Difference Between Active Pickup and Passive Pickup (With Table)

The word Pickup is a piece of metal or plastic that captures mechanical vibrations produced by the guitar and converts them to electrical signals. Farther, which is amplified by using an instrumental amplifier to produce musical sounds. Active and Passive Pickups are two types of Pickups used to produce musical sounds.

The difference between Active Pickup and Passive Pickup is that Active Pickup creates strong electric signals, which boost your sound and give a better sound projection whereas Passive pickups produce low electric signals and don’t give a consistent tone as compared to active pickups.

Active Pickup vs Passive Pickup

The main difference between Active Pickup and Passive Pickup is that Active pickups have better sound projections as they are the hinge on external power sources like batteries. On the other hand, Passive Pickups are wire wound around the guitar, and sound projection is completely dependent on the winding of the strings.

Active Pickups are electrical circuits used to generate signals. Active pickups use magnets and coils but the circuit is powered and connected to batteries. As a result, it offers a better sound projection and fewer background. Active Pickups use high volt batteries, which are connected to amplifiers, which help in producing a better sound quality tone. Active Pickup is used by a professional guitarist.

Passive pickups are found around the guitar and don’t need any external power supply. All the work in Passive Pickups is done by the combination of magnets and coils without using any batteries and done only by winding strings. Passive Pickup is mostly used by beginners.

Comparison Table Between Active Pickup and Passive Pickup

Parameters Of ComparisonActive Pickup Passive Pickup
DefinitionActive Pickups are a power circuit used for generating sound signals.Passive Pickup is wire wound around the guitar and doesn’t need any external battery support.
Quality Of Tone ProducedActive Pickups provide better sound quality.Passive Pickups have slightly worse sound quality due to the limited output.
BatteryActive Pickup runs over the battery. Passive Pickup does not require batteries or an external power source.
UseActive Pickup is used by a professional guitarist.Passive Pickup is mostly used by beginners.
PriceActive pickup guitars are expensive.Passive Pickup guitars are not overpriced.

What is Active Pickup?

Active pickups are those guitars that have a power circuit for generating signals, this signal is generated as strong and with less background interference.

Pickup Active pickups use a preamp connected to a 9-volt battery or sometimes an 18-volt battery. This pre-amplifier allows both to cut and boosted frequencies to give you more control over your guitar and tone produced.

Active pickups use magnets and coils, which are connected to batteries for generating sound. Active Pickups provide a better sound projection, and signals are salient and very clear to listen to. In Active Pickups, the battery acts as an external power source, helping to produce a clear sound signal.

Active pickups have more output and provide a better sound projection than other pickups. Active pickups are built-in and produce a powerful signal that enhances your voice and provides better sound quality and enhances the sound produced by the wending.

Guitars with active pickups are considerably expensive and preferably used by a professional guitarist. Active pickups have better sound quality because the signals produced are very high.

What is Passive Pickup?

Passive pickup guitars are wire wound and don’t need any external power supply like batteries, etc. Passive pickups work on a combination of magnets and coils and sound is produced by the winding of strings.

Most of the Passive Pickups consist of three components, one is a coil of wire, magnets, and bobbins, which wrap the coil around the guitar. All three components play an important role in the performance of passive pickups.

Due to the weaker signal, the sound from passive pickups is not very clear, it produces a dull but clear sound. Passive pickups are not battery-operated guitars. Passive pickups are wrapped around the guitar and produce a weak signal. As compared to Active Pickups, Passive Pickups have limited output.

Passive pickup guitars are affordable and can be a great choice for beginners and a good choice for practices and in the first stage of learning guitar.

Main Differences Between Active Pickup and Passive Pickup

  1. Active Pickups are those Pickups that produce higher signals to circuit guitars. Whereas, Passive Pickup is wires wrapped around the guitar and produce a lower signal than active pickups.
  2. Active Pickup is battery-operated guitars whereas Passive Pickup doesn’t require any batteries.
  3. Active Pickup gives a better quality tone whereas Passive Pickup gives a lower quality tone due to limited output.
  4. Active Pickups are used by the professional guitarist on the other hand Passive Pickups are great for beginners.
  5. Active Pickup guitars are considerably more expensive than Passive Pickup guitars.


When choosing whether to get active or passive pickups, simply write down all your requirements on a piece of paper, then which way should you go. In the end, the choice of music you want to play determines which pickup you should use. One is not better than the other pickup.

Both active and passive pickup has advantages and disadvantages. And they differ in their way. Active pickups need tenants and are considered expensive, while passive pickups reduce the lower signal and are not a great option for making certain types of music. Both active and passive pickups are needed because professionals use one active pickup, while passive pickups are used in the initial learning phase of beginners.


  1. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.399836
  2. https://a.pomf.cat/zjnuis.pdf