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Installing active pickups

The Bassist
Posts: 135
For a while now Ive been thinking of upgrading my basses with active pickups, specifically with the EMG 35/40DC. Ive never done anything like this before so is it easy? Could I do it myself or would I have to take it to a luthier? Also would I have to replace my pre-amp?
Posts: 909
The biggest challenge would be cutting a cavity for the battery that's needed. Swapping the pickups and pre-amp would be easy compared to getting the battery done.

There may be some kits for certain basses that allow enough space in the control cavity to also house a battery, but I'd imagine those are pretty few and far between.

Marko is going to be your best bet on the proper set up for this. I believe the bass he built included an active pickup and preamp.

I've never done it, but I own a 6-string that the previous owner converted to an active EMG setup, and the battery is in the control cavity, but a huge pain in the ass to change every time it dies. I have to unscrew the 6 screws that holds the control plate on. Major inconvenience. There's battery boxes you can gut into the back of the body that allows you to pop out the old battery and put a new one in in a matter of seconds.
I think I have room in the cavity for another battery but I will probably just take it to a luthier if and when I do this. Thanks again.
Posts: 2388
If you use the full EMG system with the push fit wiring and controls, then its a simple case of stripping out the old and installing the new. The old pre amp would have to go so you would only need one battery. Battery boxes are a big help, and like Mark says, this is where it gets hard, but if you can borrow or rent a laminate trimmer, which is a mini router and easy to use, then its not too difficult if you take your time
I opened the pre amp cavities on both basses to have a look and turns out there is less room in there than I thought. I saw a video on YouTube of a pickup installation like this and the guy covered the pots and wires with a layer of packing foam and taped a battery over that. In any case, they already have active pre amps so any batteries I add would be for the pickups. But now I think im just going to get new basses, less of a hassle.
Sounds like a good decision to invest into another Bass, especially if there is nothing wrong with the one you were considering to upgrade.

Posts: 423
But now I think im just going to get new basses, less of a hassle.

Yes i would agree this would be the best decision

Although saying that I've just switched from an active thunderbird to a passive p bass and a couldn't be happier with the results

Posts: 2388
Yeah, Active basses, whats that all about? Get yourself an 18“×24” lump of 18mm ply and start adding Boss pedals to it until you have the perfect, tailor made set up.


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