EMG ZW Set : tjon901's user review
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They could call this set the “All purpose EMG set.” When you get a guitar with EMG pickups the odds are good that it will have this set of pickups in it. This set contains the EMG 81 and 85 pickups. Both of these pickups can be used in the neck or bridge position but traditionally with this set you will have the 81 in the bridge and the 85 in the neck. The 85 is great in either the neck or bridge but the 81 is only good in the bridge. These pickups are well known and have been around since the 70s and kings of the metal guitar scene since the 80s. The 81 is a workhorse bridge pickup for heavy music. The active preamp on the pickup gives you a ton of top and sizzle that lets you cut through no matter what you are playing. It is pretty much impossible for an 81 to sound muddy. The 85 is the 81s fat cousin. It has way more low end beef to its tone. It does not have as much top end sizzle but makes up for it with the thickness. The 85 can get muddy because of this so be careful. This extra beef makes it better in the neck position than the 81. In the neck position the 85 is as smooth as silk with its extra beef and low end. The 85 is great for singing high gain leads. The 81 in the neck isnt as great. Because it is so high end based it does not give you a proper neck position tone. The only people who use 81s in the neck are people who want their neck position to sound like the bridge position but if you want your neck pickup to sound the same as the bridge why bother even having it. With their active design these pickups provide great sustain because they use slightly weaker magnets but with the signal amplified later on by the active preamp. You need a 9v battery for these pickups to operate. If you are looking for a trusty set of active EMG pickups there is a reason so many guitars come with these.