickups can be great pickups, if you have the right rig and are using them in a way that actually uses their features. If you don't have the right rig or you're not really using them for the reason they were made then active pickups are not 'bad' per se, they simply become pointless. Why pay more money for active pickups and deal with the hassle of them if you're not actually getting any use out of their features? You might as well get a good pair of passives instead that are actually constructed to your needs, you'll save some money, some hassle and at least you'll be getting some actual benefit from them.
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#21
My God.

In a regular typical U-G forum user's show situation you are completely correct, you're not going to be cranking a Mesa triple recti head all the way. Which is in fact entirely my point. You're not going to be doing that, so why bother with active pickups? In a situation where you can't crank your amp like that, high-output passives aren't going to offer you anything that low-output passive wouldn't, and active pickups wouldn't be offering you anything that any passives wouldn't. So... why bother?


-_- Because active pickups still sound different besides the fact that they're higher output. Because you can run extremely long lengths of cable with little to no signal degredation. Because of the decreased magnetic field and therefore increased sustain (although I'm kind of dubious as to that point since I don't think anybody really hears that). Because they are more suited to being run through effects units, depending upon the design of the effect. There's a multitude of reasons.

Active pickups can be great pickups, if you have the right rig and are using them in a way that actually uses their features. If you don't have the right rig or you're not really using them for the reason they were made then active pickups are not 'bad' per se, they simply become pointless. Why pay more money for active pickups and deal with the hassle of them if you're not actually getting any use out of their features? You might as well get a good pair of passives instead that are actually constructed to your needs, you'll save some money, some hassle and at least you'll be getting some actual benefit from them.


Well aware of your stance, but you seem to have a skewed perspective as to what qualifies the 'right rig.' I don't even think gigging musicians dime their amplifiers' master volume because of the fact that they're being mic'd, not to mention the clean channel relying on power section headroom.

High gain is just ONE ASPECT of their design. If that aspect is of no use to you because you don't have appropriate equipment, then there's still a MULTITUDE of benefits to using them. That's really the heart of the issue here - you keep repeating that there's 'no point' in having them unless your rig can 'take advantage' of them, or that passive pickups will work just as well, but that's simply not true because of what I detailed above.
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#22
Quote by Mo Jiggity
-_- Because active pickups still sound different besides the fact that they're higher output. Because you can run extremely long lengths of cable with little to no signal degredation. Because of the decreased magnetic field and therefore increased sustain (although I'm kind of dubious as to that point since I don't think anybody really hears that). Because they are more suited to being run through effects units, depending upon the design of the effect. There's a multitude of reasons.
None of which I was debating.

Get this through your head because it's clearly something you've gotten incorrectly hung up on: when it comes to active pickups, I am not talking about output. Since you bring them up, I have at no point mentioned their effect on sustain, the quality of their sound when used with effects (though why you're talking about running them through effects units when any one who gave that much of a damn about tone would be putting the effects after the amplifier, I have no idea) or the tone (though the tone is nearly identical to any underwound Alnico II humbucker so why not just use that, or learn how to use your EQ better?).

In every post so far you have been battling points that I haven't even mentioned. You might as well be fighting with yourself.

Well aware of your stance, but you seem to have a skewed perspective as to what qualifies the 'right rig.' I don't even think gigging musicians dime their amplifiers' master volume because of the fact that they're being mic'd, not to mention the clean channel relying on power section headroom.
Congratulations on not knowing what a master volume is. Your argument would only work if it was the regular volume that needed pumping.

High gain is just ONE ASPECT of their design. If that aspect is of no use to you because you don't have appropriate equipment, then there's still a MULTITUDE of benefits to using them. That's really the heart of the issue here - you keep repeating that there's 'no point' in having them unless your rig can 'take advantage' of them, or that passive pickups will work just as well, but that's simply not true because of what I detailed above.
Except everything you've mentioned is either:
  • Completely beside the point or otherwise has not been contested, or
  • A 'feature' actually very easily surpassed by passive pickups.


Your problem is you've very clearly misunderstood why active pickups are used, what their advantages and disadvantages are, and you've completely failed to correctly understand a single thing I've said.



Now, I'm out. I'm in Germany for a week so feel free to keep arguing with yourself, but I'm not going to be around to supervise your mindless rabid flailing, m'kay dear?
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#23
Quote by MrFlibble
None of which I was debating.

Get this through your head because it's clearly something you've gotten incorrectly hung up on: when it comes to active pickups, I am not talking about output. Since you bring them up, I have at no point mentioned their effect on sustain, the quality of their sound when used with effects (though why you're talking about running them through effects units when any one who gave that much of a damn about tone would be putting the effects after the amplifier, I have no idea) or the tone (though the tone is nearly identical to any underwound Alnico II humbucker so why not just use that, or learn how to use your EQ better?).

In every post so far you have been battling points that I haven't even mentioned. You might as well be fighting with yourself.

Congratulations on not knowing what a master volume is. Your argument would only work if it was the regular volume that needed pumping.

Except everything you've mentioned is either:
  • Completely beside the point or otherwise has not been contested, or
  • A 'feature' actually very easily surpassed by passive pickups.


Your problem is you've very clearly misunderstood why active pickups are used, what their advantages and disadvantages are, and you've completely failed to correctly understand a single thing I've said.



Now, I'm out. I'm in Germany for a week so feel free to keep arguing with yourself, but I'm not going to be around to supervise your mindless rabid flailing, m'kay dear?


Damn, you really got me beat man. Guess I'd better go out and buy some Seymour Duncans since I'm not cranking my amp all the time... no other point in having EMGs, right? Have fun in Germany!

The entire point of active pickups - and bear in mind they have absolutely no use other than this - is to allow you to drive a naturally high-gain tube amplifier very hard

I am not talking about output


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Last edited by Mo Jiggity at Apr 10, 2009,
#24
soooo....

I think ill get an rg2ex2... passive guitar..
Quote by hell_monkey
Lmao pantera? you'd think obama listened to some tupac or something
#25
Quote by BackDoorEntry
soooo....

I think ill get an rg2ex2... passive guitar..


Please don't let anybody deter you from getting EMGs because you have a solid-state amp. It's ultimately up to what you prefer, but be aware that there's nothing that will sound incurably bad about running them with a solid-state amp.
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#26
Quote by Mo Jiggity
Please don't let anybody deter you from getting EMGs because you have a solid-state amp. It's ultimately up to what you prefer, but be aware that there's nothing that will sound incurably bad about running them with a solid-state amp.


yeah i know now lol but i think i'd go for the passives because its £200 cheaper xD
Quote by hell_monkey
Lmao pantera? you'd think obama listened to some tupac or something
#27
Quote by BackDoorEntry
yeah i know now lol but i think i'd go for the passives because its £200 cheaper xD


Can't argue with that then, fo sho
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#29
[quote="'[VictorinoX"]']And here I thought you people actually had lives outside of this forum.

Nope, just at work imaging machines and doing remote software installations ;-)
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#31
Mo Jiggity.................ME.......................... MrFlibble
................ .........................


yall two got me all jumbled up in the head now.......but i actually agree with MoJiggity in this brawl.
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