Active Pickups vs Passive Pickups – The Blindfold Challenge!!

32 Comments

  1. Luke kent

    have you ever considered tracking with the band a full Idle Hands? i find it so pure and true, it deserves a spot in your next album in my humble opinion =) cheerrz

  2. Brandon Hall

    I'm not an EMG hater,and in fact I've owned several guitars with the 81/85 combo. That said, this video pretty much confirms all of the stereotypes of EMG pickups: they just had a cold and sterile sound when compared to the passives.

  3. GurktheBrutal

    I can see why people would want active pickups, they're compressed right out of the gate, and they're placed in that pocket of the mix right away. This is subjective, absolutely, but to me active EMGs sound a bit sterile because of this even temperament. They can definitely sound better than some passive pickups, but overall I really prefer a highly dynamic passive, even though the music I make is hardly dynamic.

  4. Philippe Durel

    I … HAAAAATE … BATTERIES …
    I always wind up forgetting them inside any of my electric devices, until I finally check to find out it all has turned into an ACID sauce with resistors and capacitors as bits of cooked vegetables.
    The day they come up with the great idea of finally standardizing 4 connectors cables to feed active guitars with 9V (or any other voltage) from the pedalboard or the amp … then I'll probably give another try at active guitars.

  5. wahwah1013

    How the hell can anyone think they sound the same? Active pups sound manufactured and brittle while passive sound organic and warm.

  6. Andi Kravljaca

    What a great video! The difference really is apparent, once Rob breaks down what he's listening for.

  7. Lavietto

    Passives tone is soo much alive than the Actives that sounds kinda dead and digital to me!

  8. chatter

    The active EMG clean always sounded more hi fi and 'polite', with a bit less treble,  a bit less twang and a bit less trebly twang 😛  than passives to me. I prefer passives.

  9. Michael Angelo H.

    So yea, Lee… It's clear that you don't really know the characteristics of passive and active, at least between these.
    But here's the thing; You just like music and guitar… You don't over-analyze…

  10. ildur

    Active EMG humbuckerss are super nice for cleans!

  11. Michael Angelo H.

    The regular active EMGs DO have a great clean sound to that. – That's ACTUALLY one of the reasons MetallicA went with them, not necessarily because they have "more gain" or because "they're so Metal". – The EMG 81 is really tight and clean. The EMG 60 (which James Hetfield uses (or used, since he got a tweaked signature set) in the neck) is actually really lush and Blues-y, and the EMG 85 has more body or honk to it, like a stronger mid-range. Which for example Zakk Wylde uses in the neck-position.
    And clean, they're all REALLY clean, as long as you can tame the signal and keep them from crackling. Very open and clear sounding. But if you want something that's a lot more "classic" or something (even though the EMGs are from the '80s or earlier), that has a much narrower range I suppose, go with something entirely different.

  12. Michael Angelo H.

    Thing is, active pickups have LESS dynamics, because the signal is pre-amplified, but NOT NO dynamics.
    Also, you can increase the headroom by, at least on say basic active EMGs, using 18 Volts (2 batteries), if you insist. Which is like when you have pedals that support that. – But you also have the much overlooked EMG X-series, which is the same active pickups you know of them with increased dynamics. – But that never really took off because people insisted to hate EMG in general. – Besides that, they've also made loads of passive pickups and they even have a vintage-styled range these days.
    And in my honest opinion, people are missing out on great sounds. – I don't use them exclusively, one or two guitars have them, on some it works, some it doesn't, but it has nothing to do with them being active or from a particular company.

  13. Vanessa P

    Actives all the way!
    I own a Strat, Les Paul, and a Carvin Icon 5-string bass, all with active pickups.

    Way less noise and hum, plus they eliminate the need for a buffer in your pedal chain by turning your high-impedence signal into a low-impedence signal.

    I haven't used passives for over 20 years, and I never will.

  14. chzzyg269

    I'm hearing a flat and even response with the active's, and a kind of sound I can't describe other than saying that the passive's seem to have more personality and dynamic.

  15. WiserInTime

    Captain that scoundrel always tries to cheat. Don't fiddle with the volume pot just listen to the tone! 😛

  16. Ryan Wilson

    Man, you can see Cpt's soul die a little bit when Chappers basically calls him just a salesman.

  17. Chris Strange

    Honestly I just watched it no blind folds I couldn't really tell the difference until Rob did the sustainability

  18. eric dye

    I use EMG's myself, 81/85 for my metal riffing and 57/66 on my standard tuning guitar for classic rock and metal. What rob said was true, cleans are far easier to do as the volume doesn't really change the tone on actives, although passives are far meatier in certain ways. I rarely play clean however and am driving a 5150 2×12, actives suit my needs more than passives at this point. Adding the 18 volt mod on EMG's also gives you far more headroom and better volume control.

Leave a reply