Many people are dissapointed in me because I have some very nice vintage Jazz Basses and I load them with EMG pickups. The pureists say that nothing sounds as good as the originals, but I think it’s pearsonal taste. I understand the argument and agree with some of points. If you want the vintage sound that you hear on a lot of old recordings, you should have the stock pickups. The types of gigs that I do require a variety of sounds. I may be playing Jazz and Funk one night and Latin the next. I need a modern, versatile sound. I also need pickups that are very quiet for recording. The studios today are very demanding on your sound and most people don’t like a lot of noise out of your pickups. Fortuatly I am able to have a variety of basses and I always keep one totally stock for those people who insist on the old vintage sound. Many of you don’t have the luxary of having several basses. If I only had one bass, I would have EMG pickups in it.

pickupWhat do I like about them? Well, I feel they have the best Slap sound out there. Very even sounding and they really cut through the band without having the highs or lows jump out and drown out the other. I also like the fact that they don’t color the sound of my vintage instrument. They put out about twice the volume of stock Fender pickups and have less noise. Since EMG pickups are active (meaning they have a battery and are powered) they have more punch. The battery life is excellent. They easily last a year or more. Getting a great sound is easy for me. I just run both pickups all the way up and adjust the tone knob slightly depending on the room. Nice and simple. I don’t want to be messing with a lot of knobs and switches. If I need that Jaco finger sound, I just back a little off the neck pickup and there it is. I don’t like a lot of variables. I just want the natural sound of the instrument to come through. By far the best thing about EMG pickups is that you DO NOT have to do and routing of the bass. The pickups are direct replacements and the battery fits snugly into the control cavity under the pots. I would never cut into a vintage instrument to put different pickups in.

Since I have so much good to say about EMG pickups, I should also mention my only complaint. That would be that they lack a little low end. Nothing that a little EQ on the amp can’t fix, but I would like them to have a bit fatter low end response. For that reason I have one Jazz Bass that I don’t use EMG pickups in. That would be my fretless. That is the only bass where I use Bartolini pickups. The reason is simple they have more low end, a lot more.

Remember that all basses are different. My Jazz basses all sound different. You should use what’s best for you. I just wanted to share my experiences with you having tried all the major brands on pickups.


Sweeping harmonic overtones and clarity, the EMG-J has a full bodied sound that adds new dimensions to your bass playing. Whether you play fretted or fretless bass, you'll get incredible sound yet retain that traditional tone. The original Fender Jazz Bass* pickup is a long, tall, thin pickup. That's why it has such a distinctive tone. The winding length of the coil is about 6 inches per turn resulting in a pickup that has a high DC resistance compared to its inductance. Its aperture is small for long wavelengths so there's less low frequency punch and an accentuated mid-range howl. The EMG-J Pickups on the other hand, have a very low ratio of resistance to inductance that increases the low frequency response yet the EMG-J still maintains the narrow aperture for that typical Jazz Bass tone. Instead of the side by side Pole pieces the EMG-J uses a single-pole crescent shaped magnetic field to complement the radiused fingerboard. The result is a balanced output across the strings, and a linear attack from note to note. In addition to its standard four string capability, the EMG-J allows adaptation to use five strings.

Recommended maximum overall string width, however, is 2.75 inches (70 mm). The EMG-J comes complete with a prewired harness including dual volume controls, master tone control, output jack, battery clip and pickup adjustment screws. Also available as a separate unit is the EMG-LJ, which is the longer of the two pickups in the EMG-J Set and is usually located in the bridge position.


Logo Color: Silver
Resonant Frequency (Khz) 4.8
RMS Output Voltage .8
Peak Output Voltage 1.1
Output Noise (dBV) -91
Output Impedance (Kohm) 10
Current @ 9V (Microamps) 80
Battery Life (Hours) 3000
Length Inches (mm)
Neck 3.61 ( 92)
Bridge 3.71 (94)







Anthony Vitti
Berklee College of Music