#1
I'm looking into a lot of guitars, and some that I've looked into have an EMG 85 or EMG 81 neck pickups. I'm curious, how much different are they?
My gear:

Memphis les paul (fixin it up as we speak!)
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Ibanez RX 240 (been sold)
Peavey envoy 110 (Pretty dang good!)
Some washburn acoustic...
#2
85 is more of a bridge pup. 81 and 60 is more of a neck pup
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#3
the 81 is more of a bridge pickup, and the 60 and 85's are more for the neck. they can all be rearranged, but they were designed to fit those needs in mind.

the 81 is predominantly trebley and tight. the 85 is bassier and higher output. the 60, i'm not sure.
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#4
Quote by hendrix_128
85 is more of a bridge pup. 81 and 60 is more of a neck pup

Most if not all bands that use active EMG's have an 81 in the bridge and a 60/85 in the neck and it was designed as a lead PU.
#5
85 = Solo/Lead tone
60 = Clean tone

More or less anyways.
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#6
Okay, the difference between the 81 and 85 is that the 81 was designed for the bridge, it's supposed do deliver good crunchy rhythm with a sharp, clear attack, and have a good lead tone, while the 85 is just for crunchy rhythm, usually in the neck. The EMG-60, also for the neck, has crunchy rhythm tones, but it's also suited for clean tones, which is something the 85 seems to lack.
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#7
85 is an Alnico magnet, w/ higher output and deeper low end.
if you like the Gibson 500t, 498t, or Dime-bucker ?
This is the bridge pickup for you.
on the same hand, it sounds amazing in the neck w/ it's deep
tones.

81 is a ceramic magnet. designed for high lead out put.
I don't really dig the 81 in the neck. But it's a great one for
Soloing in E or D*. Also if you do the 18v mod. An 81 in the
bridge is a rockstar.

60 is also ceramic. very similar to the 81, just allot cleaner.
IMO the 60 is the perfect neck pickup.
But if you tune down to C* or lower ? or you like heavy
strings ? You may want to try a 60 in the bridge.
It really lets the low tones ring through nice.

It also depends on the guitar. and the key you're in.
My personal set up opinion:

Les Paul in E or D: 85b/60n
Les Paul in C* or lower: 81b/60n
Explorer in E or D: 85b/81n
Explorer in C* or lower: 60/60

a solid guitar like ESP, BC Rich, Ibanez or even an SG
sound great w/ any of the following in E or D
85/85, 85b/60n, or 81b/60n (w/18v mod)
in C* or lower
I'd go w/ 81b/60n (9v) or 60/60
#8
I have been debating on whether to do at 81/85 or 81/60 set.

I would like to get a sound like Rammstein, and Paul Landers Gibson has the 81/60 set.

I also dig Zakk Wylde's sound, and he sports the 81/85 like other guitarists.


I have listened to as many videos as I can, and my overall opinion is still blurry. I just don't want to buy an 81, and not get a neck pickup.
#9
I prefer 81/60 to 81/85. 85's work very well in bright-sounding guitars but in mahogany guitars, they're too dark to really be usable.
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#11
Quote by RyanStorm13
I have been debating on whether to do at 81/85 or 81/60 set.

I would like to get a sound like Rammstein, and Paul Landers Gibson has the 81/60 set.

I also dig Zakk Wylde's sound, and he sports the 81/85 like other guitarists.


I have listened to as many videos as I can, and my overall opinion is still blurry. I just don't want to buy an 81, and not get a neck pickup.


go to a shop and try and play guitars with both neck pickups so you can compare for yourself.

I personally have a ZW set and an 81/60 (both 18v modded) in fairly similarly built guitars. I slightly prefer the 60 because it does produce better cleans and it seems to get a more fluid and vocal solo sound. that being said, the 85 is definitely more precise and aggressive sounding.

the two neck pickups are not so dissimilar that you'd love one and hate the other. they're different, but you need to listen and feel fairly carefully to really appreciate the differences.
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#12
To be honest, the 85 and 60 are very similar. The 60 does have some slightly nicer clean tones and less low-end, but both are excellent both for lead and for cleans. I wouldn't use them for any rhythm playing, though. Sometimes the 85 can get a bit dark and muddy on some guitars, as others have said, but it should still be fine in mahogany.

I do think the whole "60 has better cleans" thing is overstated. People need to learn picking dynamics and how to use volume and tone knobs. You can get excellent cleans out of the 85 or even 81s.
Last edited by sea` at Sep 21, 2012,
#14
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
I prefer 81/60 to 81/85. 85's work very well in bright-sounding guitars but in mahogany guitars, they're too dark to really be usable.


As if wood in guitars really makes a difference.

Anyway, the 85 (neck position) at least in my guitar sounds more "creamy", it delivers a smoother kind of distortion. I can get a decent santana lead tone with them.
Last edited by Sethis at Sep 22, 2012,
#15
Quote by Sethis
As if wood in guitars really makes a difference.

It really does.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf61M3lBraY&feature=player_detailpage#t=1201s

This is a comparison between a maple fingerboard and a rosewood fingerboard. Both guitars are almost identical in spec and yet a piece of wood that is hardly thicker than a veneer makes a difference to a guitar's tone.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Sep 22, 2012,