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Active Pickups Worth Having In The Studio?

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Delitzsch, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    Currently all of my guitars are equipped with passive pickups. Is it worth having a guitar loaded with active pickups (EMG) in my studio? Is there any benefit? I've only owned one Les Paul with EMGs in my lifetime, but that was 15 years ago.
     
  2. PD-Baraka

    PD-Baraka Member

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    It`s a different sound.

    I like having both myself.

    Like having flavors of amps. If you use them, hvae them ;)
     
  3. Trevoire520

    Trevoire520 Member

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    Yeah definitely a different sound to most passives. I love EMG's for metal guitar sounds myself, very clean, precise and in your face.
     
  4. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    Okay, cool. For you guys who use actives, what do y'all think of the body wood not affecting the tone argument?
     
  5. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    Total bullshit. Maybe less of a difference than you'd see with passives but any claim that actives nullify the tone of the wood is empirically and demonstrably wrong.
     
  6. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    Awesome. Thanks for the helpful insight, JeffTD.

    I had a sneaking suspicion that it was a bunch of nonsense with no credible basis.
     
  7. nezvers

    nezvers Beast

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    I loved EMGs (81b - 85n) in schecter and my friend put same set in cheap SG copy - massive upgrade in sound and sounded REALLY close to Schecter but something was off.

    Because of my love to 81 in bridge and non-existing 8 string version I found out that Seymour Duncan Blackouts sound Exactly the same + touch of clearer low tuning notes, so bought one for my Agile (love it).

    I love that middle push what you can hear in something like Scale the summit single note riffs, which made me stay with that sound in my guitars.
     
  8. guitarfishbay

    guitarfishbay Member

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    They sound different in different guitars in my experience.

    If you get standard 9v EMGs try them with and without the tone pot. Without the tone pot is a little more aggressive sounding. I prefer no tone pot personally. I have no idea if this works on the X series because I've never used them.
     
  9. kaomao

    kaomao Member

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    Emg's actually are more transparent compared to passives in my opinion.
    I had once a cort with active pickups (81/85), I hate them.. then I bought an LTD MH 1000 with the same pickups.... I totally fell in love with them.
    Maybe that guitar sucked anyway but they sounded so different!
    And this happens as well with my trusty burny les paul and the LTD, same pickups different story
     
  10. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    It seems that the 81/85 combo is still the popular choice and for good reason. That's what I had in my Les Paul.

    For you guys with that combo, which type of wood are you guys digging it with? I'm assuming you can't go wrong with mahogany. Am I right?
     
  11. guitarfishbay

    guitarfishbay Member

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    I've tried it in PRS CU22 (mahogany/maple) PRS SC (built like a Les Paul basically) and Fender Strat (alder, maple neck/rosewood board). In drop B/C# tuning.

    On all of them I like either 81 or 85 in the bridge and 81 neck. I don't really like the 85 neck if I'm honest. I prefer another 81. The 85 is quite round and thick sounding in the neck, too much so for my tastes. It is also a little hotter than the 81 which isn't my preference (I prefer a hotter bridge pickup than neck). There are loads and loads of clips of people using the 85 in the neck for leads though, so if you find you generally like that kind of neck pickup tone then great. I just prefer something a little less bassy and with a little more brightness.

    If you're mostly a bridge pickup player then it makes sense to get 81/85 set as you can switch them around really easily using the quick connect system.
     
  12. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    FWIW, my favorite EMGs are the 89, 57, and JH, generally in mahogany but have had good results with all in alder.
     
  13. RoTo

    RoTo n00b

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    I bought a Schecter JL-7 (Jeff Loomis) 2 months ago and I can say it's my new favorite guitar, nowdays. She has a really impressive combo EMG 57-7H Bridge + EMG 66-7H Neck.

    They are bright in a very pleasent way and have a lot of massive and defined low end.

    PS: I'm agreed with JeffTD about that bullshit related to woods, I've had EMGs in Basswood and now in Swamp Ash+Maple guitars, and you can hear clearly the tone characteristics from wood.
     
  14. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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  15. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    For what it's worth, I had always played passive equipped axes my entire life. Just maybe 5 years ago I snagged an LTD with EMG 81's and instantly fell in love.
     
  16. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    What was it that made you fall in love with that guitar? Was it strictly the pickups? If so, could you elaborate more on the differences that you experienced and changes in tonality?

    Thanks.
     
  17. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    EMGs have a few things that make me really like them, especially in the studio vs live.

    These are very broad stroke, EMG vs. passive statements:

    -There's a sort of 'roll-off' in both the extreme high and low frequencies when compared to passives, almost like high/lowpass filters. The result is a tightened bottom-end and a smoothened top-end.

    -The pick attack is accentuated and brought forward in a way, almost like a slight midrange shift. I perceive this as increased picking definition and more of a pronounced percussive quality.

    -There's some inherent compression, partially due to the preamp design and partially due to the preamp's headroom limitations. Part of the 'EMG sound' is the internal preamp being clipped, and it's totally part of the design. Basically a really clean limiter (clipper, really) being driven hard. The end result is essentially a slightly less dynamic, slightly goosed signal.

    This last part changes how the pickup feels, though, which is also a big part of what I like about EMGs (familiarity being the driving factor) - the amp's gain won't be as responsive to changes in pick attack (still achievable, just not with the same granular range between 0 and 10), but there is this kind of fun-to-play, almost bouncy quality to them.


    That's not all to say that a bassy active like the 85 will be tighter than a Duncan Distortion, or that an A2 mag PAF-style passive won't have a smoother top end than an 81, or that a 57, -X series, or single coil wont have a greater dynamic range/more dynamic feel than the D-Activator, or etc... but that's what I've noticed over the years.
     
  18. MrBongo

    MrBongo idiot at work

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    sounds just like the passive JB4 in my strat :)
     
  19. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    Jeff pretty much summed up my feelings in his post above.

    Also, passives with my Mesa Mark IV seemed flubby and muddy (I had shit stock pickups in my old Ibanez). So switching to EMGs really brought out a smoothness to that amp. Almost like running a TS in front.
     
  20. Delitzsch

    Delitzsch Führendes Mitglied

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    After all these great detailed posts, I'll definitely be investing in an EMG equipped guitar for my studio. Thanks for information, guys!
     

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