The EMG SX is one of the pickups that is part of the newly revised EMG X series. The X series features a brand new, revised preamp to help combat some of the issues people had with active pickups. Outside, the pickup looks the same, but the new preamp helps make this pickup less compressed and more like a passive pickup.
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 SX still sounds similar to the original EMG S. It is a very aggressive and bright sounding single coil that I find works best in the bridge position for an aggressive sound. It’s almost like an EMG 81 in single coil form at times. I was never a fan of running this in the neck position because I enjoy fat and warm lead tones, but if you’re looking for a brighter, clearer lead tone, this could be the pickup you want. The SX is more open and less compressed than the original S, so it helps it sound much more like a passive pickup.
The EMG SX 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. This pickup also works nicely in the bridge of a brighter guitar.
If you ever wished your EMG S sounded more open and more like a passive pickup, check out the EMG SX. If you find the EMG S to be too bright, try the EMG SA or EMG SAX instead.