A lot of people have been ranting about the 18V mod for the EMG. While many agree that it creates a more "organic" and well-rounded tone, does this compromise the clarity and string distinction that actives are famous for? Many have also said that Blackouts are less sterile than EMG's. Do Blackouts also compromise this clarity?

With that said, do even the best of passives (such as Bare Knuckle, for example) have the same sort of string distinction that actives do?

A situation that best demonstrates what I mean by "string distinction" is clarity of all notes in a riff that combines rhythm and lead. The following example might be a bad one, but it's off the top of my head. 1:57-2:05. Cazares now uses Blackouts, can't tell what's in the video.

I'd like opinions from people with experience between 18v and 9v EMG's, and between EMG's and Blackouts.
Last edited by G.9 at Aug 29, 2009,
The best passives (BKP's you say) and the best actives (Lets say EMG-X) will both have great string clarity, with a good amp and EQ of course.
The 18V mod just builds on everything actives are good for. You won't really be sacrificing anything by getting it.
The only thing the 18v mod does really is take away some of the compression that EMG's are known for. It makes them sound more open, more organic as some like to call it. Keep in mind that in no way does the 18v mod make it sound as 'organic' as a passive pickup but it is what it is, its an active pup. I have both the 81 and 85 EMG's and I like them for what they are, and between the two I like the 81 better.
Now speaking of clarity that depends on the pickup itself, not wether its active or not. Some pickups are pretty muddy, others not. Its also how you EQ your amp.
2003 Music Man Axis Pacific Blue Burst
I find that EMGs are clearer due to their preamp. It has scooped mids so that helps along with the compression. It also has a sharper attack. Blackouts don't have that. They are more organic. But I don't see the point of Blackouts unless you already have EMGs or you're using them as low impedence pickups. Blackouts are actives for people who don't like EMGs. They don't have any of the things that makes EMGs good that you can't find in a passive pickup. I don't know if that's true of the Blackout Metals. I hear the EMG-Xs are just EMGs with more headroom. There are a few videos on youtube demonstrating that.
Last edited by JELIFISH19 at Aug 29, 2009,
I see... well that clears up a lot of things. For my future 7, I'll probably end up getting a pair of 707TW's, and I'll see if I like the sound as it is (If I like the compressed, sterile sound). If not, 18V mod it is. Thanks a bunch, I feel kind of ****ty just dropping 2 lines.