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Discussion Starter #1
What exactly are the pros and cons of each? I hear a LOT of people saying that lowoutput ("vintage") pickups have cleaner sounds and better frequency response. I hear people with super hot pickups saying that their pickups have better harmonics and drive amps harder. I have read this on so many forums I am confused hahaha.
I have read that high-output pickups have more bass and mids than low-output ones, and I have also read that low-output pickups have more high-end frequencies than high-output pickups.

I would like the truth now lol, so what are the differences between them in regards to frequency response, dynamics, tone, etc in both clean and dirty aspects. Are low/high output pickups better suited to certain styles? I don't see many jazz players using very hot wound pickups. I dont see many rockstars using very low output pickups either.

I would also like some information on active pickups. Supposedly, EMGs for instance, are wound low output and then have the signal boosted. I don't know this for sure, so don't take it as fact.

I would also love to know if other parts of pickups such as, the quality of materials (wire, bobbin, pole pieces e.g. alnico vs. ceramic, etc), the distribution of windings, (hand-wound vs machine-wound), etc have more of an effect on the pickup's tone than the amount of windings and consequent output strength.
There is so much trash out there right now that people just keep repeating even though they have no idea if its true, that it makes me so confused sometimes. I need to know the truth in all this rubbish so I can make an informed decision when buying pickups so I dont waste my money and still get a good pickup that has good tone and is built well.

Heeeeelp meee........................
 

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Discussion Starter #2
this is off wikipedia: "The disadvantages of active pick-ups are the power source (usually either a battery or phantom power), cost, and less defined unique tonal signature."

is that true to the point that somebody can notice it? It may be true theoretically, but in real life is it even noticeable?

also on wikipedia it says: "The more turns of wire in the winding, the higher the output voltage but the lower this resonant frequency."
I looked up the term "resonant frequency" but I have no idea what it is, or how it translates to tone and guitar etc.




edit: I also found this sweet looking type of pickup called a moodswing haha
 

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Peavey Wolfgang EVH Wolfgang Charvel Style 2
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First off i do not have all teh answere's to you questions but here is a little on passive and active pups...

Passive and active pups are made the same way... there seems to be confusuion that the pups are active but they are not the pups are passive in a active system it is the acompanying "active" circuit that is powered by a voltage supply and therefor is active.

Here is a active passive thread from TML... http://www.themusicianslounge.com/new_forum1/viewtopic.php?t=1058

Khing
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks kingpin! that information most certainly helps a lot to clarify things :)


edit: 66 views and only 2 posts....come on people haha :rockon:
 

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I prefer moderate output pickups . To me , emg drive the amp too hard when you play anything else than full on distortion or totally clean . I found them not really suitable for in-between sounds . On the other hand , low output single coils don't drive the amp enough to have chunky palm mutes , and when you put a thousand overdrive pedals to compensate , things get noisy .

But that's just a matter of taste and what you play .
 

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EMG's drive the amp hard, yes, but if you need that classic-rock-clean-ish-brown-sound tone just roll back the volume on the guitar a bit until you get the desired tone. Works VERY well, especially with all-tube amps.

Basically, I go for high ouput all the time 'cause I can get the best of all 3 genres I like to play just by adjusting the volume and tone knobs on the guitar. Metal, rock and a little blues.

This is how I roll, passives go in quality guitars (Dimarzio X2N or Bill Lawrence L500XL in the bridge, Seymour Duncan '59 in the neck), EMGs (81 in the bridge, 85 neck is my favorite combo) go in cheaper ones.

Just remember, volume and tone knobs are your friends, and work insanely well when you have a cranked tube amp (though it doesn't have to be, I just love my shit loud, haha).
 

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very subjective, but, generalities/simplifications can be made:

higher output-- more windings make for less freq. response, higher output, conslusion: more gain, focus in mids/lowmids, less brightness/clearity.

lower output-- less windings make for wider freq. response, moderate output. conclusion: moderate/normal gain, less dense in mids/lows, more clarity/presence in uppermids/mids, more open chime/top.

the most important thing is to figure out what the gtr you have is geared to do, and what you want, and try to fit that with a suitable pu (presumeably if you are not happy with what you have).

I've never been overwhelmed by what a pu does, I start with the gtr and go from there, having said that, there are always exceptions, some say the pu transformed their gtr for good or bad.


the beauty is, there are so many amazing winders these days that can nail anything you want. I would contact them and talk about your needs/and what gtr they are going in, they will be most helpfull. !

let me know if you need some input on pu makers !

best of luck.
 

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...i'm in a similar quandry. i have a brand new sg copy (eastwood corona) with typically muddy and very powerful stock humbuckers. it looks like lower output pickups are the way to go, but what would i be sacrificing, if anything?

-dh
 

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Well, based on my own experience, it seems to be more about combinations - I've always found lower output pickups (single coil AND humbucker) to be more "open" sounding, springier feeling, a little more air in the sound, less mid focused perhaps. Fairly subjective, I know -great in an ash bodied strat, but not what I'd want in a neck thru, mahogany bodied instrument of destruction! Some might say lower output pickups are "sweeter", but I've got an H2+ in the bridge position of a hollow droptop, and the chambering lends a slight mid range cut that works magically with a fairly high output humbucker. For me it would depend on what guitar the pickups are going into, body wood, chambered or solid, scale length - lots of variables. I tried a set of Seth Lovers in a Hamer solid body - fairly low output - but very refined and "sweet". Would I use that set up live in a three piece classic rock setting? No - I'd throw in a set of '57 classics and be done with it! Drive the amp a little harder - more fun that way!

Peter
 

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I own guitars with both high and low output HBs find that the higher (hotter) the PU the less of the guitar you hear. What I am saying is that hottest PUs sound similar in different guitars while lower/ moderate PUs let you hear more of the wood.

Variety is great. However, getting a great dirty sound out of lower output PUs is much easier that getting a great clean clean sound out of a hot one.
 

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You are heading toward reductio ad absurdum territory but active high output pickups would likely be much more forgiving.
 
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