#1
My question is - do you think it'll cause me to be more narrow-minded if I sell all my passive guitars and strictly go with actives now? Maybe my taste will change down the road or something?

Up until now, I've kept a few passive guitars for the sake of having both active and passive setups because they both felt useful to me at the time.

I'm a heavy metal player, and right now am running through a Marshall TSL100 and a Peavey 5150 w/ Orange PPC2X12 and a TS7 on top, and the more I play my active guitars (I've got one with EMG 81 in bridge, and another with EMG 85 in bridge), the more I feel that the advantages of passive pups just don't nearly outweigh the advantages of actives.

In comparison to my EMG's, my SD passives just sound unclear, unaggressive, and choked off on the range of frequencies they deliver.

I'm not looking to start a flame war here between actives and passives, but am just wondering if you think I'm overlooking anything and if I should maybe hang onto my passive guitars for the sake of keeping an open mind.

Thanks.
Last edited by fixationdarknes at Jul 13, 2011,
#2
I've been a metal player my whole life, up until about 6 months ago when I started delving into some jazz and old school blues, and I've found that the passive pickups really help with that kind of tone. I don't know of you'll ever do that, and by no means am I saying you can't play jazz/blues with active pups, I'm just saying that I tend to prefer passives for other genres. Depends if you plan on branching out in the near future or not I guess...
Gig Rig:

Schecter Hellraiser V-1
Crate BV120H
B-52 LS 4x12 cabinet
BBE Rackmount Sonic Max
Boss ME-50 Pedalboard
Digital Reference 2505 Wireless

I don't like BTBAM. Sue Me.

PLUR

My Solo Project
#4
I have two guitars and a bass, all of them which have passive pickups. I've been thinking of getting a new bass, and the particular bass I've been looking at has active pickups.

I haven't really played any instruments with active pickups so I can't compare at this point, but active pickups seems good from what I've heard.
Quote by Kill A Kitten
You know that old saying: "Men who play bass in the band have the largest genitalia." Well, it's the same for women.
#5
If you like the feel and playability of you passive guitars maybe switch the pickups in them to:
a) actives
b) Different passives such as dimarzio [maybe], or what I'd look into if I was you: bare knuckle.

Just another option to consider
RIP Gooze

cats
#6
Quote by swordsofplague
Depends if you plan on branching out in the near future or not I guess...


Fair point, I will keep that in mind.

Quote by ethan_hanus
You just haven't found the right passive pickup, BKP contemporary pickups blow EMG's away at metal, and everything else as well. EMG's are very sharp, but very sterile, but maybe you like no slight alterations in your tone.


But I've never really understood the "sterile" description of EMG's. I thought that gnarly tone was associated with people trying to make use of EMG's through low-wattage solid state amps with not enough headroom.

Can you further explain why BKP's blow EMG's away, and how EMG's are "sterile"? I'm just looking to expand my tonal knowledge here.

Thanks.
#7
EMGs really good at what they do, creating clean, clear distortion across a large variety of guitars. That's why I don't like them, EMGs just sound like every other guitar with EMGs to me. I know you can EQ them and whatnot, but, maybe it's just me, it seems like EMGs have that one sweet spot where they sound best, and that's where everyone seems to play them. I guess you could use Blackouts too for some variety, but they sound pretty similar to EMGs, imo.
#8
One more post:

Try out some (Gibson?) Dirty Fingers. You might begin to like passives
Gig Rig:

Schecter Hellraiser V-1
Crate BV120H
B-52 LS 4x12 cabinet
BBE Rackmount Sonic Max
Boss ME-50 Pedalboard
Digital Reference 2505 Wireless

I don't like BTBAM. Sue Me.

PLUR

My Solo Project
#9

EMG's do not make every guitar sound the same. Anyone who says that is just plain ignorant. Sure, they are pretty compressed, and the preamp does mean that they have a similar colour that comes through a lot regardless of the guitar, but to say they sound the same in every guitar isn't true.

If you think they're sterile, try them at 18v, or better yet try the X series, they're a lot more organic than the regular EMG's.

Quote by fixationdarknes
Can you further explain why BKP's blow EMG's away

They don't. Some people may prefer them, but there is still a massive amount of hype surrounding BKP's. They're nice pickups, yes, but they are definitely not the be-all-end-all pickups.
Misha from Periphery uses Dimarzio's just as much as he uses BKPs, and he's even working on a custom pickup with Dimarzio.

BKP's are fine, but they aren't the best (because there is no best, there are only opinions)
#10
The thing that gets me is that most guitarists whose tone I admire seem to use (or have used) passive pickups. Examples are Alexi Laiho from CoB, Leda from Deluhi, Emppu from Nightwish. But I feel like when I personally use passive pickups they just sound kind of bass-less and lame.



Would it be fair to say that passive pups can sound great in a mix after the bass guitar parts are added in, but on their own might sound kind of thin and weak (due to the narrower frequency response and generally less output)?

I'm just trying to make sense of things here
Last edited by fixationdarknes at Jul 14, 2011,
#11
I loves the active EMGs in my gibson, but they lack picking dynaimcs that passives have. passive feel and sound a bit more natural, but I love my Emgs in the guitars theyre in.
#12
I'm starting to prefer passives over my actives...maybe we should trade?
[img]http://cdn.gs.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/v.gif[/img]
#13
I wouldn't do it. I am a massive fan of EMG's and other active pickups (3 active loaded guitars right now), but I wouldn't go completely active. ever. wouldn't go all passive either.

as much as it is possible to get brilliant sounds for most genre's out of actives, I actually quite like them for jazz, it is difficult to get the right feel sometimes. its not that actives make all guitars feel and sound the same, but rather that actives tend to make guitars sound and feel like they have actives. That is to say, you'll have different sounds and feels, but significantly less variety than you could possibly have.

try other passives. you may find that some suit you better than others (I don't play well with BKP's, I just don't like them for my playing).
#14
If your going to go all active please try some blackouts, i don't understand why people still use EMG's they are so bland and lifeless, every time i try a guitar with emg's it's meh, absolutely no dynamics, blackouts are extremely responsive to different types of picking, i just think of them as high output passives with a little more high end and a lot of gain. Oh and the cleans are actually clean, which is kinda funny because both my rhythm guitarists in my two bands have passives and with the eq, master, output, gain and everything the same on the amp, my actives manage to stay clearer and cleaner than when they play, considering actives are bashed for not having "clean" cleans. Enough of my hate on for EMG's and boner for blackouts, just do what you want to, if you don't see yourself playing smooth jazz or plan on forming a lamb of god cover band you might as well stick with the actives. If you expect your musical taste's to change (which you should) i would keep your best sounding passive guitar and sell the rest, but for god's sake don't sell that rhoads v, and if you do just give it to me
#15
^The Blackouts I tried had excessively high output, they couldn't get clean tones at all unless I rolled the guitars volume knob halfway back. With high gain they were very noisy, just tapping on the pickup casing itself would produce a lot of noise through the amp, and dynamically they weren't as good as EMG's at 18v, and only a bit better than EMG's at 9v.
Still, if they work for you

IMO, in general as actives go for me its EMG X > EMG @18v > Blackouts > EMG @9v.
#17
No-one's whose opinion is worth anything gives a shit, honestly. You do what you have to do to get your sound. I for one love my EMGs: they give me the perfect base to sculpt. That 'sterile' sound is awesome as I can EQ anything in with them. I see no point in having pickups colour the sound in only one way before it hits the amp unless I'm only ever going to use that one sound... which is never going to happen with me.
Ibanez RG2228 w/ EMG808Xs | Line 6 POD HD500 | Mackie HD1221
#18
I have found that with the right tweaking with amp and pedals you can get quite a good sound out of EMG's. I don't really get all the comments about them being 'sterile'. Their cleans also aren't as bad as people make them out to be. Then again, I played them through an amp that does cleans well (Laney Cub 12R).
My Gear:
Gibson SG Classic
Les Paul knockoff >.>
Vox VT30 with footswitch
EHX Big Muff w/ Tone Wicker
#19
not to be a douche, but to me Actives do a real good job of capturing that generic over produced metal high gain sound from the studio. at 18v active they really don't matter what pointy axe they are in it'll be about the same. If that's what you do, then get them. If you play anything else or just don't have that metal mentality passive tend to be the overwhelming majority choice, I use an esquire and it suits me well into the stoner metal area, but I'd never even try playing CoB or anything like that with it, it'd be a shrieking nightmare.
#20
When I had EMG 81/60 in my LP copy the 60 in the neck has the sweetest flute tone I've ever heard. Later when I replaced two pots with EMG EXG and EMG Afterburner I got a hella rocking guitar. Clean and dirty it got it all.

Now I would've kept it if the darn neck didn't warp on me after three years of jammin'. It was an Agile AL3000.

When I put Blackouts in my Carvin DC127 all I can say is WOW, that sound good. Lots of times my volume is rolled back because they're so strong but cranked up and volume full on it rocks.
Parker PDF30
Vox VT40+
#21
By sterile I mean compressed, there are no natural high frequencies or natural low frequencies, they just, sound the same regardless. Since they are so compressed, you can get that studio sound, cause that's all studios do, is compress the living crap out of the guitars, and then compress them some more.

Passives have a more natural compression, so it's smoother and less sharp than the active style compression, and alot of people prefer this slower attack because it lets more of the natural tone of the guitar come through.
#22
Quote by askrere
not to be a douche, but to me Actives do a real good job of capturing that generic over produced metal high gain sound from the studio. at 18v active they really don't matter what pointy axe they are in it'll be about the same. If that's what you do, then get them. If you play anything else or just don't have that metal mentality passive tend to be the overwhelming majority choice, I use an esquire and it suits me well into the stoner metal area, but I'd never even try playing CoB or anything like that with it, it'd be a shrieking nightmare.

I agree with this post.

And I had EMGs and did the 18v mod. A little more headroom for cleans is all you get, I was pretty irritated after because people act like it's so amazing, but it's really just a mod to make your EMGs sound decent on a clean setting.
#23
Quote by fixationdarknes

Would it be fair to say that passive pups can sound great in a mix after the bass guitar parts are added in, but on their own might sound a bit thin and weak (due to the narrower frequency response)? Or do I perhaps need to just spend some time EQ-ing?



^ Any input on this? Should the "ideal" tone that I achieve be with a full band's mix in mind, or should I be able to love my tone on its own before putting it into a mix? Because I feel like there is something cool about my passive tone, but @ the same time it just feels a bit bass-less and lacking beef in a way.

Thanks.
#24
Quote by fixationdarknes
^ Any input on this? Should the "ideal" tone that I achieve be with a full band's mix in mind, or should I be able to love my tone on its own before putting it into a mix? Because I feel like there is something cool about my passive tone, but @ the same time it just feels a bit bass-less and lacking beef in a way.

Thanks.


You gotta have the right pickup for the right guitar. An alder guitar will need a pickups with more bass than a mahogany guitar, in my experience. Also, don't ever underestimate the power of an EQ pedal. I swear most problems people have with pickups just need a proper EQ-ing.
#25
Hmm, my LTD Alexi which is alder/maple and has a FR bridge has a Seymour Duncan Custom (SH-5) in it. Does that pickup lack low end? What would be a similar pickup but with more bass? And yeah my friend Offworld the other night was saying an eq pedal would make a big difference.
#26
Quote by fixationdarknes
Hmm, my LTD Alexi which is alder/maple and has a FR bridge has a Seymour Duncan Custom (SH-5) in it. Does that pickup lack low end? What would be a similar pickup but with more bass? And yeah my friend Offworld the other night was saying an eq pedal would make a big difference.


for the music you play i would stick with actves but at least keep 1 with passives in case you play clues, clean things ballads etc... de passives gve more dynamic and classical crunchy tone while teh actives are just equalized and compressed cause in metal it's not cool if some picks lose energy. the song has to stay powered and no note may drop out.

you know what some people aren't seeing i think?
when you switch from your active to your passive guitar i think it's normal that the passive seems to lack low end. they are equalized totally differently so each pickup needs other EQ settings on the amp. (allso because of wood. for example my totally mahogany SAS needs less low end way more mid and treble to achieve teh same sound as my ibanez with maple top which in that case needs more bass, and less mid and treble. what i just said is quite basic but some people seem to forget it.


allso on your guitar there, maple and alder are very bright sounding woods and a FR being metallic and requiring quite some space in the body (which causes you to have less wood) make that that guitar will have way less low end than for example a mahogany guitar. and i guess your active pup guitar is from a heavier wood (correct me if i'm wrong) and i just went to the seymour duncan site to read and that pickup is especialy known for its strong MID and TREBLE. and it has some punchy bass they say so you'd have to try on higher volumes i think.

sorry for my messed up english i don't allways remember my words. i'm belgian
#27
Quote by fixationdarknes
Hmm, my LTD Alexi which is alder/maple and has a FR bridge has a Seymour Duncan Custom (SH-5) in it. Does that pickup lack low end? What would be a similar pickup but with more bass? And yeah my friend Offworld the other night was saying an eq pedal would make a big difference.

Dude, get an EQ pedal before anything else http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guitars/danelectro-dj14-fish-and-chips-7-band-eq-pedal/151873000000000?src=3WFRWXX&ZYXSEM=0&CAWELAID=26018622

$30 and it'll help your tone a lot. And even if you did get it and for some reason couldn't get the sound you want from your current pickup, you will use the pedal with actives because it gives you so much control over your tone. But I think played through a good amp with an EQ pedal, you should be able to get the balls you want from the pickup.
#28
Alright thanks. So is the EQ voicing of a pickup not THAT crucial, so long as you get the overall sound you want from it and can just EQ it one way or the other?

^Also, as far as an EQ Pedal, I've heard a lot of people like the MXR 10-band. Should I snag a used one of those? How much more helpful is the 10-band over the 7-band?
#29
Quote by fixationdarknes
Alright thanks. So is the EQ voicing of a pickup not THAT crucial, so long as you get the overall sound you want from it and can just EQ it one way or the other?

^Also, as far as an EQ Pedal, I've heard a lot of people like the MXR 10-band. Should I snag a used one of those? How much more helpful is the 10-band over the 7-band?

Well, the MXR is way better built, so you pay for that. I have never used a 10 band pedal, so I don't know if it's really needed.

A lot of times you can just tweak the EQ to fix a problem, like high mids or low bass, but some pickups are made for a certain reason. If it's made to be low bass, and then put into a bright guitar, EQ may not fix it. I've found that if a pickup is made for a style, like a high gain pickup, or a boutique, I can usually get it pretty damn close to where I want it by tweaking the EQ, presence, and the tone knob. Usually, the pickup will still retain it's own characteristic sounds though, and this is probably due to the magnet used and the amount of winds, to a degree.
#30
Quote by AEnesidem
for the music you play i would stick with actves but at least keep 1 with passives in case you play clues, clean things ballads etc... de passives gve more dynamic and classical crunchy tone while teh actives are just equalized and compressed cause in metal it's not cool if some picks lose energy. the song has to stay powered and no note may drop out.

you know what some people aren't seeing i think?
when you switch from your active to your passive guitar i think it's normal that the passive seems to lack low end. they are equalized totally differently so each pickup needs other EQ settings on the amp. (allso because of wood. for example my totally mahogany SAS needs less low end way more mid and treble to achieve teh same sound as my ibanez with maple top which in that case needs more bass, and less mid and treble. what i just said is quite basic but some people seem to forget it.


allso on your guitar there, maple and alder are very bright sounding woods and a FR being metallic and requiring quite some space in the body (which causes you to have less wood) make that that guitar will have way less low end than for example a mahogany guitar. and i guess your active pup guitar is from a heavier wood (correct me if i'm wrong) and i just went to the seymour duncan site to read and that pickup is especialy known for its strong MID and TREBLE. and it has some punchy bass they say so you'd have to try on higher volumes i think.

sorry for my messed up english i don't allways remember my words. i'm belgian


Thanks, that makes sense. I do think I need an eq pedal so I can switch my settings when switching from one axe to another. And yeah I may have to switch my SH-5 to a different pickup, the Alexi is definitely a very bright instrument XD

Quote by W4RP1G
Well, the MXR is way better built, so you pay for that. I have never used a 10 band pedal, so I don't know if it's really needed.

A lot of times you can just tweak the EQ to fix a problem, like high mids or low bass, but some pickups are made for a certain reason. If it's made to be low bass, and then put into a bright guitar, EQ may not fix it. I've found that if a pickup is made for a style, like a high gain pickup, or a boutique, I can usually get it pretty damn close to where I want it by tweaking the EQ, presence, and the tone knob. Usually, the pickup will still retain it's own characteristic sounds though, and this is probably due to the magnet used and the amount of winds, to a degree.


Alright thanks very much for the help.
#31
Quote by ethan_hanus
By sterile I mean compressed, there are no natural high frequencies or natural low frequencies, they just, sound the same regardless. Since they are so compressed, you can get that studio sound, cause that's all studios do, is compress the living crap out of the guitars, and then compress them some more.

Passives have a more natural compression, so it's smoother and less sharp than the active style compression, and alot of people prefer this slower attack because it lets more of the natural tone of the guitar come through.


Actives have a wider frequency response than most passive pickups, so they pick up more high and low frequencies. Thats why people think they sound sterile, because they aren't colouring your tone like passive pickups do.

Passives sound more natural because they don't have compression added by a preamp, and they're coloured in a pleasing way, similar to how guitar amps colour the signal, which makes it sound natural, even though if you graphed the frequency response it would be far from flat. High output passives can still be quite compressed sounding, but generally not as much as an active pickup.