Price paid: $ 100
Purchased from: GuitarWorld
Sound — 9
Well, tonal wise, its great. I've muddled it around at both pickup points on my axe (Explorer), sounds better in the bridge, has a very Adrian Smith Fender sound which is perfect for clean tones and soloing but its also great for 70's/80's heavy metal as a rythm pickup. I use it primarilly through an 80's Marshall with a Boss Metalcore ML-2 distortion pedal (say what you will, it sounds amazing anyway) and I can create a very similar Dance of Death (Iron Maiden) soloing tone. Theres a strong bass 'presence' (theres a bass sound, but not much real bass..if you get what I mean) that is more predominant than in any other guitar I've tried. It also doesn't respond well to having much distortion, it sounds horribly muddy like a badly made grindcore song. EMGs are known for having a 'Live' feeling to their tones and a thick sound which is great for the D - High E strings, but feels gravelly on the other two. I'd say keep it in the bridge slot, it gives a lovely soloing/clean tone and sounds out of place in the neck slot, as the sound is a tad thin. I'd definately recommend getting this with an EMG 85, the pair make a good novelty couple and are both great to use.
Overall Impression — 9
Its very good as a pickup, has nice clean tones for those tricky thrash metal interludes or intense intros (like Lamb of Gods Grace) and its unmatched as a soloing pickup. I don't particularly hate it as such, its near faultless, but there are a few things I don't like (from my point of view of course, its a great thing but I have a few issues with it). I use it in an Epiphone Explorer and I'm getting another installed into an Ibanez XPT300. I put both into the bridge position, I feel it makes no sense to put it into the neck position when it sounds much better in the bridge. If you can help it, get a guitar with pre-installed EMGs, it just saves so much time in getting someone to do it for you (its not amazingly expensive though). But if you can wait for that, then your patience is rewarded. With enough good fables and tales of yore sorrounding it, I'd say get one whenever ya can. Good thing I got it in the US though, its about 33% cheaper there than it is in the UK where I am.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I can't see myself replacing it. If I'd ever buy a new guitar, I'd buy another set of EMGs to make up for the lost tone. Its also aesthetically pleasing you could say, looks good in a lot of guitars I've seen. I'm sure this thing will last a very long time, and the battery has only needed to be replaced once since I had them installed over a year ago.