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Axemusica's avatar

EMG's & the 18v mod, does it improve output?

Asked by Axemusica (9397 points ) September 7th, 2009

I’ve been intrigued by the idea since I stumbled upon a demonstration on www.youtube.com . The sound quality wasn’t that great, but there is a lot of topics about it if you google it.
For those who are confused…. EMG’s are guitar pickups that are pre-amped at 9volts, for some extra umpht. The people that “have done the mod” say it increases dynamics and larger headroom. EMG says, the pre-amp circuits are capable of 27v, but only recommend going up to 18v. So, has anyone done it?

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10 Answers

sandystrachan's avatar

I have EMG’s fitted with a pre-amp . It boosts the sound but not very noticeable in distortion , i also have EMG passive and think the passives give better tonal range . I wish my pre-amp made a huge difference , it makes notes sustain for longer but thats about it . Your link is just to youtube , not a video oof the demo . my EMG’s run off a 9volt battery

Axemusica's avatar

You misunderstood. I was referring to the active EMG’s. This mod is supposed to increase that tonal range and create headroom more like a passive pickup. By replacing the 1 9v with 2 in series giving the pre-amp circuitry an 18v supply. I’m going to try the mod, but I’m just looking for anyone who’s actually done it, or that has a decent demo to see if there is a difference.

sandystrachan's avatar

I should have added : My guitars are the Kerry King B . C. rich signature models through a line 6 150 watt stack
I have two EMG fitted guitar , one passive ( no pre-amp ) one 81 – 85 active with the PA2 pre amp . Is it really worth doing such a mod to a guitar ? Instead of doing the 18volt mod , why not buy Fernandes instead .

sandystrachan's avatar

Direct quote from a forum about the 18volt mod ” I run my EMG’s at 18 volts. It doesn’t seem to give you any more gain as much as it seems to open up the sound of the EMG’s more. More dynamic range I guess. Not as compressed sounding. I haven’t made up my mind whether I like it or not, I may go back to 9 volt. You can run 2–9 volts in parallel (still at 9 volts) and the batteries will last twice as long. ”

Axemusica's avatar

@sandystrachan that’s what I’m trying to find out. I’ve heard some say that it gives the effect of the PA2, I’ve heard some say it’s more like the EMG afterburner, some say both, some say it’s not noticeable. I myself feel as though it would be noticeable. I have a Dean with passives, 2 ESP’s, 1 with 85 (neck) and 81(bridge) and one with HZ(passive neck) and 81(bridge). I can definitely tell the difference between the passive and the 81 on the one, but I’d still like to see how it does effect it.

Yea I’ve read that before. I’m probably just going to end up doing it and seeing. You know the Livewires (the Duncuns Blackouts) are at 18v, in which I heard are very active.

sandystrachan's avatar

From another thread , this time a how-to ” The 18 volt modification is pretty common among bass players, as it offers more dynamic range and greater headroom, reducing the amount of built-in compression that the EMG preamp performs in 9 volt operation ”

It looks easy enough to perform , as long as you have the room for more batteries and can solder a little . I might see about giving it a try if i can be bothered faffing around inside the body work again

Axemusica's avatar

@sandystrachan think of it this way. All you need to solder is 3 9v connectors in series. Then you can just attach 1 connection to the existing and then the 2 batteries. I’m planning to do this, as it’s easily reversible. Easy as, unplug the series and reconnecting the single.

sandystrachan's avatar

Sound clip , EMG 9volt vs EMG 18 volt . Maybe its my speakers but at about 1 minute mark i hear a trade mark sound of bad connections—maybe it’s his guitar hasn’t been soldered correctly , or maybe its a known problem with bumpin the voltage

Axemusica's avatar

Yea, that wasn’t a very good demo. The reason why I haven’t done it yet, is because, I planned to do a how to video on youtube.com also doing a sidebyside comparison, I.E. Playing the exact same thing, in each switch position right after each other. I.E. riff on neck postion, cut to riff on neck postion under 18v, riff on both postion, cut to riff on both under 18v, and ect….

…but yea I did hear the lose jack sound, but it also sounded like he did some studio effects since there was stereo effects.

Axemusica's avatar

Ok, so I didn’t get to make the youtube video, but I just did the 18v mod and I think there is a difference. Slight, but it sounds as though it has the headroom of a passive and the clarity of an active. The cut seems like it’s better too. I’m not sure if I’m have a placebo effect, but to double check I’m going to be trying it on a triple rectifier Mesa sunday. I should have my assessment then.

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