My father recently purchased me a used guitar. It was in “okay” condition. It made noise, and when it was in tune it sounded like a guitar. It was apparent from the start that all three pickups were different. We could not tell from the outside or from our googling which pickup was the original or if any of them were stock. On top of this, the switch only worked in certain positions and the tone/volume control knobs were worn and grimy.
It needed some work and some TLC. My father and I opened it up and found that the neck pickup’s left screw hole was broken and the previous owner had just taped it the screw to the pickup. The other two pickups appeared to be in fine condition, but they took up so much space inside the body that the pick guard was sort of hunched up around the middle pickup. They were forcing the pick guard to bend.
My dad and I discussed the next step. I mentioned how I loved the guitar in its current state but I would like to get a pickup to replace the broken/taped one at the neck. After some online browsing my father decided that he would just buy a set of three new pickups. I was excited by his decision and when he said that he had bought a set of EMG’s I readily agreed. That being said, this was the first custom guitar my father and I had attempted, so we did not realize until the day afterward that the pickups he had ordered were active instead of passive.
Up until this point we had no idea there were different types of pickups, we just thought there were different brands. After more googling on our part we discovered active pickups require a battery to be included in the inside of the guitar. Passive pickups do not have to be charged by a battery. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though, because the active pickups allowed for easier setup and less soldering. Also, they just give a guitar such a slicker appearance.
After completion of installation I still have some static I have to deal with and the pick guard is still a little hunched. The switch didn’t fit in the original slot because it was too long, so we ended up drilling two new holes but they don’t stand out because the pick guard is black. I am proud of the job my father and I did and I hope this post encourages other guitar players to try their hand at customization. It makes the guitar much more valuable to the player if they have worked on it personally.