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EMG, Inc. is the current legal name of a company based in Santa Rosa, California that manufactures guitar pickups and EQ accessories. Among guitar and bass accessories, the company sells active pickups, such as the EMG 81, the EMG 85, the EMG 60, and the EMG 89 humbuckers, and also passive pickups such as the EMG-HZ Series, which include SRO-OC1's and SC Sets. There is also a series geared towards a more traditional and passive sound known as the X series.
Their active pickups are most popular among hard rock and metal artists such as Paradise Lost, Slayer, Metallica, Zakk Wylde, Rammstein, Judas Priest, and Primus but also used by others such as Prince, Vince Gill, Steve Winwood, Steve Lukather and David Gilmour.
The company was founded in 1976 by Rob Turner in Santa Rosa, California. It was originally called Dirtywork Studios, and their first pickup was the same as their current 2011 model of EMG H and EMG HA models. The active humbucking pickup EMG 58 followed soon after. The name was changed to "Overlend" (spelled "Overland" in some sources) in 1978. However, its products have always been called EMG pickups.
In 1981, EMG active pickups became standard equipment on Steinberger basses and guitars. According to Hap Kuffner, EMG pickups originally had widespread success in Europe, after first exhibiting at the 1983 Musikmesse tradeshow in Germany. The name was changed to EMG, Inc. in 1983 ("EMG" stands for "Electro-Magnetic Generator"). As Steinberger guitars became more popular among American metal and rock musicians, so did EMG pickups, and vice versa.
Early EMG pickup designs were made with a bar magnet inside for two reasons. The first reason is that the pole pieces had too much magnetism on the strings and could cause some lower notes to go out of pitch in a Doppler effect. The second reason is that the pole pieces can make tuning and placement of the strings much more difficult. Using the bar magnet however gave the strings a more balanced output. The design of the bar magnet gives it a smoother distortion, better sustain through the amplifier, and have less fade onto the strings than the design of pole pieces.
EMG pickups are standard equipment on some models from guitar manufacturers such as BC Rich, ESP, Schecter, Cort, Gibson, Dean, Ibanez, and Jackson Guitars. In addition to pickups, EMG Inc also has a line of guitar and bass accessories, mainly for altering equalization settings such as bass/treble and gain boosting, and designed to work with most pickups. These can be found in instruments made by companies such as Schecter, who ship almost all of their basses with EMG equalization circuitry.
Pickup product range
EMG Inc. has three distinct product ranges; the EMG Standard Series, HZ / SRO Series, and the EMG X-Series. These pickups are all featured on the official EMG Inc. website and include solderless wiring harnesses.
- Standard Series
The Standard Series consists of all their standard active guitar, bass, and acoustic pickups, including humbucking, single coil, and bass models for 4, 5, and 6 string basses. EMG active pickups (such as the EMG 60, EMG 81, EMG 85, and EMG 89) tend to have much higher output than passive pickups of similar design (such as the EMG HZ) because of the on-board preamplifier. The high output, noise-reduction and responsiveness of EMG active pickups has made them popular with hard rock and heavy metal guitarists because they overdrive the input stage of guitar amplifiers more dramatically than a lower output pickup could.
- HZ / SRO Series
The HZ / SRO Series is a variety of passive designs of humbucking and single coil pickups, as well as bass models for 4, 5, and 6 string basses. HZ pickups are commonly used in guitar and bass manufacturers as stock pickups.
The X series is an active product designed to bridge the gulf between passive and active tonalities. They are active but are voiced to sound more organic, with a more rounded signal response like the passives, while retaining the active qualities such as noise reduction and high output.
Musicians and bands who use or endorse EMG pickups include:
- Rardin, Kenny (June 2008). "EMG-81TW Active Humbucker". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- "EMG Artists Roster". EMG Pickups. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Carukpakorn, Joe (September 2010). "EMG: The Active Pickup Makers Celebrate 35 Years of Pioneering Tone". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Brosnac, Donald (1983). Guitar Electronics For Musicians. Omnibus Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7119-0232-9.
- "Company, History". EMG Pickups. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Tolinski, Brad (September 1994). "Welcome to the Machines". Guitar World. Retrieved 2011-07-29.