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.