#170185  by wpmartin1979
 
Hello everyone and happy weekend!

I know active pickups/systems have been around for quite a while, however it seems that recently they have taken on some momentum and some guitar players absolutely swear by them these days.

EMG is a Santa Rosa, CA based company that produces some great sounding pups and solderless wiring solutions, from what I hear.

Anyway, seeing that I’ve recently taken on guitar building/modding as a hobby my next project is possibly going to be to put together a Jerry inspired guitar with all active pickups and solderless electronics - including on board preamps, 18V headroom and on board parametric EQ.

My question is: if Jerry was still alive do you think he’d be down for this? Do you think it is possible that he would have a guitar in his arsenal with a full blown active system?

Curious to hear your thoughts!
Please get on your :soapbox: and let us know what you think!
 #170186  by Jon S.
 
It's impossible to know what Jerry would have thought of today's active pickups and associated technology. But we can say at least three important things.

One, Jerry, generally, both knew what he preferred and kept an open mind.

Two (consistent with one), Jerry both stuck to certain tried and true gear over time and also experimented with new gear and made changes.

Three, Jerry demonstrated a remarkable opennees to trying - and retaining - guitars made for him by others, at times without the builders having even consulting him in advance.

Based on this, myself, I don't think Jerry would have necessarily gone out of his way to obtain a new guitar with noiseless pickups. But if someone built him one that he overall liked, yes, I do think he'd have given it a fair shot.
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 #170189  by wpmartin1979
 
My personal take on this BTW differs greatly from Jon more “classical” position.
I believe that if Jerry were alive today we’d be hearing tones etc. that would be a radical and total departure from what he was doing in the 90s.
Even in the 90s Jerry had a full blown MIDI rig, which I believe was his idea, although I could be wrong. Regardless he was all about it. He, more than any other member of the band is what was driving the bands sound to change and progress over time.
With the proliferation of today’s electronic music, including bands like STS9, SCI, etc I personally think that Jerry would have been tremendously bored with keeping with the same old standard tonality and sounds that the Dead was producing in the 90s.
I think he would have been all about progress, change and experimentation and that he would have himself searched for and implemented ways of pushing the music forward to tonally and aesthetically.
Jerry would have been bored by Dead & Co.!
There, I said it ....
:soapbox:

Now bring on the hate it love or whatever .... :biggrin:
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 #170190  by lbpesq
 
I have a bit of experience building and playing guitars with active pickups. Currently, I have instruments sporting Alembic, EMG, and Fishman Fluence pickups. My players all have Alembic pickups and electronics. While EMG and Fishman use fairly standard type controls, volume and tone, Alembic employs a preamp volume, low pass filter, and you can add a Q switch. I find the Alembic pickups very full sounding and excellent for clean tones. They also help improve your technique as any slop is more readily apparent and not hidden by the pickups. I wouldn’t recommend them for heavy distortion. Also, being that he certainly had access to Alembic pickups/electronics and chose to forgo them, I suspect Jerry didn’t like the Alembic tone. Of the three brands, the Fishman are probably the closest to standard passive pickup tones.

Bill, tgo
 #170191  by wabisabied
 
As far as WWJD in general, I think it’s reasonable to look at what Jerry did do, over the course of his time on Earth, and based on that trajectory, map out potential, perhaps probable, directions his hypothetical future in the flesh may have taken.

I think he’d have continued to explore both artistically and technologically, including active pickups. He’d have applied whatever technologies worked to best advance his evolving artistic expressions, all within the context of the ensembles and venues he would have played.

So my hunch is that he would have embraced active pickups as a part of the expanding sonic toolbox available to him, for sure, but whether that particular technology would have made it to the stage or studio depends on a whole lot of other hypotheticals.

How’s that for an “I don’t know”?
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 #170192  by wpmartin1979
 
lbpesq wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:31 am I have a bit of experience building and playing guitars with active pickups. Currently, I have instruments sporting Alembic, EMG, and Fishman Fluence pickups. My players all have Alembic pickups and electronics. While EMG and Fishman use fairly standard type controls, volume and tone, Alembic employs a preamp volume, low pass filter, and you can add a Q switch. I find the Alembic pickups very full sounding and excellent for clean tones. They also help improve your technique as any slop is more readily apparent and not hidden by the pickups. I wouldn’t recommend them for heavy distortion. Also, being that he certainly had access to Alembic pickups/electronics and chose to forgo them, I suspect Jerry didn’t like the Alembic tone. Of the three brands, the Fishman are probably the closest to standard passive pickup tones.

Bill, tgo
Bill thanks for the great info, I figured you’d be a wealth of info on this topic. From what I have read EMG now makes the X series which have built in preamp w/volume controls and supposedly they have a ton of headroom. The 89x for example are billed as dual mode high headroom preamp powered pickups. They also make an on board parametric eq system that allows for both cut and boost of high, low and mid frequencies of the preamps.

Heard anything and know anything about these? I’m thinking about using them in a build - three 89X all with dual mode operation and the on board EQ.

I’m sure the Alembic are really good, but I didn’t even consider them I guess because they don’t seem to be readily available in the marketplace :???:
Probably easy to order them though I’m sure.
UPDATE: I looked up the Alembic pups, $1,000 + ouch ... too much for my first foray into untested waters
Last edited by wpmartin1979 on Sat Mar 06, 2021 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 #170200  by wpmartin1979
 
Jon S. wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:53 am This is one of those questions where there literally is not, and cannot be, a single correct answer. The topic is fun to discuss, though! :eek:
Yes, it is an open ended question designed to stimulate discussion. Pulled from my teacher toolbox, lol. Before moving to Wisconsin I taught high school government and economics in East LA for 7 years, lol.
What does the Jack o lantern emoji represent BTW? :-o
 #170201  by Jon S.
 
wpmartin1979 wrote: Sat Mar 06, 2021 3:54 pmYes, it is an open ended question designed to stimulate discussion. Pulled from my teacher toolbox, lol. Before moving to Wisconsin I taught high school government and economics in East LA for 7 years, lol.
What does the Jack o lantern emoji represent BTW? :-o
I have no idea, I just like its wink and smile. :eek:

I have a tad of teaching experience, too. I was on the faculty of EPA's Administrative Litigation and Next Gen Compliance courses, among others. And upon retiring from the USEPA, I taught briefly as an adjunct professor (grad course) for the George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration in D.C. The course covered the topics in this article of mine: https://gwujeel.files.wordpress.com/201 ... ermits.pdf But then I decided I'd rather be just a student again, which I am now at the George Mason University in Virginia.
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 #170278  by wpmartin1979
 
Finished my build. We have a roasted alder body with Koa top (Warmoth hard tail), roasted maple neck with Tele headstock (made by a luthier in PA) and three 89X dual sound pickups.
Each pickup has its own volume knob and is wired so pulling the knob up engages the humbucker (they are wired as split coiled down) - these are the three black knobs to the right. You can blend any combination of pickup with any volume level.
The two knobs below those are the parametric EQ - the first knob boosts treble to the right and cuts highs to the left. The second knob boosts mids to the right snd cuts them to the left.
Dual battery case installed on the back so the whole system runs at 18V and has tons of sparkling headroom.
There is not a tone that you can’t achieve on this guitar. It is pretty amazing and sounds beautiful.
I’ll be uploading some sound clips soon do you guys can check out how it sounds.

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