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EMG active vs passive in pup's and electronics

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by scuzzy, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. scuzzy

    scuzzy

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    I have searched and found some info, but not specifically what I am looking for.

    I am swapping out the pups in my p/j bass. I need more balls in my bridge pickup and prefer a little more variety in my tonal palate. it is currently a VVT, complete passive setup, and I plan to keep it as a 3 knob set-up with little to no routing. I think I can fit a single 9v battery with no modification. I have played the spector euro 4 with the p/j setup with active emg's and it had a fantastic rock tone. that is the versatility and tone I am aiming for

    I am looking at two options currently. The EMG-HZ pups with the active BTC-HZ control system. This would give me good control over the tone with the bass and treble active pre, and I really prefer the blend over the dual volume controls. I am also entertaining the EMG PJ set with active pups, passive controls. I really think this could be a great option for rock music, although the dual volume control is less than ideal.

    I would love some input on the pros/cons/specs/experience of each of these setups and/or other ideas. Also, is an active EQ pointless on active pups?
  2. Mykk

    Mykk

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    It's highly a personal preference thing. Some people prefer the sound of passive over active, and (like me) visa versa.

    I have an old set of EMG's and BQ-A pre in my MIA Jazz. I really like the tone, they have suited me well for various kinds of rock, metal, originals and covers.

    It is not redundant to have active pickups and an active pre-amp. Active pups just require aux power to function, the tone cut & boosting is from the preamp.

    I have a 5-string jazz with passive Duncan pups and active BassMods pre, sounds good. Not as good as my EMG's however.

    Some players feel that EMG's are to sterile sounding, and for them they probably were. My EMG's sounded better once I converted them to 18v instead of 9v.
  3. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    I have a Squier P/J with EMGs. Its a tight fit to get the pots, wiring and battery under the pickguard but it sounds good.

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  4. scuzzy

    scuzzy

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    is this with the vol/vol/tone setup? if so, how do you like it? do the active pups give you much broader range of tone as opposed to passive pups, even with the same passive controls?
  5. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    Yes it vvt. I like them other than the pain if swapping batteries. I battery box on the back would be a great upgrade.
    They will go from deep and punchy to bright and gritty no problem
  6. ErebusBass

    ErebusBass

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    Other people may disagree with me, but I've had several basses with EMG-HZ pickups in them, and I will never use them again. The active EMG pups are worlds better.
  7. maturanesa

    maturanesa

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    Nothing wrong with the HZs, but most people prefer the active models. Maybe its because some brands like Spector put HZs (mid-high output passives) with 18 volt preamps... so the signal is too hot but a bit dirty and unclear in comparison with active pickups + preamp... If i want to run passive i would use HZs without any preamp, if i want a preamp, i choose the active pups... never HZs + preamps... imo..
  8. joelb79

    joelb79

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    I'd have to give a plug for the BTC + PJ Set. That would be the Bee's Knee's. Don't be afraid to cut frequencies with the BTC, it doesn't have to be a boost only preamp like most people use it. I recommend using the BTC to cut/clear up sub-sonic thud's and to tame the highs of the EMG pickups while retaining their punchy character. Boost your amp's pre-gain to compensate for any volume loss and suddenly the pickups sound rather vintage-like, however with soemthign special added in. Active EQ is not pointless on active pickups, it works awesome in concert with them.
  9. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    I dont think theres enough room under the pickguard for the preamp with out having more routed out.
  10. joelb79

    joelb79

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    I've seen a lot of BTC's installed in P-basses. Its a small circuit board mounted to a pot like so:

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes people have to dremel a little, sometimes not. It fits a lot of basses being so small though.
  11. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    My tone pot is a tight fit and it has to be clocked a certain way to get the pickgaurd on. It is a squier though so maybe the routing is a bit different
  12. joelb79

    joelb79

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    Absolutely. They typically have smaller routes; and that's always a consideration when installing aftermarket electronics. In some import basses, ive seen the control cavity routed in such a way only smaller/mini pots would fit. The BTC isn't that much larger than a full sized CTS pot that Fender typically uses though. it's generally the shape that needs to be accounted for more than anything (dremmel tool small changes in width at the preamp/pot like a small slot cut to fit the preamp), especially in a precision bass which tend to have smaller routes.

    Although that might not be a tool everybody has and is comfortable with; so YMMV with this advice. I can tell you that even my Warmoth precision bass rout will need a slight widen to fit the BTC comfortably in the control cavity under the guard. But it would still look the same externally after modification, were talking a mm or 2.
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

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    i'll agree with you!

    EMG passive "HZs" are what come in budget instruments and get routinely removed in favor of good pickups (like "real" EMGs if you're into that sound).
  14. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    Thats what I was planning on doing. Some sandpaper rolls on my die grinder will probably make the room pretty quick.



    Spector Rebops come with HZs, Not really a budget instrument at over $1200. But yes most guys pull them in favor of active ones. Its the same way with Duncan Designs, They are cheaper so they must not be good.
  15. luthierstar

    luthierstar

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    I'm a guitar player and master luthier. I like active pups because of the added punch on cleaner tones and used EMG actives for years live, But there is a better alternative that is much cheaper and just infinite light years better. First, think of how an active pup works. It's simply a low/mid output passive pup with a Preset preamp chip soldered to the coils. Now, think how an onboard accoustic preamp is with controls for the preamp and myriads of options asto tones and so forth. So, simply find your favorite passive pickups high or low output, Next, you can find on board preamp circuits in many styles ie tube, clean, etc. And, these pream circuits have knobs tfor adjustments unlike EMG type actives in the humbucker. So, you can mount the battery & onboard circuit preamps with control knob wherever you like on the bass or even in a separate box. You'd run your bass cord into the preamp circuit box and the preamp box into your amp. What this delivers is your best passive pups which become fully adjustable active pups with choice of preamps/settings, no loss on passive mode, There is a difference in the resistance needed in active vs passive pup pots. that is the reason why actives sound low when unpowered compared to regular passives. The preamp circuit is preset attached to the passive coils with low resistance pots vs high resistance pots in order to work.. Another advantage to passive pups and pots with an onboard or series preamp circuit betweem bass and amp setup besides full control of the active preamp style/model and separate control knob is that when you turn the preamp down and go to passive, you retain your passive 250k/500k pots and sound. But, when you turn up the onboard preamp/fx circuits(or in series:Bass to preamp to amp) then the control pots on the preamp circuit lower the resistance where it needs to be for active. Also, with the added onboard battery for the preamp you may add Multiple sounding preamps and fx circuits and switch between say a tube or regular circuit! So, EMG are good, but not at all as good as your favorite passives/pots with an onboard preamp or three with it's own pots I share this for the love of music..
  16. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

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    I like the output and clarity of EMG pickups. I also like that I dont have to have an on board preamp. I much prefer a passive tone control. Theres plenty of guys running active pickups and preamp pedals
  17. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars Supporting Member

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    Active all the way. Wouldn't even consider passive. My builds are all active. I don't even give the passive option any longer.
    There are so many active sound options from each company that finding your tone is only a matter of trial and error or a little online research.
    Plus your tonal palette increases an incredible amount.
  18. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars Supporting Member

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    Let me clarify. Active preamp or active pickups or both. Either way active is better than anything passive.
    Tone becomes almost limitless with active gear.
  19. maturanesa

    maturanesa

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    Yes, there is only one kind of tone you cant achieve... the tone many players like: PASSIVE :p
  20. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars Supporting Member

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    Actually on almost all active gear when you have the tone knobs at center detent you are totally in passive zone. No EQ is added or taken away. PASSIVE

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