EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (2023)

Electric guitar pickups are essential components that can significantly change the guitar's sound. Several manufacturers produce pickup trucks; two of the most popular are EMG vs. Seymour Duncan. When selecting the right pickup for their instrument, guitarists should take a few factors into consideration.

Both brands have been around for decades and have gained reputations for their exceptional sound quality.

Let's compare EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups and determine the most suitable option. We'll look at variables like tone, build quality, and price so you can make the right choice.

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (1)
Comparison table:

Characteristics -EMGSeymour Duncan
Frequency response:relatively flat responseIncreases bass and treble response
output level:medium-highmedium-high
Recommended for:Metal, Rock, CountryBlues, Jazz, Rock
Ease of Installation:EasyMore tech savvy
Construction:ceramic magnets andalnicoalnico magnets

EMG Detailed Discussion -

EMG pickups combine high output with a clear sound using Alnico magnets. An active preamp boosts the signal and delivers a distinctive sound, making them suitable for many music genres frommetalto jazz.

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (2)

Its tone is punchy and clear, and the pickups produce a consistent sound across the entire fretboard. While not everyone's favorite pickup, EMG pickups are worth considering for their versatility and reliability.

Things we liked/Pros:

  • EMG pickupsare known for their superior robustness, wide dynamic range and high output capability.
  • Its functional design allows for accurate sound reproduction even in the noisiest settings.
  • These pickups are ideal for recording and live performance due to their low noise levels.
  • It allows users to easily customize the sound to suit their own playing style.
  • EMG pickups offer exceptional performance, reliability and customization.

Things we didn't like/Cons:

  • Installing a battery pack in the guitar is a requirement for EMG pickups, making the setup process more complex and expensive.
  • The tonal range produced by EMG pickups is more restricted than traditional pickups.
  • Tuning and modifying EMG pickups is more complex than traditional pickups. Thus, they offer less versatility and more limited scope for customization.

Detailed discussion by Seymour Duncan -

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (3)

(Video) EMG 81 vs SEYMOUR DUNCAN NAZGUL - Active Passive Bridge Pickup Metal Tone Comparison / Review

Seymour Duncan pickups are renowned for their versatility and sonic range. Seymour Duncan has a solution for every musician, from single-coil andhumbuckerstacked with active pickups.

Also, they come at various price points, so users can find a pickup truck that suits their budget. As such, Seymour Duncan pickups are the premier choice for any guitarist looking to achieve a wide tonal range.

Things we liked/Pros:

  • Seymour Duncan pickups boast tonal versatility, making them popular with musicians.
  • It is famous for its high output and clarity, with a reputation for superior sound quality and craftsmanship.
  • This makes them ideal for capturing every nuance of an instrument's sound.
  • Players also benefit from a wide dynamic range and a balanced frequency response, catering to a variety of playing styles.
  • With Seymour Duncan pickups, players can access an incredibly versatile range of tones.

Things we didn't like/Cons:

  • The price of Seymour Duncan pickup trucks is high.
  • Sometimes their sound can be too aggressive for some music genres.
  • Pickups may require more adjustments to the tone knob and other controls to get a tone that best suits the player's style.
  • Seymour Duncan pickups are difficult to install and require some guitar wiring knowledge.

Difference between EMG Vs Seymour Duncan pickup:

1) Sound system –

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (4)

The sonic qualities of an electric guitar are determined by the strings, pickups and sound system employed. EMG pickups are famous for their functional design, which requires an external power supply to increase output and clarity compared to passive pickups.

Seymour Duncan pickups, on the other hand, offer a passive design that generates warm, mellow tones. With powerful amplifiers, EMG pickups provide maximum benefit from their highest output. For Seymour Duncan's warmer tones, pickups are advised to use low-power amplifiers.

2) Versatility of shades –

EMG's tonal versatility andSeymour Duncanpickups differs significantly. EMG pickups offer a wide range of tones, ranging from bright highs to deep, rumbling sounds suitable for heavier music genres. Its active circuits and built-in preamps further extend its tonal range and allow for easy tone manipulation.

Seymour Duncan pickups, on the other hand, provide a more formal, classic tone best suited for blues, classic rock, and country music. However, they lack the versatility of EMG pickups and don't offer the same level of tonal control.

(Video) DiMarzio Vs EMG Vs Seymour Duncan

3) Noise reduction capabilities –

EMG pickups are well known for their noise reduction capabilities due to their functional design. The 9V battery powering the pickups results in a stronger signal, effectively eliminating any unwanted noise or hum. Seymour Duncan pickups are passive, resulting in a weaker signal and greater susceptibility to interference.

Consequently, additional noise reduction equipment may be required to obtain optimal performance when using Seymour Duncan pickups.

4) Magnetic system –

The magnetic system is a significant aspect to consider during the selection process between EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups. EMG pickups are active and require a 9V battery, resulting in higher output than passive pickups.

On the other hand, Seymour Duncan pickups are passive and require no battery for power, producing a lower output than EMG pickups, which some players prefer for their preferred tone. Ensure the desired output and tone; Careful consideration must be made before deciding.

5) Output level -

Output levels must be considered when comparing EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups. A higher output level means the pickup can amplify the string signal more.

Seymour Duncan pickups have higher output levels than their EMG counterparts. Therefore, if a stronger and clearer sound is desired, Seymour Duncan is the most suitable option.

6) Durability –

Rugged construction makes EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups durable. With EMG pickups, you can expect aggressive delivery combined with robust components, resulting in a quality pickup built to last.

(Video) EMG vs Seymour Duncan! 4 Washburn Video!

Seymour Duncan pickups are also known for their dependable construction and reliability. Both pickups are designed to withstand regular use and should remain functional for a long time.

7) Ease of installation –

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better] (5)

Ease of installation is important when deciding between EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups. EMG pickups are known for their simple installation process, with no soldering required in most cases. A screwdriver and a few minutes are needed to install the pickup on the guitar.

On the other hand, Seymour Duncan pickups require soldering and may require technical proficiency to ensure proper installation.

8) Price –

EMG pickups are typically more expensive than Seymour Duncan's, though not by a significant margin. Both brands offer a wide price selection, allowing customers to select an option that suits their budget. This price discrepancy is due to EMG's incorporation of more advanced technology and materials into its pickup trucks, as opposed to Seymour Duncan's use of more advanced technology.traditional design.

However, both brands offer excellent quality products at all prices. So it's a matter of individual preference.

So which one should I choose?

EMG Vs Seymour Duncan pickups have their pros and cons. EMG pickups are more efficient, powerful and quiet, while Seymour Duncan pickups offer more versatility, character and dynamics.

(Video) Active vs Passive Pickups Comparison - EMG vs Seymour Duncan

Choosing which pickup is best depends on personal preference and the sound you want to achieve. Both pickups can help you create the sound you want, so it all comes down to your needs as a musician.

Common questions -

Question 1: Are EMG pickups any good?

Responder:EMG pickups are widely praised as some of the highest quality pickups available due to their wide tonal range, from bright, punchy highs to smooth, mellow lows. The fact that they are so durable and consistent makes them an ideal option for players of all backgrounds.

Question 2: Are EMGs better than humbuckers?

Responder:This is subjective. Some people prefer the sound of humbuckers, while others prefer the sound of EMGs. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference.

Question 3: What EMG pickups does Kirk Hammett use?

Responder:Kirk Hammett usaEMG 81and 60 active pickups.

(Video) Seymour Duncan INVADER SH-8 vs EMG 81 - Bridge Guitar Pickup Comparison Tone Demo

Last updated on Feb 20, 2023 byPerry Garner

Tag:EMG x Seymour Duncan


EMG Vs Seymour Duncan [Difference and Which is Better]? ›

Seymour Duncan pickups have a more vintage tone compared to EMG pickups which sound more modern. Seymour Duncan make a wide range of passive pickups and make a limited range of active pickups, whilst EMG specialise more in active pickups, and make fewer passive options.

Are EMG pickups better? ›

EMG pickups are best for heavy genres such as metal and hard rock. The reason is EMG 'active' pickups provide more output and gain than passive pickups. They are also thick and offer great string clarity and definition at high gain, hence, why they are notably popular with metal guitar players.

What is different about EMG pickup? ›

The EMG 60 and 85 are often used in the neck position. The EMG 85 has more low-end than the EMG 60, giving the 85 a warmer tone compared to the 60 which sounds more crisp and chimey tone. The EMG 85 is often used for heavy metal, whilst the EMG 60 is considered better for cleaner tones.

Which is better Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio humbuckers? ›

The Quick Answer. Seymour Duncan pickups usually have a more balanced tone and wider dynamic range than DiMarzio pickups. Seymour Duncan pickups are well known for their versatility, and many players prefer their vintage output tones. DiMarzio pickups are often associated with their high output and modern tones.

What makes Seymour Duncan pickups so good? ›

Seymour Duncan pickups have a clearer tone than Duncan Designed pickups, which can sound a bit muddy when using a lot of distortion. Duncan Designed pickups tend to have more low-end causing them to sound warmer than Seymour Duncan pickups.

What is the difference between JB EMG and Seymour Duncan? ›

This means that Seymour Duncan pickups tend to sound a bit more natural and modern whilst EMG pickups sound more modern and compressed. Although you can play a range of music styles with either brand's pickups, EMG are most commonly associated with heavy metal, whilst Seymour Duncan are slightly more versatile.

Why are EMG pickups popular? ›

EMG's products, for example, feature far less wire coils than most passive pickups. This means that their natural output is actually very low, resulting in a much quieter and almost noise-free sound.

Are EMG pickups better than humbuckers? ›

In the end, you get lower impedance and stronger output. The resulting tone comes with pronounced high-ends compared to regular humbuckers. Additionally, it also has much tighter bottom-ends, so it's not so creamy. There's also more sustain in your resulting tone.

What guitarists use EMG pickups? ›

Their active pickups are most popular among hard rock and metal artists such as Metallica, Slayer, Zakk Wylde, Sepultura, Judas Priest, Exodus, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, Death Angel, Cryptopsy, Malevolent Creation and Primus but also used by others such as Prince, Vince Gill, Kyle Sokol, Steve ...

How long do EMG pickups last? ›

How long do EMG pickups last? A typical 9V battery will last around 3000 hours in an active pickup before the voltage drops enough for the signal to cut out. If you have two active pickups in your guitar, you can expect this to drop to around 1500 hours.

Are Seymour Duncan pickups worth it? ›

Duncan's pickups are great pickups too, they're known and are pretty basic flavors for the most part. They do custom winds but Duncan custom shop pickups are expensive like any custom wound pickup.

What Humbucker did Eddie Van Halen use? ›

Eddie installed a PAF humbucker from his ES-335 and cannibalized the tremolo unit from his Strat. (The Floyd Rose unit was added later.) The pickup was installed at a slight angle to compensate for the differing string spacings of the Fender tremolo and the Gibson humbucker.

Did Eddie Van Halen use DiMarzio pickups? ›

The closest sounding pickups that DiMarzio offers to the Van Halen set are the Air Norton™ for the neck position and either the The Tone Zone® or the DiMarzio® AT-1™ for the bridge position. 2) The reddish color neck position single coil in Eddie's Frankenstrat is a DiMarzio Fat Strat, later renamed the FS-1™.

What pickups did Eric Clapton use? ›

Using the '56 Strat's alder body with its black lacquer finish and the one-piece maple neck with its hard “V” shape from a '57, Jones began piecing together Clapton's dream mongrel. The pickups were all standard Strat pickups; two were original from the mid-50s, and a third was from 1970.

Why is the Seymour Duncan JB so popular? ›

“Many of England's top guitarists sought out Seymour's JB model for their humbucker-equipped guitars [as a result of the success of Blow By Blow],” said Evan. “They found that the JB gave increased output (16.4kohms) without sounding harsh or dark like other high-output pickups of the mid-70s.

What makes expensive pickups better? ›

Expensive ones are usually built with better materials, more work and effort is evolved and the manufacturer has the higher skill and quality requirements. To someone who's either starting out or who's just not that familiar with different types of pickups, it might feel that they're too expensive.

Which is better EMG or Fishman pickups? ›

Generally, Fishman Fluence pickups sound a bit crisper and clearer than EMG pickups. EMG pickups tend to sound a bit warmer with more bass, but less treble and mid-range than Fluence's. This makes Fishman Fluence pickups very suitable for lead playing and EMG pickups well suited to rhythm guitar.

What EMG pickups did Metallica use? ›

Hetfield has been a major endorser of ESP guitars since the 1980s, and is best known for playing custom-made Explorer-style guitars with the EMG-81 inthe bridge and the EMG-60 in the neck and most recently collaborated with EMG founder Rob Turner on his signature EMG-JH Set.

What EMG pickups did Prince use? ›

Prince's guitar has EMG 85 in the bridge and EMG SA in the neck.

What are the benefits of EMG? ›

An EMG test helps find out if muscles are responding the right way to nerve signals. Nerve conduction studies help diagnose nerve damage or disease. When EMG tests and nerve conduction studies are done together, it helps providers tell if your symptoms are caused by a muscle disorder or a nerve problem.

How can I make my EMG pickups sound better? ›

If you find that the output level of your EMG pickup is too hot to get clean tones, the easiest fix is to reduce the gain on your amp (if it has pre-amp/master volume controls). If that doesn't do the trick, then try turning down the volume control on your guitar.

Do EMG pickups go bad? ›

Pretty much any pickup can go bad ... they can degauss, they can develop a short, or wires can come loose.

What's better two humbuckers or single coil? ›

Main Differences Between Humbucker vs Single Coil

Humbuckers have two coils which result in a thicker, deeper, and smoother sound, whereas Single Coils are brighter and crisper. Humbuckers are preferred by Jazz, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal guitarists, whereas Single Coils are preferred by surf and country guitarists.

Do I need to ground EMG pickups? ›

6) IMPORTANT: EMG Active pickups do not require a string ground wire! DO NOT Reconnect the string ground, it is unnecessary. Two Pickup Guitars with Selection switch: Guitars with two pickups and a selection switch will use the EMG B245 Pickup Buss.

Do EMG pickups work without batteries? ›

All of the active guitar and bass pickups EMG makes require a battery; the Select models are passive and don't need one. The active pre-amp, located in the pickup housing, is powered by this battery.

What pickups did Jimi Hendrix play? ›

Jimi Hendrix used Fender standard pickups in his Fender Stratocasters with slight alterations constantly made by Roger Mayer. This was until March of 1968 when Seymour Duncan gave Hendrix custom-wound pickups that Jimi would use for the rest of his career on his 1968 white Fender Stratocaster.

What EMG pickups does David Gilmour use? ›

David Gilmour is recognized the world over for his revolutionary and incomparable sound which he has used to great effect both with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist. When you hear the tones coming out of his red Strat® you are hearing him play his signature EMG Pro Series system, the EMG-DG20.

Do EMG pickups sound good clean? ›

Most output level setup of EMG pickups is too hot to get clean tones. I think it's neck pickup 81 or 85 for a heaver tone, 60 for a bright clean tone, 60A for a warm clean tone. You also have to lower the volume for it to sound truely clean. My recommendation however is to keep it hot!

Do expensive pickups sound better? ›

More expensive pickups are often better-quality pickups that provide better quality sound. However, there are tons of pickups today with big price differences. So, in some cases, more expensive pickups do not provide the sound you need as they are special pickups for some tonal qualities.

How often should you change guitar pickups? ›

The Quick Answer. Guitar pickups generally last around half a decade before the sound quality drops. Single coil pickups age slower than humbucker pickups. Active pickups have a higher output compared to passive pickups so tend to deteriorate the fastest.

Is it worth putting expensive pickups in a cheap guitar? ›

I have personally worked as a guitar tech on hundreds of guitars, and done many pickup installations. I can absolutely attest that a better pickup drastically improves the sound of any electric guitar, even a cheap one. That's why I recommend it.

What humbuckers did Jerry Garcia use? ›

Jerry Garcia's “Tiger” guitar, custom made for him by Doug Irwin of Irwin Guitars, featured an SDS-1™ pickup in the neck and the Dual Sound® humbucker in both the bridge and middle positions. Starting in 1982, he began using the Super 2™ in the bridge and middle positions while keeping the SDS-1™ in the neck.

What humbucker pickups did Kurt Cobain use? ›

While Cobain used other guitars, these DiMarzio humbuckers are most closely associated with Nirvana's sound. Cobain used the cream colored DP100 humbucker and PAF, which came with the Jaguar he originally purchased in 1991.

What humbuckers did Jimmy Page use? ›

Jimmy Page used various gear throughout his career, but two types of pickups stand out from the rest as they were the cores of his iconic tones. He used hand-wound '58 single-coil pickups in his Fender Telecaster and Gibson PAF Humbuckers in his Gibson Les Paul.

What pickups does ACDC use? ›

Its pickups have been swapped out with custom-wound, wax-potted Seymour Duncan humbuckers. Young uses Ernie Ball Slinky strings (. 009-. 042) and Fender Extra Heavy picks.

What pickups did Kurt Cobain have? ›

WHAT DIMARZIO PICKUPS DID KURT COBAIN USE? Kurt Cobain's 1965 Jaguar was purchased from the Recycler classifieds in 1991 and already had two double cream DiMarzio humbuckers installed when he bought it: a PAF® in the neck and a Super Distortion® in the bridge.

What pickups did dime use? ›

Dime preferred the warm, smooth power of a '59 bridge pickup in the neck position to balance with his signature bridge Dimebag pickup. It gave extra teeth to his solos.

What pickups did Van Halen use? ›

The closest sounding pickups that DiMarzio offers to the Van Halen set are the Air Norton™ for the neck position and either the The Tone Zone® or the DiMarzio® AT-1™ for the bridge position. 2) The reddish color neck position single coil in Eddie's Frankenstrat is a DiMarzio Fat Strat, later renamed the FS-1™.

What pickups does Van Halen use? ›

Eddie installed a PAF humbucker from his ES-335 and cannibalized the tremolo unit from his Strat. (The Floyd Rose unit was added later.) The pickup was installed at a slight angle to compensate for the differing string spacings of the Fender tremolo and the Gibson humbucker.


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