Why EMG?


EMG's are easy to install. Each pickup features EMG's own Quik-Connectâ„¢ header and mating cable for quick installation. Included with each pickup are pre-wired volume and tone controls, battery clip, output jack, and diagrams. All models are designed for direct replacement into most standard instruments. There are instances where "direct" replacement isn't possible, but a minimum of work should be required.


There is no other pickup built as well as an EMG. The coils are precision wound, matched both resistively and inductively, and finally, vacuum sealed. All internal preamplifiers are Surface Mount Technology (SMT) for quality and reliability. Each pickup is tested for audio quality and reliability before encapsulation and again before shipment.


The first choice in design is the string interface. The selection of a bar magnet or individual pole pieces is also an important one. All initial EMG designs use a bar magnet for two reasons - Pole pieces place too much magnetism under the strings and cause the lower ones (primarily low E, A, and D) to go "out of pitch" with a Doppler effect. This is especially true of the Fender Stratocasterâ„¢ where 3 poles under each of the strings push and pull them through a variety of unnatural movements. Poles can also make intonation and tuning difficult. On the other hand, pole pieces have the benefit of a percussive attack giving the pickup much more of a "plucky" sound. Designs featuring a bar magnet have a much more linear (balanced) output from string to string. Its attack is less pronounced than the pole piece design resulting in smoother distortion, and much better sustain. String bending is smoother because the output doesn't fade when you bend strings. By relying on the internal preamp for gain the bar magnet can also be smaller, further limiting the magnetic "pull" on the strings. And, the continuous magnetic field of the bar allows for any string spacing. Perfect for any multi stringed instrument, and the less conventional instrument.

Most EMG Pickups use a magnetic bar. Single coil pickups are available in both bar and pole-piece designs. There are fewer negative attributes to the bar and it's preferable, but if you like pole-pieces for your playing style then there is an EMG model for you.

Magnets +

It's not really necessary for a pickup to have a magnet at all, but it helps. The magnet acts as the juice for the signal flow. The shape and type of magnet used in each EMG Pickup is different. Ceramic magnets don't affect the inductance of the coil but have a much stronger magnetic field. Alnico material exhibits less magnetism yet greatly increases the inductance of the EMG design. Each has an affect on the resultant output and frequency response of the pickup. The addition of steel poles (either bar or screw/stud) increase the inductance of the pickup design and further change the results.


Tall and skinny, short and squat, long and wide, every EMG Pickup has two and they are the basis of each EMG. There are different types and sizes of magnet wire that can be used, combining their attributes with the shape of the coil has a tremendous affect on the tone. A long, skinny coil will have more resistance yielding less low frequency response, while a short, squat coil will have less resistance, and more inductance.

It's a balancing act to achieve the style of tone you want. In all cases, EMG Pickups have two coils. This is necessary for noise reduction, while providing the vehicle for the distinctive EMG tone. Coils are sometimes placed side by side, or stacked, but in both cases each coil is treated independently by the preamp. Instead of having the coils in series or parallel with a single output, they are electronically summed so their attributes can be controlled individually.


The preamplifier used inside each EMG Pickup is no ordinary preamp. Built directly into each pickup, the preamp is an integral part of the pickup design assuring quality of sound performance, incredible noise reduction, and simplicity in installation. It provides a variety of benefits for us as the designer and for you as the player. A natural by-product of the preamp is gain. It allows us to design a pickup for its particular tone without concern for the pickup's output. After the coils have been modeled, any amount of output needed is available from the preamp.

Tone Modeling +

One of the most important aspects governing the tone of a pickup is the resonant frequency. EMG Pickups use "Impedance Modeling" to manipulate the two coils. This innovation allows us to shape a mix of the reactive slope and resonance from each of the two coils. The idea is to achieve a complex mixture of each coils phase and frequency response resulting in a richer tone from the pickup. This means the sound is vibrantly alive with more harmonics than from conventional passive pickups. EMG Pickups like the EMG-S, EMG-SA, and the EMG-60 use this technique to its fullest, while the EMG-81 uses modeling in only a small way. Modeling might work well for a single coil pickup, but not for a design such as the EMG-ACS Acoustic Sound Hole Pickup. As each pickup design is approached differently, it all depends on the final result we're searching for.


Another benefit from the internal preamp is noise reduction. By integrating the preamp into the housing, all the elements of the pickup can be shielded. By matching the coils to a high degree, the low frequency hum and buzz are virtually eliminated. In addition, each EMG is housed in a composite cover cap that eliminates all other forms of interference. Most EMG Models have noise figures of better than -85dB, still other EMG Pickups achieve a noise figure that exceeds -100dB. All the internal components are fully vacuum-sealed and encapsulated in epoxy to prevent microphonic noise and to increase long-term reliability.


The low impedance output of the EMG internal preamp provides other great features. You can run a cable for up to 100 feet (30 meters) without losing high frequency response. You'll also be able to get the same tone with a wireless unit as you do with a cable. The tone of your instrument will remain consistent when you change the volume control as well. Not only can you plug directly into your favorite amp, you can go direct to tape preamp (especially for acoustic guitar recording) or direct to a mixing console input without a direct box. You can plug into any portable cassette recorder, or even your home stereo auxiliary input, and play your instrument with incredible results.


An instrument equipped with EMG Pickups requires power from a single 9 Volt battery. With two EMG Pickups installed, your instrument draws about 160 microamps of current. Even if you play eight hours a day, this small amount of current drain means that a battery will last up to a year. A single 9 Volt battery will power as many EMG Pickups and Accessory Circuits as you can fit in your guitar. Power to the pickups is turned off by unplugging the guitar cable from your instrument.



EMG has a history of making passive pickups that dates back to 1984 when we made passive pickups for the Steinberger G Series instruments. In addition, we have made the Select Series Pickups in Korea since 1985.

EMG has always been known as the "Active" Pickup company, so it was a tough decision to design and promote a passive pickup line. Music is created using tools and not everyone uses the same tools. Some players use a Strat, some a Les Paul. We still think the Active pickup is the best, but there are players out there who don't like our active pickups for one reason or another. In a manner of speaking, EMG is in the tool business, so why not supply some different tools to players?

After 25 years of creating pickups, we've learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn't. So, we've created the HZ Line and included features that other companies don't.


Just like EMG's Active Pickups the coil is the most important factor in a pickups construction. The balancing act of short and squat, tall and skinny, what style and amount of wire make all the difference. Overall, the coil in an EMG-HZ pickup is larger than that of an active pickup. The surface area under the strings is larger, yielding more output when combined with magnetism and steel. Humbucking models use side by side coils, while single coil models S1,S2,and S3 use stacked coils. The S4 on the other hand has side by side coils.

Magnetic DESIGN

The EMG-HZ Pickups use a variety of magnetic materials and in their construction. Alnico Magnets of two types (II and V), are used to increase the inductance of a pickup as well as add a mellower attack and longer sustain. Ceramic magnets are used to add even more output and give the pickup a more pronounced attack. Both pole piece models for a more percussive attack and bar magnet models with their linear response are available throughout the EMG-HZ Line. Steel, either as pole pieces are bars is also a major addition in passive pickup design, it allows the magnetic field to be directed to the strings while also adding inductance and output to the pickup.


Just by looking at EMG-HZ Pickups you can see they're made differently than any other passive pickup. Under EMG's distinctive cover cap, each HZ Pickup is fully shielded, and coils are vacuum sealed and then encapsulated preventing microphonics. In fact, EMG's HZ Pickups are probably the quietest passive pickup available. Models featuring either pole piece or bar magnet design are available and each with a variety of coil designs. Also, each EMG-HZ Pickup features EMG's exclusive 5-pin Quik Connector cable for easy pickup installation or exchange. By including all of these features and then adding over 25 years of EMG Active Pickup design, passive pickups can't get any better.


EMG-HZ Pickups are designed to be direct replacements for existing pickups. They will use the existing passive control set and switching, so there is no need to change the controls or switching. 500K Ohm controls are recommended for dual-coil models while 250K Ohm controls are recommended for single coil pickups. Guitars already fitted with Active EMG's will require the controls to be changed to these higher values. The 5 pin connector allows you to wire the guitar before installing the pickup, and lets you change pickups anytime you want easily, without soldering. A variety of installation diagrams are included with each pickup, so if you want to try something different, you can.