Why don’t we like active electronics in a guitar?

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
I’m still amazed that there aren’t more guitars with active tone controls in Strats and Teles.

I remember them coming out in Ibanez guitars in the 80’s and they were well received. The only thing I can remember is a booster being fitted to the Clapton Strat.

While people will say use an EQ pedal, I think an EQ for a particular pickup is a nice touch, this isn’t so hard in a Strat as it is in a Tele.

What are your thoughts?

Regards

Mark
 

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
I'm weird and can't stand the thought of my guitar being battery powered.
What if it was better for having a preamp.

EMG pickups have had active tone controls available for ages. You can have more output and no treble loss. Many of the treble bleed circuits on volume pots aren’t that flash.

There could even be active hum cancelling for single coil pickups, Chris Kinman did this prior to coming up with his pickup range.

Regards

Mark
 

Pandamasque

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 22, 2020
1,342
Kyiv, Ukraine
1. Range anxiety. I'm comfortable with having 16 pedals on my board, as long as none of them have batteries. There are two PSUs underneath powered from one plug, the end. No headaches. I do have a battery in my acoustic guitar (I mostly just use the built-in tuner in its preamp). And it goes flat in the most inopportune moments.
2. Impedance. A lot of traditional amplification circuits, especially fuzz pedals, won't sound or react to input quite the same with active pickups. You'll find that players who don't enjoy such tones are the same ones more likely to play an EMG equipped instrument.
3. Modularity. Changing, say, a boost or preamp pedal for another flavour is a lot easier than gutting your guitar to achieve the same.
4. Weight maybe? Again, you're more likely to find batteries in guitars that are lighter to begin with.

The only reason I'd deal with an active circuit inside my guitar is if it gave me something I can't achieve otherwise. A sustainer is the only thing I can think of.
 
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mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
Same. I do love EMG pickups but something about having a battery in my guitar seems wrong. Like I have this irrational fear that I'll forget it in there or something and the terminals will end up corroding or something.
If you put a stereo jack in the amp and guitar, you can power the guitar from the amp.

People use wireless systems for guitars so fear of flat batteries and corrosion isn’t a prime concern. Battery hatches in bodies has been offered by Warmoth and USACG for some time.

Regards

Mark
 

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
1. Range anxiety. I'm comfortable with having 16 pedals on my board, as long as none of them have batteries. There are two PSUs underneath powered from one plug, the end. No headaches. I do have a battery in my acoustic guitar (I mostly just use the built-in tuner in its preamp). And it goes flat in the most inopportune moments.
2. Impedance. A lot of traditional amplification circuits, especially fuzz pedals, won't sound quite the same with active pickups.
3. Modularity. Changing, say, a boost or preamp pedal for another flavour is a lot easier than gutting your guitar to achieve the same.
4. Weight maybe?

The only reason I'd deal with an active circuit inside my guitar is if it gave me something I can't achieve otherwise. A sustainer is the only thing I can think of.

16 pedals on a pedal board has its own issues too. There are a stack of cables that can go, the power supply can go, there is very small contact resistance with the plugs and sockets.

I agree there are vintage fuzzes like Fuzz Faces that need to load the pickup to roll off the highs, though this is easily achievable with a pF sized cap on the input to the Fuzz.

The whole idea of the preamp is to offer a unique voicing for that particular pickup or guitar.

Regards

Mark
 

crankmeister

Most Honored Senior Member
Jul 9, 2020
5,994
Republic of Gilead
I’m still amazed that there aren’t more guitars with active tone controls in Strats and Teles.

I remember them coming out in Ibanez guitars in the 80’s and they were well received. The only thing I can remember is a booster being fitted to the Clapton Strat.

While people will say use an EQ pedal, I think an EQ for a particular pickup is a nice touch, this isn’t so hard in a Strat as it is in a Tele.

What are your thoughts?

Regards

Mark
What are active tone controls?
 

nickmsmith

Dr. Stratster
Jul 28, 2011
14,247
USA
Ive tried the active mud boost. Not a fan. My power Tele does have batteries for the piezo. Indispensable.

I don’t play the genres that would require extra hot powered pickups.
 

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
LOL, I sincerely doubt that had anything to do with Bill's opinion about active electronics. And he wasn't alone in designing multiple ways to enhance tonal control in passive systems. Leo Fender came up with some nifty ideas as well.
As far as I know all of Bill Lawrence’s stuff was passive. I have seen his five way switch in Teles and the coil he had for a different tone control.

No matter which way you look at it, passive tone controls can’t do a terrible lot. There claim to fame is they are cheap.

Regards

Mark
 

Ebidis

Providing the world with flat bends since 1985
Nov 14, 2013
29,103
Alabama
What if it was better for having a preamp.

EMG pickups have had active tone controls available for ages. You can have more output and no treble loss. Many of the treble bleed circuits on volume pots aren’t that flash.

There could even be active hum cancelling for single coil pickups, Chris Kinman did this prior to coming up with his pickup range.

Regards

Mark
I don't particularly want a preamp in my guitar. I don't use treble bleeds. I actually find a bit of treble roll off can be a good thing, and '50s style wiring alleviates most of the problem anyway.

Single coil noise has never bothered me that much.

And I don't want batteries in my guitar. It's just a mental thing.
 

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
Ive tried the active mud boost. Not a fan. My power Tele does have batteries for the piezo. Indispensable.

I don’t play the genres that would require extra hot powered pickups.

The extra output is good for increasing your signal to noise ratio so the overall system has less noise.

Regards

Mark
 

mark1406

Strat-Talker
Oct 20, 2009
100
Sydney
I don't particularly want a preamp in my guitar. I don't use treble bleeds. I actually find a bit of treble roll off can be a good thing, and '50s style wiring alleviates most of the problem anyway.

Single coil noise has never bothered me that much.

And I don't want batteries in my guitar. It's just a mental thing.

That’s all fine and it’s good that it works for you.

I don’t wish to change your mind as much as explaining my reasoning to why I think we should consider preamps in a guitar. Surely my opinion should be able to address criticism.

Regards

Mark
 


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