What, exactly, don't you like about EMG preamp?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by AndyPanda, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. (Edit: I'm asking about the onboard tone control preamp that I would add to a passive bass ---- I'm not asking about EMG pickups)

    Sorry if the title suggests a flame type thread - that isn't what I want here. I just don't have experience with other preamps - and I have two basses that already had EMG preamps at the time I bought the basses. I like them both just fine - but I notice whenever searching TB forum about preamps, I see a lot of hate for the EMG preamps and a lot of love for nearly everything else.

    My gut sense is that the EMG preamp is just neutral (doesn't add color) and just gives bass/treble boost/cut with some minimal ability to adjust the behavior via dip switches. In fact, I cannot hear a difference (compared to passive) when I switch the preamp in with tone controls centered - so that's why I say it seems neutral to me.

    And when I read discussions of other preamps, the Audere is described as not colored (so what is so much better about it than the EMG? It gets a lot of love and the EMG gets a lot of hate). Sadowsky preamp is described as having a unique color that you either love or hate - that it does just exactly what is needed to sit perfectly in the mix. And so on

    One of my basses is a P-J with EMG active pickups and the BTC with volume, stacked bass/treble and blend ... no ability to bypass since the pickups are active. I'm running it 24volts :) just because I can. I'm using two A23 batteries so the battery pack is smaller than a single 9v and the specs say it can handle 24v fine. Can I hear a difference? No but I run it that way anyway.

    The second bass is a P-P with passive pickups and the BTC with separate Bass/Treble knobs. It has 3 position switch instead of blend and active/passive true bypass (so you can still play even with a dead battery) and a passive tone control that works in both active and passive mode. I'm just running this one 9v at the moment.

    Anyway --- I'm happy with both of them (and of course, if it ain't broke ...) but I am still very curious what it is that people don't like about EMG and what I might get by trying an Aguilar or Audere or some other preamp.

    thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Nothing! I absolutely love the EMG 40Ps and BTC that came stock on my Modulus Quantum and have never entertained replacing them.

    ...just wanted to reinforce that like you, not everyone hates EMGs! :woot:
  3. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    I haven't noticed real hate for those preamps, and I post here on this forum a fair amount.

    I owned an EMG BQC preamp for 8 years and quite liked it! Being able to adjust the frequency center of the mid control (semi-parametric) was awesome. ^^
    denverbarnes, wcriley and AndyPanda like this.
  4. I have been tempted to add the adjustable mid - one of the basses has an unused knob and a stacked mid/Q would be nice to have.
    El-Bob and 4StringTheorist like this.
  5. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know where you see that EMG preamps get a lot of hate. I haven't seen a single person actually hate on EMG preamps. If anyone hates on EMG stuff, it's usually the pickups, not the preamps, which are pretty well regarded and very well priced. As you mentioned, I find them to be very neutral, almost like they're not there when centered.
    El-Bob and AndyPanda like this.
  6. Maybe I just manage to stumble onto the wrong threads? I use the search quite a bit and dig through old threads and it seems to me that when someone asks about a pre-amp there are a lot of responses saying "I don't like the EMG pre - you should get an Aguilar" (or Audere or Bartolini or anything else that sounds more "boutique" than EMG)
  7. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    I don't think there's a shred of boutique about Bartolini. That's like the one company that might be as mass market as EMG. :D
  8. yeah ... but it sounds boutique ... maybe if EMG had an "olini" it would sound more boutique :)
  9. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    I have one bass with active EMG's, a PJ setup with fretless neck. I think it sounds fine, but when I round up a few bucks I may go passive with it. It does need a rewire as someone in its history came up with an incomprehensible control scheme (I can't even figure out what it is supposed to be doing). They seem alright and I think the price for such an item is fair. They're obviously a 1 trick pony when it comes to voicing (you only get on or off, no other settings) so you are either into them or you are not. I don't have any problem with them, but I don't think I would ever order a set for a project either.

    For the record I don't get along with Barts either. :) I have a Lakland 5501 upgraded with all US Bart gear and again, when I get the budget for more bass stuff I'm going to throw in a set of Nordy big splits and possible a different preamp too. One thing at a time.
    Roberto Nunez likes this.
  10. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    The best recording I've ever done was with EMG active pickups, no additional preamp, board-in. Sounded *great*.

    fourtet102 and AndyPanda like this.
  11. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    More so, given all the builders that have used their pickups.

    But if someone gave me a PJ bass with stock p'up, I'd have zero hesitation in putting in some EMG actives.
    AndyPanda likes this.
  12. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    When the earth was cooling and everyone and their grandma WASN'T making pickups, the "boutique" market consisted of Bartolini, EMG, Dimarzio, and Seymour Duncan.
  13. Back in those days, I was working the repair shop at a large music store. Everyone was bringing in their vintage Fenders to have the stock pickups taken out and Dimarzio or EMG put in - and having the body routed for a Badass bridge (the original before BAII) - oh the horror. At one time I had a big box full of vintage Fender pickups and bridges (you couldn't give them away back then) - if only I still had them to put on ebay today.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    My BQC preamps are great and I have zero desire to replace them in my active basses. That said, I've gone back to fully passive with no preamp for the most part. And yes, I'm an EMG endorser, but I've been using EMG's since 1984 and only been an endorser for 3 years :D
    Roberto Nunez, physics and AndyPanda like this.
  15. MojoPenguin


    Jul 11, 2014
    Europe Bro'
    To be honest, my ear is not trained enough to make up the difference between preamps, other than big EQ shifts or noise floor, to me EMG is good. Cheers
    Holdsg and AndyPanda like this.
  16. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014

    Sounds legit!
  17. gully_jones

    gully_jones Stone cold groovy man Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2012
    Nothing but love for EMG here and the one time I had an issue their customer service was outstanding.
  18. someguyfromNC


    Jul 4, 2015
    Whats crazy is that I spent 15 years playing guitar and pretty much HATED active electronics. The EMG David Gilmour and the EMG Het Set are the only setups I could see myself using in the guitar world. And that is just for only a handful of songs.

    On bass... I LOVE actives. Stingray, EMG, Carvin, Fender... It's all good.
  19. WaynerBass

    WaynerBass Inactive Suspended

    Jan 12, 2016
    Southwest Florida
    Nothing, I find the EMG stuff sterile, non-musical and just to in your face volume wise.
    Ausbass1970 likes this.
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    "Non musical", what the heck does that mean? The bass goes out of tune, plays minor when it should play major, has random time delays throwing you out of the pocket?
    Marihino, zac2944, Honch and 5 others like this.
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