Active Pickups...

chromewhore2010

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Well here I am, back after this long hiatus. No internet... no good. But either way, to the subject at hand. As an ignorant teenager, I've always been fascinated with Active Pickups. Obviously when listenin' to guitarists like Zakk Wylde squeal harmonics every other note, I ask the question, "How does he do that?!" So here we go. Get ready for way more questions than you want. Active Pickups; Is the extra output worth getting an Active, such as a Seymour Duncan Blackout or EMG 81/85/60 over just another high output passive pickup? Do you get the same action, such as the trademark squealies and heavy tone? If a passive pickup does it just as well, what is it? Is it a good idea to rely on only one of the aformentioned pickups to function as an "all-around" pickup? If so, which one? If you don't have an easily accessible battery compartment on the guitar, would it be a bad idea to store the battery behind the pickguard? Is the battery life long enough to where it wouldn't be a, "too common" chore to replace them? Now that I'm on the subject of batteries and battery power, how much of a difference is there from the 9v setups to the custom 18v setups? With EMG sportin' these new quick connectors, it seems as though buying a guitar with original EMG active hardware would make pickup swaps really easy when changing between EMG's; but does this quick connector setup help the guitarist who already has, "old-fashioned" solder connections in their guitar? If a guitarists chooses to use an Active pickup, does that mean that the rest of the pickups on the guitar must be active? Do passives and actives not mix? Anyone who wants to add any questions to this, is more than welcome, naturally. I just tried to think of as many questions as I had and still have. I don't expect one person to answer all of these questions. The mere fact that you've made it to this point in the post, means you are a patient soul. Share some knowledge, because I, at this point, have none. :dude:
 

Syn

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OK, I'll try and answer a few of your Q's from the limited experience I have with them. I'll bullet point so it's easier to read:
1) Passive and Active cannot be mixed as you need a different jack socket for either.
2) I have played passives all my life and have found it no harder getting the Zakk squeals out of passives than actives. (It's technique more than anything, but the increased output does help if your technique is not very good in this area).
3) When you buy the quick connector pickups they also come with the appropriate pots and jack socket. Solder joints are not an issue.
4) The 18v mods can either increase the headroom on the pickup by supplying it with more power or increase battery life depending on if the extra battery is wired in series or parrallel.
5) They can be just as good for any other type of music than metal, the increase power doesn't mean more distortion. It basically will give you more clarity and a more controlled frequency range. This is what leads a lot of people to criticise them for all sounding the same and being sterile. Personally I think it's how you use them and the set-up you use them with i.e. amp's, pedals etc.
Hope that clears a few things up for you! :thumb:
 

captcoolaid

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Remember this the average and I am doing this as a generalisation most EMG are only wound to a ruff 1.85 -say 2.35 and boosted with an electronic cicuit and battery so yes the tone IS gonna be a bit more sterile IF you do not have enuff finger tone. The guys that use them Kirk Hammet, Zakk and various others have made it there sig sound. I personaly do not care for them much but that is just me.
 

Syn

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Remember this the average and I am doing this as a generalisation most EMG are only wound to a ruff 1.85 -say 2.35 and boosted with an electronic cicuit and battery so yes the tone IS gonna be a bit more sterile IF you do not have enuff finger tone. The guys that use them Kirk Hammet, Zakk and various others have made it there sig sound. I personaly do not care for them much but that is just me.
Yeah I agree, and that's not to say that you can't achieve these tones without them, with the right technique and a well dialed in sound you could get something close to the sound you hear. I'm sure that Zakk's white polka dot flying V he used on the European Invasion DVD doesn't have active's and there isn't a noticable difference when he changes guitars.
 

captcoolaid

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Yeah it is pretty much in the hands of the player. I sound like ass with actives. The other bad thing about them is most sound guys hate them for recording. They are a beotch to dial in and keep the noise under control.

But yes there are those guys that just kill with actives. My cuosin Justin swears by them in fact he traded a set of super 70's straight across for some EMg 60's.......
 

Syn

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I'm thinking about putting a set of 81/85 in my LP. Gonna give it until christmas to see how I feel then, make sure I'm not just on a fad. I had a buddy bring over his LP loaded with actives last weekend and I still got MY sound just with less noise. They sounded good but I couldn't tell a massive difference, it wasn't like someone flicking a switch.. Not enough tonal difference to rip my passives out right away. I just switched a SD Alnico 2 for a Tonerider Generator which has double the output, it didn't change my sound it just rounded out the freq. response, it gave me an awesome growly sound without having the mid-spike of the SD's.
 

MrRhoads

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About the "squealing" tones or pinched harmonics.
Practise them unplugged;)
It took me a while to learn but playing a bit more agressive and sort of forcing them to come out is a good way.
When you play a note right after picking it you sort of touch the string very lightly with your thumb on the right hand or the hand your pick is in.
Like when playing harmonics on the 12th fret for example you just barely touch the string.
Here´s a video for you, maybe not the best but i hope you get the idea and remember practise makes perfect [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFSgY8Be6Bw]YouTube - Randy Ciak - Beginning Pinch Harmonic Lesson - Shred Academy[/ame]
 

Syn

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About the "squealing" tones or pinched harmonics.
Practise them unplugged;)
It took me a while to learn but playing a bit more agressive and sort of forcing them to come out is a good way.
When you play a note right after picking it you sort of touch the string very lightly with your thumb on the right hand or the hand your pick is in.
Like when playing harmonics on the 12th fret for example you just barely touch the string.
Here´s a video for you, maybe not the best but i hope you get the idea and remember practise makes perfect YouTube - Randy Ciak - Beginning Pinch Harmonic Lesson - Shred Academy
Just to add to that, your muting of the other strings is also crucial to getting a nice and clear sqeual!
 

chromewhore2010

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Oh yeah, i mean I've got pinch harmonics down pretty well, i was just referring to the difference in the volume/sustain of the squealies. Right now i've got some pretty low output pups and I was just askin' how much of a difference it makes. Like... Billy Gibbons pinch harmonices versus Zakk Wylde. There's an obvious difference. And awesome feedback, guys :thumb:
 

Syn

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Yeah, if you have low/medium output pickups you're gonna notice a difference in the dynamic of the squeal just like you would if you played a chord with a low output passive comapred to a high output active/passive. Also bear in mind, Zakk has his signature OD pedal punishing the front of his OD channel on his JCM 800 (I do this to my JCM2000). The sheer amount of gain compared to that a Blues or Classic Rock player would use gives his squeals the power and sustain they have. Like I said, you could have a passive pickup and still get those tones with the right amp. There are a lot of factors, and Zakk Wylde's whole rig is built around that sound, the pickups are just a small part of that.
 


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