Pickup FAQs

Q:What are Active Pickups?

A: An active pickup is a pickup that uses an electronic form of a preamp built into the pickup to gain enhancement, tonal shaping characteristics, and or output impedance reduction. Some advantages to using active pickups is that they are less susceptible to noise and can have greater flexibility of eliminating the high frequency losses caused by driving long cables or sending the signal through multiple pedal effects. EMG and some Seymour Duncan pickups are examples of Active Pickups.

Q:What are Passive Pickups?

A: Passive pickups require no internal circuitry or external power via a battery for operation. Nordstrand, Lindy Fralin, Bartolini, and Delano's are examples of passive pickups. Many players feel that passive bass pick-ups have a more organic tone and a wider dynamic range.The end result of this is that the vast majority of pickups sold are of the passive type.players feel that passive guitar pick-ups have a more organic tone and a wider dynamic range. The end result is the vast majority of pickups sold are of the passive variety.

Q: Are my Pickups Active or Passive Pickups?

A: Some pickups are active and some are passive. Most if not all the pickups that we carry are passive pickups. With the exception of EMG's and a few Seymour Duncan's all of our pickups are passive unless otherwise noted.

    Examples below:

  • *EMG - Active Pickups. Require 9v battery power for operation. If the EMG model notes Hz, then they are passive. We tend to not stock the passive EMG's.

  • *Active Seymour Duncan's - Active Pickups. Require 9v battyer power for operation.
  • *Bartolini - Passive Pickups.
  • *Lindy Fralin-Passive Pickups.
  • *Lakland Pickups - Passive Pickups.
  • *Seymour Duncan Antiquity and Basslines - Passive Pickups.
  • *Aguilar - Passive Pickups.
  • *Fender Pickups - Passive PIckups.
  • *Dimarzio - Passive Pickups.

Q:What is meant by the terms ‘active bass’?

A:Generally speaking, the term means that there is a battery in the bass. Most commonly, the battery is being used to power a preamp. The preamp uses a battery and thus the instrument is powered (active). Occasionally, the pickups are active; a bass with active pickups would, of course, also be considered active.

Most pickups (even in ‘active basses’) are actually passive. A bass can have an active preamp with passive pickups: This is the most common scenario.

EMG, MEC and some others have models that are active and require a battery. Sometimes these pickups are used with preamps as well, but not necessarily.

Many preamp manufacturers are designing their control harnesses with passive pickups in mind, as they are more common both as retrofit parts and for OEM use

Q: What is meant by the term active/passive switching?

A:Some instruments have a switch which changes the signal from active to passive.This switch is not changing the pickups, or how they function: the switch is not making a pickup active or passive. It is changing the signal path for the controls.

More precisely, an active passive switch is a bypass switch. When in 'passive' mode, the signal bypasses the active part of the preamp (which is typically the EQ section).

See the FAQ on preamp here for more information Preamp FAQ

Q:Will my Active Pickups work with my preamp?

A:This depends on the pre-amp being used. Audere preamp's are not recommended to be used with Active pickups such as EMG's and some Duncan's. Other pre-amp's, provided the control potentiometer's are impedance matched, i.e 25k Ohm Volume and 25k Ohm Blend are used, can be used with Active Pickups. Consult us for more clarification.

Q: What pickups fit my bass?

A: This varies from instrument to instrument. To understand what pickups fit the route on the bass the dimensions of length and width would have to be taken and compared to models currently produced. If a model is not comparable to an off the shelf option please contact us and we can discuss custom options if applicable for your instrument.

Q: What does the height adjustment of my pickups control?

A: Generally moving a pickup closer to the strings produces higher output, and when the pickup is farther away less output. Moving the pickup closer to the strings causes the string vibrations to increase the amplitude of the disturbance in the magnetic field, which in turn creates stronger current on the output. This does affect the tonal characteristics as when the pickup is closer the bass tends to become "boomier". Also placing a pickup to close the strings cause the string vibration to decay faster than normal.

The pickups can also be adjusted on a slope with one side sitting lower or higher than the other. Depending on the orientation the tonal characteristics of the pickup are also changed. For instance if the bass is too "boomy" from the neck pickup and the treble is thin, you can adjust the bass side lower and the treble side sligthly higher to compensate. Because the pickup is at a slanted slope the change between the frequencies will be gradual,linear, and fall off on the bass side.

Q: What is the ideal pickup height?

A: Many manufacturers have different specifications. These are not concrete dimensions. They are a guideline. As each bass is not identical and not two instruments sound the same, some experimentation on height can be accomplished. Ideally the instrument will need to be set up and intonated as desired before making height adjustments. Consult the manufacturers specifications for a reference point.

Q: Do my pickups come with pickup screws?

A: This varies with manufacturer. See below for more information:

  • *Bartolini - No Screws Supplied.
  • *EMG - Black Screws Supplied.
  • *Delano- Black Screws Supplied.
  • *Nordstrand- Chrome Screws Supplied.
  • *Lindy Fralin- Chrome Screws Supplied.
  • *Dimarzio- Black Screws Supplied.
  • *Seymour Duncan- Chrome Screws Supplied.
  • *Aguilar- No Screws Supplied.

Q: Are Single Coils Hum-Cancelling?

A: Yes and No. A Single coil matched set with the pickups being reverse wound reverse polarity of each other are hum cancelling. With these pickups being evenly blended the output will have little hum. If one pickup is soloed or rolled full on, some "hum" can be expected to be experience. Single coils can pickup some stray RF( radio frequencies ). This is what led to the humcancelling pickup being created.

Q: Is the string spacing at my bridge the same as over the pickup?

A: No. The string spacing tapers down the instrument until the strings finally reach the nut. The dimensions for string spacing for use as a reference and or measurements for custom pickups have to be taken over the pickup. The following article offers clarification to these particular measurements:

Q: My bass is equipped with Bartolini MK's, what pickups fit this bass?

A: The basic option is to use a Bartolini MK4 for 4-string, MK5 for 5-string, and MK6 for 6-string. A P2 sized pickup can also be used and is narrower in width by 2mm. P2 sized pickups are manufactured by Bartolini, Nordstrand, Delano, and Aguilar for more tonal options.