EMG, Inc first started manufacturing guitar pickups back in 1976, known as EMG pickups. Over the years they have earned the reputation for quality, clear sounding pickups used by many professional artists. ESP guitars and Jackson guitars currently use EMG pickups as their standard pickup design. Their high output is preferred by hard rock and heavy metal guitarists because of the pickups higher gain output as opposed to most lower output pickups. Some of the bands and artists who currently endorse EMG pickups are Tom Morrello, Zakk Wylde, Stephen Carpenter, Metallica, Slayer and many others
The most common EMG pickups are the EMG 81 and 85. The EMG 81 is usually considered to be the lead pickup and is more commonly used in the bridge position, while the EMG 85 is mainly used as a rhythm pickup more used in the neck position. In my opinion, for the Les Paul 6 string guitar the EMG 81 is best suited for distortion and the EMG 85 for clean tones. The EMG 85 in the neck position lacked the clarity of the bridge position EMG 81 when it came to distortion sounds.
Personally, I have had great success with using EMG pickups in a Gibson Les Paul and 7 string ESP guitar especially if you are into heavier sounding music. The clarity, deeper tone, and added gain are what make the pickups more suitable. One negative thing about the EMG active pickups is the need for a 9 volt battery, but it’s not much of a problem because the battery lasts for a long time. You just need to make sure you replace the battery at least every 6 months because of tone loss over time.
Installation for a set of EMG pickups is fairly easy depending on the type of guitar you have. With the right tools I was able to install a set of Zakk Wylde custom EMG’s in Gibson Les Paul in under an hour. As long as you follow the right installation diagrams for your type of guitar and have basic soldering skills you should not run into any problems.