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Thread: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

  1. #1
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    As you guys know, I'm back to digging actives with my recent experience with the EMG 85 in the bridge of my LTD. I just recently ripped the passives off my PRS SE (I wasn't quite digging the Dimebucker I had in there, anyway), and I installed a set of dual EMG 81's. I don't mind the 81 in the neck, but compared to my LTD with the 85 in the bridge, the 81 in the bridge of my PRS SE sounds kinda thin and weak.

    The PRS SE is, for some reason, naturally brighter, less throaty, and snappier than the LTD. It still has low-end, but there's a lot less emphasis in low mids, even though it has a thick mahogany neck and fat body. Must be the ebony board, the 25" scale, or the wraparound bridge.

    Anyway, rather than just slapping an 85 in there and playing it safe, I thought I might want to give the 57 or the 58 a try. I haven't heard many clips of the 58. The 57 OTOH sounds kinda like it's midway between the 85 and the 81 in terms of girth, though. I dig that. I figured it might give the PRS SE a distinct personality compared to the LTD, while still making it chunkier and less dry than with the 81 in there.

    So I guess the question is: Has anyone had a chance to compare the 58 and 57 to the 81 and 85? What should I expect? I find the 85 slightly hotter than the 81, but how about the 58 and 57? Where do they stand in terms of hotness? Which is chunkier and has more low-end? How about the high-end? Would the 58 or the 57 be a better bet for me? Or should I just stick to what know works with the 85?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 08-15-2019 at 01:29 PM.

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    Mojo's Minions JB_From_Hell's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I'm really curious to try the 57, also. Just went back to the 85/81 in my Schecter, and it's just sooooo good. Getting ready to wire up my RG with a 707 bridge/81-7 neck.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I'm really digging the 85 in my LTD too. I slapped a 60 in the neck for the time being, and it's better than I remember, but I also dig the 81 in the neck. Still waiting to see if I order a 60A along with something for the bridge position of my PRS SE, though.

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    Ultimate Tone Member InbredJunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    The 57 is almost identical to the 81 as far as tone goes. It has better dynamics, and is more open sounding, but it wont give more girth to your tone. Try the EMG JH set. That would be more along the lines of what your looking for.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I have tried the Het Set. While it the bridge pickup does have a bit more girth than the standard 81,it's not exactly what I'm aiming for. I remember the bridge pickup in the set being waaaaaaaaaaay hot (like Blackout hot) and leaning more towards the 81 side of things than 85. They also don't sell the bridge pickup separately, and I don't really want to spend the extra bucks on a neck pickup which I don't really love when I've got a perfectly good 81 in there alreay.
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 08-16-2019 at 09:49 AM.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Van Noord's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I had a 57/58 set and thought the 57 was a lot like the 81 in the bridge, only with less compression. I remember hoping for a bigger sounding 81, but that wasn't the case.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Am I better off with a 85 in the bridge, then? How about the 58?

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Van Noord's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I would say so yes, especially if your PRS is a bit brighter like you said.
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    Mojo's Minions JB_From_Hell's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
    Am I better off with a 85 in the bridge, then?
    Of course!

    Really think the 85 is just one of those pickups that’s tough to beat. I keep trying to go with other stuff but keep coming back to it. I was riffing on the Schecter earlier, went through about a half dozen of my favorite gain patches. 85b/81n killed on all of them.
    Last edited by JB_From_Hell; 08-17-2019 at 07:44 PM.

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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I always felt the 57 was closer to the 85 due to the alnico mags.
    Clear like the 81 with the warmth of the 85.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    What's the 58 like, then, dudes? I keep reading it has some P90-ish characteristics... but what does it mean? It's described as "fat and round", but then "P90-ish". Isn't this a contradiction?

    The 60 is described as single coilish too, but I personally don't find it all that single coil-ish. More like an 80's bright, hot humbucker. Kinda like an active, more focused, leaner version of an SH-6N. Is the 58 like this too?
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 08-18-2019 at 03:16 PM.

  12. #12
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Any more opinions, dudes?

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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I tried the 57, but I only have the 89R in the bridge to compare it to. Used in HH telecaster. When I got the 57, my plan was to move the 89R into the neck position. I found the 57 has an overall darker balance, and its definitely more bassy. I prefer the brightness and accentuated mids of the 89R as I feel its more like a PAF PRO in the bridge. It has more of an 80's rock thing which is exactly the era it came from.

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    Ultimate Tone Member EmiAba's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I have only experience with the zakk wylde set. And yes I suffered the difference between the 85 and 81. The 81 in bridge seems weak and thin compared with the 85 in the neck. The 85 seems hotter than 81 to our ears. But it's not. 85 has a midrange that 81 does not have. And that is the reason why it seems hotter. I spent a lot of time adjusting the height of both pickups in order to have the same volume. Ended up with the 85 at the same level of the pick up ring and the 81 just an hair far from string (thanks to the weaker magnet field). I am not a fan of actives but the 85 is a great pickup. Sounds good in both positions. I think you will happy with it in the bridge slot avoiding waste of time, money and efforts on other pickups from emg family.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Honestly, I think I might follow you guys' advice and get an 85 for the bridge of my PRS.

    On a related note, I'd like to try the 85/85 combo. I like the 60's EQ and the 81's power in the neck, but I'm not 100% sold on either. I find the 60 a bit low output and the 81 a bit insipid on cleans.

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    Mojo's Minions JB_From_Hell's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I’ve been thinking about getting a second 85 for my Schecter’s neck position, too. Also thinking about a pair of 89s for my PRS, so I can keep the cool coil split options. The awesome part about EMGs, and especially the OG models is, thanks to the perpetuation of the idea that they suck, they’re always available used for a great price.

    Despite my cheerleading, I totally get why you want to try a different one, though. I suppose the upside is you know that, if the different one doesn’t work out, your consolation prize is going back to a sweet ass pickup that’s absurdly fun to play.

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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
    What's the 58 like, then, dudes? I keep reading it has some P90-ish characteristics... but what does it mean? It's described as "fat and round", but then "P90-ish". Isn't this a contradiction?

    The 60 is described as single coilish too, but I personally don't find it all that single coil-ish. More like an 80's bright, hot humbucker. Kinda like an active, more focused, leaner version of an SH-6N. Is the 58 like this too?
    I have the 57/66 set and they will be gutted soon, but I dont play music like you. My son has them and loves them, he is a modern metal head

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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
    The 60 is described as single coilish too, but I personally don't find it all that single coil-ish. More like an 80's bright, hot humbucker. Kinda like an active, more focused, leaner version of an SH-6N. Is the 58 like this too?
    Far from being an expert in pickups, I have (for 30 years) a 60 bridge with S neck and S middle (was in a super Strat and now in a Godin Exit 22) and was always thinking it sounded a bit "single-coilish", but only when lowering the volume pot between 4-6 (single coil fast attack and definition). And your are definitely right saying 80's bright "hottish" humbucker when volume pot between 8-10. I would compare the 60 "single-coolish" to the way I find also the Screamin Demon "single-coolish" (I have one in a Strat). Really dig the 60 with the S/S, nice combo, specially in band mix.

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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    I had played EMGs for decades and never considered changing. I tried a 57 in one of my guitars when they first came out an found it to be noticeably less compressed with better string separation than either the 81 or the 85, even with significant gain. I also found the 57 cleaned up much better with the volume knob with mid gain settings than the 81 or 85. I tried the Retroactive Super 77 and my experience was that the bass was literally sloppy loose and no amount of amp tweaking or pickup height adjustment would help. FWIW I ‘rediscovered’ passive pickups about a year ago and will never look back. I have since sold ALL my EMGs - even the 57s which I found to be much better than the 81s & 85s. With EMGs, I found that every guitar I had them in sounded identical - no matter what body wood or hardware it had. This was a bit better with the 57, but I found that those EMGs just throw so much signal at the amp that it’s really hard to hear the wood that they are attached to. Right now I am playing with the Custom family: Custom / Custom-Custom / Custom 5 and the different tones those pickups achieve in different guitars is stunning. I believe I have found the right ‘home’ for each one in my various guitars and I am still blown away by how much ‘nuance’ I can coax out of the amp with pick attack, left hand attack, how far forward or back along the strings I pick / strum, rolling the guitar’ volume ... all of which was lost in the compression and sizzle of those EMGs. It’s like a whole new world after using exclusively active pickups for decades.

  20. #20
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: EMG 57, 58, or 85 for my PRS SE - Please help me choose

    Thank you all for the replies!

    Yeah, I've been through my fair share of passives. I agree, there is arguably more nuance involved in passives, but I like the in your face straight-forwardness and consistency of actives too. I've got other guitars loaded with passives. I like the standard ceramic Custom, but I'm not a fan of the Custom Custom or Custom 5, personally, but I do love the JB, the Distortion, and the Black Winter family. I've also gone through low output PAF's for high gain, but they're not my thing. Each to his own. I just kinda want a ballsy active sound for this guitar which will be setup in Drop C and be used to play In Flames-ish, AILD-ish kinda stuff.

    I also wouldn't mind trying the 89. I'm sure it would be a good match in the neck for the 85 in the bridge, but I think the safest bet would probably be the dual 85 combo since I've read the 89 is not dead-on 85-tone in humbucker mode.

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