#1
Ok guys I have solved the issue of the battery with active pickups:

I was looking at swapping out a stock passive pickup for an active pickup and after looking at my options I realized some things.

An upgrade install from passive pickups to actives is pretty easy for the most part especially if you purchase a prewired pickguard or a kit from a company like EMG who makes a great wiring harness system but the area that needs to be improved is the battery system itself for these changeovers the kits end with a 9 volt battery clip but what about mounting the battery somewhere secure yet easy to get to and what if you want to run an 18 volt system?

The whole battery dilemma is left up to the consumer to figure out the best way to store and secure the battery in their paticular guitar setup and all pickup makers offer is a battery box which requires routing to the guitar body but this is a fatal flaw because the average do it yourselfer guitar guy who would tackle the electronics part usually will not feel to comfortable altering the guitar body itself which requires a router and a bit of skill and I think because of this a lot of people pass on the active upgrade altogether.

Yes you can stuff a battery into the control cavity of a Les Paul style guitar but you have to make sure the battery is insulated in tape or foam and if you want to do the 18 volt mod which most guys would want to at least try then things get real tight real fast now you have two batteries and more wires to suff into the control cavity and if you own a Strat style guitar your lucky to get one battery underneath the pickguard.

Also there are other pitfalls like taking the screws in and out of the covers over time will strip out the wood of the guitar body and screws could be dropped and lost and plus Strat owners have to unstring the guitar and remove the entire pickguard in order to change the battery.

The sales pitch answer is it’s not that big of a deal the battery lasts for a year or better and that’s with heavy use but what if you forget to unplug your guitar like your supposed to and the battery gets run down or what about the pro musicians who insist on fresh batteries for every gig that’s lot’s of extra work for the guitar techs to change out the batteries every night and a lot of wear and tear on the guitars.

I have designed a small battery box that holds two 9 volt batteries and let’s you choose between the stock 9 volts or the 18 volt mod with the flip of a switch you can even switch off the batteries and not have to worry about unplugging your guitar and the best part is you can clip it onto your belt or slip it onto your guitar strap plus my design plugs right into the stock 9 volt battery clip on the wiring harness that comes with all active kits without having to modify it. All that is required to add my system is to drill one hole to mount a second ¼” jack either in the pickguard on Strats or into the control cover on a Les Paul style and plug in a right angled guitar cable from that jack to the ¼” jack on my battery box viola problem solved!

I am almost done building the first prototype I am just waiting on the project box to arrive in order to get it all mounted up here is a pic of the electronics:

#2
If you can come up with a way to do this without drilling any holes, you may be on to something. Stewmac and other parts dealers sell a dual 9v case, much like the one you will find on some EMG equipped guitars, except it holds 2 9volts. I'd imagine anyone who is willing to drill into their guitar would be willing to do it right any add that very nice and professional looking cavity.
#3
one 1/4" hole is much less work than a dual 9 volt battery holder and this is designed for guitars that did not come factory equipped with actives I feel a lot of folks would welcome something like this..
#4
So, your idea is to build a separate battery box that holds the battery's, and have it connect to the pickups via a 1/4 instrument cable?

Sounds good on paper, but I imagine that the resistance of the cable through length would reduce the output dramatically. But maybe if you kept it under 5 feet it'd be alright.
#5
the cable really only needs to be about a foot long just long enough to plug into the guitar then to the box on you guitar strap or clip it on your belt

once this is all done I will post the final pic and you will see what I mean I think it will work out just fine no resistance issues I even toyed with the idea of using three batteries and a potentiometer to fine tune the voltage anywhere from zero to 27 volts I may also add a battery monitor.
#6
Quote by computersplus
the cable really only needs to be about a foot long just long enough to plug into the guitar then to the box on you guitar strap or clip it on your belt

once this is all done I will post the final pic and you will see what I mean I think it will work out just fine no resistance issues I even toyed with the idea of using three batteries and a potentiometer to fine tune the voltage anywhere from zero to 27 volts I may also add a battery monitor.



A battery monitor would be excellent, just to let you know. Idk if you know how to build one that has the 3 light system, good, medium, and low lights.
#8
Quote by computersplus
one 1/4" hole is much less work than a dual 9 volt battery holder and this is designed for guitars that did not come factory equipped with actives I feel a lot of folks would welcome something like this..

I understand that, but for some people, drilling the hole in their guitar will be the issue, not the work. I would personally rather do something all the way when it comes to that stuff. I understand what you're saying though, it would make upgrading to EMG much more accessible without the battery issue, and it's a decent solution, but I'd imagine would affect a guitar's resell value more than a 9volt cavity as it's not really the accepted solution, and having a cable from your person to the guitar would be annoying, to say the least.
#9
well it depends on how you look at it....

you can't fill in a huge hole if you change your mind and want to undo the active setup but it is easy to replace a cavity cover or a pickguard especially if you are modding a vintage axe and want to keep things as original as possible without just destroying the guitar and it's value

I do understand your view as well but again this is to try to make things a little easier for the not so handy some people need things the simpler the better and with this setup I think it's as easy as it gets.

I think having the box on the guitar strap at the bottom is the best way but having the option to clip it on as well in case your just sitting jamming and don't really need a strap is a nice option.
#10
Ignorant question:

The active pup probably already comes with a stereo jack to shut off power when the cable's unplugged, right?

Could you use a stereo cable instead and wire the jack so that the ring sends power to the active electronics?

Then you have a breakout box at the amp side with your battery(ies) and/or a wall wart wired with positive to the ring and, the tip going to the tip on a another jack (but mono), and the sleeve going to the power ground as well as the sleeve on the mono jack. Then you plug a regular instrument cable into the mono jack and the other end into your rig.

Sure, you'd have to wire the active electronics differently to the stereo jack (put the lead intended for the ring onto the sleeve, as well as the lead intended for the negative battery terminal. And then wire the lead intended for the positive battery terminal to the ring.

It might be hard to find a TRS "instrument cable" (high-z)...

Would that work?
#11
this system is designed so that there is no modification needed to the wiring harness supplied with any active kit so leave the stereo jack as is with the kit so that everything works properly that extra lug on the stereo jack turns on the active system I introduce my system at the 9 volt battery clip my clip plugs in then goes to it's own jack just for power I tried to make it simple and painless for those who would be buying an active kit just install and wire per directions in the kit and you won't go wrong when you add this system.

the problem with using a wall wart is filtering the batteries offer cleaner power what you are proposing is a lot of work for nothing.
Last edited by computersplus at Sep 9, 2011,
#12
Quote by computersplus
this system is designed so that there is no modification needed to the wiring harness supplied with any active kit so leave the stereo jack as is with the kit so that everything works properly that extra lug on the stereo jack turns on the active system I introduce my system at the 9 volt battery clip my clip plugs in then goes to it's own jack just for power I tried to make it simple and painless for those who would be buying an active kit just install and wire per directions in the kit and you won't go wrong when you add this system.

the problem with using a wall wart is filtering the batteries offer cleaner power what you are proposing is a lot of work for nothing.


OK, Eric Johnson--what brand of batteries sound the best? Hey I guess I'll gig with my VOX DA5 running 6 C cells instead of my Marshall stack since that plugs into the wall.

Just kidding.

Seriously though, I only mentioned the wall wart as an *option*; it would be just as easy to use batteries instead.

As for the wiring business--your solution is great for those less intimidated by drilling into their precious guitars than they are by a little bit of soldering. And being in the computer repair business, I could see why you would want the population to leave the soldering to the pro's.

Having been a carpenter (who knows when I may return to the old trade), I want people to fear drills, so I offer them these steps:

1. Cut the wire from the ring terminal on the input jack and solder it to the sleeve terminal.
2. Cut the black wire from the battery plug and solder it to the sleeve terminal on the input jack.
3. Cut the red wire from the battery plug and solder it to the ring terminal on the input jack.
4. Enjoy a cold beer (or 12) while Computerplus's customers are figuring out how to drill a big enough hole inside the guitar for the jack body and yet have the hole on the surface of the guitar be small enough for the diameter of the jack neck.

Assuming that we're installing the jack on the side of the guitar, that can be tricky unless you supply another jack plate. But there's so many different coutours out there, so that could be tough, too. And some won't work if they drill the hole a 1/4" off in either direction.

I know that comes across a little smart-ass, but I really don't mean it that way. Just keeping it light and bringing in a little friendly levity.

I think you're on to a really cool idea. Most new ideas require some refinements. Even Bill gates has to beta test his software.

Back to my original question--would my suggestion work?

Or would running the battery ground through the guitar jack sleeve put too much voltage in the signal chain? Could that harm pedals, amps, etc?

Or would you get too much voltage loss in 20' of high-z cable?
Last edited by jetwash69 at Sep 9, 2011,
#13
I actually thought about the wall wart option myself but again there are filtering issues and the batteries send clean power to the pickup preamps with no unwanted noise and what about the voltages most wall warts would be up to about 12 volts not 18 unless you used like a 19 volt laptop AC adapter.

My jack only needs to be mounted in a pickguard like a traditional Strat type or in the rear cavity control cover like a Les Paul most guitars conform to this setup same thing applies to a Tele as well.

The jack does not need to go on the body itself could you do it that way if you wanted to yes of course but again just about anyone can drill a small hole in plastic and that plastic can be replaced very easy if you were to change your mind later on but filing in a hole in the wood not so easy and a deeper hole to drill some might not get it straight or get it wallowed out like an egg or whatever.

As for your idea all I can say is try it.... all I can tell you is what I have confirmed works if you want to modify it go for it and let me know how it works.
Last edited by computersplus at Sep 9, 2011,
#14
OK, so a hole in the pickguard and the plug sticks straight out? I guess that could look good on a Mustang or an SG or a P-Bass or something else with the input jack sticking straight out, but I can't think of any of those with plastic that wouldn't get in the way of of aggressive strumming.

Wouldn't it be goofy looking on a strat wih the instrument cable coming out at that cool angle, yet the power cable coming out perpendicular? I guess you could provide a cable with a 90 degree plug which would help a bit. Would you put it between the 2 tone pots? Would that get in the way of the stock tone capicitor?

Teles and LPs and most superstrats have the input jacks in the side of the bodies so anything coming out the top might be weird.

In the rear control cavity cover? Or the trem cavity cover? Seems like even if you could tolerate the discomfort of it poking you you'd still break it pretty quickly, even with a 90 degree plug.

Send me a guitar, a set of EMGs, and a test amp, and I'll be happy to experiment any of these concepts for you.

But if I put EMGs in my own guitar, then it'll be a great excuse to play with my power tools.
#15
BTW, wall warts are available to industry in any voltage you want; AC or DC. As for noise, I modded my DI Box to run off a wallwart instead of a 9v bat or phantom power, and there's no noise issues at all. It's just a cheap Danelctro adapter from Guitar Center.
#16
the only guitar plugs I would use are the 90 degree flat plugs they hardly protrude at all read my original description I stated the 90 degree plug.

there is plenty of room for the small 1/4" jack to be mounted in a Strat pickguard look at the pic I posted it will fit without issue.

the cavity cover with a jack on the rear with the flat plug should hold up fine that plastic is tuff.

I did not mention or intend to use a straight plug on any of this there maybe a better option than the 1/4" jack but I stayed with it because number one it's familiar and number two it's sturdy.

Again can an advanced installer work out a better plan for himself yes but again I am only trying to make it "easy" plug and play if you will for a novice this is a work in progress and I have ideas for multiple versions for varying designs but needed to start somewhere I think I idea is a solid one can it be improved without a doubt.

Like I stated before I am just tired of the pickup makers just ignoring the issue and going look we provided you with a 9 volt battery clip you figure out the rest I mean the whole wrap the battery in foam or tape and toss it in come on they can do better than that but nobody tries or cares I guess.... you would think they see the issue and try to do something about it I mean all they stand to gain are more pickup sales!!!
#17
My hat's off to you computersplus--we need more of your innovative spirit in this country!

Take care.
#18
I just meant the average adapter most people would have lying around for a project most are 3, 6, 9, or 12 volt

you have to remember that Di box is at the end of the signal chain the other way around with a poor power source direct to a pickup
#19
Quote by computersplus
I just meant the average adapter most people would have lying around for a project most are 3, 6, 9, or 12 volt

you have to remember that Di box is at the end of the signal chain the other way around with a poor power source direct to a pickup


Well the wall wart won't be an issue for you anyway. But I wouldn't sell a kit intended for wall wart use without one. If you count on the user to use one lying around, then theres a good chance the polarity will be wrong or it'll be AC instead of DC. Lots of blown out stomp boxes at pawn shops murdered like that.

But I don't get what you're saying about the DI Box--as far as I know there's not much difference between the active electronics in EMG active pups, in an active DI Box, or in a stomp pedal--at least not within the context of this discussion. But I'm no electrical engineer. Please elaborate; I'm here to learn...
#20
May I recommend a coaxial power connector instead of a 1/4" phone plug? Might be a good idea to keep confusion to a minimum. No way to confuse which jack is which for audio/power connection. ANother benefit is that most DC connection plug/jax are somewhat smaller.
#21
I believe that today's EMGs only need one battery, so the 18volt mod is kind of pointless, right? It's not hard at all to fit a 9volt into a control cavity.
#22
I thought about coaxial but they are much more fragile and harder to find in right angles trust me I put a lot of thought into it and this is the best i have come up with for now if there is something that works and holds up better I'm all ears....

As for not needing the 18 volts it's not about what we need it's about what we don't have lol...I want it all!!!!!

Just remember active preamps can run up to 27 volts and it's all about what sounds good to each persons ear so whether it's 1 batt 2 batts or 3 batts go for what you want...

I just think it's time to evolve the active pickups a step just tossing a battery into a cavity does not do it for me I want something more like adjustable voltage easier storage and change outs not having to hack up a guitar.

I knew when I put this out there people would pick the idea apart but think about what I am trying to do.... is it better than a guitar that came factory equipped with routed in battery boxes no but.... for the guy who is afraid of switching out passives for actives and wonders will I even like them and want to take them out and now has a hole in the back of the guitar for a battery it's the perfect solution.
Last edited by computersplus at Sep 9, 2011,
#23
let me talk about EMG for a minute.....

I have tried to contact customer service over there twice with no reply and also on their forum they make you have your posts approved before they post them I still have not gotten a successful post at their forums so I am not to impressed with how they handle customers so remember there are other companies that make active pickups and are cheaper.
#24
Quote by jetwash69
BTW, wall warts are available to industry in any voltage you want; AC or DC. As for noise, I modded my DI Box to run off a wallwart instead of a 9v bat or phantom power, and there's no noise issues at all. It's just a cheap Danelctro adapter from Guitar Center.



But a real DI box is passive... At least all the ones I have used have been passive.
#26
Last edited by computersplus at Sep 9, 2011,
#27
Quote by ethan_hanus
But a real DI box is passive... At least all the ones I have used have been passive.


Every church setup I've seen uses these:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Live-Wire-Solutions-SPDI-Passive-Direct-Box-with-Attenuation-Pad-103814505-i1372940.gc

Which is great in a church because they have bigger Things to worry about than fresh batteries in the DI/remembering to leave phantom power on so the accoustic electrics make it in the mix.

But this is what I use because I like stereo in the PA for digital drums:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SDirectPlus/ and it's only $10 more and I never did come across a passive stereo DI Box (not saying they don't exist; they might). And now I don't have to worry about batteries or phantom power either because I modded it with a coax power jack and plug it in with the wall wart. If I lose wall power, I can unplug the cord and it goes back to battery automatically. And if there's phantom coming through, then it defaults to use that instead of the wall wart or battery.

BTW, well done, TS.
Last edited by jetwash69 at Sep 10, 2011,