Talk me out of Active Pickups

edvard

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THIS is my only reservation. I've had a long desire to really dig into the FF circuit and do some experimenting.

My main fuzz for the last year or so has been a GCI Baracus. It works great for me with buffers before and after. I don't know enough about circuits to understand why, but I've enjoyed the best and clearest tones - as well as great cleanup - with it after my buffered TS7.

I like having a buffer early (or first) in the signal path. EMGs take care of that automatically. So, you know, "one less thing"
Try this in front of a Fuzz face or Wah; it emulates a passive pickup for use after a buffered pedal or active pickup setup. Low parts count, no batteries, win!
 

ukepicker

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As with anything, people tend to remember the times when things went awry more than the times things go smooth. I'm no different. I still have memories of the time a well known guitarist was headlining an event I was sound tech for. Every performer did great throughout the day. Unfortunately half way into this guy's set the guitar was losing signal. All eyes, especially those of the artist, were on me. In panic mode I swapped out everything, crawling around on the stage trying to appease the artist, the audience, and my employer for the day. Then he decides to try a new battery - bingo. FML

Experiences like that are why I quit doing live sound work.
 

cyclopean

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Okay, the Tonemaster series of amps will not work with them. I suspect that many digital amps have problems with active pickups as well. Some pedals the same.

That said, I have the first generation of the Godin Session Custom guitar which had a "revoicer" button in the circuit. Pressing it, turned the passive pickups to active and I will admit that I really loved playing the neck HB in active mode.

I just don't like full-time active pickups.
Why wouldn’t they work?
 

Jakedog

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Nothing with a battery for me. I was playing with a guy whose battery died in the middle of a set. He had to stop and replace it. Rest of the group had the choice of play on without him or wait for him.

That’s just unprofessional and there is no excuse for it. Batteries in these things last 1000 hours or better. Even if he just changed it every six months when he changed his smoke alarm batteries you’d never have to deal with that. It seriously is that easy.
 

Jakedog

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I’ve used the classic EMG 81/85 set, and wasn’t a fan. They worked exactly as advertised, they were just too hot for me. But they came in a guitar and I wanted to give them a fair shot before I took em out.

I’ve used the tried and true strat set. SA’s, I think they are? No boost or expander like the Gilmour set, just regular working. I liked the single positions a lot. They were great. I didn’t care for 2 and 4. That said, I never do. I’ve owned literally hundreds of Strats, and never could nail down the 2 and 4 sounds I had in my head until I got my PRS. All around, fine pickups. And mine were 100% noise free. In any situation.
 
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chris m.

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I’ve used the classic EMG 81/85 set, and wasn’t a fan. They worked exactly as advertised, they were just too hot for me. But they came in a guitar and I wanted to give them a fair shot before I took em out.

I’ve used the tried and true strat set. SA’s, I think they are? No boost or expander like the Gilmour set, just regular working. I liked the single positions a lot. They were great. I didn’t care for 2 and 4. That said, I never do. I’ve owned literally hundreds of Strats, and never could nail down the 2 and 4 sounds I had in my head. All around, fine pickups. And mine were 100% noise free. In any situation.
The 100% noise free aspect is a big selling point, especially in the studio. But it's also a big selling poing for guys who play super high gain-- less noise from the pickups means less need for noise gates, etc., for metal-heads and other uber-gain music styles.
 

Fenderbaum

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Just came of the workbench with this, Got the body for $370 loaded with Kinman Hank Marvins. The Kinmans sounds fantastic, Blows the DG20 i have on another Strat out of the water.
I was suppose to flip it, but now i dont know what to do.. :) Plays and sounds amazing..


0cm8zlp.jpg
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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Experiences like that are why I quit doing live sound work.
I eventually stopped. Or rather, it was stopped for me. I had regular bar gig and repeatedly would get nice comments which I really appreciated. I needed that confidence boost. But a couple of things happened regarding a roommate of the manager wanting to do sound and an incident at the last gig I worked. They never called again and when I inquired they told me they were really quiet, yet I could see the gigs advertised that were going on. Honestly, it's a pretty thankless job and while I enjoyed it and took pride in trying to make sure everything was good (even taking care of the odd muso that wasn't feeling great and getting them help), it's a fickle industry.

As for the gig I mentioned above, I really liked the guy before this. But he wasn't too kind after. I think his ego was bruised - being on stage and everyone seeing what the solution was.

Ah well. Don't meet your idols, and NEVER do sound for a muso you like. Or something like that.

I think part of the problem, as ridiculous as it sounds, is people become complacent with batteries unless they need constant attention. When they last as long as they do in a pickup system, there's a tendency for people to forget about them until it's too late. Funny how people can get into the habit of charging their phones daily but swapping a battery every six months or so is hard. I'm sure the same thing would happen if a phone charge lasted half a year.
 

Jakedog

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I eventually stopped. Or rather, it was stopped for me. I had regular bar gig and repeatedly would get nice comments which I really appreciated. I needed that confidence boost. But a couple of things happened regarding a roommate of the manager wanting to do sound and an incident at the last gig I worked. They never called again and when I inquired they told me they were really quiet, yet I could see the gigs advertised that were going on. Honestly, it's a pretty thankless job and while I enjoyed it and took pride in trying to make sure everything was good (even taking care of the odd muso that wasn't feeling great and getting them help), it's a fickle industry.

As for the gig I mentioned above, I really liked the guy before this. But he wasn't too kind after. I think his ego was bruised - being on stage and everyone seeing what the solution was.

Ah well. Don't meet your idols, and NEVER do sound for a muso you like. Or something like that.

I think part of the problem, as ridiculous as it sounds, is people become complacent with batteries unless they need constant attention. When they last as long as they do in a pickup system, there's a tendency for people to forget about them until it's too late. Funny how people can get into the habit of charging their phones daily but swapping a battery every six months or so is hard. I'm sure the same thing would happen if a phone charge lasted half a year.
This is why I’m kind of a fan of the idea of the rechargeable Fishmans. People had a lot of negative ideas about them when they hit, but I think it’s a great idea. I’m digging the rechargeable pedal board options out there now as well. Very cool stuff.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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This is why I’m kind of a fan of the idea of the rechargeable Fishmans. People had a lot of negative ideas about them when they hit, but I think it’s a great idea. I’m digging the rechargeable pedal board options out there now as well. Very cool stuff.
Yeah, I think you're right. It might require more attention, BUT it's getting the attention. Throwing a USB port on the system and having a powerbank along in pinch to charge it up or even run off in an emergency? Super easy.
 

Milspec

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Why wouldn’t they work?
Well, to be fair, they will work...but I think you lose the warmth of the Tonemaster's tone design. I might be off my rocker, but when I switch my Godin pickups to active, the TM Deluxe sounds bad....fizzy. Maybe it would be different with the Twin version due to greater headroom, but I have never found the sound of active pickups to sound good in anything except a tube amp.

I think a lot of wireless systems struggle with active pups as well.

Just being the Devil's Advocate here at your request.
 

ukepicker

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Quick update:
The pickups and wiring harness arrived. I really like the way they feel - efficient quality all around.

BUT - they don't fit the Gibson mounting bracket. And because of the wire channels, there isn't enough wood to screw them directly to the guitar. So I'm working on a solution. I may start a new thread to document the process.

I've been listening to Rob Turner (EMG pickups) interviews and I really like his life and business philosophies. A lot.

I had the idea to just tape the pickups into the cavity for now to see if I like them. But I've decided instead that I'm gonna do what it takes to do this install right. Determination is something I'd like to spend a little more time cultivating. Thanks for the inspiration, Rob!
 

alex1fly

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They're fine. I think you just have to try things and see what works for you. I appreciate them occasionally for some things, but the benefits have never outweighed the hassles and the trade-offs. But they might really make a person tick. Just try things! :)
 

Fiesta Red

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I’ve played through a couple of guitars with EMGs and each time I found them to be a bit “sterile” sounding…the dynamics were very flat, and no warmth. It was almost like an overly compressed signal, even straight into the amp.

However, this may be some confirmation bias on my part, because I don’t like the music of a lot of people who use those types of pickups. If they work for you, go for them.

On the other hand, I have an acquaintance who has several old-school (pre-Ernie Ball) Music Man guitars with active pickups in them, and I thought they sounded pretty good, kinda like a boost pedal without the pedal.
 

11 Gauge

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I find it kind of funny that some folks refer to active pickups as sterile sounding, when it's actually passive pickups that should sound sterile, in comparison.

I think our brains are just sort of conditioned in the interpretation of what sounds 'normal good', and anything that tends to differ from that ends up being interpreted as being not as good, or sterile, etc.
 

Grateful Ape

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I find it kind of funny that some folks refer to active pickups as sterile sounding, when it's actually passive pickups that should sound sterile, in comparison.

I think our brains are just sort of conditioned in the interpretation of what sounds 'normal good', and anything that tends to differ from that ends up being interpreted as being not as good, or sterile, etc.
Confirmation bias, herd mentality, etc. Yes.
 

11 Gauge

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Confirmation bias, herd mentality, etc. Yes.
I was thinking it probably has something to do with the type of rig you might typically find that is used with active pickups, which might employ lots of effects, and therefore might be more SS in nature. So for that reason, the sterility is probably associated more with the rig and not the pickups.

The kind of weird thing is that you now have a number of players who employ some kind of 'always on' pedal (with like the gain set to minimum), which they claim makes things sound warmer or more alive, when they could probably get a similar effect with using active pickups, especially with the onboard EQ controls that they tend to have as an option.
 




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