If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please write to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Items of general interest will be considered for inclusion
in this FAQ.
p.s. Installing a Zakk Wylde Setup? Put the 85 (gold logo) in the neck position, and put the 81 (silver logo) in the bridge. (Thanks Bret!)
Of course, the first indicator is the shape of the pickup - humbucker, Strat-style, Tele-style, Precision (split-coil) or Jazz bass, etc. If you see visible pole pieces, then this is a Vintage Series pickup.
Once you've narrowed down the general family, you can tell the specific model by the color of the EMG logo on the face of the pickup. For example, if you have a humbucker sized pickup with a silver logo, it is an EMG-81; with a gold logo, it's an EMG-85. The identifying logo color for most of our pickups is listed with their specs on the Product Specification page.
That's still quite not good enough for the Extended Series bass pickups. They all have the same external appearance and all have a silver logo. There's two things to try here. First, there's normally a sticker on the back of the pickup that shows the specific model number. If that's not present, you will want to use a piece of our Magnetic Viewing Paper to visualize the pickup's magnetic structure. You can then determine the appropriate model by matching what you see to our Extended Series Specifications.
EMG also offers a dual ganged balance pot for two pickup systems. This unit has two independent control elements on a single shaft.
We do not recommend the use of rechargeable batteries in EMG systems. Although they are compatible electrically, typically you must fully discharge these batteries to preserve long life, which can be problematic in normal usage.
You can externally power your EMG system, although we do not provide parts for this option. We don't recommend doing this, however, as the you will require extremely high quality power filtering to equal the performance of a regular battery. Since the pickup is the very first stage of your system, it's particularly sensitive to noise.
If you're thinking about installing an EMG system, look for a suitable location for the battery. Although it's tight on Strats, you often can fit the battery under the pots with little or no body modification.
Don't forget - most 9 volt batteries have a metal casing and should be insulated with foam or tape before installation.
You can also wire two batteries in parallel to provide a regular 9 volt supply but with much longer lifespan between battery changes.
Although most of our products are rated for 27 volts, we recommend a maximum of 18 volts. The additional benefits of 27 vs. 18 volts are negligible.
The Specs Page includes current requirements and estimated battery life for each model. Generally, each pickup requires about 80 microamps (uA), except for the Vintage Series pickups which require 220 uA each. EQ circuit requirements vary widely but are higher than pickups.
For your reference, a standard 9 volt alkaline battery provides 580 milliAmpHours (mAh) of power. That means that it will provide 580 milliAmps for 1 hour or 1 milliamp for 580 hours. There are 1000 uA per mA. You can figure the approximate battery life of any setup by adding up the individual power requirements, then dividing 580,000 by this total. Here's an example:
If you left your guitar plugged in day and night, the battery should still last a month. Under normal playing conditions, you would probably be looking at changing the batterytwice a year. Of course, you should treat these numbers conservatively and not try to drain every last uA out!1 - EMG-81 = 80 uA 2 - EMG-SV = 220 uA*2 = 440 uA1 - EXG = 410 uA ------------- Total required = 930 uA Total life = 580,000 uAh / 930 uA = 623 hours
Below a certain voltage, the onboard active circuitry will stop working. At that point, you will hear little or no output from the guitar. Don't let this happen to you!
Other "active" systems run the output of normal high-impedance pickups into a buffer amp or active EQ circuit. If the battery goes dead in one of these systems, you can bypass the active circuit and still get some sound. That's nice, but this sort of design compromises the pickup design yielding only a few of the benefits of optimized active pickup design. That bypass switch will cost you tone and noise - a BAD tradeoff.
We also have a set of our nine most common wiring diagrams available here online. This covers most basic setups, but you can contact us for assistance with any custom requirements you may have.
Our pickup wiring color code is standardized across most models for simplicity:
The EMG-89 wiring is quite a bit more complicated and is covered by it's own tech page.
Similarly, the color code for our accessory circuits looks like this:
To create the sound of a split coil pickup, you can either change to the EMG-89 pickup which contains both a dual-coil humbucker and single-coil pickup selectable by a switch, or you can add the EMG DMSK Dual Mode Switch Kit which lets you customize a switchable high-pass filter to create a sound reminiscent of a single-coil pickup. One advantage of using these devices are that they will retain their low-noise performance, unlike a split coil pickup which will be quite buzzy compared to the humbucker mode.
The EMG PI2 Phase Inverter actively inverts the phase of an EMG pickup giving you a true out-of-phase effect, controllable by a switch.
If you would like to have increased output from the guitar, you can add our EMG-PA2 inline pre-amp booster which includes a trimpot that lets you adjust the output level up to +20dB(!).
EMG active pickups have higher output levels than traditional passive pickups. If you find that the output level of your EMG pickup is too hot to get clean tones, the easiest fix is to reduce the gain on your amp (if it has pre-amp/master volume controls). If that doesn't do the trick, then try turning down the volume control on your guitar. Unlike a traditional passive volume/tone system, the low-impedance EMG system lets you turn down the volume with very little effect on the tone, so you won't sound muffled when you back off the volume knob. If this is still a problem, contact EMGTek for more info on circuit mods to address your problem.
Most EMG accessories can be used directly with passive pickups. They are the
These EMG accessories cannot be used with passive pickups