I'm not convinced all EMGs sound sterile. I submit this as evidence:

Golem

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I picked up the DG20 set used this weekend as part of a guitar with extra parts. The plan is to put the guitar back to original and put the DG20s in one guitar and a warmoth neck from that deal in another guitar that has a partially stripped truss nut (works but you have to use a stewmac gripper). Of course I wanted to know what these pickups can sound like in the hands of a pro. I actually don't listen to Pink Floyd much so this was a pleasant surprise.
 

That Cal Webway

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I had the full set of the Vince Gill emgs in and I loved them...

Except the bridge pickup curiously is weaker.
Even with the boost it still doesn't give it that nice snap and stuff you get with a passive one.

#2 and 4 are grrreat!
 

ChicknPickn

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I picked up the DG20 set used this weekend as part of a guitar with extra parts. The plan is to put the guitar back to original and put the DG20s in one guitar and a warmoth neck from that deal in another guitar that has a partially stripped truss nut (works but you have to use a stewmac gripper). Of course I wanted to know what these pickups can sound like in the hands of a pro. I actually don't listen to Pink Floyd much so this was a pleasant surprise.


Is there any better note bender than Gilmour??
 

viking

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Sterile , why should they be ? Oh , like ceramic magnets hurt your sound , right ....?
And solid state amps sound sterile.......And dont get me started on modelling amps. And Pau Ferro instead of RW fretboards........Oh my.....Im glad the internet is good for....something !
 

Golem

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Sterile , why should they be ? Oh , like ceramic magnets hurt your sound , right ....?
And solid state amps sound sterile.......And dont get me started on modelling amps. And Pau Ferro instead of RW fretboards........Oh my.....Im glad the internet is good for....something !

Part of me thinks the anti EMG crowd is just a bit too traditional. Anything with a preamp that creates buffering is going to create a solution where there's no high end loss. I've found that with Lincoln Brewster signature models, Fishman Fluence pickups, and probably in other guitars. Some people use longer coiled cables to get that EQ that the longer cables will have but there are other ways to modify your EQ to get that sound if that's what you're used to. It might mean adding an EQ pedal to your chain or getting a voodoo labs Giggity and experimenting.

I think we know that the EQ and compression in the oldest EMG designs isn't going to be the same as a traditional pickup. I think they've more recently worked on designs that account for that more. I don't think it's bad so much as different.

Certainly having those crazy tone controls in the EMG DG20 setup can add a lot of versatility for some.

I'm with you on Solid State & Modelling. I'll always have some tube amps but Quilters and Helix have proven to me that a tube amp isn't a necessity.
 

Antigua Tele

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Part of me thinks the anti EMG crowd is just a bit too traditional. Anything with a preamp that creates buffering is going to create a solution where there's no high end loss. I've found that with Lincoln Brewster signature models, Fishman Fluence pickups, and probably in other guitars. Some people use longer coiled cables to get that EQ that the longer cables will have but there are other ways to modify your EQ to get that sound if that's what you're used to. It might mean adding an EQ pedal to your chain or getting a voodoo labs Giggity and experimenting.


100%. I've got three guitars with EMGs at the moment, and one with Fishman Fluence. The new EMG-X series removes the mid boost attenuations, which expands the bass and treble, lowers the overall output a bit and increased the batter life. I think they're really great. Once you get used to them, the aspects which make them superior can really be taken advantage of.

The two main differences between EMGs and regular passive pickups is 1) they're quieter, and 2) they have no resonant knee that cuts off treble, and related to that, they have built in tone shaping to give them a mid boost, but that varies depending on the model of EMG. So when people say they sound sterile, I think what they mean is that they like the resonant knee of typical passive pickups, but it could also be that people like a little AC hum in the signal.
 

telemnemonics

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I ran a Strat set for a few years.
Sterile is a word.
Gilmour is an artist.
EMGs in a Strat into a muff into a Hiwatt into Fanes into a mic into a Neve onto 2" tape is not an EMG tone.
 

11 Gauge

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The two main differences between EMGs and regular passive pickups is 1) they're quieter, and 2) they have no resonant knee that cuts off treble, and related to that, they have built in tone shaping to give them a mid boost, but that varies depending on the model of EMG. So when people say they sound sterile, I think what they mean is that they like the resonant knee of typical passive pickups, but it could also be that people like a little AC hum in the signal.

I think the lack of a resonant knee is definitely the reason why some people say they sound sterile.

Sort of funny or curious that we tend to think that passives with their limitations sound more lively, when it really just probably comes down to just being a sound that we're familiar with.

More interesting to me is that D.G. can get great tones with either EMGs or passives, which kind of illustrates that it's probably possible for the rest of us to do the same, w/o being overly concerned as to which types of pickups are being used.
 

Antigua Tele

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More interesting to me is that D.G. can get great tones with either EMGs or passives, which kind of illustrates that it's probably possible for the rest of us to do the same, w/o being overly concerned as to which types of pickups are being used.

It's all about context. David Gilmour can do no wrong. If he does it, it must be right. But left to our own abilities, everything sucks and everything is to blame.
 
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green_henry

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When I first tried my EBMM Luke II, I thought the EMGs were a little sterile, but I bought it anyway because the neck was so comfortable. When playing it solo, it still sounds a bit sterile, but in our band's mix, it sounds great.
 

bottlenecker

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Part of me thinks the anti EMG crowd is just a bit too traditional. Anything with a preamp that creates buffering is going to create a solution where there's no high end loss. I've found that with Lincoln Brewster signature models, Fishman Fluence pickups, and probably in other guitars. Some people use longer coiled cables to get that EQ that the longer cables will have but there are other ways to modify your EQ to get that sound if that's what you're used to. It might mean adding an EQ pedal to your chain or getting a voodoo labs Giggity and experimenting.

I think we know that the EQ and compression in the oldest EMG designs isn't going to be the same as a traditional pickup. I think they've more recently worked on designs that account for that more. I don't think it's bad so much as different.

Certainly having those crazy tone controls in the EMG DG20 setup can add a lot of versatility for some.

I'm with you on Solid State & Modelling. I'll always have some tube amps but Quilters and Helix have proven to me that a tube amp isn't a necessity.

It's not really about EQ for me. The pickups that just don't work for me are pickups that give me less tone and timbre change in response to my change in technique. When I play active pickups, humbuckers, some ceramic pickups, most solid state amps, or most overdrive pedals, I can't get a big enough change in sound with just my hands. It's like they offer one sound at a time, compared to what I like. Using simple, responsive stuff lets me get different sounds with my hands.

For someone who gets different sounds using pedals, imagine taking a couple pedals off their board, and then telling them it's better, because less noise, or whatever. It won't be better for them.

I couldn't care less about the traditions of pickups, just what works for me. As to the "sterile" thing, I think that's just a word people use when a sound is missing something they want.
 

Antigua Tele

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It's not really about EQ for me. The pickups that just don't work for me are pickups that give me less tone and timbre change in response to my change in technique. When I play active pickups, humbuckers, some ceramic pickups, most solid state amps, or most overdrive pedals, I can't get a big enough change in sound with just my hands. It's like they offer one sound at a time, compared to what I like. Using simple, responsive stuff lets me get different sounds with my hands.

The EQ can impact how you perceive the responsiveness, because suppose the passive pickup is omitting treble, then what's left over sounds more percussive by virtue of omission of treble, so not only is the percussive quality brought out by the change of EQ, but it's there for you to control it, giving you an overall greater sense of control.

Since an EMG sits in the same location as a passive pickup, the timbre is identical, all of the difference exists in the EQ. It's true some EMGs have ceramic magnets, but some have AlNiCo magnets also, but considering the fact that pickups can be raised or lowered to alter their magnetic pull on the strings, the fact of it having ceramic or AlNiCo magnets doesn't result in a distinct difference. Ceramic magnets have more potential to pull on the strings, but if lowered enough, they're no different from weaker magnets in that respect.
 

bottlenecker

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The EQ can impact how you perceive the responsiveness, because suppose the passive pickup is omitting treble, then what's left over sounds more percussive by virtue of omission of treble, so not only is the percussive quality brought out by the change of EQ, but it's there for you to control it, giving you an overall greater sense of control.

Since an EMG sits in the same location as a passive pickup, the timbre is identical, all of the difference exists in the EQ. It's true some EMGs have ceramic magnets, but some have AlNiCo magnets also, but considering the fact that pickups can be raised or lowered to alter their magnetic pull on the strings, the fact of it having ceramic or AlNiCo magnets doesn't result in a distinct difference. Ceramic magnets have more potential to pull on the strings, but if lowered enough, they're no different from weaker magnets in that respect.

The timbre is identical to what?
Surely you didn't mean active EMGs to old fashioned fender pickups?
I don't know about all EMG pickups, and wouldn't rule out any I haven't tried, but the classic active EMGs I'm familiar with certainly will result in the sounds I make with them having a different timbre... than any other pickup.

Really, it starts and ends with a player liking something. There is no theoretical or technical reason someone should like something.
 

NoTeleBob

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Devils advocate: EMGs solve a problem that doesn't exist. And "Fixing" EMG's with newer designs fixes a self-created problem.

If an EMG could sound like any of a Fender single or a P90 or a mini-humbucker or a Filtertron or a full size humbucker on demand - or even just two or three of them - I'd see the point.

But instead, we're talking about how to make them sound good in just one way. I don't see it. But I'm still open to enlightenment about them if there's some advantage.
 

kennl

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When I first tried my EBMM Luke II, I thought the EMGs were a little sterile, but I bought it anyway because the neck was so comfortable. When playing it solo, it still sounds a bit sterile, but in our band's mix, it sounds great.

the most important tone lesson
do you want it to sound good in the bedroom or on stage?
 




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