I was explaining what active pickups were to my dad and how you changed the batteries and he said, "surely you have to take of all the strings and take the pickup off when you change the battery?"

The thing is even after thinking about it, i've never had a guitar with active pickups.

so can someone explain to me how you change the battery.

there's a compartment to swap out the battery on the side or in the back cavity.

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Theres usually a pickup compartment on the back of the guitar. Takes 2 seconds to replace.. Or if switching from passive to active you usually mount the batterys in the control compartment then it takes 10 seconds...
There should be a plate for it in the back, if I'm not mistaken.
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it's just 9volt battery snaps.

i have 2 in series, so that i can run my EMG at 18 volts.

open up the control cavity, pull them off, put new ones on. and they last like 3000 hours or something?

I haven't even replaced them yet, and I've had them in there for months. they don't drain unless you leave the cable plugged in the stereo jack.
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