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Thread: What are the benefits of active pickups?

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    Default What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Also, any cons?
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    I will let you decide if these are pros or cons and these are just my observations with EMG's of the single coill, H/B, and bass variety:

    *Very clear sound, even with effects. The fundamental never seems to get lost.
    *Even with a healthy amount of O.D., a clear fundamental sound is in the mix.
    *Can drive a lot of effects and long cables.....no change in tone.
    *Do not respond the same way as passive p/u's. Whereas passive single coils, for example, by design, have certain frequencies present AND absent (call it character?), active p/u's seem to have the frequency spectrum a little more evened out.

    With all that said, there were things I really like active p/u's for, some things I like passives for......ideally, it would be nice to have all of them!

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gforce9 View Post
    I will let you decide if these are pros or cons and these are just my observations with EMG's of the single coill, H/B, and bass variety:

    *Very clear sound, even with effects. The fundamental never seems to get lost.
    *Even with a healthy amount of O.D., a clear fundamental sound is in the mix.
    *Can drive a lot of effects and long cables.....no change in tone.
    *Do not respond the same way as passive p/u's. Whereas passive single coils, for example, by design, have certain frequencies present AND absent (call it character?), active p/u's seem to have the frequency spectrum a little more evened out.

    With all that said, there were things I really like active p/u's for, some things I like passives for......ideally, it would be nice to have all of them!
    Thanks brother! I tend to use moderate distortion but am a fan of Metallica and Pantera and other metal bands and like to jam on that kind of music sometimes. I've heard that the SD blackouts are a very high quality active pickup set and theyre very quiet, this is all attractive to me.
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gforce9 View Post
    *Very clear sound, even with effects. The fundamental never seems to get lost.
    *Even with a healthy amount of O.D., a clear fundamental sound is in the mix.
    *Can drive a lot of effects and long cables.....no change in tone.
    *Do not respond the same way as passive p/u's. Whereas passive single coils, for example, by design, have certain frequencies present AND absent (call it character?), active p/u's seem to have the frequency spectrum a little more evened out.
    Also, low noise.

    On the down side:
    -Cold, sterile tone (windings give PU's color and character, actives have less windings, hence the need for batteries).
    -Made for heavy distortion and effects; not as good for cleaner tones.
    -Can't change magnets in some (or all) actives.
    -Periodic low battery level, and battery corrosion if you leave them in a guitar you haven't played in a while.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    You can hit a bar on the way home after you tell your wife that you need batteries for it.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Also, low noise.

    On the down side:
    -Cold, sterile tone (windings give PU's color and character, actives have less windings, hence the need for batteries).
    -Made for heavy distortion and effects; not as good for cleaner tones.
    -Can't change magnets in some (or all) actives.
    -Periodic low battery level, and battery corrosion if you leave them in a guitar you haven't played in a while.
    This was a interview with Seymour Duncan and this is what he says:

    In the age-old battle of active vs. passive, what do you see as the pros and cons of using each?


    S.D: Well, the passive pickup has always been the traditional mainstay in what people have heard, ever since bassists like Carol Kaye. A lot of people find that with active pickups you can have problems when you’re out on the gig and your battery goes dead, or you realise that your tone changes as the current from the battery drains, which can be quite problematic. With passive pickups, your sound is right there – no mess, no fuss – you just get up and do it, you know?

    E.S: That said, active pickups are more popular among bass players than guitar players, so we’ve developed a full range of pickups, both in the soapbar format and in the Jazz and ‘P’ format. In addition, we find that especially in eq, with active pickups you have far more tonal possibilities at your fingertips, rather than just a passive treble roll-off, so we offer tone circuits that give either two or three bands of focused eq to the bass player, regardless of whether they’re using them with active or passive pickups. In other words, you can have passive pickups – let’s say the stock pickups that came in your Jazz bass, but use our tone circuits to replace the passive electronics and give you all the advantages of active eq, plus we’ve built in a separate eq contour made specifically for slap style playing. In addition, we also have electronics made specifically for use on a fretless bass.

    S.D: With our electronics, whether they’re active or passive, we try to always keep things upgraded with the best components – they give the best sound! If you start putting in older components, you can get a lot of noise-to-signal ratio – you want to eliminate that and go for clarity in the bass. That’s why we use an 18V circuit – it just helps with the whole tonality, to get the right spread, especially when you hit those low notes, you don’t want the battery to be sucked out, or you start getting all kinds of distortion.
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    The lack of hot @$$ windings means less string pull and sustain for days -provided your guitar is up to it. The active electronics do all the "work". With the Seymour Duncan actives, I can't agree with the "sterile sound" thing. SD actives are a lot of things. But sterile sounding ain't one of 'em. The 18volt actives I tend to use offer tons of headroom too. The metal pickups drive my Marshall to breakup before the signal even hits the preamp. The clean pickups are crystal clean with that signature SD tone.
    The only reason I even use passive pickups anymore is that there are still a few that I can't match (tonewise) with a comparable active. Like the Dimebucker, the DP151 PAF Pro, the DP152 Super3, and my old love; the Bill Lawrence 500XL.
    Having to use batteries ain't a negative to me. Just have to make sure they'll fit in the control compartment BEFORE you install the pickups.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Also, low noise.

    On the down side:
    -Cold, sterile tone (windings give PU's color and character, actives have less windings, hence the need for batteries).
    -Made for heavy distortion and effects; not as good for cleaner tones.
    IMO, the SD Live Wire Classic II active HBs answer both of these criticisms. On an LTD all-mahogany LP-style guitar, I can get anything from clear Jazz through dirty Blues Rock to Randy Rhoads rip. (Shame that I cannot play anything like as well as him!)
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Funkfingers View Post
    IMO, the SD Live Wire Classic II active HBs answer both of these criticisms. On an LTD all-mahogany LP-style guitar, I can get anything from clear Jazz through dirty Blues Rock to Randy Rhoads rip. (Shame that I cannot play anything like as well as him!)


    I'm considering the use of a set of blackouts in my jaguar. the standard set.

    http://www.seymourduncan.com/product...dge/blackouts/

    I have a feeling I'll like the tightness, and since I'm not running a Twin Reverb anyway, my cleans aren't great to begin with, so no big deal.

    question: the use of this set would mean I can't use ANYTHING from my jaguar, including the bass cut, since it's all passive?

    Would I be able to use the switches that turn each pickup on and off?

    There's also the option of buying a jagmaster for sale locally and installing these in that. makes more sense... then that could be my beater.
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by astrozombie View Post


    I'm considering the use of a set of blackouts in my jaguar. the standard set.

    http://www.seymourduncan.com/product...dge/blackouts/

    I have a feeling I'll like the tightness, and since I'm not running a Twin Reverb anyway, my cleans aren't great to begin with, so no big deal.

    question: the use of this set would mean I can't use ANYTHING from my jaguar, including the bass cut, since it's all passive?

    Would I be able to use the switches that turn each pickup on and off?

    There's also the option of buying a jagmaster for sale locally and installing these in that. makes more sense... then that could be my beater.
    Ooh. Lots of questions, all bunched up together.

    1) You are correct that fitting active pickups to your HH Jag will render most of the controls redundant.

    2) The slider switches should still perform their simple on/off function. On the PU switches, the sliding of the contacts may introduce some spurious noises. On the Bass Cut (AKA "strangle") switch, you may need to change the capacitor value. Try the stock cap first anyway.

    3) If you can afford the pre-owned Jagmaster and the Blackouts, it would be simpler all around. Two HBs, one selector switch, two pots, one jack socket, battery under the plate, no new routs. More importantly, perhaps, no having to give up those weird and wonderful passive Jaguar switching options.

    Now, AZ, a question for you. What HB is currently fitted in your Fender Tom DeLonge Stratocaster? How about putting a Blackout in that?
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Funkfingers View Post
    What HB is currently fitted in your Fender Tom DeLonge Stratocaster? How about putting a Blackout in that?
    for real. a white one to match the pickguard. it is white right?
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    Also, low noise.

    On the down side:
    -Cold, sterile tone (windings give PU's color and character, actives have less windings, hence the need for batteries).
    -Made for heavy distortion and effects; not as good for cleaner tones.
    -Can't change magnets in some (or all) actives.
    -Periodic low battery level, and battery corrosion if you leave them in a guitar you haven't played in a while.
    I wouldn't call Blackouts sterile, but I've never had the in person experience. in comparison with EMG's they are quite warm. Also, my own question, Has anyone here ever tried the Alumnitone Lace humbuckers? They're supposed to have more highs, more lows, and more mids and clarity than most pikups with no noise. I think its too good to be true but I want 'em if its true.
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    I had a set of those Alumitones. I loved the clean tones-almost, dare I say-acoustic-ish. With any dirt, however, I couldn't stand them. Very muddy with a fizzy high that no amount of eq-fiddling could tame. There was also a weird threshold that, past a certain point, no more gain made a difference. It was as if the gain knob on my Cobra stopped at noon.

    All that said, I may get a set again in the future just for the awesome cleans.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    I remember Evan posting once that the Classic Livewire's are some of the best sounding strat pickups Duncan makes....or something similar. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I came away with the impression that he would choose these pups personally over a lot of other traditional single coil pups. I've been contemplating them in my white strat.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    i may be wrong here, and if so pls advise...

    there's the safety factor, too

    actives don't require the player/strings/bridge to be grounded, so if anything bad happens on the instrument cable you're isolated from it.

    we have earth pins on all out mains plugs down here so we don't need to worry as much, but it's not a bad idea for a gigging instrument
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    I see two parts to this question. Benefits derived directly from pickups being active, ie. having a preamp in them are:
    - The volume control is consistent and doesn't get muddy as you turn it down.
    - The tone control to longer interacts with the pickups, so it just rolls off treble instead of changing the resonant peak.
    - The pickups respond the same no matter what cable, pedals, or amp you plug into.

    Benefits enabled by use of a preamp and commonly used in active pickups(aka EMG):
    - Weaker magnets cause less string pull and compression.
    - Extensive shielding makes for a quieter pickup and eliminates the need for a ground link to the strings, saving guitarists from horrible building wiring.
    - Coils summed electronically, allowing excellent noise cancellation without coil interaction, ie. sounding like a typical humbucker.
    - Coils can have fewer winds, raising the resonant peak and flattening the frequency response overall. I'm not sure EMG actually does this.

    Oh, yeah - cons would be:
    - Pickups don't interact with each other, so a Strat's 2 & 4 and a Tele's middle position lose their magic. It can be a cool sound in it's own right, especially when combining two humbuckers - it just sounds like a cross between the two and not something else entirely.
    - Preamps can only have so much headroom when using a 9v power supply. A heavy-handed player can clip or max out the pickups unless supreme amounts of trickery are utilized. An 18v supply is the best bet.
    - Most current active pickups are dual coils loaded with bar magnets or blades(think Lawrence or Barden). Unless you like that type of pickup you're out of luck. Maybe this should be a benefit - smoother, steelier response with no drop-off when bending strings.
    Last edited by ParameterMan; 10-26-2010 at 10:04 PM.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by formula73 View Post
    I had a set of those Alumitones. I loved the clean tones-almost, dare I say-acoustic-ish. With any dirt, however, I couldn't stand them. Very muddy with a fizzy high that no amount of eq-fiddling could tame. There was also a weird threshold that, past a certain point, no more gain made a difference. It was as if the gain knob on my Cobra stopped at noon.

    All that said, I may get a set again in the future just for the awesome cleans.
    Please see avatar for my reaction. I play Metallica. These are not for me. I might try the Deathbuckers to see if they're any better. Thanks!
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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamusChief View Post
    Please see avatar for my reaction. I play Metallica. These are not for me. I might try the Deathbuckers to see if they're any better. Thanks!
    Hey man-you asked, and there have been some pretty sparkly, uber-clean clean tones in Metallica's catalog. If that's how you want every question to be answered, you should begin every one:

    "in the context of Metallica (ahem..) 'tone'...

    To be honest, the website's clips of the Deathbuckers sound better, but the few clips I've heard people make of them sound just as bad under gain.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    Quote Originally Posted by formula73 View Post
    I had a set of those Alumitones. I loved the clean tones-almost, dare I say-acoustic-ish. With any dirt, however, I couldn't stand them. Very muddy with a fizzy high that no amount of eq-fiddling could tame. There was also a weird threshold that, past a certain point, no more gain made a difference. It was as if the gain knob on my Cobra stopped at noon.

    All that said, I may get a set again in the future just for the awesome cleans.
    I had a set too and the description is very much the same with what I feel about this pickup.

    As for the OP,the benefits of active pickups are they make you sound like a pro.

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    Default Re: What are the benefits of active pickups?

    EMG's sounded sterile to me compared to my Burstbucker 3, lacked the chime.
    Last edited by ken361; 10-27-2010 at 06:39 AM.
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