There are numerous advanced and innovative electric guitars released every day. With this, the question of whether electric guitars use batteries arose. Although not all electric guitars require batteries, it still depends on the kind of pickup they feature.
The only pickups that need batteries are the active and piezo types; passive pickups don’t. Most entry-level, affordable, standard electric guitars typically don’t need batteries as additional power sources.
Initially, electric guitars did not require additional voltage sources like batteries. But for those who do, this other voltage was necessary because of the new variations of the existing pickups.
In this article, I will be explaining the differences between active and passive pickups and whether or not your Fender Stratocaster has batteries.
Active pickups are constructed differently from passive pickups. They don’t require an external energy source as they generate their own electric potential.
In addition, the primary distinction between the two is that active pickups are constructed around an electronic circuit called an “active circuit.” This circuit can boost and modify the signal they generate. As a result, active pickups typically have a higher output than passive pickups courtesy of this additional circuit. However, its main drawback is that it requires an external voltage source in the form of batteries.
Electric guitars with active pickups built into them have an additional cavity on their body, making it effortless for their users to replace drained-out batteries. If you are planning to switch from passive to active pickups, it is probably best to keep that extra 9-volt battery slot for convenience.
The problem with active pickups is that they are unplayable whenever your batteries are drained, which may be frustrating, especially when you are traveling or performing live. This makes it essential to always have spare batteries with you every time and everywhere during plays. On the bright side, 9-volt batteries are cheap and will last for years.
Active Pickup Electronics
The circuitry of active pickups is mainly featured in bass and high-performance guitars and is frequently used to produce percussive sounds (slap and pop playing) and playing metal genres. This pickup is known for generating brighter, more precise, and snappier tones.
Although active pickups or circuitry are uncommon in Fender guitars, they are present in the Deluxe Active Jazz Bass, Deluxe Active Jazz Bass V, and Jim Root Collaboration Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster models.
Pros and Cons of Active Pickups
- equipped with a separate onboard amplification circuit
- It enables you to add and subtract elements on your signal, including equalizer, filtering, and feedback control.
- Less prone to electrical interference compared to passive pickups
- Features a separate onboard power source, typically preamp powered by 9-volt batteries (Depends if you view it as an advantage or disadvantage)
- Expensive compared to Passive Pickups
Passive pickups were the first pickup ever introduced in the electric guitar industry. Despite being present for almost a centennial, they are still the most widely used pickup in modern electric guitars, with enhancements and different numbers.
Passive pickups are a kind of transducer, a device that can convert one type of energy into another. This process happens when the pickup senses the string-induced vibration from the magnetic field and transforms them into an electric signal which will then be amplified and played on your speaker or amplifier.
This type of pickup features a straightforward design composed of a permanent magnet made of either ferrite or alnico, which is wrapped with numerous turns of thin copper wire. The magnetic field generated by the magnet itself will be concentrated on the magnetic pole pieces. These components are evident on Standard Fender Stratocaster pickups.
The guitar strings will typically become magnetic due to the permanent magnet. Therefore, when the string is pulled, its magnetic field moves, causing the current in our pickup’s coils to flow. The processing of sounds produced by electric guitars involves small currents or signals in the cable that travels to the speaker or amplifier to be amplified.
The only distinction between single-coil and humbucker pickups is humbuckers typically have two coils wounded in the opposite direction to eliminate humming, and single feedback coils have. Lower output is the main drawback of passive pickups. As a result, the amplifier’s sound will be weaker and softer.
Single-coil pickups always generate humming and feedback because they are wounded significantly if the drive is increased or the volume is raised. Of course, there are noiseless pickups, but some musicians would argue that they truly capture the sound of a single coil.
Passive Pickup Electronics
The electronic configuration of passive pickups is the most basic of all pickups. It is designed with a magnet wrapped with thin copper wire. This magnetic field generates weaker electric signals from the vibration of your strings. The electric signal you produce when playing flows through your instrument’s cable and onto your amplifier, where signal enhancements are done.
Pros And Cons Of Passive Pickups
- The most basic and typical electric pickup
- Affordable and easy to use
- It isn’t equipped with a separate amplification circuit inside the guitar
- Can only subtract elements signals and not add
- Humming and feedback issues
So, are batteries required for your Stratocaster? The answer is yes and no. Stratocasters never need batteries with passive pickups and no additional circuitry. Your guitar will need that 9V battery as a voltage source if you add any other preamps, such as mid-boost or active pickups. Stratocasters with active pickups are included in the Jim Root collaboration series.
The answer depends on the your preference in terms of superiority between both pickups. If you do not want to get the batteries replaced, then you would most likely opt for passive pickups on your Fender Stratocaster. On the other hand, if you don’t mind replacing drained-out batteries, you may view both active and passive pickups equally.
Although the batteries will typically last months, personal preference remains the determining factor depending on how much you play.
All battery-operated guitars are equipped with a stereo output jack, which breaks the circuit when your guitar is unplugged. This means that you will only use the battery when playing the guitar.