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EMG pups for blues and jazz?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ADAP7IVE, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. ADAP7IVE

    ADAP7IVE TDPRI Member

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    I have an opportunity to pick up a Jim Root Strat for a song; it's a hardtail Strat just like I wanted, and the mahogany body and flatter compound radius are intriguing, but it's got active EMGs in it--a 60/81 set, I believe.

    I mostly want to play blues and jazz. Will these pups be offensive trying to play that style, at least for a while (changing pickups is always an option, but why do that rather than just get the proper gear in the first place?)..?

    Sent from my SC-01G using Tapatalk
     
  2. dented

    dented Doctor of Teleocity

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  3. Shuster

    Shuster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't see a problem, they are hotter, but the amp will be the deciding factor. I have a few EMG loaded guitars, no problem playing blues. Jazz I couldn't tell you!
     
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  4. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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  5. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ahhh...EMG's ...
    I just dropped an 85 into a Squier Affinity that I am modding.

    I'm not an expert on EMG's...however I have 3 guitars with them.

    Read up on the EMG site about the proper set ups for them.

    I guess that my best take on them is that they give you a clean base for adding color to your sound. EMG's will give different volume levels based on the distance from the strings, as well as which type of pickup it is. You won't get much flavor from the pickup itself. You have to add all of that via your amp or effects.

    I use mine for all styles. Great for recording. No hum.
    The do have a compressed sound IMO.

    Again...just my 2 cents.
     
  6. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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  7. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    Imo they'd be fine for Jazz as they are exceptionally clear when played clean...

    For blues idk? They aren't the most dynamic or nuanced thing around wich is what I wouldn't want for my blues gig...


    But tbh they'd work well for both because it really boils down to the player.


    I'm talking about the active models here btw.

    Passive pickups are where it's at for me, but I can see a use for actives in metal or even jazz, where dynamics are more player/technique focused rather than the vibrato laden blues licks that benefit more from passive pickups that respond differently with user input.
     
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  8. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

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    Ooops, forgot to mention a little detail on the HZ loaded guard. The routing for the pickups won't take standard covers so if you wan't covers the way to go is get a regular pick guard and just buy the pickups separately.
     
  9. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    The frequency response and output level of EMGs is very different than the low/med output passives that you would find most typical blues/jazz players using. It's like having a mid hump OD on all the time.

    Whether they sound good for blues or jazz is subjective, but you won't be getting a traditional passive pickup tone out of them. You might have to be careful with the output level if you want it to be clean. The only people that will be offended are the corksniffers after they see you're using EMGs.
     
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  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    I guess you can't try the guitar before buying it?
    About 17 or 18 years ago, I was opening for a "big name" recording artist, and I borrowed a local friend's Strat with active EMG pickups because I was traveling with no equipment on that gig.
    I'm used to PAFs, Vintage Strat single coils, and Dirty Fingers ... I had no problems with the EMGs. They were just a little louder than a regular humbucker, sounded like a strong single coil to me, and drove the front end of the house Fender amp (Twin) enough to be ballsy, but not enough to distort too much. If I had a chance to get a good instrument with active EMGs, I'd go for it ... but I didn't love them enough to install them in any of my current guitars. FYI, I use a humbucker in the neck position of my vintage Strat. That's enough "umph" for me.
     
  11. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    When people hear EMG they think Metal Shred. Those pickups are great for that, but you can do other types of music just fine with the right amp settings, guitar control settings and pickup height adjustment.
    The EMG 85 that I had in the late 80's(bridge of Strat) was good for what I was playing, I thought the distortion was too much when running a pedal, but it was capable of playing nice cleans through the clean channel of my Stereo Crate 50.
    The 81's are cleaner, EVH used them in his Steinberger on the 5150 album. Don't know about the 60 model.
     
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  12. xgritzx

    xgritzx Tele-Meister

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    I bet EMGs into a JC120 would be soooooo cleeeeeeean for jazz. not sure about blues. im sure they would be fine. blues is in the heart anyway, right?
     
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  13. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    The great Tuck Andress has been using EMGs in his cool old L5s for years.
    They/he get a real clear, high fidelity jazz sound.
    They work for him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  14. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    They will do alright for most styles.

    Especially of you do dynamically sensitive music like going from very silent, to very loud, with pick attack only. They have large headroom, almost 120 db on most. However, they have released a new series that is "red" colored which challenges old passive pickups the most. Even the Fishman Fluence which everyone raves about. But now, let's stick to what's on your guitar already.

    I do think EMG fortes, lies with using large pedalboards and long cables. All in all, connecting to effects. Becuase of their silence built in, you have a lot to gain (double entendre intended) but most blues and jazz doesn't require effects at all. Or loads of gain. And since they have 120 db headroom they will suit most metal high gain amplifiers and are used by those musicians too.

    They do have their own timbre flavor. They are actually more flatter EQ and have no "resonant frequency" to speak of. Which is peculiar because all detractors from anything active think they have a unnecessary mid hump in EQ. It's because people are used to the passive ones which DO have resonant peaks everywhere, and you become accustomed to those timbres, and finds - automatically undeliberatly - EMGs dull sounding.

    There are several things on EMGs that are advantegous, to any kind of music, as well as a few drawbacks:

    1. They need batteries. However don't fret, if you buy lithium batteries (which doesn't effect environmental as much) they will last for 10 years if you plug out when you're not playing.
    2. They do have stronger output less noise into ANY amp. Signal to noise ratio are excellent.
    3. They come wired differently in the grounding, so if you should be at a place with a dodgy grid, you will NOT be electrocuted, since there's no ground wiring to the bridge or your hands. You may only fry the pickups and electronics inside. But that's worth it.
    4. They do not pick up hum, noise, RF, buzz, and as such you don't need posh expensive cables.
    5. Cables can be run as long as you like almost, no treble loss anywhere.
    6. Set them a close as you like to the strings, no magnetic string pull, ever to make uneven notes or "wolfe notes".
    7. They DO have some limiting due/thanks to the battery of 9v. To the sound, they are not that responsive and delicate/intimate pick attack of SOME of the vintage passive pickups out there. It's in the beginning of the pick attack that gets a little "veiled". How much you prefer, is up to your taste, you can't dial that one out anywhere.
    8. They are NEVER microphonic, and can never become microphonic. No high pitched squeal anywhere, no matter how loud. They do feedback as usual pickups does if close to any speaker.
    9. They are expensive, more expensive than passives, but not excessevily so.
    10. You can very well do with the volume knob on the guitar. The changes aren't that large than on most passive pickups, and you'll not lose treble.

    I think - by and large - such traits, as louder, stronger signal, no buzz and no hum especially, and the "safer" ground wiring, low impedance making cables and pedalboards out of the equation, rules over the perceived flatness of EQ spectrum and the limiting induced by onboard electronics, IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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  15. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    All in all, this with compressed/limited sound, can be just as well part of a passive pickup, that it of repute and "good" too. It has to do with how strong the magnets are and the number of winds. You sure can get a passice pickup hot, and since it has only passive things, and no electronics, they will not distort, but they will compress instead. Some of the "hotter" wound pickups out there posses this phenomenon too, and to a great larger deal than EMG's. On passive "hot output" with compression you'll also lose a great deal of top end, because of it, and with EMG you retain those highs.

    I find it peculiar then, that people complains about EMGs "compression" mainly, when it can be done just as much with any tube amp in a clean setting. We don't really know how much a tube amp "compresses" the signal. It can be from very subtle to very hard, and then we'll hear it. The compression from EMGs are always - though - subtle.

    [​IMG]

    Please remember one thing: This graphs, charts, frequency differences, between any active pickup and any passive pickup does NEVER take into account the initial pickup attack, whether how much it is limited by compression or not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  16. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I had forgotten about the battery drain while not in use. I put a mini toggle switch in the battery power line on my Strat to turn it off after playing. Made the battery last a lot longer.
     
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  17. metale

    metale Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    The 60 is great for cleans, as said before. I would personally replace the bridge 81 though, with either a 60A or an 85. The 81 is like always having a tube screamer ON.
     
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  18. luckett

    luckett Banned

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    No way that graph is correct. "Modern active humbuckers" should have a lot more output that a "vintage strat" or "hot strat" pickup.
     
  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'd just find a loaded pickguard (eBay has some for $25, you can quibble about the 'quality' but they work, or buy parts and populate your own second pickguard -- I recommend SSS style rather than HSS or HH because you'll miss the classic SSS tones eventually).

    Watch through the first three minutes or so until the reveal.


    .
     
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  20. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Holic

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    Tuck Andress uses EMGs? I thought his L5 had Bartolini pickups.
     
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