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EMG Guitar Pickups

Aug 18, 2007
EMG, Inc first started manufacturing guitar pickups back in 1976, known as EMG pickups. Over the years they have earned the reputation for quality, clear sounding pickups used by many professional artists. ESP guitars and Jackson guitars currently use EMG pickups as their standard pickup design. Their high output is preferred by hard rock and heavy metal guitarists because of the pickups higher gain output as opposed to most lower output pickups. Some of the bands and artists who currently endorse EMG pickups are Tom Morrello, Zakk Wylde, Stephen Carpenter, Metallica, and Slayer.

If you are interested in a signature model of EMG pickups then the most common available are the Kerry King Signautre Model, Kirk Hammett Set, Zakk Wylde Model, and the Afterburner. The signature models are set up to the specific artists exact configuration used for live and studio action. For example the Kerry King signature model comes with a PA2 (20db gain booster) along with a combination of EMG-81 and EMG-85 pickups.

The most common EMG pickups are the EMG 81 and 85. The EMG 81 is usually considered to be the lead pickup and is more commonly used in the bridge position, while the EMG 85 is mainly used as a rhythm pickup more used in the neck position.

Personally I have had great success with using EMG pickups in a Gibson Les Paul and 7 string ESP guitar especially if you are into heavier sounding music. The clarity, deeper tone, and added gain are what make the pickups more suitable. One negative thing about the EMG active pickups is the need for a 9-volt battery, but it's not much of a problem because the battery lasts for a long time. You just need to make sure you replace the battery at least every 6 months because of tone loss over time.

Installation for a set of EMG pickups is fairly easy depending on the type of guitar you have. With the right tools I was able to install a set of Zakk Wylde custom EMG81 and EMG85 pickups in a Gibson Les Paul in under an hour. Make sure you have a basic knowledge on how to solder. The basic soldering tools you will need are a low-heat soldering iron with tips, solder, flux, wet sponge and a desoldering tool. As long as you follow the right installation diagrams for your type of guitar you should not run into any problems.
About the Author
To learn how to play guitar in the styles of your favorite bands be sure to check out the free guitar lesson videos at CrazyOldManMusic.com
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