#1
hello,
I mostly play metal and play band like Arch Enemy (which use passive pickups), Children of Bodom (which use active pickups), Metallica (active pickups) and iron maiden (passive).
I saw the main brands are EMG for active and Seymour Duncan for actives and passives. I like punchy sound with some clarity and heavy palm muted rhytm, as well as sharp melodic solos. Do you think actives are better? Or should I go with passives? Witch model would you suggest of these brands? Thanks a lot
#2
I have guitars with both actives and passives. The actives are the common EMG 81 bridge/85 neck combo. My passives are standard Gibson 498t/490r combo. In general the actives retain more clarity with stupid high levels of gain plus they don't generate as much 'noise' when trying to be quiet. The standard 81/85 struggle with low and mid range gain compared to the passives in my opinion. I hate using words like 'organic' and 'airy' but I'm not sure how else to describe the difference. For clean rhythm playing I prefer the passives but for arpegiating chords and picking individual notes I prefer the actives (especially with some chorus and delay).

Also the EMG 85 in the neck is actually hotter than the 81 in the bridge and will clip in the pick ups preamp with the volume all the way up strumming chords. It's very noticeable with clean settings.

So... for the music you list I think actives are the way to go. EMGs are good for sure. The X series are supposed to be a little more flexible than the standard 81/85/60 models.
#3
I'd say an EMG 81/60 combo, that's one of my favourites.

Perhaps with an 18V mod on it would suit you.
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#4
I have not heard them but apparently the X series, 81X and 85X/60X, are less compressed (stereotypical active pickup trait which actually comes from clipping pickup preamp) so it may be the best choice. Something similar could be achieved with normal 81/85 with 18v mod which gives more headroom to pickups. I got the impression that the X serie was actually meant to mimic the the sound of 18v modded normal EMG actives but I may be wrong.

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#6
i'm a huge fan of Michael Amott's lead tones on a certain few of the albums he's played on, and i attribute that partly to his pickups. i have a guitar with an EMG 81 and it gives a relatively sharp tone for leads. it does keep a bit more clarity overall when you turn up the distortion, though.
Quote by archerygenious
Jesus Christ since when is the Pit a ****ing courtroom...

Like melodic, black, death, symphonic, and/or avant-garde metal? Want to collaborate? Message me!
#7
i really love michael amott as well! do you guys think the 81 will do the job?
#8
Be prepared to have another guitar with a different setup. The idea of one guitar, one pickup, one amp, etc. that's going to get you the ultimate sound doesn't exist. It's like asking for dry water.

The 81 is a great pickup. You'll probably love it in many ways. But you might not like it in other ways. Things like noodling in your bedroom and having every little tiny "error" in your playing picked up and amplified, not having the low end you'd like (especially if you don't consider the bass in most songs), the difference between playing by yourself/recording and playing live/in a mix.

Get the 81 as it sounds like you already wanted it and were just looking for validation. You'll be happy with it. But be prepared to eventually need a different guitar with different pups. If you have that as your expectation you won't be disappointed.
Richard

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#9
What about the 85? I play in C standard, low end tone is very important for rhytm
#10
Quote by Jayerrr
What about the 85? I play in C standard, low end tone is very important for rhytm


The 85 handles low end quite well, defined, but still beefy.
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#12
Beefy = thick, full-toned
Richard

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#14
81 in the bridge should do great. For Metallica it's a no-brainer, and it can certainly pull off Maiden. I have one in my guitar and it sounds perfect for distorted tones. That pickup is standard among metal players for a reason.

However...

I'm certain I'm going to go back to passives. I find the clean tones too sterile for my taste, and my guitar doesn't seem to react as much to the volume controls. I can plug my passive pickup guitar into a modern metal setup, roll back the pickup volume and get a nice crunch tone suitable for blues rock. My active guitar seems like the volume is always all the way up until it's on the edge of being off. These may not be things that matter to your style of playing though.
#15
richardlpalmer nailed the description perfectly. I recently bought a guitar with the 85/81 set and was a little let down I was expecting a compressed hot pickup from the 81 but instead it seems its a little thin and dynamic picking up every thing good or bad. the 85 seems hotter than the 81 ? and I usually like single coils for neck pickups but I actually like the 85 in the neck as it feels like a bassy bridge pickup if that makes sense. my maple/alder ltd with a jb sounds similar just more punch
#16
everyone says something different! :-D
What exaclty is pickup modding?
#17
Quote by Jayerrr
what do you think about the emgs jamet hetfield signature pickups? He says that he wanted more punch to the sound and it seems that he accomplished his goal


The goal he really achieved was the acquisition of a big payday; endorsement deals, for major artists, can put a healthy wad of change in his pocket over a long period of time.

I'd urge folks NOT to get caught up in the GC approach to...well...everything. With over 200 stores, finding a bit of shelf space in a GC will guarantee sales and income to a company, but that doesn't mean that what's in a GC is necessarily the best available for a guitar player.

I realize that EMGs come with every midrange production guitar out there these days, but that doesn't mean they're the best at what they're supposed to do.

I much prefer the Duncan AHB Blackouts in this role.

Interesting, too, how Duncans have become the mainstream "upgrade" while DiMarzios seem to have become marginalized, leastways in this particular forum. In a lot of cases, the DiMarzios offer the better pickup for a particular style, but Duncan seems to be the easy sale for a GC sales guy, and for a newb standing in front of the accessories counter, easy trumps thoughtful. I never seem to see mention of Kent Armstrongs, Tom Andersons, Bill Lawrence, Bartolini, Arcane, Kinman, Lollar, or any of the legion of other outstanding pickup builders that don't live at Guitar Denter.
#18
So apparently there are no EMG that fit my needs. You were talking about the Seymour Duncans Blackouts... How are they?
#19
As an owner of the AHB-1 blackouts and the Het set here's my take on them. The Het set for the most part is as said a beefier, higher output version of the 81/85 combo without the compression. The AHB-1's compared to the EMGs have more clarity and more usefull clean tones. I do prefer the tone of the EMGs when playing rhythm guitar. Either way you can't go wrong with either set for what you want but it's going to be up to you. Go to a store and try them out and if not spend time listening to good quality clips of both.
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