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> The Emg 18 Volt Mod
Marcus Siepen
post Jan 2 2009, 06:55 PM
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Since I read about this mod for EMG pickups here in the forum I have been very curious, after all I have been using EMG pickups since almost 20 years now, and today I finally had the chance to test this mod with my main guitar, a Gibson Les Paul Custom, equiped with two EMG 81 pickups. If you have never heard about this mod, here is the story: EMG pickups are active pickups, normally they are powered with a 9 volt battery, this is how I used my pickups ever since I installed the first one. Those pickups are sold with one battery clip, and the manual also only talks about this one battery, but the specifications say that the pickups can be used with 9-27 volts. So obviously one fine day somebody had the idea to run his EMG's with 18 volts and he was blown away by the result, the net is full of reviews that say the sound opens up, is not as compressed anymore, you get more high end, more low end, more overall sound... So much for the theory.
Today I put together a little adapter that can connect two 9 volt batteries to my guitar and like this I ran the EMG's with 18 volts (all reviews say that adding a third battery, blowing the voltage up to 27 volt, doesn't really do much to the sound anymore, so I only focused on the 18 volt version). I recorded two little takes with the normal 9 volt setting, and then recorded the same stuff again with 18 volts, so you can see (or hear) about the difference yourself. About my impression... well, it changes the sound, yes. The clean sound really opens up a bit and is not as compressed, for the heavy sound I can't really see this effect happening. It also adds more high end, I didn't really hear more low end though, the overall volume doesn't really change either. I have to say that I didn't really like the 18 volt version, I definitely prefer the "original" with 9 volt, in my opinion it sounds warmer, the 18 volt make the sound more sterile for my taste. But as I said, there are the 4 recorded files so you can get an idea yourself, of course the only thing that changed for the recordings is the voltage, the sound settings in my guitar rig were the same. Let me know what you think about the 18 volt version, I will go back to 9 volt now wink.gif

Attached File(s)
Attached File  EMG_Clean_9_Volt.mp3 ( 891.67K ) Number of downloads: 6629
Attached File  EMG_Clean_18_Volt.mp3 ( 891.67K ) Number of downloads: 5945
Attached File  EMG_Heavy_9_Volt.mp3 ( 891.67K ) Number of downloads: 6745
Attached File  EMG_Heavy_18_Volt.mp3 ( 891.67K ) Number of downloads: 6431
 


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Toroso
post Jan 2 2009, 07:57 PM
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Hmmm I would say I prefer the 18 volt on the clean. It did seem more open.

However I think this same effect is not so great on the heavy clip.

my 2 biggrin.gif


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ZakkWylde
post Jan 2 2009, 08:02 PM
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That was AWESOME, but I'll stay with the 9 volts


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crazytrain101
post Jan 2 2009, 08:03 PM
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I agree with the heavy clip, it really doesn't make a difference. Thought the heavy clip does sound a little like "Children of the Grave" by Sabbath.
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MickeM
post Jan 2 2009, 09:27 PM
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Very hard to hear the difference but I prefer the 18V for both clean and distorted after concidering the 9V sounded more defined while the 18V sounded more phat. I also thought the hanging chords (starting at 13 sec into the heavy clip) had a tad more sustain.


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jer
post Jan 2 2009, 11:00 PM
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If I didnt know there was a difference I'd say they sound the same.

That tells me all I need to know.

Awesome that you shared this Marcus. I've been curious for some time too.

THANKS!!!!



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edguy
post Jan 2 2009, 11:09 PM
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Well I think they sound the same. In my opinion it's more an psychological effect. Like Tim Tailor you know

MORE POWER smile.gif Hugh Hugh hugh:)

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Berglmir
post Jan 2 2009, 11:10 PM
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Obviously I´m deaf - but the difference I hear does not make any difference at all! huh.gif
I´d stay with the original voltage!

Just my 2 Cents!

PS. Err....you DID use new batteries, didn´t you?! laugh.gif
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Barenaked Ninja
post Jan 2 2009, 11:20 PM
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Like the others I didn't really notice that much of a difference. But it's definately a cool concept.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 3 2009, 12:58 AM
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Thanks for this great review Marcus. It does sound a bit different, but there isn't a really big difference. I think with some EQing those differences can be almost eliminated.


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Outlaw2112
post Jan 3 2009, 01:09 AM
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I prefer the 18 volt mod sound.. I also added a mod to my 81/85 setup and i love it...try using pinch harmonics with the 18 volts compared to the 9 volts

I changed mine from 9 volts to 24 volts with a mod i bought off ebay


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skennington
post Jan 3 2009, 02:37 AM
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I bought the same mod as outlaw (24v) and on my 81/85 set, I must say, I prefer the 9v. I've only had a week or so to play with this mod but I'm starting to feel like going back to just the 9v battery.

I like the PH's that the mod gives but overall, just not as warm. I'm really missing the warm tone of the 85 in the neck position. Clean wise, I like the mod a bit better over the 9v but I'm not playing clean that often.. tongue.gif

I'm going to give it another week or so before I draw my final conclusion. Thanks for the samples Marcus. smile.gif


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Lian Gerbino
post Jan 3 2009, 05:10 PM
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awesome review Marcus, I have the EMG 81 on my guitar now, you´ll see it when my guitar turns to black tongue.gif this active pickup really blows me away, it´s perfect to play extreme music. pinch harmonics are easier than before. sustain´s longer than before, really, I´m in love with the EMG 81! biggrin.gif


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Outlaw2112
post Jan 3 2009, 05:20 PM
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The 81 is the only pickup i ever play through... I never switch to the 85
I love the way the 81 sounds in the bridge


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Marcus Siepen
post Jan 3 2009, 05:24 PM
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I agree, the sound difference is not huge, but it definitely is there. I have to say though that it is easier to hear the difference here on my Pro Tools setup, the conversion into mp3 might take away a bit of the difference. I just took a screenshot from my Pro Tools session, in the clean files you can see that the 18 Volt version is not as compressed as the original 9 volts one. Anyway, I will definitely stick to 9 volts, this is the sound that I love since almost 20 years and I am perfectly happy with it, no need to change for me wink.gif
@ Lian: the 81 rocks big time, there is no better pickup for high gain sounds in my opinion, at least I don't know any other pickup that gives you this punch and clearity no matter how much you blow up your amp smile.gif
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berko
post Jan 3 2009, 05:35 PM
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Awesome review Marcus! That LP custom sounds great anyway, but it was nice to learn more about this subject cool.gif


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Outlaw2112
post Jan 3 2009, 05:36 PM
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QUOTE (Marcus Siepen @ Jan 3 2009, 05:24 PM) *
I agree, the sound difference is not huge, but it definitely is there. I have to say though that it is easier to hear the difference here on my Pro Tools setup, the conversion into mp3 might take away a bit of the difference. I just took a screenshot from my Pro Tools session, in the clean files you can see that the 18 Volt version is not as compressed as the original 9 volts one. Anyway, I will definitely stick to 9 volts, this is the sound that I love since almost 20 years and I am perfectly happy with it, no need to change for me wink.gif
@ Lian: the 81 rocks big time, there is no better pickup for high gain sounds in my opinion, at least I don't know any other pickup that gives you this punch and clearity no matter how much you blow up your amp smile.gif

Marcus have you tried the seymour duncan jb/59 setup? I was wondering what that setup sounds like and if it is anything like the emgs


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Lian Gerbino
post Jan 3 2009, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE (Marcus Siepen @ Jan 3 2009, 01:24 PM) *
@ Lian: the 81 rocks big time, there is no better pickup for high gain sounds in my opinion, at least I don't know any other pickup that gives you this punch and clearity no matter how much you blow up your amp smile.gif



yeah man, thanks once again!
after read hundreds of reviews, I found all agree in one point: "want to play METAL get the EMG-81" laugh.gif


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Marcus Siepen
post Jan 4 2009, 12:03 PM
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Yes, I had the Jeff Beck model from Seymour Duncan in one of my Les Pauls, but I have to say that I didn' really like it. It is for sure a good pickup, but it just didn't deliver "my" sound, so it lasted only a couple of weeks. But as I said, it is definitely not a bad pickup, it is nothing like an EMG 81 though, you can't compare both pickups at all.


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jer
post Jan 4 2009, 02:32 PM
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I've been using 81's in most of my guitars for a while now too.

The only pickups that I have considered trying since are the Jon Schaffer Ice Buckers.


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