A few months back I got a smoking deal on an old Fender PJ bass because the electronics were on the fritz and it sounded terrible. So I did what any self-respecting bass hack would do – I grabbed an EMG PJ pickup set and stuffed those puppies in. It was as easy as pie, and I got exactly the results I expected. These are two things that do not happen very often for me!
EMG has been around since Rob Turner founded it in 1976 in Santa Rosa, California. This company has done a lot better than the metric system, which was launched in the US right around the same time. Though they started out making guitar pickups, bass pickups followed shortly thereafter, and have been a staple in the low-end world ever since. Besides making awesome replacement parts, many manufacturers install them as standard equipment – most notably Gibson, Steinberger and Spector.
The pickups have a ceramic magnets, and the kit comes with pots, wiring, a battery connector and pretty good instructions. Everything is prewired and quick-connect connectors are used, so no soldering is required. It was a super-easy installation, particularly as I already had a control cavity to stuff the battery into.
This active pickup set sounds like all of the other EMG pickup I have had in a bass before. They are high fidelity with more bass than a passive pickup and it is clear as a bell with no hum. But the disadvantage is that they sound like EMG pickups so it they are rather sterile without a lot of character or warmth, so you had better like the sound to start with. Fortunately, I do! These pickups cut through a loud mix like nobody’s business, and the bass will definitely be heard, with the advantage of a consistent tone and volume across all frequency ranges.
This EMG P-J set is not super cheap, with a list price of $209 and a street price of $159, but you will certainly save some money by being able to install them yourself. If you like the tone, or just need more power and clarity, give one a try. What could go wrong?