Active vs Passive Pickups: Difference and Comparison

A pickup is a sensor that is placed under the strings of a guitar to capture the electrical vibrations of those strings, and later it translates those vibrations into the sound which we can hear. Pickups are made up of magnet and wound copper wire.

These electronic signals from the pickups can also be directly recorded. The pickups are mainly divided into two types – the Active Pickups and the Passive Pickups. Each pickup produces its kind of music.

Key Takeaways

  1. Active pickups use a built-in preamp powered by a battery, while passive pickups rely on the instrument’s natural resonance for amplification.
  2. Active pickups provide higher output, lower noise, and broader frequency response, whereas passive pickups have a warmer, more organic tone.
  3. Passive pickups are more straightforward to install and maintain, while active pickups require battery replacement and can be more complex to install.

Active Pickup vs Passive Pickup

Active pickups may require a 9-volt battery to function, while passive pickups work without any outside power source. Active pickups are linked with higher gain tones like metal, while passive pickups are linked with more versatile gain tones. Active pickups have more outputs than passive pickups.

Active Pickup vs Passive Pickup

Active Pickup is those pickups that generate higher signals from the strings of a guitar. They depend upon the batteries as an external source of power. The active pickup produces a clearer sound.

Usually, active pickups are used by brass players and guitarists, as they produce higher signals and are good for those people who play metal. It suits the style of music they play.

On the other hand, Passive Pickups are those pickups that generate weaker signals from the strings of a guitar. The sound of the passive pickup is not that clear as compared to the active pickup. It does not require a battery for power.

Also, Passive pickups are affordable pickups as compared to guitars with active pickups.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonActive PickupsPassive Pickups
Definition Active Pickups are those pickups that generate higher signals from the strings of a guitar. Passive Pickups are those pickups that generate weaker signals from the strings of a guitar.
Sound The sound of the active pickup is clear and consistent.The sound of the passive pickup is not that clear as compared to the active pickups.
Battery Active pickup requires a battery.A passive pickup does not require a battery.
PriceActive pickups are expensive than guitars with passive pickups. Passive pickups are inexpensive as compared to the guitars and basses with the active pickups.
Tone Active pickups have a better tone. The tone of Passive pickups is not as good as active pickups.
OutputActive pickup has more outputs as compared to passive pickups. Passive Pickups have limited output.
UsageActive pickups are used by professional brass players and guitarists.Passive pickups are a great choice for beginners.

What is Active Pickup?

Active Pickups are those pickups that generate higher signals from the strings of a guitar. As it generates higher signals, the signals are strong and secure. The sound of the active pickup is clear and consistent.

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As the active pickups generate powerful signals, the outcomes from the signals are prominent and clear to listen to. Active pickups require a battery. The battery works as an external power source that helps the active pickups to produce higher signals.

Active Pickups are more expensive than guitars with passive pickups. The guitars with active pickups are pricey, and therefore they are not affordable. Active pickup has a better tone.

Because of the higher signals that are generated by the active pickups, the tone of the guitars with active pickups is clear and understandable.

Active pickup has more outputs as compared to passive pickups. The active pickups are inbuilt with a preamp that gives them to generates several higher levels of sound and boosts the loudness of the tones produced by the guitar.

Active pickups are used by professional bass players and guitarists. Since the guitars with active pickups produce higher signals, it enhances the loudness of the sound of strings and this kind of music is loved and adored by the brass players as it satisfies their taste in music.

active pickup

What is Passive Pickup?

Passive Pickups are those pickups that generate weaker signals from the strings of a guitar. As the passive pickups generate weaker signals, the signals are fragile and dull compared to the active ones.

The sounds of passive pickups are not that clear as compared to active pickups. Because of the weak signals produced by the passive pickups, the sound is not that prominent and clear.

Passive pickups do not require a battery. The passive pickups do not require an external force of power to act. It can be used at any time and for a longer time as it does not require a battery to generate the signals.

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Passive pickups are inexpensive compared to guitars and basses with active pickups. Passive pickups are affordable.

The tone of the passive pickups is not as great as active pickups. Since the passive pickups produce weak signals, the tones are not as good as the active pickups, and therefore it lacks behind. Passive pickups have limited outputs.

Passive pickup is a great choice for beginners. Passive pickups are affordable and a great choice for beginners to learn and practice in the initial stage.

passive pickup

Main Differences Between Active Pickups and Passive Pickups

  1. Active Pickups are those pickups that generate higher signals from the strings of a guitar. On the other hand, Passive Pickups are those pickups that generate weaker signals from the strings of a guitar.
  2. The sound of the active pickup is clear and consistent. On the other hand, the sounds of passive pickups are not that clear as compared to active pickups.
  3. Active pickups require a battery. On the other hand, Passive pickups do not require a battery.
  4. Active Pickups are more expensive than guitars with passive pickups. On the other hand, Passive pickups are inexpensive compared to the guitars and basses with the active pickups.
  5. Active pickup has a better tone. On the other hand, the tone of the passive pickups are not as great as active pickups.
  6. Active pickup has more outputs as compared to passive pickups. On the other hand, Passive pickups have limited outputs.
  7. Active pickups are used by professional brass players and guitarists. On the other hand, Passive pickup is a great choice for beginners.
References
  1. https://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-19-25-25057
  2. https://aapt.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1119/1.4935088

Last Updated : 12 August, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Active vs Passive Pickups: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand the differences between active and passive pickups, providing a comprehensive overview of the topic.

    Reply
    • The information on tone and output is particularly insightful for understanding how active and passive pickups influence the sound of the guitar.

      Reply
  2. The detailed explanation of active and passive pickups provides a solid understanding of how they impact the sound of the guitar. It’s great to have all this information in one place.

    Reply
    • Agreed, the article covers the technical details while also making it accessible for readers who may not have a deep understanding of guitar pickups.

      Reply
  3. This article provides valuable insights into the technical and tonal differences between active and passive pickups, which is crucial for guitarists to understand.

    Reply
    • The comparison table is particularly helpful in summarizing the key differences and benefits of each type of pickup.

      Reply
  4. I appreciate the detailed explanation of active and passive pickups. It’s clear that the choice of pickup can have a significant impact on the tone and sound of the guitar.

    Reply
    • The article effectively highlights the advantages and disadvantages of active and passive pickups, making it easier for readers to understand their differences.

      Reply
    • Absolutely, the information provided will be helpful for musicians looking to make an informed decision about their instrument.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for the informative article on guitar pickups. It’s interesting to learn about the differences between active and passive pickups, and how they each contribute to the sound of the instrument.

    Reply
  6. The breakdown of active and passive pickups in the article is well-detailed and informative, providing a comprehensive understanding of their characteristics.

    Reply
    • I appreciate how the article addresses the practical implications of pickup choice, making it relevant for musicians at different skill levels.

      Reply
    • The clarity of the article’s explanation helps to demystify the technical aspects of active and passive pickups for readers.

      Reply
  7. The detailed explanation of the parameters of comparison between active and passive pickups is very enlightening. It helps to understand the factors that influence the choice of pickup.

    Reply
    • I found the breakdown of differences between active and passive pickups to be very well-presented and informative.

      Reply
    • This article effectively communicates the key differences between active and passive pickups, providing valuable insight for musicians.

      Reply
  8. The article effectively presents the differences between active and passive pickups, which is essential knowledge for anyone looking to invest in a quality guitar.

    Reply
    • Yes, the information on usage and suitability for different types of musicians is very beneficial to understand the practical impact of pickup choice.

      Reply
  9. This article provides a clear understanding of the distinction between active and passive pickups. The information on the sound, battery requirement, and price is particularly useful for guitar enthusiasts.

    Reply
  10. The article explains the technical aspects of active and passive pickups with great clarity. It’s valuable information for both experienced musicians and beginners.

    Reply

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