Brand Spotlight: EMG Pickups And Electronics

EMG is easily one of the most popular pickup and electronics manufacturers in the music industry, delivering products that focus on expanding the versatility and range of an instrument's tone through modern ingenuity and time tested techniques. Their active humbuckers in particular have become a staple among the hard rock and heavy metal crowd, with famous players such as Zakk Wylde and James Hetfield having used their pickups for years. But the company is more than just active humbuckers, producing a range of pickups and electronics for basses, single-coil guitars and even acoustics. If you're a player that yearns for high output tone or loves the extended versatility of an active pickup system, EMG will definitely have what you're looking for.



Below Is Just A Small Sample Of EMG's Pickups And Electronics


EMG 81

One of the most popular pickups in hard rock, the EMG 81 is an obvious choice for any guitarist looking for a high-quality humbucker.  While this pickup was originally designed to work with lead guitarists in mind, the 81 works amazingly well for bands with just one guitar player as it packs plenty of punch, has great sustain during overdrive and features a distinctive fat chunky tone that works perfect for hard rock rhythms.

Being an active pickup, the 81 works best with an amp that can convey the high output of the signal, although you won’t have to worry about latent noise as it is pretty much as noiseless as it gets – no buzz, no humming – just pure fat rhythms and amazingly sustained leads, all with a smooth fade while switching pickups selectors. Those looking for a bit more power and gravitate more towards active pickups should definitely give the EMG 81 a try. Works with all pole spacing styles.



With sweeping harmonic overtones and clarity, the J pickup has characteristic jazz bass tone, but due to EMG's custom design adds a modern broad tonal response that will add new dimensions to your bass playing. Their design has a very low ratio of resistance to inductance, which increases low frequency response, while the radiused ceramic bar magnet endows the tone with tight mid-range punch and dynamic high end response, all with less noise and more signal. So whether you play fretted or fretless bass, playing live or in the studio, you'll get an incredible full sound to get the job done.



The SA Set combines the attributes of the early Strat sound but with an added midrange response and higher output, giving it "bell-like" ringing harmonics and increased sustain. One single Alnico bar magnet delivers classic overdrive with a smooth midrange distortion, while still retaining the familiar high-end of a single-coil pickup. These characteristics provide greater versatility than what is normally found in single-coil pickups. Favorites of guitar greats Steve Lukather and David Gilmour just to name a few, the SA Set comes with volume and tone controls, and a five-position switch which is all ready to mount onto your pickguard.


James Hetfield Signature Set

This signature set was born from a collaborative effort between the Metallica frontman and EMG with the goal to create a “stealth” looking set of pickups that captures the clarity and punch of a passive pickup and still retains the legendary active tone that molded a generation. Both the JH-N (neck) and the JH-B (bridge) were patterned after the pickups James has used for 30 years but the end result was a completely different animal. The JH-N has individual ceramic poles and bobbins that feature a larger core and are taller than the 60. This produces more attack, higher output, and fuller low end in the neck position. The JH-B uses the same type of core but has steel pole pieces, unlike the 81 that uses bar magnets. This produces the familiar tight attack with less inductance for a cleaner low end. Available in EMG Metal Works Finishes and EMG’s Solderless Installation System components.


Wiring Kits

1-2-pickups-kit-longshaftEMG isn’t just known for their pickups – the company also manufactures a wide array of electronic components as well. One of their more popular line of offerings are their wiring kits, made for both active or passive humbuckers and more. They include everything you need for installation. And just in case you’re not the most proficient player when it comes to working with a hot iron, their wiring kits are come with all solderless components. Take a look at the individual kits below.

For 1 or 2 Passive Pickups

For 1 or 2 Active Pickups

For 3 Active Pickups


Your Turn to Sound Off!

What's your favorite EMG pickup?

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