Anyone ever switch back to EMG's from passive?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by mnemonic, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Don't worry, I'll put a tl;dr at the end.


    Hey guys, just wondering if anyone has ever used passives for a long while, and then switched back to EMG's in some guitar and enjoyed it?

    I used to use EMG's in my guitars close to a decade ago back in college... I also used a PodXT and cheap guitars and my ear for tone was probably much less developed. At some point I switched to passives, and since then, I've had Seymour Duncans in most of my guitars. I also use an Axe-FX II now, mostly using the Recto1 model.

    During the week, I was digging through my box of spare guitar parts and I found an EMG 85 I used to have in one of my old guitars, along with all the wires and pots, so in a fit of overwhelming nostalgia, I installed it into one of my strats (which was previously loaded with Seymour Duncan '59 / SSL1).

    [​IMG]

    I have to say... I really like it. It reminded me of why I liked EMG's back in college. Really heavy sounding, extremely hot. Way higher output than any other pickups I have at the moment. Compared to the '59 that was in there, it was almost like having an extra overdrive kicked in.

    Obviously its quite compressed, very high output, and also very tight and clear sounding for heavy metal rhythm. Leads also sound pretty good, its stupid easy to get loud pinch harmonics on this pickup. Apart from that, the 'base sound' of the guitar still remains in-tact, if that makes any sense. It still sounds like the same guitar, just with the above characteristics.

    I actually also liked the clean tones I got out of it, but I almost never play cleans, so I'm not really picky when it comes to that, so my opinion is probably not worth much in that regard. I'm currently staking out ebay and local classifieds for an EMG SA for the neck position.

    All this got me thinking... I'm generally not concerned with versatility as I play high gain about 90% of the time, and that seems to be one of the main complaints about EMG's. That, and the compression, but thats not nessesarily a bad thing, depending on what you're playing and the tone you're after. I'm kinda considering buying a passive-housing 7-string set (81-7H / 85-7H) for one of my seven strings (I'd have to buy new as I've never seen them for sale used). I know the forum consensus has gone off actives, EMG's in particular, is there any better options out there for me?

    I've done some digging about those new Fishman Fluence pickups, but there isn't much out there comparing to the old EMG's. Also I'm hesitant to believe some of the glowing reviews, as there's a lot of hype surrounding them at the moment, and a lot of endorsement dollars getting thrown around. Plus, I've seen a couple reviews where the user says the active voice (the one I would probably use 90% of hte time) sounds very EMG-like, so maybe it would just be extra money spent on extra features I don't really need. Also I'm in the UK, and like anything else interesting or new, they would be a pain in the dick to get ahold of here, and would probably have to special order or import from the US.

    For what its worth, the seven I'm considering swapping pickups in (Mayones Setius 7, all mahogany, maple top) is strong on the bottom end / low mids, so I wouldn't want a bass-heavy pickup.


    tl;dr - Found my old EMG 85, installed it in my strat, really liked it, great for heavy metal rhythm playing, now I've got EMG GAS, am I crazy for wanting to load EMG's into one of my sevens now? Anything else I should be considering?
     
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  2. juka

    juka SS.org Regular

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    I really try hard to like other brands of pickups, but I always end up with EMGs again :rolleyes:

    Although I have never come to like the 81, an 85 in the bridge (and 60 as neck pu) is my all time fav.

    57/66 are great, too :shred:
     
  3. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    I get what you mean. I have 3 seves with passives and a six with emgs. The emgs are fun and sound great in a six. I think the main problem with EMG is that their seven string pickups sounds nothing like their six string equivalents. It seems some competent people developed the classics 81, 85 and 60 in the 1970's and 80's (or whenever they where first made) and then 20 - 30 years later in the early 2000's when the seven string was on the rise, some completely different people with no idea of what they where doing made the 707, 81-7 and others, and to be honest and I think this is the general opinion: They sound like absolute sh!t and has nothing to do with the original six string 81 and 85 except that they are produced by the same company.

    I guess what I am saying here is that there is nothing wrong with active pickups and it might even be what you are looking for in a seven string guitar, however you should avoid EMG seven string pickups like the plague.

    Some say that seymour duncans blacksout are a lot better than the emgs, and this would probably be what I would recommend without having tried them myself.

    Fishman is on an unholy hype crusade atm and probably will be for atleast the next year, so the only thing you can do there is to try and find somewhere you can try them out and make your own opinion.
     
  4. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    ^interesting about their seven string models. Do you know if that carries over to the 85-7 and passive sized 81-7? I know that the 707 was just a tweaked bass pickup (thus not available in passive-sized model as it doesn't fit) and the soapbar 81-7 has different specs from the 6-string 81 (resonant frequencies, etc), however the 81-7h (passive sized one) has the exact same specs on the website as the 6-string 81, and same deal with 85-7h vs original 85.
     
  5. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    I have only tried the soapbar sized 707 and 81-7 which came in a guitar I brought, then later swicthed the pickups to passives. Based on that experience I have not brought anything else with sevenstring EMG pickups.
    The soapbar 81-7 is just as bad as the 707. Different bad but still pretty bad.

    The thing about EMG is that I think they sell them pretty cheaply to manufactoures, so they come stock in a lot of guitars. While this is a pain if you don't want the EMGs it does mean that you should be able to try out several EMG seven string models at any guitar store.
    I would suggest to go to a store where you know they stock a decent amount of seven strings and them try them out with a rig that is as similar to what you normaly play as possible. We can chat here all day, but actually trying them out will help you make a choice.

    A word of caution though: The EMGs can come across as good for the first 10 minuttes you play them, simply because they are different. It takes a while to realize just how bad they are, so don't let your initial impression get the best of you.
     
  6. Yodel

    Yodel Banned

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    I've been through Duncans, Fishman Fluences, DiMarzios and also a fair share of the BKP range (I don't play ....ty djent though but downtuned 6strings); nothing beats the rhythm tone of an EMG 81 in the bridge recorded or live.
     
  7. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I'll second Sumsar's statement about the soapbar 81-7 and 707. I also didn't feel that the 81-7 sounded anything like the EMG 81. I even swapped them to test them out and while I liked the 81-7 as a neck pickup, the 707 was even worse as a bridge pup.

    The Seymour Duncan Retributions are an improvement over the EMG's, as they're tighter and more defined but they still are quite crunchy. I would prefer them a bit bigger sounding so I'm curious about the EMTY Seymour Duncans. If the EMG 57-7 and 66-7 are close to their 6 string counterparts then they're worth a try.

    I was curious about the Fluence pickups but saw that a set of soapbar Moderns are more expensive than all Bareknuckle pickups on a soapbar baseplate. So have that in mind.
     
  8. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The man who is tired of the anus is tired of life Contributor

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    That's why I like the pickups Fluence Modern set... best of both worlds. Modern and classic PAF tones. Active clarity with passive attack and ability to roll off the volume.
     
  9. Jeffbro

    Jeffbro Banned

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    EMG for neck leads is so smooth and cuts through better than any passive I've used, also hides mistakes incredibly well (ask kirk hammett). Looking through recordings all the best sounding solos I did live was on EMGs
     
  10. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    I went through phases of loving and then hating EMGs, and now I'm pretty dead set on keeping them in my arsenal forever.

    If you're wanting to experiment more with EMGs but are worried you're gonna miss what passives gave you, try the X Series pickups. They're sold as "active pickups with more headroom," and that's no lie. I have never heard actives respond to pick attack like them.
     
  11. Stuck_in_a_dream

    Stuck_in_a_dream SS.org Regular

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    Aside from the 81, I really like 57, 66, 85x, 60x. Funny story, I put 85/66 in a basswood Ltd, and it sounded grand. It was awesome for a while until I started playing the Fluence Modern Alnicos in my Schecter C7 more, and now I can hear how compressed they are, much less dynamic than Fluences.

    @OP: if u love the 85, try the 85x and the Fluence Alnico Modern. I don't think u'll be disappointed.
     
  12. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Cheers for all the replies, guys.

    Cool, I'll keep this in mind. Its weird, judging by the specs, plus peoples reviews, it seems the soapbars sound different from the 6 string versions. I guess the 81-7 soapbar was done a while before they started making passive-sized seven string pickups, so maybe they were trying to be clever by changing things or something. Either way, I'll be steering clear of soapbars as all my guitars are routed for passives (apart from an old Schecter I have which is in pieces and I'll finish sanding some day).

    Unfortunately being left handed, most guitar stores stock like 5 things I can play, and usually low end stuff :(

    Though if anyone knows any UK stores that sell a good selection of left handed stuff, I wouldn't mind making a day out at some point to visit the shop.

    Cool, I have been eyeing the Fluences, but at the moment its hard to tell what is hype and what is a genuine review. And being new, relatively speaking, I guess there aren't a ton of them out there yet.

    Are there any other comparisons you can make between the EMG 85 and the Fluences? Do you think the active voice sounds similar apart from the compression?
     
  13. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    I've gone back to EMGs, but actually opted for an 60x/81x combo. I find that in the guitar I use them (an ESP Eclipse) the metal sound is ironically closer to that classic EMG metal sound I know from so many records, as the 81x sits more forward in the mix. I also dig the 60x a lot, is such a loud and pristine clear sound.

    I think the thing with EMGs is that they're just a classic sound that many have grown up with and as a result are fond of. It's like when you dig out that classic Testament/Sodom/Accept album and just find that it sounds so "refreshingly" old-school.
     
  14. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I saw another post of yours while searching online for comparisons between EMG and Fluence, you said you've used the 85 bridge for a long while and were impressed by the Fluences, Is there any comparison you can make bewteen the 85 bridge and the Fluences?

    I'm starting to consider fluences more, as it would probably be about £50 more for the set.
     
  15. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    I guess this is a pretty stupid idea, but here goes:
    Find a shop that has 14 days return with shipping included for the return over a certain price. Then order a left hand seven string guitar with the EMG pickups you want to try. Get the guitar and try it out on your rig. Return the guitar and get your money back. Now go buy the EMGs if you actually like them.
    Ofc it requires that you have some money lying around that you are okay with not having for a month.
    Also if you somehow damage the guitar you are fårked as you might not be able to get a full refund.
    Again it is a stupid idea, but still :lol:
     
  16. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    Count me in. Got Duncans in all my guitars before. Then I tried the JH set. Had to replace two of my guitars with that set. Then I tried a 57. Now I have a 57 and an 81x in my other guitars.

    Recently got a Jackson COW 6 with an EMG 81. Sounded good. Not replacing that pup for now.
     
  17. juka

    juka SS.org Regular

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    Not really, because I have the Fluence set in my only guitar that didn't sound great with EMGs.
    Some say the Modern Ceramic is Fishman's version of the EMG81. If that's really the case then Fishman found a way to remove everything I hate about the 81 :lol:
    Because as much as I love the 85 I absolutely hate the 81!
     
  18. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    I have never had EMGs because until recently, the whole battery thing seemed like an unnecessary annoyance. However now I really want to go EMG. They cater really well for the extended range player.
    I have always been a seymour Duncan guy, but I just have gone right off them. Passive wise I like Lace. Duncan are just "meh" now to me. Bareknuckle are too expensive.

    I can get a set of EMGs brand new, with all the wiring/pots with the convenient quick connectors etc for like half the price of a set of Bareknuckles.

    Im not doubting their quality (bareknuckle) but for me, value for money seems better with EMG.
    So Im craving EMG pups now. So im doing the passive > Active move real soon too.
     
  19. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    what is the cool string tree/pick holder on the strat?
     
  20. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    about a decade ago (or longer) I saw them on musiciansfriend back when I lived in the US, called Wedgie pick holder. I picked up a couple, and they've always been super convenient, as they just slide between the strings on the headstock.

    I only have three I think, so a few years after that I went looking for some more and found some cheaper ones on amazon or ebay branded 'Alice' which also work the same, though the rubber isn't as soft.
     

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