HZ H4 review by EMG

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (23 votes)

Price paid: $ 70

Purchased from: musicians friend

Sound — 8
The Hz h4 is what most people refer to as the passive 81. I find that this description is pretty acurate, but it definitely lacks the same oodles of output that is produced by the 81, which is to be expected when you buy a passive pickup. I'm playing it through a Peavey Vypyr 15 and a Marshall vs100 reverb with a rp250 in front and a Boss eq through the effects loop(only the marshall). I have the h4a, which is the bridge position pickup. This pickup is very clear, especially when it is loud. When I compared it to the 81, the definition of notes was so much better. This pickup is leaning more towards the high end mids, so its gets what I call a "gravelly" sound at low volumes. This is definitely meant to be played LOUD. I admittedly only compared it to the 81 and the hz h2, the other pickups that I was looking at. The 81 was just too noisy, and the h2 wasn't giving me the output I needed. The h4 was right where I needed to be.

Overall Impression — 8
I love the clean heavy tone I get at high volumes, but I would say that the gravelly sounds I get when I turn the amp down past 11 oclock is somewhat of a pain because I have to keep it CRANKD all the time, (only true of the marshall, the Peavey sounds more or less the same at all volumes.) I installed this into my ec400 to replace the 81 a while, but decide it would be put to better use in my alexi 200. Both guitars sounded good with the pickup, though the alexi brings out the mids much better. Again, this is a bridge position.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had it for four months, and so far I can't complain about anything. It has been very dependable. Aside from me placing the wire on the back of it on backwards when I first got it, this thing is grade a. Make sure you do place the wire on right tho, otherwise you get a single coil sound, not sure if it actually causes one of the rows of coils to deactivate or what, but that's what it sounds like. I would also recomend having an expierenced solderer install it, I did it myself but I have practice at this. The pickup is a trooper, don't have to change any batteries or anything.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jim #4
    frenzy92 : lack of sustain above 14th fret...darn..typo...oh wait..i mean --> no sustain at all above 14th fret
    well, that would be a problem with your guitar, not the pickup
    I actually prefer this better than the EMG 81..The H4 has more beef to it rather than its active counterpart.. I have nothing but good things to say bout this pup the cleans sound much better than the 81 and the best part no batteries...but thats just 1 persons opinion
    goodolcola wrote: Calling the 81 noisy is about as stupid as saying that the sun is cold. 81s are ALL but noisy, that's the point of active pickups!
    not in the sense of feedback, but it just had too much distortion, get what im saying? it doesnt feed back, but i wanted the same umph of the 81 but without all the extra saturation. should have been more clear
    a Few more videos which talk a bit positive about H4 Pickups : (On Ibanez RG something)
    (This one on a telecaste, dammn dude That Telecaster sounds kinda evil )
    (This one On an Gibson SG)
    Calling the 81 noisy is about as stupid as saying that the sun is cold. 81s are ALL but noisy, that's the point of active pickups!
    lack of sustain above 14th fret...darn..typo...oh wait..i mean --> no sustain at all above 14th fret
    I think This video gives a good comparison Bettween EMG 81, Seymour Duncan, and EMG H4
    i only play the h3 in bridge and neck there the ceramic version,absoloute screamers with loads of clarity and tone,find them much better than actives for tone and clarity,all passive ceramics sound fuller than actives,in my humble oppinion of course.
    Way Cool JR.
    Why is this review in an H4 review section when it's for an H4-A ? The H4-A is not the neck version of the H4 it is the Alnico-V version of it that's what the "A" stands for. The H4-A actually sounds way better in the bridge position than the H4. It has more power better harmonics and is EQ'd a lot more evenly than the H4. just an FYI they are both rated at 13.65k but the EQ'ing makes the H4-A more powerful sounding. The H4 has boosted bass/treble and scooped mids that makes it sound very unbalanced. The H4-A has less bass/treble and more mids than the H4 making it sonicly more even across the board. You can't really EQ out the imbalance in the frequencies on the H4 it will always sound scooped and out of balance. At least from my experience. Both pickups do have poor sustain no matter how well your guitar is set up. IMO this is because they are covered in plastic. If they were open coils I guarantee they wouldn't have this problem.