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Date Created: 10/9/2010

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Q: bro, i have a question on pickups. Currently aku pkai gitar yg murah2 aje brand Aria STG.. mmg bgsat punya gitar la tapi aku pkai effect Boss Me 70~ i thought that pickups dont really matter as long as i have a good effect processor. but i guess i am wrong. btw, im using single coil pick ups.
act, aku mencari bunyi yg macam metallica, yg palm mute dier muff giler..but i just cudnt get it with my Boss! I believe humbucker pickups especially brand EMG cud do the trick. what say you? and what does passive and active pickups mean?

A: First off, everything matters. Pada aku pickup is one of the most dominant when it comes to shaping the tone. Pickup la yg first skali convert mechanical movement to electrical signal. So, pickup punya peranan memang penting. If you have a cheap camera, you can't expect Photoshop kasi gamba yg ko amik jadi lawa gile. You have to start with a good camera.

 

Lain Pickup, Lain Bunyi

Meh dengar sample ni.

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Aku record sample ni real quick, virtually no post-processing. Dalam sample ni, effect & amp setting sume sama. (Of course setting effect ko sepatutnya kena la bergantung pada the characteristics of the pickup yg dipakai. But that's not the point I'm trying to make here.) Aku pakai kedua-dua electric guitar aku. For each guitar, aku keep the same volume setting, same tone setting. Cuba dengar kelainan bunyi pickup pickup yg berbeza.

0:00 – 0:10 = JS1000 with PAF-PRO (Bridge)

0:13 – 0:22 = JS1000 with Fred (Neck)

0:24 – 0:34 = JS1000 with Fred (coil tap mode)

0:36 – 0:45 = JS1000 with PAF-PRO (coil tap mode)

0:47 – 0:56 = RG390 with Evolution (Bridge)

0:59 – 1:08 = RG390 with Area '58 (Middle)

1:09 – 1:18 = RG390 with Breed (Neck)

Sume pickup DiMarzio. Sume Humbucker, kecuali Area '58. Coil tap mode ni pickup humbucker tu dipakai sebagai single coil.

See, everything else being (almost) equal, the pickup (and position pickup tu) can make a difference. Like I just said, how you tweak your effects should depend on the pickup you use. But you can only tweak your effects so far. It's eventually up to what your pickup picks up. The effects can only modify the signal that it receives from the pickup. Kalo pickup tu miss something, effects tak boleh nak enhance something it doesn't receive.

 

Active ngan Passive

Beza active ngan passive pickup plak… well, I'm an engineer, I like physics. So let's go to the very basic. Macam mana pickup kuarkan bunyi? (this only applies to magnetic pickups). Pickup ade magnet kan? So, there's a magnetic field near the pickup. Bile magnetic field tu diganggu oleh besi (ferrous metal) yg bergerak (tali gitar), pickup tu akan produce small electrical signal. Yes, kalo tak connect kat amp pon, your guitar actually produces very small electrical signal.

Actually mase aku tulis paragraph kat atas ni, I based it entirely on my physics (electromagnetism) knowledge. And it occurred to me that aku tak penah try pon. So I decided to dig some stuff out of my electronics toolbox dari zaman U dulu, and record the following video. :D

So there. Pickup ni actually hasilkan tenaga elektrik sendiri ("electrical potential" to be technically accurate). Even pickup yg power cam DiMarzio Evolution tu pon cuma hasilkan a few hundred millivolts. That signal has to travel through your cable sampai ke amp. And then the amp amplifies it to something you can hear.

Cable ade rintangan (resistance). Lagi panjang atau lagi halus cable tu, lagi tinggi lah rintangan dia, maka lagi lemah signal yg sampai ke amp. So signal akan lost sket.

Well, aku tak penah ade EMG active pickup, so aku takde experience, especially pasal tone dia. But I think, active pickup system ni dekat gitar tu ade preamp system, dia kasi condition sket signal tu, pastu amplify signal tu, baru hantar ke amp melalui cable. That way the output of the guitar is higher, the signal loss through the cable is less significant. A lot of people seem to like it, maybe it is good, especially for metal and shredding. Tah la. Well, if you ever get the chance, try gitar yg ade passive humbucker, and compare dengan gitar yg ade active one. I won't spend that much money before trying it. (I'm not sure, but your amp may need a separate input port for high level input from active pickup).

Whether to use passive single coil, passive "fake" single coil (cam DiMarzio Area '58 tu, actually humbucker that imitates a single coil), passive humbucker, or active pickup system, is a matter of taste. Malmsteen main metal pakai single coil kan? (Aku tak sure actually, I'm not really a fan).

But in your case, since ko cakap gitar ko tu "bangsat" punya, it's probably not worth putting an EMG on it. Bape harga gitar ko? RM700 camtu? Pasang active pickup kena pasang untuk semua pickups, takkan pakai satu pickup active, lain passive. The output level will be way too different (aku punya Evolution ngan Area '58 pon quite different already output level dia). How much is a set of active EMG? Paling koman pon RM600 kot? Is it worth it? You decide. If you love your guitar so much, maybe it's ok. Macam RG aku, tukar sume pickup tu cost dia around USD190. It's a big fraction of the guitar's original price, but I really love the guitar. It's a very important part of my life. So I did it.

Lagi satu active pickup ni kena letak battery (9V). Gitar ko kena modify sket utk letak battery compartment. If it doesn't fit, you may have to cut out some wood out of the body for that. And kalau gitar ko S-S-S configuration, kena cari single coils yg active, camni. Kalo nak yg humbucker punya style, you'll at least have to modify the pick guard (or beli pick guard lain), if not more.

Or, better yet, save the money, get an ESP LTD or something. I'm sure you can get an ESP LTD with active pickups for under RM2000. Probably even under RM1500 (this guy seems to have pretty low price). If you really like playing guitars, that's not much. Guitar isn't just about the pickup. Well made guitars are easier to play.

p/s: Your amp really matters too. Some amps are better for metal than others.


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