It is interesting how musical instruments keep evolving, and an electric guitar isn’t an exception.
That’s why things that were true or false a while ago may have changed over the years.
For instance, does the electric guitar need a battery?
Interestingly, the answer to that could have been a resounding no initially.
However, now the answer to this question depends on the pickups of your electric guitar.
It is no secret that three types of pickups are commonly used; passive, active, and piezo.
Piezo-electric and active pickups need a battery, but that’s not true for their passive counterparts.
After all, such pickups don’t require additional voltage sources, and that’s common among low-end and regular guitars.
As a matter of fact, most electric guitars use passive pickups, which explains why they don’t often need batteries since they use magnets for signal output.
That said, some guitarists opt for active pickups; hence possible to see an electric guitar that needs a battery.
So, without much ado, let’s learn more about electric guitars, pickups, and the need for a battery.
About Passive Pickups
Originally, electric guitars only used passive pickups.
Interestingly, not even time has taken away their popularity in this industry.
Nevertheless, there has been a need to modify them by changing the numbers and enhancing the pickup’s features to meet the ever-changing demands in the music industry.
Since passive pickups are transducers, they convert energy from one form to another.
A magnetic field makes your guitar strings vibrate, and the passive pickup senses the vibration.
It converts it into an electric signal heard on the amplifier or speaker once amplified.
This working mechanism brings us to the details of its design.
It entails a permanent magnet, and its material can be alnico or ferrite.
There are also several turns of thin copper wire around it.
Consequently, the magnet generates a magnetic field usually concentrated around the poles.
The permanent magnet makes the electric guitar strings magnetic too,
Therefore, upon pulling the string, the magnetic field shifts leading to current flow in your pickup’s coils.
Due to the small currents and consequent weak signals need to pass through an amplifier or speaker for high-quality output.
About Active Pickups
Unlike passive pickups, active pickups have a preamp, which provides an additional boost for a stringer signal using a battery.
Thanks to its active circuit, this pickup can modify and boost signals and is hence known for relatively high output.
Did you know active pickups have volume, bass, and treble controls?
Consequently, the guitarist enjoys immense control over the tone the guitar produces.
Under such circumstances, one can also easily eliminate any hum or noise emanating from too many pedal effects or long cables.
However, its electronic circuit also requires an external voltage source, such as a battery.
About Piezo-electric Pickups
It is worth noting that there is a notable difference between piezo-electric pickups and other pickups.
For instance, piezoelectricity occurs in ceramics, crystals, and other solid-state materials.
It often arises from mechanical stress, and electric charge accumulation occurs in its response.
These pickups also need a battery since they have a built-in preamp.
That said, it is rare to find an electric guitar that uses piezo-electric pickups.
On the other hand, these pickups are quite common among other musical instruments, including acoustic guitars.
Nevertheless, we can’t rule them out since some electric guitar owners opt for an additional piezo pickup.
Why Does an Electric Guitar Need a Battery?
An electric guitar usually needs a battery to power its preamp.
This preamp will give your electric guitar a pretty high output.
After all, it boosts the signals from your electric guitar cables and amplifies them since they are usually low.
So, as long as your electric guitar has a preamp, it will need a battery to operate.
How Often Does an Electric Guitar Battery Need Replacement?
The frequency differs from one electric guitar to another depending on how often its owner plays it.
So, an artist who performs often may need to replace it more often than one who plays the guitar as a hobby.
In other cases, the battery quality you buy also makes a difference.
When Should You Replace Your Electric Guitar Battery?
Since it is hard to tell the ideal time to replace your battery, it is great to know some indicators which show that replacing yours could be a good idea.
Some of the things to look out for include the following;
- A crackling sound as you adjust your guitar’s volume knob
- Lack of drive and punch
- A notable drop in its gain
- Volume dropping
- Drop in the guitar’s output
- Unexpected buzz and hum
- Distorted clean tone
- Fizzy tone
Remember that active pickups are usually silent by default.
Consequently, never assume any weird noise since it could indicate an issue, and a buzzing or hum shows you need to replace your battery.
Active vs. Passive Pickups; Which One Is Better?
You will want to select the best if you choose between active and passive pickups.
The best way is to weigh each type’s cons and pros.
Here is a summary to help you make a wise decision.
What Are the Advantages of Passive Pickups?
The advantages of passive pickups include the following;
- The pickups are affordable
- They are also easy to use
- These pickups are also quite basic
- They are the typical pickups for electric guitars
What Are the Disadvantages of Passive Pickups?
On the other hand, passive pickups have their disadvantages, including the following;
- Expect humming to arise
- Feedback problems are also common
- It lacks a separate amplification circuit inside your guitar
- You have no option of adding element signals
What Are the Advantages of Passive Pickups?
Some advantages of passive pickups include the following;
- It has a preamp to enhance your guitar’s sound output
- There are low chances of electrical interference when using these pickups
- You can subtract or add elements to a signal depending on needs and preferences, including feedback control, filtering, and equalizer
- It has a separate onboard amplification circuit
What Are the Disadvantages of Active Pickups?
However, it also has its cons, including;
- Relatively expensive