Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: Musicians Freind
Sound — 10
A versitile set of pickups with the ability to scream through the heaviest of metal solos or strum a clean, buzz free rythym. These pickups are amazing! The EMG1 is an extremly high output pickup designed especially for soloing. It's at its best for high-volume overdrive and amps with a master volume control. Whether you're playing power rock 'n' roll or overdriving your amp, there's a razor sharp attack and incredible sustain for brilliant soloing. Perhaps my favorite thing about this pickup is the intensity of the pinch harmonics, let me tell you what, they are pircingly loud ... it's like being at a Black Label Society show! The EMG5 pickup has more measurable output than the 1, its frequency response and string interface are different. The 5 uses 2 Alnico magnet-loaded coils with a wide aperture to maintain a beefy low end and a fatter top end. Because the EMG5 has a more natural tone, it works great as a rhythm and blues pickup because it has loads of output but isn't muddy. The clarity of this pickup is hard to beat.
Overall Impression — 9
These things are loud! Much louder than anything I've ever played. Because they are active pickups, the battery almost acts as an amplifier all by it's self. Now being loud is great, but keep in mind that this means your mistakes are also louder. I was amazed that these pickups virtully eliminated all of the "buzzing" coming from my amp. It's a miricle. That alone would give 'em my vote. Installation is a whole nother story though. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It took me twelve hours to install these things. I had to remove the original 52CH and the HOT CH pickups from my Epiphone Les Paul Custom. As well as the original jack and potentiometers and replace and rewire the whole thing. It was quite the task, but well worth it. EMG has far exceeded my expectations with this custom set of pickups, and has become my new pickup of choice for soloing.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I purchused a limited edition set of Camofluage 15's. They are painted with a new method called "dipping" as opposed to the traditional air brushing technique. Claimed to be much stronger, it only took me about two months of straight playing to wear down the east edge of the 1. This was due, inpart to the fact that the instruction manual recommended the bridge pickup to be as close to the strings as possable. Maybe a little too close in my case, so beware. But I bought them to play not stare at. These are "active" pickups so they are run off of a nine volt battery. The battery is turned on when there is a cable in the input jack, and turned off when unplugged. Leaving your guitar plugged in is not a good idea. They claim the batterys have a life of 3000 hours but who knows? Another great thing about these pickups is that they reduce the risk of electricution, which is a great assurence to the sweaty, beer drinking guitarist.