Why love/hate relationship with EMG Jazz?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by hyoshim, May 23, 2004.

  1. hyoshim

    hyoshim Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Some likes it, even swear by, but some says it's lifeless. Why? Can anybody tell me why you love or hate EMG based on your actual experience?
  2. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    :meh: Keep in mind this is just my subjective opinion based on playing a friend's late 1970s Jazz with EMGs several times on gigs and jam sessions, and this was over 15 years ago. From what I can gather, EMGs still sound the same today.

    They have a tone which I would characterize as very clean and precise. Sterile and lacking mid-range warmth also comes to mind. They indeed have excellent highs, which combined with subdued mid range warmth, maybe the reason that many call the EMG tone sterile. I must also admit that I am admittedly biased toward the slightly warmer tone of Barts.

    All of that said, I must say that the EMGs cut through the live band mix extremely well for slapping, funk, and rock tunes. This opinion is based on my experience as a "listener" out in the audience at live performances.

    All in all, this is again a matter of "different strokes for different folks". EMGs are a quality product. I don't consider then inferior to other brands, they just sound different. and depending on your tastes, they might be exactly what your looking for.
    babaseen likes this.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I used to have barts in a cheap p-bass, and thewy just sounded too muddy and wooly in that bass. With a good ash or alder body, it probably would have sounded a ton better. But it was cheaper to switch pickups. So I got some EMG's. The mids are actually the strongest part of the bass, with lows being a very close second, and treble just a smidge under that. It does cut really well. I would expect the jazz pickups to sound a bit different, but I do like the ones I have, and the j's can't be too radically different.
  4. hyoshim

    hyoshim Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Thanks, guys! I currently have Warwick Corvette passive and considering a pickup switch to make it an active bass. Just don't know what to choose. I am looking for a tone that is bottom heavy with good mid-range emphasis.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    EMG's are well suited to certain situations. I had them in my Warwick Thumb 5, and they were the perfect match. Counteracted the dark wood nicely. But there's definitely that slightly sterile feel to them, although they cut through in the mix.
  6. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    good bottom and mids, you say? I'd suggest you consider the Seymour Duncan Basslines Hot pickups, or their Quarter Pounder models. A search of this forum will disclose many threads with users' comments and opinions.
  7. hyoshim

    hyoshim Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Los Angeles

    Thanks! I guess I'll do some more homework before I jump into anything.
  8. Fitobass


    May 6, 2004
    Rincon, PR
    MTD Kingston - Bassist
    I bought an used Fender Jazz bass (mexican 4 string) with EMG's with 18v wiring and the bass was warm and punchy. Nice full bottom end.
  9. I agree. I don't like actives in any application and that's just why. Passives give you a bigger, warmer sound that "breathes". It's a bit woodier, whereas actives too often sound like nails on a chalkboard.

    They sound their absolute worst when they're used by some teenage kid who doesn't know how to EQ properly. They can sound like aluminum foil if you're not careful.
  10. i've heard EMGs using 18V sound quite different than 9V. i think most people are familiar with the 9V sound, which cuts well, but is characteristically compressed and boingy sounding. 18V operation is said to be much more realistic with deep, smooth bottom and less clanky highs.

    i'm personally interested in both sounds, and have enjoyed quite a few different passive pickups, too.

  11. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    While I agree with what SMASH says about EMG J pickups in this application, that doesn't mean that all active pickups sound like this or that EMG J's are bad in every application. EMG's have an EQ pre-shape on them that gives them that sound, that's more the culprit for their sound than the fact that they're active.

    OTOH, EMG J's sound perfect in a Warwick Thumb bass. All the passive pickups I tried just didn't cut through in the mix. But I wouldn't dream of putting them in my Geddy Lee Jazz, although aI am curious what their JV pickups sound like. Like anything, the answer depends on the situation.
  12. Well said. That's very true.
  13. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I love the EMG J set. I installed them in an old pawn shop rejected Jazz I was given for my birthday. I wanted the bass to have a lot of articulation, the EMG's do this very well IMO.

    I have various EMG's in my basses, I'm very happy with how they sound.

    I also have Barts in some basses, they're a great pickup too. The pawn-shop jazz now has DiMarzio Model-J's, the EMG's were swapped into a Warmoth J-style fretless.

    Different strokes, I personally like to have different options soundwise, I'm not either 'for' or 'against' any of the brands of quality pickups, if they sound good, I like 'em!
  14. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    For What It's Worth:

    Some pups in particular are not my taste but I don't think they are any manufacturer's pups I avoid. Active EMG's I've had are, in general, quiet with a hi-fi character - and so are Barts (or any other active pickup set I've had for that matter).

    But I recently stuck a single LJ5 in a bass in mid position and was a bit shocked at how warm and vintage sounding the tone was. That same pup I've had in a PJ set in another bass for over two years and would never have guessed it to be an EMG, let alone the same pup. Somebody mentioned the Fender with EMGs that was warm sounding and I wouldn't have been able to relate to that less this experience.

    What you stick a pup in, what you play it through, how you play, and what you play it to, can change everything. But as a rule, I wouldn't go looking for a warm, vintage tone out of an active EMG.

    Also, I haven't been able to tell any difference in tone between 9v and 18v systems either - definite difference in hassle and space tho.
  15. I have EMG Jazz bass pickups in my Custom 8 string basses and they kick ass! I play them on the new CHASTAIN CD that will be out 8-12-04. The bass tone on the CD is pretty awesome, especially the 3 songs that are tuned to low C.... BEYOND SICK!!!!!!!!!! :spit:

    Dave Starr: Bassist with CHASTAIN & Vicious Rumors
  16. I will agree with the extra cleanness of EMG's.

    A friend of mine(who has/is/had built me two basses already) has EMG's in his Jazz, and at gigs, his tone is very bottom heavy with clear highs, but no mid range growl.

    It needs that extra mid oompfh in the EMG's tone.
  17. Don't_Fret

    Don't_Fret Justin Schornstein

    Dec 10, 2003
    East Coast, US
    Hub from the Roots plays a Jazz with EMGs.

    Just thought I'd add this. :ninja:
  18. SMASH:
    Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I play with David Chastain. Our new CHASTAIN CD "In an Outrage" will be out 8-12-04. Some of the stuff was a bit hard to pull off with the 8 string bass, but I got through it OK. Many of the riffs were a bit frantic and I thought I would have to fall back to a 4 or 5 string but I stuck it out and passed the test!
    This is Kate French's 3rd CD as the lead vocalist.
    We may tour Japan for this CD. We got a major deal with EMI there, and they are having us film a video for Japanese MTV. :hyper:


    Dave Starr: Bassist with CHASTAIN & Vicious Rumors