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

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by mark1406, Oct 8, 2021.

  1. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    I knew there had to be something wrong with you.:D

    BTW, I almost didn't recognize you because you changed your avatar.
     
  2. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    Have you ever played one?

    This LTD (passive pickups) definitely does have SFA going for it. Like feel and sound. It is my most played guitar.

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  3. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    There's a reason for that. I'll pm you later about it.
     
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  4. Exhead

    Exhead Strat-Tinkerer Gold Supporting Member

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    Do the EMG's look like this? 1979 EMG SA with SPC. .

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  5. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    1. It would add extra cost.

    2. Different EQ would be required for different pickups, or a universal adjustable EQ, which would lead to 2., above.

    3. Aftermarket choices are available for those who want it. For instance:

    https://www.stewmac.com/electronics/components-and-parts/preamps/emg-exg-guitar-expander

    4. Look at the success, or lack thereof , of 2014 Fender American Strat Deluxe Plus having inactive swappable modules.

    5. Start a poll post, asking if forum members would favor active electronics in a guitar, or not.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
  6. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    There are multiple psychological issues at play here.

    One, the sound we think is best is what we imprinted on in childhood. We are no better than baby ducks in this regard. Whether it's Clapton or Hendrix or Charlie Christian or Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan or someone else, we all have a particular "best" that we'd like to sound like.

    Two, it's much easier to recreate the same formula our "hero" used than it is to build that same sound out of entirely different gear. For example, if your hero is Hendrix, you get a Strat and a Marshall and a Fuzz Face and a Wah and a Univibe. That's simple. You have a formula, it's well known. You can make substitutions and still get close (your fuzz doesn't have to be a Dallas Arbiter) but the closer you can stick to the formula the closer your rig's timbre will be. Getting that sound out of a completely different style of guitar is going to be more complicated. Harder. Getting that sound out of a different style amp (solid state for instance) is also harder.

    Factors One and Two are the root of the "Tubez!" crowd, some of whom will loudly proclaim that all solid state amplification is inferior without acknowledging that their fuzz and tube screamer and the FOH power amps are all solid state amplification.

    Three, basically all of the equipment built and sold for guitar was built around passive magnetic pickup technology. Amps and pedals are built around an assumption that the input signal will be approximately that of a magnetic pickup (140mv to 1.4v). While you can clearly make that size signal with active electronics--they're not limited like that. If guitar electrification happened for the first time in a modern electronic world, sane engineers would use a much higher level, for improved signal-to-noise ratio. At least line level, if not headphone-out level. And all of the amps and pedals would be built around that assumption instead. Nobody would bother with tubes, those have been obsolete since 1970. That solution might be objectively better, but it is incompatible with all the old gear (which we've already established is "best" to many of us). And even though most gear is built around magnetic pickup levels--many active pickups output higher levels when the volume is full up. This doesn't sound great with all gear. Many guitarists don't understand that knobs can be positioned other places besides full up.

    Four, many of us have experience with crappy batteries. We had toys, flashlights, tuners etc. that were battery powered, and we associate batteries with cheap toys that quit working--and that often won't work even after replacing the battery. We've had cell phones and laptops where the battery quit taking a charge and swelled up. We've had cars, so we know car batteries have to be replaced--and we know they can be gross and funky when they're at the end of their life cycle. Batteries last somewhere between a few months and a decade; passive guitars can last essentially forever. And see again re: we've imprinted upon 50s and 60s guitars sounding best--even though they're now 60-70 years old. We don't want our guitars to be crappy disposable toys.
     
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  7. Electgumbo

    Electgumbo Not Of This Earth

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    @Exhead
    At first glance they do? The didn’t make SA in 79’. Just S. Can you see the EMG on the front ?. Mine all had a sticker with S or SA on the back. I had the EXP control (which sounded awful) But I didn’t have any as old as yours. Mine are from the mid 80’s. But yours look correct. Your had that brown or tan epoxy sealing the pickup. Mine are all sealed with black. How do you like your. They should sound pretty good!
     
  8. Exhead

    Exhead Strat-Tinkerer Gold Supporting Member

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    These came off of the pre-serialized era 1981 USA necked partscaster I just acquired and sold for a nice profit. Played great but i saw $$$ and jumped at selling it. Sounded great too so I bargained keeping the pickups.

    I contacted EMG and they got me in touch with Rob Turner (EMG founder and chief engineer). He identified it as late 70’s / early 80’s, and though the 1979 estimate is probably accurate. In his words “Oldie… but a goodie…”

    I agree!

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  9. Electgumbo

    Electgumbo Not Of This Earth

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    Ok to keep it short and sweet. In the simplest terms I can muster I’m gonna repeat what I told the old master amp guru in the area. He said “ You made a cute little circuit Slim! What do you like about it??”. I scratched my head and told him “Mr. Bud the notes jump out the speaker better.” That’s what I remember about using active electronic guitars. The EQ stuff was cool but the immediate response from the amplifier was what blew my skirt up. Favorite active guitar is listening to David Gilmore’s Red Strat on Delicate Sound of Thunder.

    Why don’t you still use active guitars Slim? Well SRV and EJ rekindled my love of Jimi Hendrix and I wanted my 68’ partscaster to be the vintage instrument it really was and I no longer chased modern sounds… cause I already had the sound in the first place.

    I did splurge one more time with my 50’ RW/ Blackie experiment… works good lasts a long time. I like to take it where I don’t want to bring a amp or a pedal. The Clapton circuit keeps the Road Worn in the ball game into any amp….

    AA281B96-1D8A-4B52-8F03-261A61803700.jpeg
     
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  10. Siameser

    Siameser Strat-Talk Member

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    I was a sales rep at Gibson during the Norlin years. I remember the R&D guys and the head of marketing being all excited about the RD Artist with the active electronics (designed by Bob Moog).

    It was my job to sell it to the dealers in my state. I couldn't give them away. Guitarists were NOT interested in a guitar with complicated electronics, that were capable of only mildly enhancing what a passive guitar could do.

    That attitude among players really hasn't changed much. As a group, guitarists are very conservative about their equipment.

    Personally, I'm not interested in having electronics in my guitar that do things that can be done by a pedal.
     
  11. ThebiggestJerk

    ThebiggestJerk Senior Stratmaster

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    Do you like the current that’s running thru it via the amp?
     
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  12. Jim Carl

    Jim Carl Strat-Talk Member

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    Same reason tubes sound better than SS. Old school simplicity vs new world circuitry.
     
  13. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    In passive pickups, there is no current running through it from the amp. If there is, there is something wrong with your amp, and you better get it fixed before it kills you.
     
  14. mad axe man

    mad axe man Senior Stratmaster

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    you love eric dont you..lol
     
  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Most Honored Senior Member

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    There ya go... and you can always unplug the pedal and put it on a shelf... out of the way..

    r
     
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  16. ThebiggestJerk

    ThebiggestJerk Senior Stratmaster

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    Not true.
     
  17. Slacker G

    Slacker G Strat-O-Master

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    I get tired of supporting battery companies so I'd rather have a multi FX pedal with modeling.
     
  18. joesatch

    joesatch Strat-Talker

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    with a proper buffer you dont need it. Any more than that and you're coloring the tone
     
  19. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    It's funny that while many players fight against active pickups in their strats, they have no problem with buying an acoustic with onboard electronics. (70% are active)

    ....the acoustic being a much more traditional instrument, lol
     
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  20. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985

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    I don't even own an acoustic, and when I did, I never plugged it in. Not once.
     
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