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Active & passive pickups


Ar-Pharazon
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I picked up an old strat s/s/h from a pawn shop for $60 and found out that the single coils are active. They are the ones you get with an EMG 81 S/S/H set. There is a 9 volt connector in the pot cavity and it seems to be connected correctly. The single coils had been disconnected from the selector switch (3-way) and only the humbucker is wired (it is a passive generic thing). Is there a way I can reconnect them and switch between pickups without buying an 81 to replace the Humbucker?

At the moment the wiring is screwed and i don't even know if the bridge pickup even works... :D

Its just a mess of wires in the pot cavity so I can't really show you a pic.

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Well, it looks that I wasn't -completely- correct. It can be done, but not without adverse effects.

However, I hadn't heard of the PA-2, and that seems to be a reasonable solution. I did some research, and here's what EMG had to say on the subject:

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 fine. 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.

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I've been running a duncan live wires classic humbucker with two passive singles for a very long time.

If you don't mind the asking, how did you them set up? I've always had problems level matching when mixing active and passive pickups, so I'm always interested in seeing how other people get around it.

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I've been running a duncan live wires classic humbucker with two passive singles for a very long time.

If you don't mind the asking, how did you them set up? I've always had problems level matching when mixing active and passive pickups, so I'm always interested in seeing how other people get around it.

The livewire classics are not super high output. They're about that of a good old PAF maybe even a bit less but a considerably larger frequency range.

The Heavy Metal version is screaming loud and couldn't be matched with anything if ya tried. I tried those first and just didn't care for them. I love the sound I get from the classics, they don't need to scream, I can do that on the back-end.

So, it was more luck that I found something I really liked that I could match up with passives I wanted to keep.

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Thanks for all the help guys.

In the end I picked ip and old 81 (it so happens it was free which is even better). I suck at wiring though so I will probably have to get someone to do it all properly. :D

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