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ya boi
ESP, Kemper, Marshall
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I've been driving myself mad in the past few weeks with tone. For the majority of the time I've played guitar I've used passives, primarily Duncans, but in the past two-ish years I've been acquiring guitars with EMGs and I gotta be real, I don't understand these things at all. I've noticed that on some amps, palm-mutes with EMGs sound kinda bad IMO.

A perfect demonstration of what I'm hearing is on the last Slayer album, here's an example:


Notice how the palm mutes seem to go like, "pluh pluh pluh", especially in the intro? It's almost like a wet sound. I can't really articulate it, but I HATE it. Nothing I do seems to be able to dial it out. It's especially noticeable on my JCM800, where the amp seems to accentuate them. You can hear it to a lesser extent on my JP2C and ENGL Savage, but they seem to generally be processed in a manner that mitigates it. The fact that King here also plays a JCM800 is enough to suggest that it's something endemic to the combo, but yet I've heard other bands use an EMG81 into an 800 (Blood In, Blood Out is the example off the top of my head) and sound super tight in the way that I sound when I run my Duncan-loaded guitars into these amps. I'm over here attempting to get that Exodus tightness yet am stuck firmly in Kerry King's Loose Land.

Basically I'm trying to prevent myself from tearing out the EMGs from these guitars and going back to all Duncans. They otherwise sound just fine and I'm also very lazy. Is there some method of getting these pickups to not sound like this or am I gonna be firing up Reverb here shortly?
 

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No, I didn't hear any "pluh pluh pluh" sound in the intro. And although that tone sounded like EMGs, I've heard passive pickups that sound pretty similar to that too. I've played active pickups for about 12 years now, and EMGs for... 10 or 11 years, I think (though right now my main pickups are Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers, although I still have a guitar with EMGs in them, and before that, my main pickups were Seymour Duncan Blackouts, though I had a much much much more expensive guitar with PAF7s in them, as well as EMGs and other pickups, of course).

My tone doesn't sound anything like the tone in that video you linked, but I think that has nothing to do with the pickups and more to do with how I EQ up things. :shrug: Not really sure what this "pluh pluh pluh" you're describing it.
 

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Guiterrorizer
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Try a variety of picks as it may be the attack.

I am fairly sure it's the similar thing to what I hear on a few emg-into-recto metalcore albums.
 

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ya boi
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, sorry, I haven't done a good job explaining what I'm talking about. I remembered it being more obvious in KK's tone. There's something unique in the attack of the palm mutes. Here's a SC clip I made where I compare my Snakebyte with an EMG81 vs. my DV8-R with a Duncan SH-5. Notice that sound in the attack? It seems to be unique to my EMG-loaded guitars and I cannot dial it out no matter what I do. It seems like I should be able to based on the wide variety of killer tones I've heard come from the 81, but they all seem to elude me.

Good tip, budda, BTW, about the picks. It didn't work but it was worth a try.

 

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So the EMG is the first one and the Duncan is the second? Yeah, I still don't hear this "pluh" sound you're talking about. The first and the second do sound different, but you're also playing the two clips completely different (much faster in the second with triplets and so on, while the first is slow with individual palm mutes). It'd be more effective to hear the difference if they were the same riffs at the same tempo played the same way. I mean, I could make recordings of my EMGs with no "pluh" sound (or post a song I wrote and recorded recently solely using a guitar with EMGs in it), but I'm not really sure what the "pluh" sound even is, plus there are millions of videos on YouTube of various EMG pickups being played with palm mutes (not to mention the ridiculous amount of metal albums recorded with EMGs), most which I assume don't have that sound. :shrug:

Hopefully someone with a better ear can come in and comment. If I had personally experienced what you're describing, then I could likely explain how to fix it, but I'm not even hearing it.
 

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Well, long road to get there, but EMG's are hot garbage :wub:
 

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Yeah, sorry, I haven't done a good job explaining what I'm talking about. I remembered it being more obvious in KK's tone. There's something unique in the attack of the palm mutes. Here's a SC clip I made where I compare my Snakebyte with an EMG81 vs. my DV8-R with a Duncan SH-5. Notice that sound in the attack? It seems to be unique to my EMG-loaded guitars and I cannot dial it out no matter what I do. It seems like I should be able to based on the wide variety of killer tones I've heard come from the 81, but they all seem to elude me.

Good tip, budda, BTW, about the picks. It didn't work but it was worth a try.

Can you specify which pickup is which in this clip and and what seconds it changes?

It sounds pretty much the same throughout the whole clip so I have no idea :lol:
 

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Can you specify which pickup is which in this clip and and what seconds it changes?

It sounds pretty much the same throughout the whole clip so I have no idea :lol:
The first half is the EMG's. They have that compressed, nasal thing going on as they completely fall apart when there's supposed to be a CHUNK coming from his right hand :wub:
 

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The first half is the EMG's. They have that compressed, nasal thing going on as they completely fall apart when there's supposed to be a CHUNK coming from his right hand :wub:
:scratch: Weren't you in a Metallica cover band? You do know that James Hetfield has used EMGs for pretty much his entire career? :scratch: (same with Kirk Hammett)

I don't get the people who hate on EMGs, especially when they praise the tone from tons of classic albums recorded with EMGs. I mean, Master of Puppets had both guitarists recording with EMG 81s.
 

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:scratch: Weren't you in a Metallica cover band? You do know that James Hetfield has used EMGs for pretty much his entire career? :scratch: (same with Kirk Hammett)

I don't get the people who hate on EMGs, especially when they praise the tone from tons of classic albums recorded with EMGs. I mean, Master of Puppets had both guitarists recording with EMG 81s.
EMGs In james hetfeilds hands = great. EMG's in my hands, badddddd
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
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I can hear what you mean, almost like a flamming of two notes together, it brings out the wet "chirp" of the amp, where as the passive sounds more solid and cohesive.

This isn't uncommon with Marshall-type amp circuits, and I've always heard it all over Slayer stuff, never liked it, it's the opposite of heavy. Makes the tone sound broken up, weak, and ratty. FWIW the same thing happens to certain amps when you use a clean boost. And I don't just mean a Tube Screamer with the drive all the way off. I mean an actually CLEAN clean boost, where it's just a db boost. The larger waveform hitting the amp brings out all kinds of nasty peaks in the pick attack. Essentially the same thing is happening with EMG's, since they've got such a big, clean output, albeit focused in one area of the frequency spectrum.
 

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I hear what you mean and I also got something similar on Passives... do you have any compressor on that? If so turn it off or maybe it's too much gain that you don't need with the EMGs
 

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ya boi
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm glad at least some of you are hearing what I'm describing. :rofl: For a second I thought I was going crazy. Yeah, it's like a chirp or something. It isn't solid and chunky like the Duncan. It sounds like it's falling apart, and despite being ostensibly higher-output actually sounds like it's lower-gain than the Duncan. It's way easier to hear on my 800, which this clip is of (I made sure to leave it unboosted to make the sound as obvious as possible), but yet I've heard dudes play 81s into Marshalls and not have this happen, so in theory I should be able to get rid of this sound.


This thread has shown me that some people just straight up don't notice it, and it honestly explains a lot for me. I suppose there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm incredibly picky about how my chugs sound and this drives me up the wall. :scream2:
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
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It all comes down to clipping. With the waveform being left largely unmolested by the 800's gain stages (as you obviously know all too well, it's not an amazingly gainy amp by any stretch) it's really apparent. If you were to clip the signal on the way in (an overdrive for example, even with the drive all the way off, still clips the guitar's signal pretty hard) it decapitates that peaky chirp and gives you a more solid feel.

It's why Nuno somehow negates that horrific chirp from the combination of an L500XL pickup into a Marshall amp. I had that exact combo at least once in the last few years and was inundated by that ice-picky chirp on the attack. Nuno's secret? Rat pedal out front. Always. No matter what amp. He had that pedal on, barely doing anything gain-wise, but just shaping the EQ of his guitar signal so it was thicker, with rolled off (or decapitated) highs.

It's definitely less apparent in Amercan style amps, vs Brit ones. This is why you have guys like Hetfield, whose main tone for decades now has been an 81 straight into the input of a Mesa. You don't hear it in his tone barely at all, even on albums like Load/Reload where he's using Triaxis and Rectifiers etc. without any kind of boost, just straight in the front.
 

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Does it also happen with the 85 (or whatever you have on the Neck)?

Have you tried swapping the Bridge / Neck pickups? Just curiosity... its EMGs so its an easy try out
 

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:scratch: Weren't you in a Metallica cover band? You do know that James Hetfield has used EMGs for pretty much his entire career? :scratch: (same with Kirk Hammett)

I don't get the people who hate on EMGs, especially when they praise the tone from tons of classic albums recorded with EMGs. I mean, Master of Puppets had both guitarists recording with EMG 81s.
Yep, and kinda this...
EMGs In james hetfeilds hands = great. EMG's in my hands, badddddd
To be fair, I never liked the 81 myself, and I had a 57/66 set installed in my LP for about 2 hours. I wanted to give EMG's another try, and while they actually sounded fine, I could really FEEL the difference in dynamics between what I was trying to do with my right hand, and what wasn't coming out of the speakers :lol:

Some people can make them sound great, no doubt.
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
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:scratch: Weren't you in a Metallica cover band? You do know that James Hetfield has used EMGs for pretty much his entire career? :scratch: (same with Kirk Hammett)

I don't get the people who hate on EMGs, especially when they praise the tone from tons of classic albums recorded with EMGs. I mean, Master of Puppets had both guitarists recording with EMG 81s.
Actually AJFA was their first album with EMGs. Puppets was a Jackson flying V with Duncan Invaders. Also Kirk never tracked a single rhythm track until Load/ReLoad.
 

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Garage Days too if we count EPs. And probably James' (and Jason's) best tones there too. You get that MoP amp sound, but that EMG chug.

 

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To be fair, I never liked the 81 myself, and I had a 57/66 set installed in my LP for about 2 hours. I wanted to give EMG's another try, and while they actually sounded fine, I could really FEEL the difference in dynamics between what I was trying to do with my right hand, and what wasn't coming out of the speakers :lol:

Some people can make them sound great, no doubt.
I see that as a "you problem" and not an "EMG problem." :lol: I mean, I could see saying "EMGs aren't for me," but if you like tons of albums that use EMGs and think they have great tone, then they're not "hot garbage." The reason I like active pickups over passive pickups isn't because I haven't played passive pickups. In fact, I didn't even own a guitar or bass with active pickups until about 10 years after I first started playing. And even after active pickups became my main thing, I kept buying guitars with passive pickups. And yeah, EMGs are popular for a reason. :lol:

Actually AJFA was their first album with EMGs. Puppets was a Jackson flying V with Duncan Invaders. Also Kirk never tracked a single rhythm track until Load/ReLoad.
I had been under the impression that Master of Puppets was a mix of EMG 81s and stock passive pickups, but either way, Metallica's tone is pretty strongly associated with EMGs and Mesas by this point. Good point about Kirk. I mentioned Kirk using EMGs not so much in a "and he doesn't have the pluh pluh pluh sound mentioned in this thread," but more of a "Leon seems to hate EMGs, but both James and Kirk use them and he seems to be a pretty big fan of their music and sound."
 

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Kirk was using EMGs well before James, but as Matt said, James would do all the rhythm tracking. I think he'd even track Kirk's rhythm parts with his rig? He didn't start using EMG until 1987 when recording Garage Days. Same rig as MoP, but you can hear the difference between the Invaders on MoP vs the EMGs on Garage Days.

Also I've had EMG-loaded guitars that all sound drastically different. It's probably the guitar giving that weird vibe.
 
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