Questions on EMG pickups. - Jemsite
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Michigan
Posts: 635
Questions on EMG pickups.

I was originally going to some dimarzios for my jackson, but I think I'd rather try some EMGs. I'm specifically interested in using an 81 for the bridge postion, and an 85 for the neck postion. But first, I've got some concerns to get past.

First, will they fit my guitar without any modifications required? My guitar, as I said is a Jackson currently equipped with Duncan Design pickups. The pickups are screwed straight into the body, no pickup rings. Of course, the screw is running through a spring, so I can adjust the pickups height.

I've heard that EMGs are great for metal, since they have a very tight sound. That's sounds great to me. However, I often play a lot of Progressive metal, like Dream Theater and similar. Will I be able to use a simple EQ box (pedal or rack mount) or some other trick to open up the sound a bit for cleaner sounds?

Other than all that, I should have no problems. I've read up on how to install the pickups, install the battery, etc.
guitarkatana is offline  
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Old 01-08-2004, 01:28 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 668
You might actually investigate switching them around. The 85 supposedly sounds good in the bridge (I know I would prefer it there), and the 81 seems too trebly and too scooped to be in the bridge. There would be no balance whatsoever if you did the 81 bridge 85 neck thing.

They should fit in without modification, I believe.

About EMGs for metal: to each his own, but I would personally take DiMarzios over EMGs for metal any day of the week, absolutely no contest. I have an EVO 7 in my RG 1527 and a Tone Zone in my RG 570. The only thing I'll say about the EVO is that it replaced a Lundgren Model M, and I don't plan on changing it. Now, the Tone Zone, in my opinion, is the meanest, ballsiest pickup I've ever heard. My 570 sounds as big as a Les Paul, but it actually has punch and cut. If you've worried about the TZ being too dark... don't. I was a bit skeptical, too, but it's perfect. If you want to, disconnect the tone pot for a bit of added brightness. There are harmonics popping out everywhere on this thing, and sometimes, there is a slight vowel sound to it. It's my favorite ever for heavy rhythm (it has way more mids than any EMG, driving the amp better and actually lending clearer tone, with more dynamics, and the chopped treble prevents harshness), but it's also an incredible lead pup. VERY rich. It cleans up OK, too.

However, if you're completely sold on EMGs, don't let me stop you. Yes, you'll be able to use EQ devices with them, though the EMGs are not well-known for their pristine cleans. If you put the 81 in the bridge, there's no way in hell I'd use it clean, as it would probably be incredibly harsh and thin sounding, do to the insane amounts of treble the pickup has.
The_Grindfiend is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 04:55 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Nr. Liverpool, UK
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I have a pair of EMGs in my RG550 - the 81 (bridge) and the 85 (neck) and they sound brilliant. They are definatly metal pickups, and in my oppinion the best metal pickups there are - putting about 1.2 v into the front of a valve amp instead of about 0.4 make quite a big difference.
The 81 is very scoopy and sounds great for tight rhythm in the bridge position - and the 85 can give a super saturated, smooth lead tone.
For cleans I personally have an EMG SA in the middle position and it sounds great. Im sure if you roll off some volume and use a couple of effects you could easily get away with using the 81 for clean though.

-better shred than dead-ANDY
Jammy is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 07:25 AM
dex
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 2,109
85/81 is a great pickup combo and for distorted sound is better than anything made by DiMarzio or Duncan.
If you want to play clean from time to time my advice would be to stick 89 in the neck as the 89 is effectively 2 pickups in one.
Single coil that is spot on like the EMG SA (alnico stacked hum) and sounds like 85 in dual hum mode.
Magic in a box.

ilia
dex is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 11:42 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Nr. Liverpool, UK
Posts: 868
Good idea dex...now why didnt I think of that? :P They sound great in both modes, just so you know. My mate has one...
-better shred than dead-ANDY
Jammy is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 12:57 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 254
i had the 85 81 combo in my jackson and yes i liked it but it didnt sound unique so now i put a tz in my 570 and love it actually im going to get a another tz today for my esp ltd
JimmyW is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 02:15 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
Posts: 1,895
It boils down to this: Some people love them and some hate them. I am of the latter, but I still recognize that they are awesome for some things. Here's why:
Passive pickups have a certain sound that we know and love. Beyond that, they have a certain "feel" about them. The way the notes swell, and the way the signal hits the amp is what it is.
The EMG starts with a passive pickup, as any device would, but in reality it's a very weak passive pickup, and wound with a thicker wire. Basically an EMG without the preamp is a thin sounding, wimpy, anemic pickup. But then the magic occurs with the preamp. They boost this and that and the overall result is far more efficient than any passive pickup. Lower noise, cleaner cable run, less feedback from the epoxy potting, but also because the "low output" coil(s) are less prone to it. But this is why the sound and feel is more compressed, "tighter" to some ears, and the highs are glassier and more sterile sounding.

EMG's feel a certain way, and I just can't get over it. To me, it's thin sounding, even though your overall tone could be fat and bass heavy. So what you won't get is a dynamic, open maybe "LP or Strat through vintage Fender amp" sound. Your cleans will be more processed sounding if for no other reason than the sound is processed before it leaves the guitar. I believe that's what you're asking. EQ can't restore the squashed dynamics or add swell to the notes. You won't get a toothy, woody tone. As far as fitting the guitar, nowadays the humbucker routs are more universal, but if it's a tight cavity against a traditional humbucker, the larger, more squared off EMG might not fit.
frankfalbo is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 02:22 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
Posts: 1,895
Incidentally, it's been years since I've brought up Bartolini here. It seems not to strike up interest with this group, but he starts with a totally valid passive pickup, and uses the preamp for light tailoring and boosting. So you can have both worlds in a Bartolini equipped guitar. You can switch between active or passive, or leave it active all the time but switch from boosted to unboosted mode, where the preamp is just making the impedance conversion, not really altering the sound or feel. I have some Bartolini equipped guitars, and that's why I don't have to get an EMG to get that "blazing hot active" sound. Otherwise I'd probably have one token EMG guitar in my arsenal.
frankfalbo is offline  
Old 01-08-2004, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Michigan
Posts: 635
Thanks for the info Frankfalbo and everyone. It doesn't sound like the EMGs are going to satisfy me completely, and I don't have a lot of money to play around and experiment a whole lot. I think I'm going to stick with my original plan of getting a tone zone, X2N, or Steve's Special for the bridge and a Air Norton or Paf Pro for the neck. I'm gonna look into those Bartolinis as well.
guitarkatana is offline  
Old 01-09-2004, 02:22 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 395
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammy
I have a pair of EMGs in my RG550 - the 81 (bridge) and the 85 (neck) and they sound brilliant. They are definatly metal pickups, and in my oppinion the best metal pickups there are - putting about 1.2 v into the front of a valve amp instead of about 0.4 make quite a big difference.
The 81 is very scoopy and sounds great for tight rhythm in the bridge position - and the 85 can give a super saturated, smooth lead tone.
For cleans I personally have an EMG SA in the middle position and it sounds great. Im sure if you roll off some volume and use a couple of effects you could easily get away with using the 81 for clean though.

-better shred than dead-ANDY
You have basically got my guitar but I have an S in the middle instead of the SA.

I like EMGs for most lead work but they can feel a bit sterile the harmonics don't sound as natural as on passives. I would love tho get another scratch plate and mount a load of Dimarzios on there for a different sound and swap them around but I don't haves the cash at the moment

Freak

Fre
power freak is offline  
Old 01-11-2004, 04:01 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Delta, B.C., Canada
Posts: 383
I had my EMG equiped Tele (81 bridge, 85 neck) at work today (Music Store) and, at the request of a Tele-loving customer I played it through a Peavey XXX Half Stack. I simple pentatonic run with the neck pickup sounded so blusey, you'd have thought it was a PAF.

EMG's can be dynamic and tasty, and they can be dry and sterile. It's all in the fingers and the amp.
pinto79 is offline  
Old 01-11-2004, 08:59 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
Posts: 1,895
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinto79
....simple pentatonic run with the neck pickup sounded so blusey, you'd have thought it was a PAF.
You might, but you didn't follow your test up with another similar tele that had a PAF in it. I'm not objecting to the statement, but for a guitar that you'll call your own, its more important how it naturally sounds than what it can simulate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinto79
EMG's can be dynamic and tasty, and they can be dry and sterile. It's all in the fingers and the amp.
Well, it's not "all" in anything. You can play with great dynamics and the EMG's have no choice but to send that signal to the amp. David Gilmore is a great example of that. He sounds very "tasty" but not raw, toothy, or with the icy attack of a vintage strat. All I'm saying is that generally speaking, most guitarists will hear and feel what I've described. And not that the EMG lacks dynamics, but by comparison....
frankfalbo is offline  
Old 01-14-2004, 12:11 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 8
EMGs

I've got DOZENS of guitars - all with active EMGs.

What I've learned is that there's not a right or wrong for having an 81 or 85 in the bridge.
I HAVE found that maple neck guitars tend to be more trebly than I care for with an 81 in the bridge, so in those guitars, I typically use 85's in the bridge and an 81 or 89 in the neck.
On guitars with rosewood necks, the 81's cut thru a little nicer, so I tend to use those.
Then again, I have guitars that are the opposite and they sound great too.
Come to think of it, there's no way to tell if they are right or wrong.
Just try it!
The good thing about EMGs is that the new ones have the quick disconnect clips so you can swap them around without rewiring anything if you'd like to find out quickly what the difference in the two is.
Contrary to what I've read from some people - I've NEVER had to route out a guitar or make any modifications for any EMGs to fit in a stock cavity or route. WHY some people insist that you need to make modifications physically to a guitar to make them "fit" doesn't make a damn bit of sense to me.
toneslave is offline  
Old 01-14-2004, 02:41 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
Posts: 1,895
It doesn't make sense to you because you never encountered yourself. There are plenty of guitars that have been made over the past 50 years that have cavities that won't fit an EMG. To say that buying EMG's means you have to route the guitar is premature, but EMG's are among the largest pickups out there. They are deeper than most standard passives, because they are encased with the preamp electronics within. Also, sometimes the corners catch if the cavity's corners are too rounded. Their single coils are very deep, when compared to vintage strats. The wires on the old EMG's shot straight down, so even if the pickup would fit right sometimes you'd have to route a channel for wire relief. I hope you go through life never having to put a pickup in a guitar that won't fit. I truly wish you the best in that area, but it's possible. Otherwise you make some great points. The different EMG's are pretty much interchangeable from neck to bridge.
frankfalbo is offline  
Old 01-14-2004, 02:51 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Milford (Cincinnati), Ohio
Posts: 571
:|

OK - I can see where putting EMGs into some vintage or other odd guitars may become an issue, but since this is an Ibanez related website, the majority of the people would be dealing with Ibanezes here.
In the 100+ guitars I've put EMGs into in the past (not just Ibanez) I personally have never had to modify a guitar for them.
I have 40+ guitars now in my collection, only about 4 have something other than EMGs in them. Every one was a direct swap for EMGs, no mods.

But to please those of you that feel like stating your opinion and telling me I'm wrong - there's always going to be an exception to the rule.
My initial post was more for those that have a fear of putting in EMGs because they have heard rumours that they would need to modify their guitar to do so, IN GENERAL that's not true.
JiMoSiTY is offline  
 

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