Hi-Z pickups with active electronics

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by dyo, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. dyo


    Apr 12, 2014
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Hi guys,

    I have a quick question regarding Lo-Z active pickups and Hi-Z pickups. I own an Ibanez K-5 bass with active Ibanez-ADX5 pickups and the Ibanez Vari-mid electronic with semiparametric mid control.
    I am more or less happy with the sound overall, but the bass produces a slight noise which can apparently be found in all K-5s, thus being not something I can fix..at least that's what I think. ;) It is not a hum which is why I think it is not produced by some GND problem. It is a noise ranging from 2kHz to 8 kHz and it can be altered by the active electronics. It is however also present when the active electronics are neutral, it does not only appear when boosting the treble.

    The noise is not a huuge problem but I am somehow really bothered by it and want to reduce it if possible. Considering that I like to use a preamp and a compressor in my live setup the noise gets amplified as well.

    I tried to replace the Ibanez Vari-mid electronics with an EMG BQC System and the noise was still present..so I sent it back.

    My next step would be to try and replace the pickups. I am currently thinking about passive pickups. Of course these would produce a problem with the Ibanez-vari-mid electronics, which is not suited for Hi-Z inputs.

    This brings me to my question: Can I use passive pickups with my electronics by replacing the pickup-mix-potentiometer? Does someone here have experience with this and does it work well?

    Thanks for reading, dyo
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It is plausible that if the present pickup mix pot has low values, like 25-50 K, then replacing it with a pot that has high values like 250-500 K could make it suitable for passive pickups. It's at least worth a try.
  3. joeeg33

    joeeg33 Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Central New Jersey
    Yes, you will have to change the Blend Pot, and possibly the Volume Pot. You have to check to see if the V pot is pre, or post preamp. If it is pre, that needs to be changed as well. I like 250k with Hz's.
  4. dyo


    Apr 12, 2014
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Thanks for the answers guys..I will try it. :) Volume is post preamp, so I guess it does not need to be changed. I'll see.
  5. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    EMG used to have a downloadable pamphlet or booklet about why it is not desireable to mix impedances on pickups.
  6. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    You don't happen to have a copy downloaded...do you... I just looked and either over looked it or it's been removed....
  7. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    From the "Faq's" section of the EMG website:

    Can I mix EMG’s with passive pickups?

    It is possible to mix EMG’s with passive pickups. There are three possible wiring configurations; one is better than the other two.

    Use the high impedance (250K-500K) volume and tone controls. The problem is that the high impedance controls act more like a switch to the EMG’s. The passive pickups, however, will work fi ne. If you have a guitar with two pickups and two volume pots, with a three-way switch, there is another alternative. Use the 25K pots for the EMG, and the 250K pots for the passive pickup. This way you can use one or the other with no adverse affects, but with the switch in the middle position the passive pickup will have reduced gain and response. Use the low-impedance (25K) volume and tone controls provided with the EMG’s. The problem here is that the passive pickups will suffer a reduction in gain and loss of high frequency response.

    This is the best alternative. Install an EMG-PA-2 on the passive pickups. There are two benefits to doing this. With the trimpot on the PA-2, you can adjust the gain of the passive pickups to match the EMG’s. The PA-2 acts as an impedance matching device so you can use the low-impedance EMG controls (25K) without affecting the tone of the passive pickups. You will also be able to use other EMG accessory circuits such as the SPC, RPC, EXB, EXG, etc. For this application, we recommend ordering the PA-2 without the switch for easy installation on the inside of a guitar.

    Can I use EMG accessory circuits on passive pickups?

    Most EMG accessories can be used directly with passive pickups. They are the:

    These EMG accessories cannot be used with passive pickups:

    I don't know why the EXB is listed in the "cannot" use, because my Ibanez SRA305 has two EMG HX-40 pickups in conventional high-Z wiring, then through the EXB before the output jack.
  8. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    From what I've seen, the difference between 'can use' and 'cannot use' groups is that the 'can' group usually does NOT come packaged with vol and/or bal pots, so you can 'can' use them with passive or active pickups as long as you use the correct value vol and bal pots. The 'cannot use' group usually comes prepackaged with vol and bal pots for EMG active pickups and therefor 'cannot' be used with passive pickups (unless you set aside the pots and replace them with the desired pots for passive pickups).