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EMG + Darkglass Tone Capsule distorting: easiest/best way to avoid this?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Rimantas B., Jul 21, 2021.

  1. Hi all!
    So I finally got my custom 6-string fan-fret beast. It has EMG active pickups (because I wanted low noise that would still be quiet after a nasty distortion pedal) and a Darkglass Tone Capsule (because I like the frequencies of the EQ on it).

    Now, it is all good and well, but the signal is simply too strong.
    Even with an 18V power supply (yes, fresh batteries), there is obvious distortion/clipping when I dig in hard.
    I am fairly sure this is happening between the pickups and the preamp, as it seems to go away if I turn the volume pots down (the volume pots are between the pups and the preamp).

    Given that a volume pot works sufficiently well to correct this, I could just use it with the volume pots turned down, but this is, of course, highly indesirable, as the output level of the bass would not be quite exactly reproducible between playing sessions.

    Any bright ideas? I am thinking of adding an extra resistive divider between the volume pots and the preamp. Or, perhaps, wiring an extra resistor to the volume pots so that at maximum setting, the pot does not give the whole signal to the pre, but only, say, half. Sadly, this would probably mess up the EMG solderless system, but what can you do.
    Am I missing some other great option? The best way would be to lower the gain on the EMG internal preamps, but I guess this is not possible...
  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Have you tried lowering the pickups? That will cut output without the complexity of wiring changes.

    Otherwise I would proceed with your idea of hard wiring a resistor divider around the pot that mimic'd the volume knob setting you liked.
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Which EMGs? The DC and CS soapbars have a ton of output; the J soapbar significantly less. The X series version of these have even more output than their non-X versions, according to EMG's own documentation.
  4. Yes, lowering the pickups does help. However, there’s only so much I can screw them in, and there’s still way too much output.

    Guess I’ll just have to add the resistors…
  5. Yeah, one is a P, the other is a DC. The megahigh output of the DC is slightly compensated by putting the DC in the bridge position (placed to mimic the Stingray position), where the signal is generally lower anyways.
    Still, there’s way too much of it…
    At least I have the “classic” versions, so I don’t have to deal with the still higher outputs of the Xs.

    I certainly like the tones, but is there even a real benefit to having _such_ high output from pickups?.. I understand fully the benefits of low output impedance, but so far the signal level seems to be more a hassle than a benefit (besides clipping at the preamp, they also clip at the inputs of effects and amps…)
  6. Ok, so here's the solution I've come to. Seems to be OK for now:

    - remove the EMG P pickup, replace with EMG J pickup - slightly lower output
    - I actually have 4 pickup possitions in the bass. Placed EMG DC, which has the highest output, in the "bridge-most" position instead of the previous "second bridge-most". Besides lowering the output, this also has a nice property of making harmonics louder - I use natural harmonics a lot, and it's always a struggle to make sure they are audible
    - Lower the DC pickup a lot to balance it with the J pickup.
    The EMG J pickup has rather low output (compared to the other EMGs anyway...), so I didn't even need to screw it down that far.

    At least one good thing I'm getting from the how pickups is that I can lower the pickup very much for the bass strings and still get high output, while keeping the treble side of the pickup pretty high to give more volume to the treble strings.

    Hope this experience may be useful to someone sometime later!
    ctmullins likes this.