MMCS – EMG’s active pickup for bass guitar – a review

The MMCS by EMG is another high quality pickup – this time for bass. The installation was even easier than when I put a pair of EMG HA pickups in my Ibanez Jet King. Those pickups required some soldering, but this one comes with quick connect parts, so it took about 20 minutes to put it in my Dimavery bass. I just needed to desolder the original wires and pull out the original pots. My output jack was already a stereo kind, which is what’s needed for the EMG.

EMG’s solderless installation

EMG made the MMCS pickup for the pro bass playerThe pickup comes in a rather large box, with plenty of foam surrounding it. I used part of that foam to support the pickup in the pickup cavity of the bass, so I can set the proper pickup height with the screws. Unfortunately, the original screws that the pickup came with were too short for my bass to get the MMCS as close to the strings as possible, without them hitting into it while fretted at the last fret. I needed to buy three longer (1-3/8″ – 35mm) screws. Whether you need these longer screws depends on your bass and your preferred action and pickup height. The box has two 25k potentiometers (one volume and one tone), an ¼” jack, some wires to connect the parts, the above mentioned screws, a battery buss, a 9V battery connector, and a pickup buss. The pots are solid shaft ones, so if your original knobs are for split shaft pots, you’ll need new knobs like I did. For my bass, I only needed the two pots, a few wires, the battery connector and the battery buss. I’ve found it a bit strange that in the manual, EMG recommends the MMCS to be run at 18V, yet they only put one battery connector in the package. Fortunately I still had another battery connector from one of the EMG HA package, so I could wire up a harness for 18V operation. It’s worth mentioning that the pickup worked properly with only 9V, only when a single battery gets drained a bit, you might run out of clean headroom – depending on your playing style (hard slappers, beware).

MMCS comes in Stingray size

The pickup itself is the exact size of a Music Man Stingray pickup, and the EMG MMCS has two side-by-side coils inside as well, only the cores are blades instead of separate pole pieces. The CS part of the MMCS means ceramic steel, so they are probably the steel blades inside the coils with the ceramic magnets placed under them.

Healthy low end – almost too much

The sound of the pickup is amazing – if you have fresh strings. In that case, you’ll get plenty of note definition, but with a healthy amount of lows. Crazy amounts of lows. The description about the thunderous low end is not an empty hype. The tone is modern and hi-fi style yet it’s very balanced in the midrange, without overwhelming or nasal sounding frequencies. And all that without any separate preamp or active on-board EQ, right in the usual near-bridge position. Unfortunately, it also means that once the jangle of the new strings is gone, you’ll end up with the big bass frequencies and not much else on top. So if you want more versatility out of a single MMCS pickup, you might want to check out the different EQs and preamps EMG and other companies offer.

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