EMG HA – review of a great active electric guitar pickup

The HA pickup by EMG is the answer if you want a good quality Strat pickup in your humbucker equipped guitar. In this article I have been talking about why I chose the EMG HA pickups I use. Now I’m going to review them, giving you the opportunity to decide whether they – and EMG active pickups in general – are the right ones for you. Or not.

Easy to install

EMG HA - pickups for the professional guitaristFirst of all, the installation was pretty straightforward; each pickups came with two mounting screws, two springs, two 25k potentiometers with washers and nuts, a tone capacitor, a battery connector, wires with pickup connector on one end and spare wires. All I had to do is remove the old pickups from the pickup mounting rings, put the new ones in place, replace the tone and volume pot in my Ibanez Jet King with the ones came with the EMGs – they are necessary to make it work how it’s intended to – and solder everything together. For the battery, I cut a piece off the foam that covered the package in the box the pickups came in, wrapped it around the battery and held it together with a rubber band. Then I placed the battery in the control cavity. The entire installation took about 30 minutes.

No stratitis

The next thing I did was set up the pickup height. Going by EMG’s suggestion I raised them as close to the strings as possible, while I was pressing the strings down at the last (in my case 22nd) fret, to make sure the resonating strings won’t hit any of the pickups while I play.

When I was ready, I plugged in my trusty ZZYZX guitar cable (the jack plug switches the active circuit on as you plug it in your guitar, so no additional switches required) in my Ibanez, turned on my Roland Cube 30 amp with tone controls at 12 o’clock then played a little. I noticed immediately how much more clarity and nuances are present in the sound compared to the original PAF style Super 58 humbuckers I had in the guitar previously. But even compared to the regular single coil bridge pickup I have in my Squier Fat Telecaster, it was something both smoother, janglier yet fuller sounding at the same time. Even at high gains the EMGs retain great note definition while they offer a beautiful, throaty distortion texture. Of course if you want your sound to be closer to the standard, passive guitar tones, it’s possible too, but you may have to play with the controls both on your amp and your guitar and set them accordingly.

Noise is for n00bs

Needless to say the EMGs are practically noiseless, in every pickup switch position, even more so than any regular passive humbucker I played before. And you don’t have to worry about the length or the capacitance of your guitar cables either anymore.

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