Changing EMG 81/85 to Fluences or passive Duncans?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Velokki, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Velokki

    Velokki GAS station

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    Hi guys!

    I have an ESP LTD Evertune MH-1000. I love it. Only gripe is, it comes with the completely lifeless EMG pickups. Not bad necessarily, but I have them on another guitar already, and would like this one to be more versatile.

    Now, I really like the following pickups:
    1. Seymour Duncan 59/JB set
    2. Dimarzio D-Sonic + some other Dimarzio
    3. Fishman Fluence would be a curiosity I'd like to try.

    Would one of the aforementioned sets be easier than others? I get that EMGs are actives, and so are Fluences, would that be an easy change? Would going from active to passives be a difficult task?

    I'm having a luthier do it for me anyway, just thinking about cost and overall hassle?

    Thanks!
     
  2. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Swapping from actives to passives is quite easy - you do need to change out the volume/tone pots though.

    That said, I think you need to better articulate what you don't like about the EMGs. To me, "lifeless" could mean a lot of things.

    Do you want more treble, bass, mids? Do you want there to be more difference between notes picked hard and soft?

    Are you running a very traditional amplifier that needs lots of output in order to get good distortion, or are you running a more modern setup with plenty of gain on tap? If the latter, then a lot of the high output pickups on the market are unnecessary and you might want to look into something lower output like a PAF clone.
     
  3. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    Personally, I would go with the Fishman's. What would you be looking to get out of the fishmans tonally speaking? I was gonna recommend you a set, but without knowing the application I dunno.
     
  4. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    My only experience with Fishmans is from random noodling in stores, but to me, the moderns I tried still "felt like actives". I remember thinking something like:
    If these are trying to sound active, then I'm impressed with them. They're good actives. If these are trying to sound passive, I'm very disappointed. They make terrible passives. Given that I prefer passives, they sounded good for actives, but I'd still count them in the "they don't have the life of passives" category. I was, at the time, looking for replacements for Blackouts -> and I ended up going for JB/59. I was very happy with this choice after the swap was done.
     
  5. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood SS.org Regular

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    Active to passive is easier than passive to active. In both cases, you have to switch out pots, however. Generally, actives use snap-in connectors while passives have to be soldered. It isn't a difficult skill, and something guitarists should learn to do anyway.
     
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  6. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    Are you sure it's "lifeless" because of the pickups and not because of that Evertune bridge?
     
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  7. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    You can use the quick connect to install the Fishman yourself to see if you even like them. Only downside is you are stuck with the one voicing but that is enough to see if you like them, then if so have the tech install properly.
     
  8. Velokki

    Velokki GAS station

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    Hello, guys! Thanks for all the posts.

    Well, I have the same EMGs on my Washburn WM526, and they're ok for playing The Faceless and stuff like that. And I like their sound in the over-gainy metal realm. But I've fallen in love with the JB/59 set which I have on my Horizon and other LTD MH-1000. They're much more fitting for the Opeth kind of sound + solos sound much better. There's a lot more articulation and dynamics, and they just sound more pleasing to my ears.

    I'm using Axe FX II, so I can strech the sound in that end to whatever! :)

    Well, they're just being raved so much about everywhere, so figured I'd give them a go. Many people put them in that kind of holy light, that they're better than anything else. That's the image I get when reading all the testimonials and reviews.

    You could definitely help me understand the pros and cons of them - I have a strong reference point in EMG 85/81 and SD 59/JB, I've played both a lot.

    Yeah, I'm sure. It sounds totally like my Washburn WM526, which has the same pickups.
     
  9. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    For you liking those tones I would suggest the Moderns with the ceramic bridge, unless your guitar is bright then don't do that.

    Something I would really suggest looking out for is the Willie Adler set or the Devin Townsend set. I heard both were the best from the Fluence lineup. The Modern is the standard and then from there the others have a certain area where they shine in.

    Moderns for the versatility. I would also check out the Fishman classics aswell. Might get that passive sound more accurate. I would maybe set a side a weekend and buy 2 fishman sets for the one guitar. Test both and then after that keep one and send the other back. The DT has an option to have a switch to go to a single coil voicing. Might also be something real cool.
     
  10. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    The Fluence set can be plug-and-play with the EMG wiring, but would require different pots to access the different voicings. I've never tried them, so I can't comment on anything related to the actual sound.

    If you know you like the JB/'59 set in your other guitars, then that's a safe bet. However, I think it would be worth it to try a different passive set to have some extra flexibility. Maybe keep the '59 neck and try a Custom in the bridge? That's my favorite overall Duncan pairing I've tried :yesway:
     
  11. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    Changing from EMGs to moderns isn't that bad, same with going from active to passive. I've done both kinds of installations myself over the years. If you're not even doing it then don't worry too much. Fishmans are a bit more annoying to install if you want the multiple voicings and the single coil tones than passives imo, but that largely has to do with fishman's mediocre wiring diagrams. I had to reference multiple diagrams to find the kind of setup I wanted.
    the moderns are good, definitely better than the 81/85 set imo. Are they better than good passives? nope, at least not in my experience. They're the best active pickups out there by far, but not quite as good as some of my favorite passives. V1 on the moderns feels a little thin for my tastes, but v2 just gives it this extra chuuunk that pair perfectly with my rig. YMMV
     
  12. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    I think the Fishman's have a passive like sound. In all honesty, if you want a passive sound, go passive. Unless fishman can 100% replicate everything of a passive in their pickups
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  13. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I was under the impression that the moderns were targeting an "active" sound and the classics were targeting passive sounds. I could very well be wrong though.
     
  14. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    They have both. I corrected my statement as my original thought got lost in translation
     
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  15. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    v1 for the moderns is a tweaked 81, v2 is supposedly based of a bill lawrence 500xl or something like that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
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  16. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    interesting. So pantera with v2 and slayer with v1? Sounds my style
     
  17. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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  18. Strobe

    Strobe SS.org Regular

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    If you just wanted one voicing, the Fishmans would be drop in replacements. The wiring only gets a little tricky if you want the multiple voicings. I am super comfortable with guitar wiring, so it was a breeze for me, but if you are new to it, it might be a little intimidating. Worth noting, that switching to passives is going to take as much work or soldering.

    As for what to get... well, I am kind of a known Fishman fan boy. For me, I bought a set of classics for one of my guitars and I was so blown away by how much I love them that I... over the course of a year bought 5 different sets. If you want to cover a lot of ground and tend to prefer somewhat brighter sounding humbuckers, the classics are an exceptional pick. I like a variety of pickups (even the 81/85 set for some of their characteristics), but the classics are my favorite pickups of the dozen or so different sets I have owned. The different between V1 and V2 on them is a lot more noticeable than on other sets. They can bring the brutal, but if you need a ton of low end in your pickups, others in the line can give you more of that.
     
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  19. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    There is no such thing as an "active" sound. Active pickups can sound like passive pickups but with low impedance and less noise. EMGs have their own thing going which you either love or hate. It's not because they are active but because the pickups and preamp are voiced that way.

    I would try the Fishman pickups instead of going for passives simply because it's easier to do as you don't need to swap the pots and jack.
     
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  20. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    Wrong on that statement. If he swaps to the fishmans and he wants to use two voicings on the pickups he will have to swap the pots. Also there is an active sound. There is a sound that actives generally create that passives cant replicate and vice versa.
     

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