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Friday, July 6, 2012

The P3 Mod, The Battery-less Mod for Active Guitar Pickups & Pedals

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $250.00 USD + Shipping  (as reviewed)

The DC Voltage Company is the Manufacturer of an electronic modification that allows active/battery powered musical equipment to utilize the power from an amplifier via 1/4 inch instrument cable to power active guitar and bass pickups and/or effects pedals without wall or battery power. 

This review was conducted using the P3 mod with the external power kit/active box.

I took my time as I always do and from start to finish it was 15 minutes. The only thing I had to install on my guitar was a new 1/4 inch input. Please note that you should have a luthier from your local music store work on your guitar for you unless you really know what you are doing. This would be a 1 hour charge + bench fee to install.  The total investment will be well worth it.

Reliability & Durability:
Since I like to really put the products I review to the test I abused this product. I dropped the power supply/active box from shoulder height a few times and then stomped on it like I would an effects pedal. I figured that I would keep it on my pedal-board, and if I was at a gig after a few beers I may stomp on it thinking it was a pedal. I can now say that I know with 100% certainty that this product will hold up under normal gigging conditions without any problems.    

Guitar Used:
2011 Epiphone Les Paul Jr. This was the POS rebuild for July 2012 view the rebuild here

Amp used:
Vox Pathfinder 15r

Cables used:

Kerly Music 50's Nickel Elec Guitar Strings 11-50


One of the headaches I have always had with active pickups is the whole battery thing. I have been at a gig and had to send someone to a 7-11 to get me a 9 volt, so I have been very reluctant to upgrade from passive to active. In the July 2012 POS rebuild for Local Music Gear Magazine, I needed an active pickup to get the guitar to sound the way I wanted it to, so I installed the P3 mod in the guitar with bypass switch so I could use a 9 volt if I wanted to with the external power supply that I have dubbed "the active box".

To start with it was very easy to instal; three wires. I am a sucker for good customer service so I emailed and called Jason Robling (the brains behind the P3 Mod) a few times with the dumbest questions to see how he would react. He was very helpful and understanding -- he even emailed me a hand drawn schematic and never belittled me or told me to have someone else install the mod. He is a true gentleman and his company offers excellent customer service.

So back to the review; this mod allows you to use the power from your amp to power your pickups. All I needed to do is replace the 1/4" jack in the guitar with the P3 mod, and I plug into a small converter that plugs into my amp, much like I would with a pedal; this is the external power supply/active box. I originally installed a toggle on-off switch so I could use a 9 volt battery if I wanted to. I left the guitar plugged in for 14 hrs with the switch in battery mode. According to the manufacturer of the active pickups I used, I should have at least 80 hours of full power before the battery starts to drain; that was not the case. I did a side by side test of the 9 volt vs plugged in to the power supply/active box and I could really hear a difference. With the battery my highs were muted and some of the sustain was dialed back. So while using the P3 mod I know that I will never run out of juice, but I will also have a constant 9 volts so my sound doesn't fade as the battery drains, and that rocks. Since you normally spend $50 - $100 more for active pickups than passive, you really get your money's worth with the P3 mod all the time.

*DC Voltage also makes the battery-less mod for pedals, acoustics, & basses.

My advice:
If you use active pickups or effects pedals you will spend more than the $250 on batteries over the lifetime of the guitar, bass, acoustic and/or effects pedal; and they will not perform at their best much of the time. I say you need this if you care about your sound. Its also good for the environment since the hundreds of batteries you would toss will never make it to the landfill.   

DC Voltage
8501 Citation Dr.

Gaithersburg, MD 20877
(p) 301-524-9939

Posted 07/2012