Thursday, October 27, 2011

EMG-ZW Guitar Pickups Review


I’ve had a few Les Paul guitars with the EMG Zakk Wylde pickups and they were monstrous instruments. The good news is that you do not have to spend 3 or 4 thousand bucks for a Gibson Zakk Wylde Custom Shop Les Paul to get them.

For those of you who do not know of Zakk Wylde, he is a guitar god who got his major break as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist. He later played with Pride and Glory and is now the frontman and lead guitarist for Black Label Society. He has been a longtime user of active EMG pickups, and they sell a set in his preferred configuration, which includes an EMG-85 at the bridge and an EMG-81 at the neck.

The EMG-85 has a bit more output than the neck pickup, and uses two Alnico magnet coils. This pickup has a heavy low end that is not mushy while maintaining a loud high end that does not sound brittle or shrill. This makes it the ultimate rhythm pickup that loves distortion and overdrive but can still sound good when played clean.

The EMG-81 is a high-output ceramic magnet pickup, and is perfect for playing lead and soloing. It still has a fat tone up top, and has great sustain with no added noise to the signal. Together with the EMG-85 you have the perfect combination for most any rock or metal gig.

When you buy the kit from EMG, it includes everything you will need to rewire a Les Paul. This include the pickups, pots, cable, screws, springs, battery connector and jack. And best of all, no soldering is required, as the cables all have Quik-connect terminals.

After I sold my Zakk Wylde Custom Shop Les Paul, I installed a set of these pickups into an old Aria Les Paul to see if I could get the same tone. The installation was easy, and the end results were impressive. I ended up with a guitar that sounded exactly the same for 1/5 of what I got for the Gibson.

You can pick up the EMG-ZW pickup set from online retailers for around $199. They are a great value, and it is worth spending the extra money for a quality product that you do not have to pay a pro to install.


1 comment:

  1. You mean 81 at the bridge and 85 at the neck