#1
I have heard that active pickups sound bad when played through a solid state amp. I have not been able to see this but is there anyone out there who has had a bad experience with active pickups and solid star amps.
#2
to me, most SS amps dont sound all that good. I would think that actives would only add to the digital sound of the amp.

that being said, I have heard EMGs played through amp modeling devices that sounded pretty decent.
#3
Depends on your notion of 'good'. If you're playing high-gain metal, you can get some laser sharp tight rythms out of it. Think Born Of Osiris or Whitechapel (mostly the former).

But yes, in terms of warmth, dynamics and all those other buzz words, SS + actives = generally nonono.
Last edited by Våd Hamster at Aug 2, 2010,
#4
please don't put pickups into an amp. waste of money
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Last edited by I am wet : Today at 03:26 XM.
#5
Quote by DeanRedneck
to me, most SS amps dont sound all that good. I would think that actives would only add to the digital sound of the amp.
Solid state and digital are two different things. Similarly, active pickups do not use digital technology either (at least not regular designs; who knows, maybe someone out there is making a pickup that uses some form of digital system but I doubt it and it certainly isn't common).


Anyway, active pickups and solid state amps (even solid state amps with digital modelling features) can sound okay if you know what you're doing and you're prepared to spend a lot of money. The design that all active pickups are based on was first invented to be used with solid state amps to get expansive and crystal-clean tones for jazz playing; don't think of active pickups as just being some high-output supercharger for making valve amps distort more.
However, that does not mean that your run-of-the-mill 10w solid state practice amp will sound any good with active pickups. The jazz amps they were originally designed for were usually running in the 70w+ range and since then, active pickups have been fine-tuned for metal instead with increased output and so these days, with modern active pickups, you'll need even more headroom. If you don't have enough headroom for the amp to soak up all that output then the amp will start to clip. With a valve amp this is desirable because valves produce smooth signal clipping; solid state amps don't. Solid state amps (and especially those with modelling systems) are all about precision, so instead of the smooth, warm, slightly random clipping of a valve amp you instead get harsh, ultra-precise and uniform clipping. Now, there are some uses for this. Some people like the harsh clipping that solid state amps produce; it's quite desirable in various types of alternative, industrial and sub-genres of heavy metal, for example. It's also used quite often in pop music where everything gets heavily processed anyway.

If you want to use solid state amps with active pickups but you don't want typical, cold solid state clipping then there are two basic ways around it. The first is to get an amp which has miles of headroom. If it's a high-quality amp (we're talking about prices in the two grand region) then 70 watts can be okay - judge it on an amp-by-amp basis. If you're looking at a more affordable but still decent quality amp (say, around a grand or so, give or take a couple of hundred) then you're really going to want to get at least 100 watts. If you have mere pennies to spend then my recommendation would be to not bother at all, but if you insisted on geting a solid state amp to use with atcive pickups anyway then I would recommend you aim for 150w+.
The other way around unwanted solid state clipping is to get a decent quality modelling amp. When made well, modelling amps can sound 90% the same as the real thing they're trying to emulate. Current technology doesn't allow them to be perfect but they're getting closer and closer and already modelling technology is use don countless major-label releases each year: if you've bought an album in the last five years, chances are at least half the guitar and bass tracks on it are using some form of modelling technology. Of course, that's studio-grade stuff that you won't get in a tiny little combo amp for home use - but there are some amps out there that do feature professional-quality modelling. I personally use the Line6 HD147, which has been used on records and for tours by arena-level bands. There is also the HD147's big brother, the Vetta II, which features even higher quality modelling. These amps can control the signal clipping and round it off in a way that a plain solid state amp can't. The result is a tone virtually the same as any given valve amp, and while it isn't a perfect recreation that is compensated by the fact that solid state amps remain noiseless, can be safely run straight to the mixing desk without the need for a speaker cab and of course offer far more tones than a single valve amp can - great if you're a jack-of-all-trades guitarist.



So, active pickups can work well with a solid state amp. You just have to be prepared to spend a considerably chunk of money on a decent-quality amp and you've got to put in a lot of time tweaking everything to get the best tone out of it. Unless you're a jazz player, in which case just buy a JC-120 and have at it.



Quote by I am wet
please don't put pickups into an amp. waste of money
Bah-dum-tsssh.
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#7
SS amps get a lot of shit because there are a lot of shit SS amps.

There are some great ones out there though, and they sound great with active pickups too. SS technology has made a lot of progress in recent times, so I wouldn't trust the old man chest thumping that goes on when comparing SS and tube amps.
#8
I dont know what you guys are talking about. My EMGs sound great through my roland cube, clean or distorted.
#9
^ You must have some kind of ear damage then, haha.
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#10
Quote by dethfield
I dont know what you guys are talking about. My EMGs sound great through my roland cube, clean or distorted.


Clips?
#11
Quote by Offworld92
^ You must have some kind of ear damage then, haha.

or maybe, just maybe, he just happens to like that sound

i think active pickups should work fine with solid state amps that are somewhat lacking in headroom provided you use the volume control to lower the output level - apparently you lose a lot less tone rolling the volume down on active pickups.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
Last edited by Blompcube at Aug 3, 2010,
#13
Quote by dethfield
I dont know what you guys are talking about. My EMGs sound great through my roland cube, clean or distorted.


That means ur ears haven't developed yet.
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#14
Quote by holycow
That means ur ears haven't developed yet.


lol ok. 8 years of playing isnt long enough? Mind you that isnt as long as some people, but i like to think i know what sounds good and what doesnt. To tell me my ears havent "developed" when you know nothing about me is pretty stupid.

For the record, im using the Roland Street Cube with Agile 8 strings that have EMG808s in them. I only use it for practice, but it sounds just fine for that purpose. I use a Kustom Double Cross for gigging.
Last edited by dethfield at Aug 3, 2010,
#15
Quote by sstony
Just avoid ss amps and you´ll be ok.



It's not as if solid state is some inferior, lower form of amplification. It just sounds different.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#16
^Blomp, dude, he's kind of an anti-SS bigot, don't worry about him.

I'll show you.
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1174217
He has some posts in there that are just awful...


Anyway, OP, If it's a good amp, the actives will sound fine. I mean, hell, I've played EMGs through a Vypyr and it sounded good.
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#17
Quote by oneblackened
^Blomp, dude, he's kind of an anti-SS bigot, don't worry about him.

I'll show you.
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1174217
He has some posts in there that are just awful...


Anyway, OP, If it's a good amp, the actives will sound fine. I mean, hell, I've played EMGs through a Vypyr and it sounded good.

oh i see - seems like he doesn't even know why he's saying what he's saying, he's just saying it because that's what the "kool kidz" say

It's funny, i don't actually remember that thread even though i posted in it about 10 times.

Haters gonna hate but i have a friend who was getting some pretty good tones out of his gibson LP studio faded with EMGs into a line 6 spider III 120w - he could make that setup work wonders. Gigging and jamming with that guy really opened my mind about gear a lot. Funny how he could sound great through that rig, yet pretty much all of UG apparently can't.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#18
Quote by Blompcube
apparently you lose a lot less tone rolling the volume down on active pickups.
Indeed true, and the main reason why I'm converting all my guitars over to active pickups ASAP (well, that and I'm paranoid about the shock hazard that passive pickups present). On my passive guitars I leave the tone control at 10 and use the volume control like a tone control - with my active guitars I can actually use both controls how they're supposed to be used.
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#20
My Blackouts and EMG 707's Sound almost as good through my Crate GX-130c head as they do through my Mesa or JCM. Its all about amp quality I have found most modeling amps sound like crap with Actives, Where some SS amps sound pretty damn good.