Post image for Why You Must Check Your Active Guitar Pick-up Battery

Why You Must Check Your Active Guitar Pick-up Battery

Study the picture above carefully. What can you see?

One fine September morning I’m tracking some new ideas in the home studio and the guitar sound starts getting a little crazy. Nothing too bad. A little nasty rasp somewhere in the upper mid-range.

First I check:

  1. The output signal path consisting of my monitors and sound-card – with some pre-recorded music from the computer.
  2. The input signal path connections – on this occasion between my guitar and sound-card which included a compressor and amp simulator.
  3. A few settings in the input chain such as levels, drive and EQ

No luck.

The Charvel Jackson I was using has an active EMG-81 pick-up that I slammed in when I was a teen and it occurred to me that maybe the battery power was getting low. That would makes sense.

How do I know this?

When you have a battery powered device such as a transistor radio and the battery power starts to run low, one of the first things you hear is distortion out of the speaker. I was hearing a distorted signal. An unwanted one.

Did you study the picture above carefully? What did you see?

What I found was:

  • A battery that has an expiry of 2001
  • Corrosion on the terminal so bad that the connector came away from the internal pick-up wiring – stuck to the battery!

It goes to show that active pick-ups consume very little power and can last a long time running reliably on a single battery.

Was it really over ten years since I put this battery in?

When did you last check yours?

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Photo Credit: © Sandra Farrow

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