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Changing Active To Passive?


DanBB
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Hello

I own a 80s/90s Charvel Spectrum which came with 3 Jackson single-coils with active circuitry which I am trying to replace with white noiseless Fender-style Dimarzios / Seymour-Duncans. I have researched on the internet and found that although my particular guitar's circuitry is active, the pick-ups themselves are passive and don't contain pre-amps in the actual pickups like 'ordinary' actives (like EMGs). My question is, does this mean I can keep the existing electrics and simply connect 3 new Strat-style single-coil passives to the existing set-up, or do I need to rip out all the active circuitry and buy completely passive wiring?

Hope you can help.

Cheers

Dan, UK

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I am not an electronics expert, so I can't give much help there. But I would try going to the Jackson/Charvel Forum. There are a lot of knowledgeable guys over there when it comes to this kind of stuff. A lot of guys are just collectors and players, but there are a good number how really know the technical sides of those guitars.

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No pickup whatsoever is actually active. The “active” pickups are combinations of low impedance coils (single or humbucking) with buffer and amplifying circuitry cast into the same cover. Then there are other that have the buffer/amplifying circuitry outside of the pickups but they are still low impedance pickups. And the third version is traditional high impedance pickups combined with active tone shaping circuitry (active bass and treble, boost etc).

So you will have to find out more about the pickup you have there before the question can be answered. Simplest way is to de-solder one lead from one of the pickups and measure the DC resistance of the pickup itself. If the electronics are made for low impedance coils you will have a low ohm reading of the coil. But if you have a high reading, say in the range from 5 ohm and up (ok, might even go a tad lower) you have high impedance pickups and you can just throw those mentioned pickups into that guitar. But what the heck… The wiring of a strat style guitar is cheep ( 26$ from StewMac) and a really small cost if you are investing in a set of new, expensive pickups

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I think the original poster simply meant that they are "standard" passives with a preamp circuit, no? He already seems to have done this phase of the investigation.

EMG's active circuitry is an integral part of their design. This makes it an "active" pickup. Saying that there are no active pickups because there are passive components (the coil) is like saying there's no such thing as a gas-powered car... after all, it is really just a passive cart (wheels and chassis), and we choose to add power in the form of an engine and other required components. We could take out the engine and either push it down a hill or strap it to some horses (another form of active technology). But I would argue that since the active components of either an EMG or an automobile are a part of the overall design and intended usage (and are included in the spec sheet), and since the manufacturer sells them built into the cover/chassis with the intention of the end-user using them with a power supply, then they are, in fact, not passive technology. Ergo, the term "active pickup" in EMG's case is not just marketing-speak, but is completely accurate.

Greg

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OK, I will not argue about that. But IMO there are active pickup like the laser light pickups and passive pickups with external or integral electronics.

He does not seem to have checked if the pickups are low or high impedance. That information is needed. And missing. And will determin the answer.

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Thanks for all your help and interesting discussion. I think I will try installing the new pickups with the existing wiring to begin with. If that doesn't produce the desired sound, I'll rip it out and replace with new wiring. I'm trying to get a nice warm tone because although the existing Jackson pickups give a high output with low noise, the sound is quite flat and has no "soul" (if I can use such a word!).

Cheers

Dan

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