#1
Hi,

A few months ago I bought a Jackson KVXMG with EMG81/85 pickups. I've been playing with it for a while but the problem is that I can't get a good clean sound with it. The cleans always sound a little distorted. I've looked around on the internet and the solution always seems to be replacing the battery.

I've tried 5 different, new and old 9v batteries and they all give the same sound (I recorded them and they sound the same). It sounds distorted in my solid state amp and when directly plugged in to my computer. My other guitar with passive emg-hz pickups on the other hand sounds clean, both on my amp and my pc.

Is there something else I could try, or is there some kind of problem with my guitar?
#3
Turning the volume knob down seems to help, but the distortion is still very noticeable when playing chords. I tried on just the bridge, just the neck and both pickups. Also tried with the tone knob and volume down but it keeps distorting...
#4
Lowering the pickups might help.

Are you on a clean channel or a model of a clean channel? If you're on a modeling amp using a clean model, you are not going to have a good clean sound with active P/Us.
Last edited by D_M_I at Jun 30, 2013,
#5
Lowering the pickups doesn't really do anything with EMGs. Having them close to the strings gives them better sensitivity but the output is a preamp issue. Turning the volume down is basically all you can do.
#7
Hi, sorry to butt in here, but how would somoene go about learning about all these kinds of things? I'm asking because my guitar has these same pickups, and I'm playing through a tube amp but it's a modeling amp, a 60 w peavey vypyr. I'm honestly not that concerned with getting clean sounds because it's not really the kind of music I play, but I'm very interested in these kinds of things like why lowering pickups would change the sound, and why active pickups wont get a good clean sound out of a modelling amp. Thanks!
#8
With passive pickups, the lower the pickups are from the string, the less the string interrupts the magnetic field, so the weaker the signal.
Active pickups have a built in boost that boosts the signal from the pickup before it hits the output of the guitar. So you get a hotter signal, which hits the amp harder. This makes the clean channel distort in some amps.
Lowering active pups won't change much because of the boost they have
#9
Yes I tried lowering the pickups but you're right, it doesn't reduce the distortion. If it's inherent to the EMG pickups, I don't get why other people on youtube for instance do get a nice clean sound with the same guitar I have... Could that be just because I have a shitty solid state amp and a shitty recording setup?
#10
Quote by Martijn21
Yes I tried lowering the pickups but you're right, it doesn't reduce the distortion. If it's inherent to the EMG pickups, I don't get why other people on youtube for instance do get a nice clean sound with the same guitar I have... Could that be just because I have a shitty solid state amp and a shitty recording setup?

This is the correct answer. The amp is a huge factor to the overall tone of the guitar and is probably the cause of the problem.

Headroom is the threshold in which an amplifier can be driven before it becomes overdriven and begins distorting. The wattage of an amplifier along with a dozen other factors (settings, preamp design etc) determine how much gain an amp can withstand before the preamp starts to break up. Generally the higher the wattage, the more headroom.

Your pickups are only doing what they're designed to do- to distort your amp. Lower your gain settings.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Jul 1, 2013,
#12
It's possible that there's a wiring issue, maybe a bent wire making a poor connection. What you're describing sounds like a dead battery. I know you've tried a lot of batteries, but stranger things have happened. If you posted the clips you recorded here, that would help massively with identifying the problem.
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#13
I've recorded some new samples. I've played some barre chords and in some of them a scale up and down. The chords are clearly distorted on my guitar with the emg81/85 pickups. But the passive pickups are clean, with the exact same settings.

I recorded through my amp -> pc with on-board sound card -> audacity. I didn't add any effects. I measured the battery and it indicated 9.4 volts. So it's fully charged. The partially drained battery in the samples was somewhere around 8.5 volts. But I didn't hear any difference.

My amp is a solid state amp Behringer v-tone GMX210.
My other guitar with passive pickups is a VGS cobra.

Clean, through amp then to the pc:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Clean%20test%20with%20amp.mp3

Clean, directly into the pc without an amp:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Clean%20test%20without%20amp.mp3

Clean, different pickup combination (with the picukp selector):
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Clean%20test%20with%20amp%20different%20pup%20settings.mp3

With partially drained battery, through amp:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Partially%20drained%20battery.mp3

With my other guitar with passive emg-hz pickups, same settings as the distorted tracks:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Other%20guitar%20passive%20pups.mp3

Turning the volume knob down and up while hitting the open strings:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20552047/distortiontest/Volume%20knob%20up%20and%20down.mp3


I can also post pics of the wiring if that helps...

Thanks for helping
Last edited by Martijn21 at Jul 1, 2013,
#14
It's a combination of your amp and pickups. I always managed to get a nice clean sound out of my 81 81 set up through my Peavey Valveking. I had a switch on the guitar to switch between 9 volt and 18 volt, and the 18 volt setting with both pickups being used always had a nice clean sound.

SS amps suck with active pickups. EMG's just drive the preamp to hard so it'll normally always distort. Your passive EMG's don't have nearly the output of the active EMG's so they don't distort the preamp.
#15
It mostly depends on the amp, when i had 6505+ 112 my cleans were distorted, now i have 6505+ head and cleans are really good and clean. That said, you can 100% get a good clean tone with EMG 81.
#16
An '81 can give you crystal clean (near sterile) tones through the right gear. I note that the 18v mod increases this specific capability even further.

It's not your pickups.
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#17
Do another sample, but where you move the volume pot from loudest to quieter.
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#18
Quote by Lavatain
Do another sample, but where you move the volume pot from loudest to quieter.

I've added the sample to my previous post with all the other samples.

One thing that I don't understand if it is my amp, is that recording it directly to my pc, without an amp produces the same result. Does a low-quality on-board sound card also have little head room which causes the distortion? I was thinking about buying a USB guitar interface. The Line6 Pod Studio UX1 to be more precise. Would recording with this have the same effect?
#19
That seems like a wiring issue. It's not the pickups. I have had EMG's for over 20 years. It's not the pickup (not a correctly working one anyway). I would inspect the wires really well for shorts, loose connections or take it to someone that knows guitar wiring.


You can get the same type of sound by unplugging your cable a bit, so it's not fully engaged. I assume you used the same cable in both guitars, to rule it out as the problem? Also, make sure it can be plugged all the way in. I realize this is obvious, but frustration can kill that fairly quick.
Last edited by D_M_I at Jul 2, 2013,
#20
Definitely sounds like something in the guitar then. Be it the pickups or the wiring, more likely the wiring. Your other guitar is clear and although that's lower output, lowering the volume on your higher output guitar would lower the output. The fact it's still "crackly" when lowering the volume tells me it's a bad solder/wiring job.
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#21
What amp are you using?

I recently tried the low input on my JSX and was surprised at how much better the clean was. If you have a low gain input, use it.
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#22
I opened up my guitar and although it looked messy (excessive wiring, sloppy soldering), everything seemed fine. I closed it up and took a better look at the cable and the plugin jack at my guitar. I noticed it wasn't fully plugged in. So I pushed the cable in really hard, much harder then you'd expect with something like that and it popped in further and the problem was solved.
I'm sorry for being such a dumbass

Thanks for the help everyone and explaining how pickups and amps work together. I've learned a lot of new things.
#24
Quote by Martijn21
I opened up my guitar and although it looked messy (excessive wiring, sloppy soldering), everything seemed fine. I closed it up and took a better look at the cable and the plugin jack at my guitar. I noticed it wasn't fully plugged in. So I pushed the cable in really hard, much harder then you'd expect with something like that and it popped in further and the problem was solved.
I'm sorry for being such a dumbass

Thanks for the help everyone and explaining how pickups and amps work together. I've learned a lot of new things.


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