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Anyone here with EMG experience?

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by _ripper_, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. _ripper_

    _ripper_ Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys, I just got a couple of EMGs (81/85) and am testing them in my Fender HM Strat in the bridge position.

    I'm curious about one thing: Neither of the EMGs in the Fender seem to be any louder than my PRS Tremonti SE which has a Duncan Custom pup in the bridge. The sound coming out of the amp with the EMGs also seems to have about the same amount of gain as with the Duncan Custom.

    Everything I've ever heard about EMGs has led me to believe that they would much hotter than passive pups and are metal machines. However, I havent found this to be the case with my guitars.

    Is this normal then, or am I doing something wrong?
     
  2. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    Is the pickup moved adjusted close to the strings? The closer the PU is to the strings the more output it will have.
    What wiring are you using? Can you post pictures of the wiring?
    Did you test the battery voltage?
     
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  3. MoreAmpsPlease

    MoreAmpsPlease Active Member

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    I have a EMG pickguard from an old 80's ESP strat, I refurbed the strat to be a "Blackie" type instead because of the battery required for the active circuitry. If I left it plugged in, the 9V battery would run down. I think it works without the power, but pretty weak, so that may explain what you're hearing.

    I think why some players liked them is that it's like a clean boost on the guitar and you could overdrive any amp with just a twist of the volume. And they sound good, hot, but without that Dimarzio ceramic high end. And it's completely noiseless. So great for recording or using with effects.
     
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  4. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    Yeah seems the wiring might be wrong.
     
  5. LRT#1

    LRT#1 Well-Known Member

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    I have the 81/85 in my explorer. They sound good for the most part the one thing I've noticed is they sound sterile in comparison to Duncan's and other passive PU.
    That's just my opinion though
     
  6. MonstersOfTheMidway

    MonstersOfTheMidway Well-Known Member

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    I think @ampmadscientist gave some good advice.

    When I had EMG 81 and 85 (Zakk Wylde set were my first, then individual 81 and 85), I learned that having a fresh battery made a big difference for me. Also, cheap 9V batteries usually performed the worst with 81 & 85 and cheap batteries really didn't last long.

    Not sure about the wiring because current sets allow for a kind of "quick connect"/solder less connection but there are also little pads that allow for solder (this option is usually for someone who is using old EMG with the new-ish wiring design. So, as @ampmadscientist said, you might need to give a description of what/how you are connecting the pickups as well as some of the component values you are using.

    Good luck with your EMGs. Let us know if there's any improvement.
     
  7. _ripper_

    _ripper_ Well-Known Member

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    I dont think there's anything wrong with the wiring, its a 1 pickup, single volume setup, with the quick connect cable, everything works right. I dig the sound, don't get me wrong, its much better than the DiMarzio Super Distortion that I removed.

    I expected it to be louder than my other guitar with passives. However, I think the problem may be that its not an apples-to-apples comparison, because the PRS has a fixed bridge and the Fender a locking tremolo, so maybe the strings vibrate stronger in the fixed bridge guitar. Unfortunately, I didnt make any clips of the pickup I removed from the Fender, that would have been a valid comparison.
     
  8. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    The PU should have about 2-3 times the output of a normal pickup.
    Assuming that nothing is wrong w/ the wiring won't solve many problems.
    When EMGs don't work right it's usually a wiring error or a dead battery.
     
  9. fifteenohms

    fifteenohms Well-Known Member

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    lolz mine too

    The EMG does the one thing only dont expect fmich
     
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  10. BowerR64

    BowerR64 Well-Known Member

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    Rather then a fixed tone EMG, why not get a good Gibson Classic 57 then get a pedal and you can vary the flavor using different pedals.

    If you cut open an EMG its just a shitty under wound low low output pickup with a boost circuit inside all that black plastic shit they use to hide all the electronics. They are blade style pickups no screws or slugs thats how they can fit any string spacing.

    One thing i dont miss about EMGs was that wonder if the battery was good, my guitar sounds different today i wonder if its the battery?

    I do still have a couple of EMG guitars, i dont play em much. Last time i played one of em i thought the tone sounded very un natural for some reason.
     
  11. charveldan

    charveldan Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    I bought an EMG-81 at the old Mars Music in 1999 for an 87' Charvel Model 2 and it sounds amazing.
    However earlier this year i bought a Zakk Wylde 81/85 set for a Les Paul Custom and didn't like them at all. Had a generic cold sterile component to them.
    Put the SH-5 Duncan Custom/59 back in, much better.
     
  12. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    I've EMGs in a lot of guitars.

    1) they're not that hotter, they pretty much normal volume wise
    2) put it in 18/24v, it sounds so much better. less compressed. this mod won't make it louder
    3) if you want a bassier sound put the 85 in the bridge.
     
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  13. charveldan

    charveldan Well-Known Member

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    Ive done the 18volt mod. I couldn't tell a difference honestly.
     
  14. 67Mopar

    67Mopar Well-Known Member

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    The 80's era EMG pickups were great. The newer ones sound "off" to me. Don't like the new plug-n-play wiring either.
     
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  15. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    To my ears it sounded really better, less compressed. My feeling was like taking wax outta of my ears. but each one experience things differently.
     
  16. Filipe Soares

    Filipe Soares Well-Known Member

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    I feel the same. I have a 80s set in my LP and it sounds very different from the plug and play stuff.
     
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  17. thunderstruck507

    thunderstruck507 Well-Known Member

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    You had incorrect expectations.

    I have 3 EMG loaded guitars in my house, they are not louder or really any hotter than the 498T Gibson bridge pickup in my Elitists. They are hotter than a Burstbucker 2 by a good bit.

    They are less hot than a Seymour Duncan Invader or a Seymour Duncan Black Winter, but they are also more compressed and have more cut than either of those in the particular guitars/tuning in which the SD are installed (a squier strat and an Epi Explorer korina).

    The batteries in mine last for ages and have to be really junk before I notice a sound difference.
     
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  18. _ripper_

    _ripper_ Well-Known Member

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    OK, I traced it down to a faulty input jack of all things. Thanks for all your replies!
     
  19. charveldan

    charveldan Well-Known Member

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    EMG battery systems are rated for 1000 hrs on one 9 volt.

    I only replace mine once every couple years.
     
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  20. Adieu

    Adieu Well-Known Member

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    If your EMGs sound puny:

    1) move the EMGs way the hell up near the strings
    2) make sure your 9V battery is fresh

    If your EMGs cut in and out:
    1) check input jack

    If your EMGs sound EXTREMELY puny, barely-there... then they're not getting power:

    1) check input jack
    2) check 9V wiring
     
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