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EMG EMG-81 Humbucking Active Guitar Pickup Black

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The EMG-81 is a high-output pickup designed especially for the lead guitarist. The 81 is at its best for high volume overdrive and amps with a master volume. Whether you're playing power rock 'n' roll... Read More

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The EMG-81 is a high-output pickup designed especially for the lead guitarist. The 81 is at its best for high volume overdrive and amps with a master volume. Whether you're playing power rock 'n' roll, or overdriving your amp, there's a razor sharp attack, and incredible sustain for brilliant soloing. If you're looking for exceptional qualities in a rock pickup, the EMG-81 is the one.

Distortion during lead passages is consistent, sustain is long and the breakup fades smoothly. The ceramic magnet in combination with wide aperture steel poles lend a quick attack but the tone stays nice and fat at the same time. Perfect if you're the only guitarist in the band, and need to switch from rhythm to lead and still keep the band moving. Another great thing about the EMG-81 is it's quiet. If you're playing at really high gain the last thing you need is noise.

  • Package includes:
  • EMG's exclusive Quik-Connect cable
  • Prewired split shaft volume/tone control set
  • Output jack
  • Battery clip set
  • Resonant Frequency (kHz): 2.00
  • Magnet Type: Ceramic/steel
  • Output Voltage (String): 2.0
  • Output Voltage (Strum): 4.5
  • Output Noise @ 60Hz: -91 dBV
  • Output Impedance: 10 kOhms
  • Current @ 9V: 80 microamps
  • Battery Life: 3,000 hours
  • Maximum Supply: 27V DC
  • Customer Reviews


by PowerReviews

(based on 18 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

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  • 1 Stars



Reviewed by 18 customers

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Displaying reviews 1-10

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Gives your guitar a new life.

By Vladimir

from Northridge, CA

For a while now, I've been thinking of buying a new guitar because I wanted one that came with stock EMG's since the guitar I have has dual humbucker pickups and I wanted a new sound without all that fuzz and more punch. But I already have a lot of guitars in my house, so unless it was a really beautiful guitar I don't think I'd buy another one. Point said, I went to guitar center a month ago and saw a LTD with EMG 81/85 and when I played it, It was just amazing! The sound was soooo crisp, so heavy, and most of all. It was just CLEAR heavy distortion. I mean this is the sound that I was looking for in a guitar! but I didn't buy the guitar. What I did was that I ordered the EMG 81/85 set, and I slapped them onto my Yamaha RGX guitar, and I gotta tell you. These pickups gave my guitar new life. It's like if I'm playing a totally different guitar now. Even the clean sounds very bright and clear. There's no fuzz at all. Every penny was definitely worth it. Just don't get frustrated when you're installing them. It takes time. The upside to them, is that they are solderless. So you don't need to make a mess and burn yourself. Just read the manual for the specifications of your guitar. They're all there, you just have to find the setup for your guitar. The only thing you might need to solder will be the toggle-switch on your guitar. The rest is very easy to install! :) Trust me, after you buy them. You won't wanna go back to humbuckers.

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By David Tucker

from Woodland Hills, Ca

This pickup packs that punch I crave! The EMG 81 has never let me down because my pinch harmonics come out clean, and i love the high gain. A ton of my favorite guitarists use EMG's, which drew me closer to them.

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)



By Dan Setters

from Baltimore

I started out with my epiphone sg, and decided I wanted a new guitar, people advised me against getting EMGs because replacing batteries was annoying, but the emg 81/85 combo is the best I've ever used and will never go back to a passive, except for the EMG hz4. Sounds better than my dimebuckers, too. It's so much cleaner. I also can get those incredible zakk wylde pinch harmonics with the EMG81. It's a great buy and I would recommend nothing else.

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)



By Sandra Bowen

from Danville, VA

This is my very first set of active pickups, and theyre just fantastic. They sound so full and clear, and they seem quite durable. The 60 sounds great for clean and solos, and the 81 sounds insane for distortion and solos. The only problem I've encountered is that in order to really get that full, metal sound, you need to crank your amp up. If your a home player, I would reccomend passives. But if you get to turn up you amp occasionally or all the time, get them. I'd reccomend these to anyone. They are fantastic.

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(7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)


Best Pickups EVER!

By Tom

from Woodland, California

I just installed the Zack Wilde EMG 81-85 set and was completly satisfied! Although you really have to follow the instructions, it was all solderless,and you have to replace your pots with the ones it comes with, but it has mucho crunch for metal guitarists and a crisp clear sound, even on my old peavey/laney full stack! Worth every penny!

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(2 of 42 customers found this review helpful)


Not So Good

By Dillon Reis

from rsm cal

I hated these pickups. i bought these because of all the good reviews. do not buy these. the r horrible. the pickups need so much more gain i hate them. BUY SEYMOUR DUNCAN BLACKOUTS MUCH BETTER!!!

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(1 of 4 customers found this review helpful)


Good Pickup

By Shawn

from Idalia, Colorado

i have played a lot of guitars and different pickups in the past 4 years, as far as active pickups go i would highly recomend this. for a true musician get the emg 89. i bought this with the active 85 and they make a perfect match. as far as humbucking quality i would take my dimebucker over it any day. the highs are impressive the lows are very distinguished and pinch harmonics scream! the cleans are good if you have a good reverb delay and chorus, but thats just me. overall quality 5 stars. i will never get rid of this pickup or the 85... unless i upgrade to an 89

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(6 of 8 customers found this review helpful)


Freakin Awesome

By Nathan

from Indianapolis, IN

I got the white ones of these and they make my guitar sound amazing. I put them in an Epiphone Les Paul Standard and they just make the sound so hard but clear at the same time. I absolutely love them and recommend them to anyone looking for nice pickups. (the only downside is they use a lot of energy so you have to replace your battery about every 3 months)

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(6 of 7 customers found this review helpful)


Awesome bridge pickup!

By Tyler

from Denver, CO

I purchased this along with an EMG-85 for my Gibson Special Faded SG, and I must say it is a perfect pickup for my guitar. It has a super-fast attack and a really good clean or distorted sound. The distortion is really thick and authentic sounding through this baby. Simply installing the 81/85 set into my guitar transformed my solid state head into sounding close to a decent tube head. I'm excited to see how it performs with my future tube amp purchase. The installation was a little rough. Following the EMG included directions resulted in the whole set not working, wiring it exactly how my old pickups were wired solved the problem. This pickup now runs almost completely silent and has super long sustain with incredible tone. Get an 81/85 set, you won't be disappointed at all.

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(2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


tone heavan?

By Sean

from mustang,oklahoma

Emg 81 tone heaven? depends on the user.I have always played passive closed coil p/u.Gibson,Duncan.So if you are like me and want to try this p/u I would suggest playing a set up similar to your own with the emg before purchasing and installing one in your own axe!!Dont get me wrong I really like the p/u in my SG.But I really had to change all my settings on my amp and pedals. This is why I gave it 4 stars. But once you find that perfect balance you just might find yourself in tone heaven, or hell.

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