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Guitar Shop Scam?


PhantomThief
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A few days ago, I asked if a 25K pot is absolutely necessary for an active pickup, and it was a resounding yes from you guys. However, I just called my local guitar tech and he said, "Oh, we'll just hook it up to the original pots on the guitar. The ones that come with the set, you just keep for spare."

Is he trying to fool me or is it possible?

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I am no expert but everything I have read would suggest that standard pots simply won't work. A friend of mine had problems with an EMG81 active pickup he had installed many years ago....was crackling and fading in and out etc. In our wisdom we thought "let's try a 250k pot and see if that fixes it!"....well we got nothing, no sound, nothing. I then read up on EMG's website and found out that they have to be 25k......also discovered a wiring mistake from the original install, rewired it and it worked like new.

Just my 2cents worth but as I say, I am no expert. :D

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EMG requires a 25K, Seymour Duncan requires a 125K and some others require a 50K pot. A 250K will work (as in produce audible sound) but your pickups will sound very poor. EMG pickups already sound shrill but a 250 or 500K pot would make them sound broken.

As for the jack, it’s necessary for switching the pickup on. If you leave your jack plugged into the guitar 24/7 your battery will drain quickly. That’s why you have to unplug the guitar when you are finished with it. It connects the pickup to the battery. Last I heard, that means it’s basically used as an on switch!

Sorry to save but most Guitar Center Guitar techs and in a lot of cases, your mom and pop places aren’t really up on active electronics. In fact, I have three places in my area and none of them will install actives.

The pots that come with EMG are great. The ones that come with Seymour Duncan are utter crap in my opinion. However, you can cure a lot of the shrill EMG tone with getting a few Drop Orange caps and chucking the caps that come with the EMG. The drop Orange have a better overall tonal sweep and will help give back a little natural sound to your guitar. They go into every active guitar I do and just about every passive one too.

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Wow, I've had a lot of differing opinions on this one. Some say that the EMGs will work, but lose some tone, some say it will lose a lot of tone, yet another group on another forum I go to says it works perfectly fine, and AprilEthereal says it might not work at all! I'm so confused right now :D

How about going to EMG's site. EMG Support

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.

You should always go to the manufacturer first, when you have a question like this.

Peace,Rich

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I actually sent them an email to ask them what the effect on the tone would be, since all they said was that it would "act like a switch", but I got no reply from them. It's been... 4 days since I sent the email?

I asked them a similar question once and got the "acts like a switch" response. It doesn't make sense to me. A pot is just a voltage divider, and it should work as intended as long as it's impedance is large compared to the source impedance. I have an EMG equipped guitar (with 25k pots). I thought about trying some 500k pots to see if the "acts like a switch" statement is true, but I've never actually gotten around to it. I'm not saying it's not true, but I can't seem to figure out why it might be.

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I would never trust the manufacturer of a product when they tell you to use the supplied parts when installing pickups. I mean seriously, they must be nuts thinking we would be stupid enough to actually use the pots they supply and recommend. Who do they think they are? They even give you the parts they recommend for free, and CLAIM its so you will get the best tone/playability if you use them. I think its a scam!! IDIOTS!!

Next thing you know, guitars are going to come from the stores preloaded with strings so you can use them straight away!!!

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No ****, Sherlock. Thanks for answering the main question of the thread, "Do EMGs work best with the parts supplied by EMG themselves?". Oh hold up, no one asked that. But thanks for your valuable input anyway. Why don't you try answering the actual question?

Question for self... Why would EMG include FOUR pots, for free, with every guitar pickup they sell, at THEIR expense, if they WERENT required?

Second question... Is it feasable that they are simply including a set of 25k pots purely to HELP US OUT WITH SPARES just in case the original pots (250 or 500k usually) wear out?

This is really simple dude, and you can disregard the manufacturers recommendation, even if they are paying for you to have the right gear. Sounds like your local tech is an idiot, and knows absolutely nothing about how actives work (fairly common it seems).

PS if your tech has no clue about the pots, id be real careful about how he wires them in. Most techs with no clue still wire the ground to the bridge.

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*That* is what the guitar tech told me, not what *I* said. I was wondering if the EMGs would work with a 250k or 500k pot in the first place. I have little doubt that what he told me was wrong, for the very points you stated yourself. But the problem would be so much easier if I'd bought them first hand, but I got them second hand so I don't have access to the pots. Thus the question if they'd work, and if they do, how well. The many different answers I've got shows its not quite as straightforward as it seems to be.

There is a little hope, though. I found out from a friend that the guy I was talking to isn't the actual technician, but sort of a salesman guy. The guy doing the actual installation is someone else. Hopefully, I won't die of an electric shock. Btw, what do you mean by an amp running off "dirty" power?

Edited by PhantomThief
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PS if your tech has no clue about the pots, id be real careful about how he wires them in. You'll get a VERY nasty shock (i know of two deaths) if you ever play that guitar plugged into a amp running off dirty power (common), mis labelled power, or touch a mic that is out of phase and on a different circuit (very common) with miswired actives.

Hey Perry, want to explain this a little more...how are actives more prone to shock via mis wired pots than passives?

pete

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PS if your tech has no clue about the pots, id be real careful about how he wires them in. You'll get a VERY nasty shock (i know of two deaths) if you ever play that guitar plugged into a amp running off dirty power (common), mis labelled power, or touch a mic that is out of phase and on a different circuit (very common) with miswired actives.

Hey Perry, want to explain this a little more...how are actives more prone to shock via mis wired pots than passives?

pete

oops. Reminder to self: Never post on two different forums, about guitar electronics, at the same time and jumping from one reply to the next, whilst answering the phone, and talking with the missus. Its liable to see me put my foot in my mouth!

Post editted here and on another forum :D

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Okay, finally got a reply from EMG. Reproduced here exactly.

First, my email:

If I use an EMG-81 wired to a 250K pot but maintain the knob at max

level all the time, how much effect will this have on the sound?

Thanks.

His reply:

None at all. The only thing that will be affected is the taper.

Best Regards,

Rick Hunt

Engineering Technician

EMG Pickups, Inc.

www.emgpickups.com

Guess that's pretty conclusive then. Works perfectly.

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Heheheh, try it out then, let us know how it goes.

I'm beginning to lose faith even in the EMG guys.

Not to get off topic, Perry, but could you fill us in on "shock potential?" What Pete quoted was enough to make me want to run out and get a power conditioner or surge protector or something :D

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Okay, finally got a reply from EMG. Reproduced here exactly.

First, my email:

If I use an EMG-81 wired to a 250K pot but maintain the knob at max

level all the time, how much effect will this have on the sound?

Thanks.

His reply:

None at all. The only thing that will be affected is the taper.

Best Regards,

Rick Hunt

Engineering Technician

EMG Pickups, Inc.

www.emgpickups.com

Guess that's pretty conclusive then. Works perfectly.

Yes, at full it will work like a switch. The difference is going to be when you try to adjust the volume. You will have a small window(a fraction of its rotation) and then it will be full on or full off. A switch effectively. Not ideal if you want to be able to adjust your volume. Personally, I would use a pot that has the better range to control the pickup(pots are pretty cheap), but your preference is all that counts.

Peace,Rich

Xanthus,

I'm beginning to lose faith even in the EMG guys.
. Why would you lose faith in the EMG guys? They never said it would not work, they simply said it will act more like a switch (full on/ full off- with very little ability to adjust any level between). If they recommended the use of higher value pots, you would be pissed of when you had little ability to adjust the volume(right?). Then it would be time to lose faith :D . Edited by fryovanni
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Why would it act like a switch? I might be missing something, but the EMG 81 circuit has the slider of the pot going to the output jack just like with a passive pickup. If you use a large value pot you would have the same disadvantage, that is, loss of treble at intermediate volumes. With a 25K pot there will be no treble loss.

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Well, when everyone in the world says that using different pots affects your sound (like the column on the right), and somebody who works at EMG says that using 500k or 250k pots won't affect the tone of the pickup, I'm inclined to cock my eyebrow a bit. I'm thinking that there was a big reason why active pickups were developed and also ship with 25k pots. If you put different pots in, they'll affect the sound of the pickup. I just don't see why someone from one of the most respected names in the pickup business would say the only difference from using the other pots would be the volume taper.

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Well, when everyone in the world says that using different pots affects your sound (like the column on the right), and somebody who works at EMG says that using 500k or 250k pots won't affect the tone of the pickup, I'm inclined to cock my eyebrow a bit. I'm thinking that there was a big reason why active pickups were developed and also ship with 25k pots. If you put different pots in, they'll affect the sound of the pickup. I just don't see why someone from one of the most respected names in the pickup business would say the only difference from using the other pots would be the volume taper.

Pots load passive pickups and so 250 vs 500K makes a diference for the treble. An active pickup has a preamp that isolates the pickup from the pots and cable. Using a 25K pots means that the cable no longer cuts treble when the pot is part way down.

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