EMG J pups: 9 or 18 volt?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Chef, Nov 12, 2007.


  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Supporting Member

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    EMG J pups: 9 or 18 volt?
    Which way do you run, and what's the percieved diff if you've run both?

    thx; alan
  2. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

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    I've used EMG's since 1984, always 9 volt. I've A/B'd 9V to 18V and honestly could not hear a difference. Even with a dying 9V battery they seem to retain a good deal of headroom without tonal change, so I've always felt the extra batterry would be superfluous.

    That being said, I definitely hear a difference between 9V and 18V in my onboard Sadowsky preamp, both in the amount of headroom available and the degree of coloration it offers due to the single-ended Class A design with it's FET transistors. There are other on-board circuits that may also benefit from 18V, but that's usually due only to the increased headroom available. But as EMG's use opamps there is virtually no change in sound with varying voltage I can hear, until it becomes critically low, IMO/IME. (I personally use one master 9V battery for the EMG's and Sadowsky preamp.) IMHO, there is no reason to think that EMG's using 18V will sound like "EMG's on steroids" or louder, clearer, bassier, groovier, or [insert adverb here]. My recommendation is that unless you have additional on-board circuitry that requires or benefits from 18V, using 9V soley for the EMG's should be fine. :)
  3. Chef

    Chef Moderator Supporting Member

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    This is why I ask; from the emg spec sheet:
    1) Only one battery is required for the pickups,
    and any active accessories such as the BTC,
    BTS, BQC, VMC, B30, and B64 equalizers.
    Two batteries wired in series for 18 volts is
    recommended for bass to increase headroom
    and enhance performance.
  4. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

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    Right - that makes sense. IMO, if you're going to use any of these active accessories with the EMG pickups it's probably best to just run the pickups off 18V also so the two 9V batteries run down evenly at the exact same rate, where you could then be able to replace them as a pair. According to the fAQ's from EMG's website, this is OK to do:

    Can I use multiple batteries? Yes. If you've got room for multiple batteries in your guitar, you can use two batteries wired in series to power your onboard circuitry at 18 volts.
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  6. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass A.K.A. Pimp Lucius Supporting Member

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    I've been using a single 9V in my Kubicki (which has 35J p/us), and in my Guild Pilot 5 string. And when I get around to getting another 35J, my Peavey Foundation 5 string will have EMGs run with a single 9V. It sounds good, and works for what I'm doing.
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Supporting Member

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    As I read that tho, they're saying "use two batteries for accessories; and when using in a bass guitar application as this will increase performance and add headroom."

    Headroom is great for making low notes all phat and juicy...


  8. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

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    +1 The 18V for the accessories is essential for sufficient headroom, phat and juice :), while 9V is sufficient for just the pickups. The pickups are actually specified for up to 27V, so for the convenience of using a single power supply, and without concern of overpowering them, they can also be run off your accessories' 18V supply.
  9. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

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    Huh...interesting. I've got a Modulus with EMG J pickups that came stock with a single 9V. I later added the EMG BTC tone control, but did *not* change the battery setup. It works fine, never had any problems with limited headroom, distortion, compression, noise, etc.

    But it would be trivial to add a 2nd battery in series, so now you got me thinking...
  10. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    I've used EMG's from about 1985 until recently. In my bass with two Jazz pickups, that was 9 volts. My other basses had EMG-40 soaps of various styles, and BTC pres. I always ran those on 9V.

    I decided to upgrade the basses to 18V, and I immediately noticed the basses sounded less compressed than with 9V.

    I think it's more of an issue with the hotter output pickups like the DC.

    Currently I have my own active pickups in the same bass which still has the BTC, and I'm running on 9V.
  11. BruceWane

    BruceWane

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    I noticed a very subtle difference going from 9V to 18V. As David said, it seemed less compressed. Also the lowest notes seemed cleaner and clearer, especially the B string. Not a huge difference, but definitely noticeable.
  12. Chef

    Chef Moderator Supporting Member

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  13. Flaggus

    Flaggus

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    I've had EMG J's in a fretless fender CIJ Jazz at 9v and Warwick Corvette fretless at 18v. As mentioned, less compressed more dynamic and clear. Not super noticeable, but I'd run 18v every time.
  14. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    I had two EMG-J's in my Ibanez with a blend and the stock preamp. Sounded great.
  15. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

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    I'm probably the exception here, as I normally prefer a small amount of compression live as well as recorded. I acheive this using 9V power for my onboard electronics: EMG J's (attenuated 8 dB) fed into my onboard Sadowsky preamp. I then plug my bass into a DBX compressor set to a 2:1 ratio (live). Another man's poison is this man's meat! :D
  16. GabeN

    GabeN

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    Well, just keep your meat outta my bass!:p
  17. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

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    I guess I shouldn't take an old classic expression and try to say it backwards (or is that backwords??) :D
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    I don't get it. You all must have bat hearing. I tried 18v in my EMG basses and it lasted about a month. Made no difference whatsoever.
  19. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

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    I always use a compressor live. :) I also have an old MXR AC Limiter which is good for a lot of squash!
  20. James Simonson

    James Simonson Supporting Member

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    There is a difference. It is subtle. The 18 volts will give you a slightly less compressed wave file. I could easily see it. I noticed a slight increase in highs too. As if any of us need more highs from a set of emg's.

    A friend and I made a quick exchange harness and A/B'd several times. The 18 volts was just "more emg". By that I mean it was a little louder (or maybe less compressed), a little brighter. It was not a big change.

    Keep in mind, you start adding another battery, a badass, some chrome knobs, covers , a hipshot drop key, large leather strap with locks and you'll have a 14 lb. bass.
  21. joelb79

    joelb79 Supporting Member

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    THIS..

    I noticed that the pickups sounded compressed when run at 9v. Specifically "the pickups" were a standard EMG J-set. 18v was just better and both batteries fit under the control plate in my warmoth Jazz bass so it was no issue to change.

    I did the same on the EMG P, except I used 24v via 2)12v batteries wired to a 9v clip. Again same effect. Less compression.

    Not that the tone was way different, but more dynamic. Like taking a transparent compressor set at 1:1.5 and putting it at 1:1.

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