How to Install Emg Pickups

Written by kevin krause
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Changing the pickups in your guitar can be a quick and inexpensive way to improve its tone. EMG offers a selection of high-quality replacement pickups for several guitar and bass models. Most of the pickups produced by EMG operate on active circuitry, requiring battery power but attaining a "hotter" output and a more searing tone. Which pickup is best for you depends on the type of music you play and the guitar the pickups will be installed in. Replacing the old pickups in your guitar can be completed in a few minutes with the right tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • EMG replacement pickup
  • Guitar
  • 9-volt battery
  • Soldering iron
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Gain access to your guitar's electronics by removing the pick guard or back cover. Note how the wiring is configured, finding the wire for the pickup output and ground. Drawing a simple diagram can be helpful.

  2. 2

    Unsolder the old pickup connections from the ground and volume pot. Note on your diagram where you disconnected these connections. You will need to wire your new pickup to these same points.

  3. 3

    Unscrew the old pickup from the guitar body and remove it, threading its wires out with it.

  4. 4

    Make sure your new EMG pickups will fit in the body of your guitar. If you have bought pickups sized correctly for your brand and model of guitar it should drop right in without need for modification. If you are wiring an active pickup in a guitar without active electronics you may need to carve out a battery compartment in the body of your guitar or install a battery holder in the electronics compartment if there is room.

  5. 5

    Thread the new pickup wiring through the body cavity to the electronics compartment. For EMG pickups, the white wire is the signal output and the metal braid is the ground for the signal and power. If your EMG pickup model features active electronics, there will also be a red power feed wire for the 9-volt power circuitry.

  6. 6

    Wire the output and ground wires to the same places where you unwired the old pickup and solder them into place. Solder the red power cable into the 9-volt power circuit and install the battery.

  7. 7

    Screw the new pickup into place.

  8. 8

    Connect the guitar to your amplifier, turn it on and play a few notes to make sure the pickup is working and not producing loud buzzing.

Tips and warnings

  • Selecting a pickup that is designed for use in your guitar model greatly increases the ease of installation and guarantees your new EMG pickup works properly.
  • Some EMG pickup models have additional wiring considerations. Consult the accompanying instructions or locate the manual on the EMG website to ensure proper installation.
  • Improperly grounding your new EMG pickup will result in your guitar producing a loud hum. Improperly wired active electronics could cause damage to your guitar's circuitry or even electrical shock. If you are at all unsure of how to wire your pickup or are having trouble getting the pickup to produce a clean sound, consult your local guitar technician.

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