Hey everyone. I have a stock Washburn Vindicator and want to upgrade to new pickups. I have heard good things about the ZW EMG 81/85's and was wondering if they would be a good upgrade for my guitar. Does anyone know if the active EMG 81/85's will work with the Vindicator? I've noticed that guitars with active pickups often have a special battery compartment. My guitar only has one small compartment in the back that houses the pots and wiring. would this even be a good upgrade for my guitar? Any Suggestions? Thanks!
The Zakk Wylde set is a regular EMG 81/85 set but they give you "Tall potentiometers" which is why its roughly the same price as regular EMG pickups. I've sold 10-20 sets of emgs the last 5 or so years and despise actives myself.

the solderless pickups require a lot of space. So you may have to solder or get someone to help you with the schematic. Luckily the seymour duncan blackout diagram works to solder a harness together. For the battery concern a lot of older guitars with EMG pickups had no compartment. They just made it easier in case batteries leak or just for kids who had a hard time finding the battery lmao. If you've ever switched a battery on an older remote or whatever you'll do fine.

to answer your question
yes the EMG 81/85 set will work on any guitar. They give you all the new wiring and so forth to work with it. Just make sure there is enough room for a 9v battery in the guitar. I suggest the 81x or 81TWX and the 85x or 85TWX series EMG pickups if they have to be EMG.

if you're new to EMG
X series = more clarity and more versatile
TWX series = they can coiltap and have the same clarity as the X series

active suggestions
cheapest and easiest alternative is the seymour duncan blackout modulator preamp.
EMG 57/66 - the new set everyone is going crazy about
Seymour Duncan blackout metal (bridge) / seymour duncan blackout neck
why the blackout metal? it has a toggle switch to make it go super high gain. Blackouts are hotter than the 81 or 85, so with this switch you're gonna have a blast.

alternatives for passive pickups. There is a lot of great passives out there to get Ozzy and black label society tones too.
Dimarzio D-Activator set (sort of like emg 85s) , X2N bridge
Seymour Duncan distortion, Black winter , full shred, JB, invader, naguzel or sentient.

to get closer to Zakks tone
the right pedals and amps help big time
thinking small though try his picks and his signature dunlop strings. GHS if you like his tone prior to 2006. there is a 10-46 set as well as a 10-60 set. I recommend the 10-46 set so you don't have to modify your guitars nut/adjust your guitars trussrod

hope I could help

this is the preamp
Last edited by Tallwood13 at Dec 25, 2014,
The EMG Het set is worth checking out as well. Makes an excellent alternative to the 57/66 combo to compare.
ESP E-II Horizon FR
Gibson Flying V HET SET
ESP Eclipse II FM JB/Jazz
ESP M-II Deluxe EMG 81/SA
Marshall JCM2000 DSL/ JCM800 1960a cab
Tama Drums/ Sabian