The classic Active vs. Passive pickup High Gain Shootout. (EMG vs. SD)

The Boogie Board

Help Support The Boogie Board:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Jun 3, 2023
Reaction score
Hey all!

I went and put a set of EMG81s into my Explorer. I'm a tragic Hetfield fanboy and I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not.

Also, I like all of my guitars to have a dedicated, obvious purpose. I've got one guitar with single coils, one with P90s, my Les Paul with passive buckers, and now I've got my Explorer with the "classic" EMG Actives.

After dropping them in, I was really surprised at how big the difference between the active and the passive pickups were! Obviously there were going to be differences but I was surprised at how big the differences were. I was also surprised that some amps seem to LOVE EMGs, while other amps kinda hate them.

Basically, in the realm of High Gain, both passives and actives very much have their own place and it's very clearly not a case of <X> is better than <Y>

So I recorded the same bit of music with my JBs and my EMGs, reamped it through 5 different amps to see what works better where and with what. I figured guitar nerds online would find the results interesting so I put together a video about it for everybody to argue about

So here's the long-form video with me talking about each amp and where I liked the EMGs or the Passives:

However if you don't give a **** what I have to say (Which is fair!) and just want the shootout, here's that video:


Also, as I said. I'm the world's most tragic Metallica fanboy. I had a set of EMGs. So did I spend an entire day recording Metallica riffs in sheer fanboy joy? Abso****inglutely. With nothing but joy and zero shame. So here's the Metallica riffs I had fun recording for no other reason than it gave me joy.

Anyways, let me know what you think! EMGs your thing? Passives your thing? Tell me how wrong I am.

Latest posts