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81X, Humbucker guitar pickup from EMG in the X series.

5 user reviews
Prices starting at $115 Average price: $115

EMG 81X tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: EMG
  • Model: 81X
  • Series: X
  • Category: Humbucker guitar pickups
  • Added in our database on: 04/17/2010

We have no technical specifications for this product
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Amazon EMG 81X Active Humbucker Pickup, White $115

EMG 81X user reviews

Average Score:4.4( 4.4/5 based on 5 reviews )
 2 reviews40 %
 3 reviews60 %

jkessel's review"Not worth the extra $10 over the regular 81"

Now don't get me wrong, this is still a great pickup but I don't find it necessary to spend the extra $10 over the regular 81, not a big enough difference. I made a few recordings comparing the regular 81 next to the 81x, both in the same guitar, same riff, same setup, everything was exactly identical. I went back and forth between bridge, neck, active tone pot, passive tone pot... There WAS a difference but it was so small that when multitracking or in a whole band setting no one would ever know. Even solo tracked it was still hard to notice.

The active tone pot made the biggest difference, at 10 both pots were the same, but the active pot was more reactive than the passive. You could hear the treble roll off a lot more on the active. The 81x with the passive pot the difference was so small that I actually had to sit and listen to the recording over and over just to hear a difference. With the active pot the X sounded slightly thinner, quieter, and smaller, but not by much. With the passive pot instead the difference pretty much went away. Now I tried the 18v mod as well and it was the same thing. The X series was designed to be like the 18V but even more headroom, but without a second 9v battery. The extra headroom is what made the thinner sound, uncompressed clean tones sound weak and thin. That's why most guitarists run a compression pedal when playing clean.

On high gain the difference was pretty much unnoticeable. So my review is basically on cleans, cause that showed the biggest difference. I still have my A/B recordings if anyone wants to hear them. Feel free to PM me for the link to it. I think most of the hype around this was from people hearing so much about them and wanting to hear a difference so bad that they just believe it's bigger than it is.

tjon901's review"A more organic 81"

With the old EMG's people liked to do the 18v mod to them. The 18v mod lets you get a more organic sound with more headroom with the EMG pickups. Recently EMG started listening to the guitar players and decided they can just make a pickup like that from the factory. The EMG active pickups use a pair of rail magnets with a built in preamp. As you probably know active pickups require a battery to power them. Rail magnets are better than the normal magnets used in pickups because there is no gap in the signal. When you bend a string with normal pickups the string moves slightly away from the magnet that string is associated with, and you get a slight decrease in signal. With rail magnets there is no gap in detection of the string vibration. The 81 first came out in 1981 along with the EMG 85. The 81 is the more focused pickup of the two. It has a searing high gain metal sound. When I play music with a lot of palm muting I can get an awesome tone. The 81 really shines when you are playing tight chugging riffs. Tight chugging riffs and single note lines are what this pickup is best at. When you downtune all these traits just help to keep the sound nice and tight. It is very hard to get a muddy sound from this pickup. With the built in preamp it has a ton of output. Because of the built in preamp the magnets dont have to be as strong so there is less string pull so you get more sustain. Because the pickup is so focused on metal it may for some people be lacking in other areas. The 81X's clean tone is a lot better than the 81's. The clean tone is more open and organic. If you are looking for an active metal pickup for the bridge position that sounds even better than the 81 this is the way to go.

Hatsubai's review"More open EMG 81"

EMG released a newly revised preamp for all of their models in 2009. This revised internal preamp is what is used in the X series. The 81X still features the same basic tonality as the original 81, but thanks to the newly revised preamp, it is much more open and less compressed than before.

Recently, people on forums have been experimenting with running pickups at 18V to get more headroom out of their pickups. This helps them sound more organic and less linear and compressed. The newly revised X series preamp basically takes the concept of running at 18 volts to a new level.

The EMG 81X still sounds very much like the original EMG 81. It has that aggressive and clear bite to it that cuts through any mix. It’s extremely tight and precise, but this time around, it’s less compressed and more open. During more complex chords, it seems to be less “digital” and more organic sounding. Single notes lose that heavy compression, but you gain that more passive feel when playing. Basically, the preamp isn’t clipping as much as it used to before.

The EMG 81X works in any wood you throw at it, but I find that EMGs typically sound best when they’re in mahogany. Some people argue about EMGs having a signature tone that takes over the guitar, and this is true to an extent, but wood still plays a very important factor. I’m not a huge fan of EMGs in basswood, but they can work with the correct EQ.

If you ever wished your EMG 81 sounded more open and more like a passive pickup, check out the EMG 81X. The EMG 81 is still my favorite pickup, but the 81X is great for those who used to run their 81 at 18 volts. If you find that the 81 is too bright, check out the 85 or 85X instead.

DeathPaupiette's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Yay!"

I use it since last April, bridge position on my Cort Aero 11 coupled to 60X in the neck position, all on my Blackheart BH15-112, my Peavey Vypyr 15, and Guitar Rig 5. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to try other mics (knowing that the original € 10 was quite moldy).

Talk about clean: clean the EMG is NOT UGLY. The new X series in EMG preamp, which gives more headroom (the rest clean clean) compared to EMG "normal." It is accurate, I use it mainly for imitation sounds country, or funk (although it lacks OOUR slamming the illusion is perfect). Arpeggios it appears rather neutral, it is not its strong point for sure.

OD: A bit dry for my taste, for more rhythmic than the solos.

Distortion: So there ... The reputation of the EMG is more to do at this level, and the 81X is no exception to the rule: ultra precise bass very "tight" pinched harmonics that come without any worry, mediums present. In short, a monstrous power, playing in all courts metalleuses, the Black / Death to the Maiden's heavy. In solos, same accuracy, same reactivity, it slams ...

The +:
The -:
-A little "dry" in overdrive / crunch moderate
Rather clean-neutral

9, as his friend the 60X.

EMG 81X news

EMG X-Series Pickups

EMG X-Series Pickups

Published on 02/25/09
EMG has released the X Series, a new line of guitar and bass pickups for all styles of playing, featuring "a more organic nature to their sound due to a newly designed internal preamp," acc…

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Other names: 81 x, 81x black, 81xblack, 81 x black, 81 xblack

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