what are the pros and cons about these pickups?

im buying a new guitar next month with a 600$ budget and im thinking about buying an ESP LTD guitar, ones such as the LTD EX360 and EC401 which come stock with EMGs

im aware that alot of metal artist use these

what are the main differences between EMGs and say pasive Seymour Duncans
EMG´s are very heavy and have very sharp tone. High notes articulate very well(perfect for fast solos and leads) better than duncans. but Duncan´s (passive or active) have a little heavier, warmer and crunchier sound wich is great for rythms doesn´t make a whole lotta difference though if you have a somewhat decent amp with good distortion. EMG and Duncan both give lots of gain
Sonically, they sound more "surgical" and precise than passive pickups. They sound... less "full".

Opinions on EMG's are very subjective, and they cause more controversy than any other pickup. I myself am a fan, and I have yet to play a passive pickup that does metal or any of it's sub-genres better.

They are capable of really beautiful cleans, if you're using the right pickup in the right position through the right amp/settings. The 89 neck is amazing for cleans.

They are very precise, and your notes tend to ring out more "true" through them. You have to decide if that's something you want or not - Your mistakes will be less noticeable through passives pickups.

I will note also that EMG's are very capable of sounding sub-par through an amp not suited for them.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
my opinion is that they lack character. compressed and clear? sure. i find they suck for anything except metal though. all those sounds that need character, i find they dont cut it.

perhaps the singles do. gilmour uses them, so what do i know
Paul Reed Smith CE22
Fender Spalted Maple HH Tele
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Korg Pitchblack
Boss GE-8 Graphic EQ
Dunlop ZW Wah
BBE Two Timer
Mesa/Boogie Mark IV Combo
Mesa/Boogie Rectifier 212

i added them into my guitar, and it was the best guitar-related investment i have made since. they give u that amazing metal tone. the only con i would say is that, when playing clean, its a little overdrivven, but u can fix that by just rolling ur tone knob down a bit. besides that, harmonics and heavy riffing along with soloing are amazing with these pickups.
Quote by kangaxxter
The only real answer to the SG vs Les Paul debate is to get a Flying V and laugh at all the suckers who don't have one.

Quote by Blompcube

if you embrace inaccurate intonation it can be quite arousing.

All active PU's have a built in pre-amp, which requires a battery.

passives do not.

That is the main diff.

The tones between them all will all sound diff.

Tone is a very subjective.
Jackson RR24M - EMG ALX w/ ABQ installed
Ibanez Xiphos - stock
LTD Alexi 600 - stock
Ibanex RG - Tone Zone(bridge), PAF Pro(neck)
Blackstar HT-20H
Fulltone OCD
MXR 10 Band EQ
With my EMG pickups I find that I am usually unsatisfied with the "clean" cleans but that if I get a semi-clean to hot clean I like the sound of that.

As you probably know they have alot of output and that makes the distortion on my amp very all or nothing. They have more gain than your average passive Humbucker's so the gain on my amp has to stay fairly low or I start to lose definition of the sound but its not like that is some kind of problem or anything. I encourage you to take a listen to some of the songs I have recorded in my profile. "Angry Today" was recorded with a 3 way switch in the mid position using both pickups (I rolled back the treble to get a more bassy sound on this one). "Truth in Ashes" has clean - distorted switching throughout and has a more trebly sound and uses the bridge pickup.

The others by contrast were recorded using hot single coils on the same amp.

Also I know by experience that EMG`s and SS amps dont mix well
Mesa Boogie Single Rectifier

Jackson DKMG

Hot Rodded Telecaster

"of course he`s egotistical we`re all egotistical if we weren`t we`d be bassists."

Alter Bridge Pearl Jam Foo Fighters 3 Doors Down
Last edited by SilentFactor at May 21, 2010,
if you want to hear the clean sounds of EMGs, just look at vids of metallica doing one, sanitarium, fade to black etc. live

I know they'll use like 10 grand of amp stuff but u know what i mean...

MARSHALL DSL100, 1936V, MG30
I like duncans better they have alot more clearity then Emgs. Emgs to me sound to crunced up and you can't hear all the notes when playing more than one.
Gibson Thunderhorse
Jackson RR24M
B52 AT100
EMG makes the best bass pickups on the market, but that's for another forum.

They're very sterile and precise, as have been said over and over. You don't have the brunt or creaminess you would in other pickups. So your tone will suck unless it's either perfectly clean, or super distorted, depending on your amp.

I usually tend to disuade people from them in most situations.
EMGs, simply because of the way that active pickups work, have a very precise, clear, and often defined as sterile tone. They are very crisp and articulated, even with high gain, but aren't legendary for cleans.

Of course, it all depends on which pickups you get. The 81 has more scooped mids, and is used almost always for metal leads, while the EMGs more known for rhythm and cleans have a more balanced frequency output, which I think are the 89 and 60.

I have a set of EMGs in my Jackson DR7, and I honestly love them. (Hence the apparent bias in my post.) If you learn to use the volume and tone knobs, and depending on which pickups you chose, they are fairly versatile pickups.
EMG 81 in the bridge FTW!!
Epiphone LP Standard
Peavey Solo Series Renown 400
Big Muff Pi
Morley Bad Horsie Wah
Boss AD-5 Acoustic Processor
Fender Bass
Recording gear etc...
No way man, the 85 in the bridge is so much better
2003 Music Man Axis Pacific Blue Burst
my jackson has an 81(b)/85(n) combo and through my tube amps, it sounds amazing. my rhythm tone is gorgeous and the lead tone is crazy. cleans arent terrible, but thats also because my amp isnt designed for stellar cleans. no other pickup has been able to handle the gain and metal tone i like.

it also depends on the amp ur gonna use
Jackson Dinky DKMGT
PRS SE Paul Allender
Peavey 6505+ 112
i love EMG's. there on every eectric guitar i own. the only probum i have had is the earthing/grounding on them. it made a fair bit of a buzz. i used a nois surpressor pedal until i magaged to get it fixed by my guitar guy.
Quote by DSOTM80
No way man, the 85 in the bridge is so much better

i used to be a mod, then i took an arrow in the knee.
I like the EMG's, but something has always been missing about them on the 3 different guitars i've owned with them. I'm giving Seymour duncan active blackouts a chance on my next guitar.
If ur stickin an 85 in the bridge wut is in the neck then?
To each his own, but doesnt make much sense if ur runnin 81/85.
Epiphone LP Standard
Peavey Solo Series Renown 400
Big Muff Pi
Morley Bad Horsie Wah
Boss AD-5 Acoustic Processor
Fender Bass
Recording gear etc...
Quote by JPERG
If ur stickin an 85 in the bridge wut is in the neck then?
To each his own, but doesnt make much sense if ur runnin 81/85.


I use the 81-TW/89 set that came with my hellraiser, and I find that the coil-spit solves a lot of the issues many people have with EMG cleans.
Quote by JPERG
If ur stickin an 85 in the bridge wut is in the neck then?
To each his own, but doesnt make much sense if ur runnin 81/85.

Whats a neck pickup?

You do realize theres more to EMG's then just the 81/85 combo right?
Some people use 85/85, some 85/60, 89/89, 81/89, 85/89 etc. Most EMG pickups are interchangeable, can be used in any position. Like the SA's, its one pickup that can be used in the bridge, mid and neck positions on a Strat. Its not like passives where there are specific bridge and neck pickups though a few EMG's are just neck pickups.
2003 Music Man Axis Pacific Blue Burst
^ I have that same carpet in my living room.

I don't think it matters what goes best where, unless he plans on changing them, most ESP LTDs come with 81/85 anyway. It's just the difference between passives and actives he wants, not the difference between different between different EMGs.
pros: quiet operation, hot pickup, sharp tone, balanced sound
cons: lack of dynamic sound and volume, gainy cleans, sterile tone

they're desirable pickups actually if you plan on playing with distortion most of the time then why the hell not, most of the cons i mentioned can be considered pros to other people,just not me.
The EMG active SINGLE COIL pickups like the S, SA, H, and HA have great cleans; unfortunately these seem to be little known and little used though they are very popular with pros playing live as they are completely silent single coil pickups. Some artists that use them are David Gilmour, Vince Gill, Keith Urban. The S and TC active single coils are pretty popular with country guitarists and they live on clean tone.
My jackson has an 81 in ythe bridge and an S in the neck. I love them both. The S is soooo much quieter than my USA tele pups.
I like to think of EMGs as having the low-end of a humbucker and the high end of a single-coil... the coils in EMGs are actually wired in parallel rather than series, so the tone is markedly different from any other "humbucker" you would play.

When you run them at 18V I find them to be perfect for cleans and more than fine for crunch. It all depends on how you set your EQ. I'm not a high-gain kind of guy - I never turn the gain past 5 on my JCM2000 combo (which has a bit less than the heads IIRC) and I love the heck out of my EMGs. Granted they aren't for everyone but I very much like the even, versatile tone they provide, and I think it's a bit unfair to call them "sterile."
Steinberger GU/Spirit w/ Moses Graphite neck, EMG 81-85
"Fireball" Pacer/RG hybrid

Furman Power Conditioner
Axe-Fx Standard
Yamaha S112V
Peak FCB4N