Price paid: $ 180
Purchased from: emgpickups.com
Sound — 9
Compared to the EMG 81/85 and 57/66 set that I own on my other guitars, the Fat 55 set sounds less compressed and more reminiscent to a traditional passive pickup. The Fat 55 set has less output compared to the 81 or 57, but this isn't a negative feature. These pickups allowed me to redefine my tone to a certain extent. The Fat 55 set has more clarity and is pretty responsive to your picking technique. I found myself tweaking my Mesa Triple Rectifier a bit to accommodate these pickups as far as gain goes, but not too drastic. These pickups also have more clarity when playing chords with distortion similar to how the band Vektor executes this style of playing along with being pretty responsive to your picking technique. The dynamic aspect of a passive pick is present in the Fat 55 set, but there is a bit of an active kick associated with these pickups. The 57/66 set is known to be the best of both worlds when it comes to getting an active pickup sound with a lot of the passive qualities found in a passive pickup. The Fat 55 sound more natural and closer to a passive pickup than the 57. I play thrash, power, neo-classical, and black metal so these pickups can handle these sub-genres. I used these pickups on my Triple Rectifier's clean channel along with my Blackstar ht club 50 and Peavey 6505mh and they sounded great. You can get a pristine clean sound since these pickups are created with less output. Also, when I used fingerstyle picking, the pickups responded so well to my fingers and I was surprised how dynamic and full they were compared to the 81.
Reliability & Durability — 8
As far as reliability goes, they are just as reliable as your typical EMG active pickup. Just like every EMG, the Fat 55 set is powered by a 9v battery. As long as you do not have your guitar plugged in after you are done playing and change out the battery at least once or twice a year (depending on how much you play) you should be fine. Also, these pickups are easily swappable with any guitar that has the solderless kit provided by EMG installed. Unlike the other EMG pickups you commonly see, these do not have a cover over them. They have the look and finish of an open passive pickup that I personally like better. The pickups look durable and I do not see anything going wrong with them anytime soon
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, these pickups sound great. They have that passive pickup tone with a pick of an active punch. These don't sound like an 81 with less output nor do they have a similar sound to a 57 or 66 pickup. These have their own unique tone that can be used in various types of music, not just metal. These pickups allow you to develop your tone from both your amp and pickups whereas, with the 81/85m, a lot of the qualities of your tone will come from those pickups alone. If you are a fan of EMG pickups, but always wanted a pick that is more natural sounding like a passive pickup, then give these a shot. You will not be disappointed.