So, maybe you have been hearing people talk about “active pickups” and are wondering what they are talking about?
Well, worry no more, today we are going on a journey to active pickup land, and hopefully I can help you with your pickup quandary.
To start, you need to know what a regular non active or passive pickups is. A passive pickup is a pickup that through a magnetic coil or some other means creates an electric signal from the vibrations of the strings and transmits it to an amplifier so the volume can be increased and/or recorded. This pickup works on its own without any further assistance.
The “active” part of an active pickup has a thing called a pre-amplifier which is located either on the pickup or in the control cavity of the guitar. What it does is alter the signal, eq and output before the signal goes to the amplifier. What this means for you is that (depending on the model) aside from your normal volume and tone control, you could possibly have low, mid, and high control as well.
There are draw backs though with active pickups. They require a power source. Also, if the system runs on a 9 volt, the way the system saves power is that when the instrument is unplugged, the circuit is disconnected. So if you leave the cable in the instrument while not playing it, the battery will drain faster than normal.
Another pro/con, depending on who you talk to, active pickups change the sound of the instrument. This also goes for any pickup change, but it is worth stating. The hard part is that the sound change is extremely subjective so the best thing to do if you can is to try it out for your self and form your own opinion. Secondly active pickups cut out a lot of background noise associated with passive pickups so if you are in a magnetically “noisy” area they might help.
Hopefully this article has educated and informed you about active pickups, and helped guide you in the direction you desire. If you still want to try out a guitar with active pickups we usually have one at our stores so give us a call or come on down and check us out.