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Difference between Active and Passive Pickups

Difference between Active and Passive Pickups

There is much debate among musicians about the difference between active and passive pickups. Some people swear by one or the other, while others find that there is no real difference. What’s the truth? Let’s take a closer look at both types of pickups to see what makes them unique.

What is Active Pickup?

Active Pickup is a type of guitar pickup that uses an onboard preamplifier to boost the signal before it reaches the amplifier. Active pickups are typically used in high-gain settings where the extra boosting circuitry helps to produce a tighter, more focused sound. Active pickups can also be helpful in taming feedback problems. Because of their higher output level, active pickups are often used in metal and hard rock styles of music. If you’re looking for a screaming guitar tone with plenty of sustain, then active pickups are definitely worth considering.

What is Passive Pickup?

Passive Pickup is a technology used in electronic musical instruments, typically electric guitars, to sense the vibrational energy of the string and convert it into an electrical signal. PassivePickup generally consists of a magnetic field coil and a magnet. The coil is wrapped around a ferrous metal core (typically iron) and when placed near a vibrating string, the coil induces a voltage in the string proportional to the string’s vibration. This signal can then be amplified through an amplifier to create sound. Passive pickups are typically less expensive to manufacture than active pickups, and are therefore often used in lower-priced instruments. Passive pickups can also be used to create a “quieter” sound as they do not require batteries or other power sources.

Difference between Active and Passive Pickups

  • Guitars come fitted with one of two types of pickups – active or passive. Both have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, so the type of pickup that is right for you will ultimately come down to personal preference. Active pickups are powered by a battery, and as a result they tend to produce a higher output level than passive pickups.
  • This can be an advantage if you’re looking for a more aggressive sound, but it can also make your guitar sound “muddy” if you’re not careful with your EQ settings. Passive pickups, on the other hand, don’t require a battery and are therefore much simpler in design. This often results in a warmer, smoother tone that many players prefer.
  • However, because passive pickups have a lower output level, they can sometimes get lost in the mix when playing with a full band. Ultimately, the decision of which type of pickup to use is a matter of personal preference. If you’re just starting out, it might be best to experiment with both types to see which one you prefer.


So, what’s the difference between active and passive pickups? Active pickups are powered by a battery, while passive pickups rely on the string vibration to create an electrical signal. This means that active pickups will always have a stronger output than passive pickups. Additionally, active pickups can be EQ’d for different tones, whereas passive pickups can only be adjusted for volume and tone at the guitar amp or pedalboard. If you want more control over your sound, then active pickups are the way to go.

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