Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different pickups in my guitars. It seems like there’s a pickup made for every kind of music under the sun. So if your live band plays country or heavy metal, there’s a guitar pickup that’s perfect for your instrument.
One of the best heavy metal pickups ever made is the EMG 81 active humbucker pickup. What makes the EMG pickups so unique is their use of a powered onboard pre-amp that boosts the signal of the active pickup. This gives them a very hot output which is perfect for pushing amplifiers into heavy distortion and extreme sustain. Even with this high output, they are extremely low noise.
The EMG 81 is the pickup that made EMG famous and it is used by Zakk Wylde and Kirk Hammett among many other guitarists. It’s one pickup that can give you heavy low chunk as well as searing hot leads. If you’ve never used an EMG pickup you owe it to yourself to try one out.
There are some peculiarities with the EMG active pickups. You have to use a 9v battery to power them and if the battery dies, your signal gets very low. That adds a bit to the job of wiring them up in your guitar. Some people complain the EMG’s sound ice, or like a razor. I’ve found that if you EQ the amp properly that EMG’s can sound extremely good.
By and large, the EMG pickups are simply the best active pickups on the market. You can’t go wrong buying them as they hold their value extremely well. If you buy a set and decide you don’t like them, you can sell them on eBay for about what you paid for them. It’s a low risk way to try out some new pickups.
Right now at Musician’s Friend they are running a special on EMG active pickups. They’ve lowered the price on a huge selection of EMG’s so click the banner below and get shopping!