Whitechapel’s Zach Householder Moved to Passive Pickups for His Signature ESP LTD Guitar

I’m not exactly sure when the tipping point was in the eternal battle of active vs passive pickups, but at some point I had a realization. It seemed like a majority of the metal bands that have a modern sound, generally the ones with louder, more sonically hyped records, were using active pickups. That may have been around the time that I stopped thinking of active pickups as “mostly EMG 81s” and a slew of newer models were released.


Yet still, even in this day of more natural sounding actives that let the tone of the guitar be heard more than the sound of the pickup, plenty of players still prefer passive pups. For instance, there’s Whitechapel guitarist Zach Householder. He says in the brief interview below that he settled on passive DiMarzio D Activator 7 bridge and neck pickups in his signature ESP LTD ZH-7 after originally hearing the guitar with actives, and he prefers the sound as it is now. He then goes on to demo the guitar in question, but as I pointed out the last time Whitechapel and DiMarzio made some footage together, it sounds like they have him playing through an amp made out of sardine cans, so it’s probably not the best product representation.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.

Latest comments
  • From active to d-activators? Giant step to keep that shitty tone of his shitty.

  • holy shit that sounds like garbage. i definitely prefer passive over active but fuck…

  • HA! He played the lead from “Swim” by In Flames to show off the lead tones on the neck. Fucking respect.

    • He also played the intro from “My Kantele” by Amorphis.

  • Dis is how I chug-chug now

  • Which on of their guitarist was a good, I’m pretty sure at least one was.

  • Those chops….. not his guitar playing

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