Ok, I have been thinking about upping the pickups in my guitar for awhile now. I've really been looking at a set of 85/81 ZW EMG's and a set of Duncan Blackouts (Not a fan of duncans, but have heard that they are a lot better than most of their other pickups)

Now normally I would just ask around the local guitarists, so I did. Well, I got a lot of inconsistent answers.

So basically, what are the + and -'s of active pickups?

Also, no one seems to have ever heard of this in my area, but what does a kill switch do? I'm assuming it's just a button so the volume goes all the way down when depressed?

Thanks in advance, sorry if these questions have been asked before/in the wrong forum.
You're right on the killswitch. It interrupts the signal.

Active have very high output and a very even response. They are mainly used for metal and excel in that territory. Many people say they have lifeless cleans which I'd have to agree with. They tend to work best with mahogany bodied guitars as well.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
I haven't had any active magnetics, but I understand the upsides to be higher output, more sustain and cut/boost EQ circuits.

One downside could be the battery required, depending on how accessible it is.

I had a beater guitar years ago with a single bridge position humbucker, a volume and a kill switch. You can get some cool stutter effects. I recently saw a video of Buckethead using a killswitch very effectively and...rather extensively.

Last edited by carpepax at Feb 27, 2008,
Thanks for the answers, I really think I'm gonna go with one of those sets of actives, so has anyone ever played Blackouts??? I've played a set of EMG's on a ZW custom at guitar center and I really loved them, man can they squeal. (I have a ton of trouble doing pinch harmonics with my Schecter, it still has the stock pickups on them and I have to REALLY overdrive my friends Krank amp to get even a bit of squeal lol, yes they're that bad. But they've been messed with a lot lol.)

And yeah, I really thought thats what a killswitch was, anyone know how much $ it would take to have one set up on your guitar???
Quote by edusty2010
And yeah, I really thought thats what a killswitch was, anyone know how much $ it would take to have one set up on your guitar???

A killswitch is a simple mechanical interruption of the signal. It can be done with a toggle or a pushbutton, which is what I think Buckethead was using. A pushbutton with a spring so it always comes back on when you're not pushing the button is slick. The switch simply lets you select between the pickup signal and ground(nothing).

If your guitar has a pickguard, such as a Strat, it will be much cheaper and less time consuming than if you have to modify a wood body.

Aside from any woodwork, wiring a switch shouldn't be much $.
Last edited by carpepax at Feb 28, 2008,
Kewl, next time I'm in my local guitar shop I'll ask what the guy can do or if he can refer me to someone with more know how and see if I can get that all set up!

The pickup question still stands tho; EMG v. Blackouts

Also, how much would you say Blackouts contribute to Alexi Laiho's sound? (I know a bunch of people hate COB, but I don't, so get over it. I play a lot of COB and COB-ish things, so sounding close to that would be a plus for me.)
Ah, thank you once again carpepax!

And I actually have a ****ty like 15 watt practice amp, but when I preform I use my schools Fender tube, think it might be a 50w? Not really sure, but it's pretty ****ty. Thinking about getting a half stack (tube of course) over the summer depending on how my summer job pays
I'd save your money, then. Don't bother with pickups until you buy your own amp, that's voiced metal and whatnot. The active pickups aren't going to do much for you, nor can you tell if that's what you really need - since you don't have an "ideal" amp. Pickup swaps are for tweaking your tone, so if you don't have the amp that gives you a tone pretty close to what you're looking for, how can you tweak that - you know?
Plus, they might even make your practice amp sound worse!