Hi-output/active pickups vs volume boost

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by ben_allison, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    I'm a bit cloudy on this one.

    What is the benefit of using "hot" or active pickup over simply running into a clean boost right out of the guitar? The goal is to get a hotter signal to drive the amp further into distortion – maybe even get teh brootalz.

    Of course, more windings changes the tone of a pickup, and pickups can be voiced to suit a given style. My question is not about voicing or tone, strictly about output and how that affects things down the line.

    It seems that active pickup = passive pickup + clean boost, no?
     
  2. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    Active pickups aren't necessarily "hot". The active EMGs in my Tele aren't NEARLY as hot as the passive Dimarzio PAF Joe and HD Z90 in my Strat. I actually use a dedicated boost for the Tele to bring it up to the Strat's level.

    The biggest benefit of the EMGs for me is their near-silence. I got them after fighting noise demons on stage on time too many. The secondary benefit is that they are tonally equal to the noisy passive single-coils! Different in some ways, but equally good. Active pickups can solve noise problems in ways passive ones cannot, not even humbuckers.
     
  3. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Boosting lower output pickups is an option. With High output pickups you can't dial the boost out.
     
  4. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    I had no idea! Thanks!
     
  5. aberrant

    aberrant Member

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    I've had problems with actives sounding really sterile...I prefer lower output pickups and a boost pedal. They just have more touch sensitivity.
     
  6. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    I think it depends on the pickup. I could happily never try an EMG 81 again, but the EMG Tele pickups are some of the best I've ever heard, active or not. Not even a TEENY bit sterile or insensitive.
     
  7. beej

    beej Supporting Member

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    Big advantage with active p'ups is that the signal from the pre-amp is low impedance. So you can drive a long cable run, effects, etc. without any impact on your basic tone. (Why a lot of guys use low capacitance cable and put a buffer on their board with passive p'ups).

    As far as sounding sterile, it's really a personal preference. EMGs tend to me more even across the frequencies than many passive pickups. So you can EQ them to suit your taste.

    For noise reduction, I find they're good but not always great (the EMGs I've had, that is). You can find a lot of noiseless passive pickups that are quieter.
     

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