View Poll Results: Which pups

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  • Emg 81/combo

    4 36.36%
  • Blackouts

    4 36.36%
  • Other?

    2 18.18%
  • Rob option

    1 9.09%
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Thread: Pickup suggestion

  1. #1
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Pickup suggestion

    I've got on this tone chase thing pretty good here lately. And I've been writing a lot in drop C.
    The 2 guitars I use there are a Dean Tyrant Bloodstorm, and my Epi goth Explorer.

    Neither of them are great now that I am running this tube amp od thing.... But the epi needs the most help.

    1. The Dean has a black winter, which rips through my old distortion pedals, but sounds a bit flat, and even brittle with this setup.

    2. The epi has a set of Duncan designed invader clones, and they sound a bit dark, and can be a bit microphonic.

    So. I am going to stuff a set of either EMG 81/85
    or Blackouts into one of them. To sterilize the feedback for recording mostly.

    Both guitars are mahogany, the Dean has an ebony board, and the epi has a rosewood board.

    I've watched a bunch of comparison videos already, and sometimes the emgs sound better, sometimes the blackouts do
    Votes or opinions?
    Last edited by 80's_Metal; 05-20-2019 at 06:34 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    If you find the Black Winter flat, EMG 81/85 combo won't make you any happier IMO.

    I have no experience with Blackouts, so no comments on that.
    What kind of tones are you going for exactly? Would certainly make it easier to recommend you a set of pickups.
    Also, what rig are you running through?

  3. #3
    tonewood instigator
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Of the two you listed, I'd have to side with the Blackouts (AHB-2, with the extra lead that can be used to reign in the output), but if you have to go with EMGs, the Retroactive Super 77 set might be worth a look.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    I'd go blackouts. I put them in my dean (mahogany body, maple thru-neck, ebony board) to replace the EMG 81/85 set which sounded way too harsh and brittle to me. The blackouts (AHB-1) added warmth and thickness to my tone which helped. They are very hot though so maybe try Christopher's suggestion of the AHB-2s, but it's up to you ultimately.

  5. #5
    Mojo's Minions masta' c's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    EMG 81/85 = crunchier, better cut

    Blackouts = bigger body, more output

    I would strongly suggest you take a look at the EMG JH (Hetfield) set...meatier versions of the 81 and 60 with greater headroom. Really nice evolution of the classic "EMG" sound and more controllable signal-wise than the Blackouts.

    Have you looked at the Fishman Fluence options? The switchable voicings add serious flexibility

  6. #6
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    All good info guys.
    I have used emgs in probably 4 previous guitars, and still use a set in my bcrich v, I like them quite a bit, mostly because they are so quiet.

    I haven't used blackouts yet.

    Have never looked at fishmans, mostly because I thought they were priced too high, I'll check into them a bit.

  7. #7
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    I like the standard EMG's better than the Blackouts, but the Blackouts can also be nice if you're looking for a louder, fatter, and kinda-ish more dynamic active tone. EMG's have got a pretty steep bandpass effect going on in their preamp as well as some clipping within. This can lend itself to either a more focused or a less open tone, depending on how you look at it. In that regard, Blackouts are more passive-like to an extent. They're way hotter than anything passive I've tried, though.

    I wouldn't call either less flat than a Black Winter, though. EMG's are more focused, and Blackouts would be hotter and fatter, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by masta' c View Post
    I would strongly suggest you take a look at the EMG JH (Hetfield) set...meatier versions of the 81 and 60 with greater headroom. Really nice evolution of the classic "EMG" sound and more controllable signal-wise than the Blackouts.
    The Hetfields actually have the same preamp as the standard Non-X series EMG's, so they've got the exact same headroom. They're also louder (I guess they're wound hotter before the preamp). They go toe to toe with Blackouts, but having the standard EMG preamp, they actually clip within themselves a whole lot more at 9V.

    I personally always diesagreed with the claims about the Hets being "more dynamic" than the standard 81/60. Meatier, yes, I agree. More attack-y, maybe. But also louder and way dirtier. I remember I captured a screenshot of what JH-B's DI's looked like compared to the 81's some time ago. I'll post it later when I get home.

    *EDIT* Here's the pic. First is the JH, second is the 81. Notice how the 81's highest peaks are at about the same height as the JH's, hence, the same preamp with the same headroom. The JH's reaching that ceiling a lot more frequently, though, so it's louder, but it's also clipping a lot.

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    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 05-20-2019 at 02:36 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    EMGs... but put the 85 in the bridge and 81 in the neck.

  9. #9
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Any love for the ahb-3 ?

  10. #10
    Mojo's Minions Diego's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Have you got any other guitars you can test that feel closer to what you want?

    Sounds to me like you're not digging your current amp + OD setup.
    So why would you fix that with a pickup swap?

    Somedays I really dislike my tone. Then I realize I'm playing a tube amp at apartment volumes. I make things loud for a minute or so, good tone's still there. Then it's back to quiet levels again and it's all good.

    Maybe you need to experiment with other ODs instead? You're using a TS something, what about something purposedly built for Metal like a Fortin Grind or something?
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    Line 6 M13 and plenty of stompboxes I rarely use!

  11. #11
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    My Gibby has a DDJ and it sounds great, as does the dean with a DDJ, Jackson has an x2n and it's a little feedback, but sounds good.
    I haven't played my other guitars through it yet.
    But my bc rich has emgs, and that's where the light clicked on, it's dead quiet in the signal, and it sounds great too. Better though this setup than my old setup fwiw.


    I am liking the od/tube tone, but it's nuances are now different than what I've been doing and gearing towards for a long time, and so I am just trying to adjust a few things, to make the most of it.
    I think I'm nitpicking things from a recording standpoint.
    I would take this rig to the stage right now and it would sound glorious. Well,... minus my playing skills ha ha. But the tone would be great!
    Last edited by 80's_Metal; 05-21-2019 at 05:45 AM.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions masta' c's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
    The Hetfields actually have the same preamp as the standard Non-X series EMG's...Notice how the 81's highest peaks are at about the same height as the JH's
    I believe you are incorrect on this.

    Also, I am seeing peaks 15-20% higher for the JH on the very chart you posted:




    I can tell you that the JH set has several internal modifications that make them quite different from their traditional counterparts. They still sound like "EMGs", no arguing that, but have a slightly different character and feel and are more musical in their voicing, especially in the mids.

    The pole piece design required an entirely new bobbin geometry to be developed and the inductance of the JH models is actually reduced compared to the standard versions. This suggests that the preamp had to be tweaked to get the "hotter" character we both agree that the JH set has.

    I think your chart does a good job of showing this to be true. While the JH set does experience the internal clipping inherent to the typical "EMG" preamp technology, the Blackouts still have a much stronger output signal in my experience. I love the Blackouts, but find the JH set to be the ideal half-way point between those and something like the 81/85 or 81/60, giving me a beefier "EMG" tone while still being very controllable. In fact, the JH neck really is the perfect half-way point between the EMG 60 and 85 EQ-wise, but sounds better than both.

  13. #13
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    I think that may be just because the 81 is barely maybe not even reaching the ceiling of the preamp there.

    Regardless, I guess my point in posting that pic was that the Het's waveform does look a whole lot more compressed. It's not all over the place like the 81. It's more consistent. The loudest peaks are all the same.

    You can also notice the JH-B was noticeably louder on average than the 81 there. I remember once trying to 18V mod the Hets. I also had an AHB-1B at 9V in another guitar, and the DI's looked very close. I unfortunately don't have an image of that saved. But you're right, with both running at 9V, the Blackouts have a lot more headroom, and are able to produce much more pronounced peaks. I have no experience with any of the other blackouts, though, so I wouldn't know how that'd compare to the Het. Regardless, the 18V really did open the Hetfield up, and made it truly sound like an 81 on steroids, but that's just my opinion.

    I don't mean to say the Het is bad or anything. I used to dig the JH-B for the longest time, but IME, it is as compressed if not more than all of the rest of the original non-X lineup.
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 05-21-2019 at 06:35 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Quote Originally Posted by 80's_Metal View Post
    Any love for the ahb-3 ?
    The neck pickup is definitely more versatile on the ahb-3. Anytime I plug into any of my guitars with the ahb-3 set I'm always stoked.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Tone Slacker NecroPolo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    I'm not into active pickups as a player but for recording, I prefer to work with Blackout players tone a little more vs EMGs.

    off:
    That clipping made me nuts the first time I reamped EMG DI tracks. Those were home recorded DI guitars, sent me to reamp. I thought the guy did something wrong then I asked him to record the guitar tracks again with an eye on rec levels and it clipped again, then I asked him to record it with me and it kept clipping and I thought I did something wrong but it turned out it didn't - it's clipping internally. It was almost as embarassing as realising that a singer guy didn't leave heavy autotune on, instead he was a diehard fan of 5 Finger Death Punch and inspired by them, he developed a meowing singing style that imitates the heavily autotuned vocal tracks there. Damn!

  16. #16
    Ultimate Tone Member Nagisa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    I have a Fishman ceramic modern bridge and classic neck in my J. Custom. I far prefer them to EMGs. Never tried blackouts.

  17. #17
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Payday today.
    New pickup set ordered.
    Thanks for all your input boys!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    So what'd you go with?

  19. #19
    Underglazed Hair Metalologist 80's_Metal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pickup suggestion

    Blackout ahb-3s! Got a new in the box set off eBay for $149
    Going to give that a run in the old explorer.

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