active pj sets available?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mattbass6945, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. looking online, all i've seen is emg and basslines. do any others make relatively affordable active pj sets?

    my mim fender active just doesn't have enough something for me. considering pickup swap......anybody know of any other options other than emg/bassline?
  2. jbrooks


    Sep 7, 2007
    New Battery?

    From EMG power tips and tricks:

    Battery Death:
    When the battery is coming to the end of its useful life, and headroom is limited, you will notice a distortion at the initial attack of the string. It will sound like an unnatural (ech!) and you should consider changing the battery. If you just have EMG Pickups in your guitar without any accessories the pickups will operate on a 2.5 Volt battery. Accessories will have a higher threshhold, typically abouit 4.5 Volts. Always, ALWAYS! install a new battery.

    Try upping the voltage from 9 volts to 18 volts. Wire two nine volts in series. I've done this with all of my EMG set ups and I like it better.

    Also from EMG power tips and tricks:

    Headroom (+9 or +18 Volts):
    Headroom is defined as the ability of the pickup to deliver a clean, undistorted waveform. But...while current is being drained from the battery, the battery voltage is decreasing, and so is the headroom.
    EMG Pickups never put out more voltage than is being supplied. Using a 9 Volt battery will limit the output signal of the pickup to slightly less than 9 Volts. Older EMG Pickups may have a maximum output of 4.5 Volts, one half of the supply. If you supply the pickups with 18 Volts the headroom will double, creating even more headroom for the signal. Doubling the supply voltage to 18 Volts will increase the amount of current drain. You don’t get something for nothing.
  3. okay, the pickups are active stock and i always replace the battery as soon as i take possession of said bass. never tried two nine volts. certainly would be a cheaper experiment than $170 pickups. thanks j, i will look into that!
  4. at the risk of hijacking my own the batteries (brand) make much difference? is a 9 volt a 9 volt? i know they don't all run at exactly 9 volts and some last longer than others, but do they all start at the same voltage out of the package?
  5. jbrooks


    Sep 7, 2007
    I used EMG's PJ set up in a project bass that I put together from left over parts. I use the 18 volt set up and Wow, what a great sounding bass. It is the only maple finger board bass that I have too so that could be part of the difference.

    The pick ups were destined for another project, a fretless but they never sounded as well in the fretless. I have too many other basses to put the bank back into a beater bass.

    If you don't like the stock Fender set up with the increased headroom, I would recommend the EMG set. I also use the BTS control on two project basses and it opens up other possibilities.

    Here's a way to do it for the cost of the batteries and a few bucks. The article explains the reasoning behind this. I hope this helps
  6. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    My experience (since my first active bass in 1979) is that brand DOES matter with batteries.

    First, "is a 9 volt a 9 volt"? Nope- the only thing you want for an active bass is an alkaline 9V battery. Regular carbon batteries won't deliver the current you need. Most rechargable batteries never get to 8.5 VDC, let alone 9.

    Second- brand. I've never trusted the bunny. The ONLY time I've ever had a battery problem with an active bass was the one time I used an Energizer instead of a DuraCell. I only use DuraCell, or their commercial brand, ProCell.

    Make sure the battery terminals are clean too- no finger goo, etc. in there. Check them periodically to make sure they're not coroding.

    I change the batteries in my basses once a year and I'm not too concerned with unplugging the basses. At gigs and rehearsals I leave them plugged in the whole time, but I make sure I unplug them at home when I'm not using them. Most good preamps don't draw that much current and good battery should last you a long time.

    But, if you ever have trouble with an active circuit, the first thing to do is put in a new good battery before you do anything else.

    Now- does your bass really have active pickups, or is it the much more common passive pickups feeding an active circuit? I ask because it's a really common mistake on TB for people to assume that because there's a battery it means the pickups are active. Most active basses do NOT have active PUPs at all.

  7. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Also remember to check your pickup height. EMGs need to be very close to the strings compared to passive pickups.
  8. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    Not true. EMG's can be put closer, but they never have to be. I've used EMG since the early 90's and have never heard this. 3/32" from the underside of the string is a good starting point, measured with the string fretted at the last fret. A little closer than 3/32", on the treble side, is common.

    Also, I've never had an issue with Energizer batteries. I always use them.
  9. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    From the EMG installation guide:
    Thankfully EMGs are fairly forgiving but if you set their height the same way you set a passive pickup they sound somewhat anemic and lack output, especially in the bridge position.

    I've also used Energizer batteries with no issues.
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    If this is a stock Fender Deluxe then these are passive noiseless pickups with a Fender 3-band the rules that pertain to EMGs wouldn't apply. The problem with this pickup/preamp combination is that they were designed to work together (the pickups are somewhat dull sounding so the preamp has a baked in voicing to restore some clarity). If you're not happy with the stock sound changing just the pickups or the preamp won't dramatically transform the sound IMO. You really have to change both.
  11. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    The EMG P pickup in my P/J is nowhere near anemic, adjusted at nearly 3/32". It sounds great and the output is much higher than my Stingray 5. I have to roll some volume off the EMGs' to keep them even with all my other (passive) basses, as well. I'll give you the anemic bridge position thing. I have to say I don't care for any passive bridge position J-style pickups either, on their own. I always blend some of the front pickup in.

    EDIT: Is there a big difference between the older EMG's and the newer ones? The pickups I'm using are from around '91.
  12. wow, ok guys. thanks for the clarifications. it is in fact a deluxe.

    so........if i buy emg's or basslines, then i need to look into a preamp also. i can try a better battery, raising p up height and the 18 volt method and experiment with those first. then if needed i can drop my bank on p up/preamp.

    sound about right? thanks again fellas!
  13. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    No. You don't need a preamp with active pickups.
  14. ok, it (a preamp) would just be necessary if i were to replace them with passive p ups?

    or is that just a preference?

    while i've been playing a while, my tech knowledge is just beginning.........
  15. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    Just a preference.
  16. so it may be cheaper and more practical (assuming the above suggestions don't work, i.e. p up height, 2 9 volts) to replace them with passive p ups.

    i didn't realize my active bass was only an active preamp. a major faux paux.....but is it good for metal? couldn't help it. thanks tb'ers!!!!! you've come through yet again.
  17. jbrooks


    Sep 7, 2007

    What have you tried and how did it work?
  18. band has been on break for christmas. i want to get it back on that rig before i make any judgements. i have raised the p ups a little, but discovered the jazz p up didn't have much further to go and that was the quieter of the two. i'll throw a new battery in there before practice on wed night. will update soon!
  19. man, it has been crazy around here. sorry an update took so long.

    i raised the pickups and liked the results. i keep forgetting to get a better battery, maybe i'll tackle that today in my "free time"!

    i think the thing that bugs me most, is that i think i'm a passive bass kind of guy and that bridge (jazz) pickup just doesn't have the output of the other (split p) pickup in the bass. i've started rolling off all the mids and highs in it, i've put flats on recently, so i'll probably slowly bring that eq back up as those flats get "seasoned".

    thanks for the help guys! let me know if any of you have any ideas on that lower output bridge pickup.
  20. ok, the new battery definitely helped. i thought i had replaced the one the previous owner had with a cheapo. turns out, it was the old one the other guy had in it. i guess in the haze of shiner bock and excitement over the new bass, i forgot to switch out the battery. *facepalm*

    did a setup on the bass too, action lowered, pickups raised and new battery. i like the bass, just still not enthused about the lack of oomph from the bridge pickup.

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