81 review by EMG

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (74 votes)
EMG: 81

Price paid: $ 100

Purchased from: zzounds and american musical supply

Sound — 10
High output with amazing chickin plucks I can achieve anywhere from serious high gain to buttery solos. I used the amazing Peavey 6505+. Depending on several factors of the type of guitar you use, EMGs in the tone can be very different. Most people don't believe it's possible with these pickups. They are typically people who have never truly tested them. I am comparing EMG 81 in bridge position on 2 completely different crafted guitars for the best possible review. Definitely more bassy in my Jackson and more mids in treble in my ESP I believe.

Overall Impression — 10
I love how I can easily achieve the gain I want with this pickup and the tone is amazing. Chicken plucks come easy. The pickups pickup very easy on your soloing. It lets your solos shine. I have used ESP LTD MH-350FR with 81/85 and Jackson San Dimas with custom installed 81/S/S. I have noticed a big difference in tone and sustain. The ESP has AMAZING sustain and tone since its a soloist with neck thru mahogany body and rosewood fretboard. The Jackson is bolt on maple fretboard with basswood body. The Jackson sounds a lot brighter and I mean a lot brighter. Bottom line: Depending on a guitars wood, fretboard wood, and neck construction it can play a significant difference.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Yes the pickup has lasted me several years. I believe I first acquired the EMG 81 for bridge position in my old B.C. Rich Warlock. I remember buying it at Daddys Junky Music and ripping it up through a Marshall 1959 Reissue 100 watter. I was probably 13-14 at the time and I am now 24. That is proof it can at least last for a decade for a 100 $ can't go wrong with that right? I have always depended on it until battery change. Then again that was when I was new to emgs and always left my axe plugged in. Just keep it unplugged when not using that should prolong battery life.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The EMG-81 is awesome, installation took just 20 minutes with no probs at all. It turned my tired old Charvette into a monster.
    Many, many 'metal' pickups have come and gone. A lot of pickups have tried to take its crown and many have almost succeeded and many have ended up being established pickups themselves in their own right. But in the end, none of its competitors have remained. The facts speak for themselves as well as countless hordes of metal guitarists. The EMG 81 is still definitely the ultimate metal pickup.