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EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set  Black

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With scorching riffs and remarkable stage presence, Zakk Wylde has earned his reputation as heavy metal's premier lead guitarist. From Ozzy Osbourne,...Click To Read More About This Product

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OVERVIEW

Professional upgrade pickups.

With scorching riffs and remarkable stage presence, Zakk Wylde has earned his reputation as heavy metal's premier lead guitarist. From Ozzy Osbourne, Pride and Glory, and now Black Label Society, Zakk has always used EMG active pickups. The Zakk Wylde model features the EMG-85 and EMG-81, as used on his signature bull's-eye Les Paul guitar. Installation is literally a snap-it's solderless, just use the included Quck-connect cables.

EMG-85
Although the EMG-85 pickup has more measurable output than the 81, its frequency response and string interface are different. The 85 uses two Alnico magnet-loaded coils with a wide aperture to maintain a beefy low end and a fatter top end. Because of a more natural tone, it works great as a rhythm and blues pickup because it has loads of output but isn't muddy. It's a perfect choice as a rhythm pickup in combination with an 81 in the bridge.

The midrange has great definition and doesn't get foggy or muddy in the rhythm position. The EMG-85 works best if you like the natural distortion that comes from overdriving the front end of your amp. Under any condition, the humbucker responds accurately to your technique.

EMG-81
The EMG-81 pickup is a high-output pickup designed especially for the lead guitarist. The 81 is at its best for high volume overdrive and amps with a master volume. Whether you're playing power rock 'n' roll, or overdriving your amp, there's a razor sharp attack, and incredible sustain for brilliant soloing. If you're looking for exceptional qualities in a rock pickup, the EMG-81 is the one.

Distortion during lead passages is consistent, sustain is long and the breakup fades smoothly. The ceramic magnet in combination with wide aperture steel poles lend a quick attack but the tone stays nice and fat at the same time. Perfect if you're the only guitarist in the band, and need to switch from rhythm to lead and still keep the band moving. Another great thing about the EMG-81 humbucker is it's quiet. If you're playing at really high gain the last thing you need is noise.

FEATURES
  • Package includes:
  • 2 Pickup Quik-connect cables
  • 1 Output Jack Quik-connect cable
  • 1 Output Jack
  • 4 interconnect Quik-connect cables
  • 1 Battery Quik-connect cable
  • 1 B152 Input/Output Buss
  • 2 ea. Long Shaft Volume & Tone controls
  • 1 ea. Shrink tubing (1 red / 1 black)
  • 2 sets of screws and springs

Give your sound a Wylde boost. Order today!

SPECIFICATIONS

ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set

  • EMG-85
    Resonant Frequency: 2.45
    Magnet Type: Alnico
    Output Voltage (String): 2.1
    Output Voltage (Strum): 4.5
    Output Noise @ 60Hz: -89 dBV
    Output Impedance: 10 kOhms

    EMG-81
    Resonant Frequency (kHz): 2.00
    Magnet Type: Ceramic/steel
    Output Voltage (String): 2.0
    Output Voltage (Strum): 4.5
    Output Noise @ 60Hz: -91 dBV
    Output Impedance: 10 kOhms

    System
    Current @ 9V: 160 microamps
    Battery Life: 1,500 hours
    Maximum Supply: 27V DC
Reviews
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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
EMGZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set
 
4.9

(based on 76 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (66)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (10)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Good quality (14)
  • Improves sound (13)
  • Functional (12)
  • Easy to use (11)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Concerts (11)
  • Practicing (11)
  • Back-up (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Experienced (13)

Reviewed by 76 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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(10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

the only review worth reading

By cmort92

from ontario, canada

About Me Experienced

Pros

  • Easy To Use
  • Extremely Versatile
  • Functional
  • Good Quality

Cons

  • None

Best Uses

  • Backup
  • Concerts
  • Practicing

Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

There is a lot of talk around active pickups being "sterile" and sucking the life out of your instrument for the sake of giving that high gain goodness - that is something I don't believe to be true.

I installed these pickups in my 2005 Gibson les paul Classic to try it out and I was and continue to be very pleased with the results. A lot of guitar players say you could put emgs into the worst guitar you could find and it would sound good but that simply is an uneducated opinion. Every guitar has its own sound and character. I used to use Dimarzio super distortions in my les paul and when I switched over to active emgs I found that the actual tone and character of my guitar was still very much there, just slightly different.

Active pickups will push your amp harder obviously so it is sometimes a good idea to dial back the drive a bit to achieve the sound you want if you used to use passive. The one gripe I have with most guitarists is that there is this idea that installing better pickups will improve your sound and that is just not true. If you play through a bad amp, you will have bad tone - EMGS nor anything else will ever fix that.

The 81 in the bridge is rather brash and I guess a bit "sterile" when played clean but I have seldom heard any low or high output bridge pickup played clean that did not sound this way to some degree. In the middle you get a slightly more mellow sound as you would expect and in the neck the cleans are actually quite pleasing and have more warmth than I expected. You do lose *some* of that passive warmth and dynamic when you use active but it's not as dramatic as some like to think, and you gain a robust and clear tone that sustains and shimmers - again if you have an amp with a less than desirable clean channel you will be disappointed with anything you put through it.

For distorted sounds the 81 is truly in its zone. The cut through and the punch are excellent and the neck gives a smooth transition between notes during things like legato runs that really blend your playing together flawlessly. Chording with high gain or just a bit of crunch really shows you how actives can bring out all the notes and make everything sound very balanced and harmonious. When you roll your volume these actually clean up very well and you have full use of varying amounts of gain at your finger tips just as you would a passive pickup. I have found all the people who complain that these are either off or "balls to the walls on" are guys playing through a big high gain MESA or ENGL with the gain dimed.. so obviously rolling off your volume a bit isn't going to do much - keep that in mind. I play though a marshall JCM 2000 dsl and I have varying stages of gain (pedals and amp alike) that I use for all purposes.

One thing you MUST do - lower the 85 away from the strings and raise the 81 towards them. If you have the pickups at heights that are very similar you will get a lot more bottom end out of your neck which will make it sound as though it is a lot louder. lowering the neck pickup in relation to the bridge is absolutely key and I have seen a lot of complaints about this from people - easy fix.

I have played for 10 years and have only every used passive pickups but I can honestly say these are going to stay. You get these pickups in a good guitar through a good amp and they are going to sound unbelievable, you put them in cheap garbage and plug it into more cheap garbage and you're going to get...

*Drumroll*

Garbage. (imagine that)

I play jazz, blues, hard rock, country etc etc with these pickups and with some slight tweaks to the amp for different styles they can handle it all.

With all of the active haters who hate them because they are told by purists they should, its hard to really get a good opinion on them until you try them so go for it. I did and I am very happy - all notions I had around EMGS are gone and I am left wondering why I didn't add these to my bag of tricks years ago. If you think adding these to your cheap guitar is going to make you sound like zakk wylde save your money and buy a better guitar first, then buy these.

(6 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

NOT easy install

By matthew shiner

from wisconsin

See all my reviews

Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

For all of you who left reviews and said these install easy, either I got the one set that didn't go right in, of you have lots of experience in wiring and electronic work. I spent 2 hours putting these into a Les Paul standard and finally gave up and brought them to a professional. All the electronics inside are new except the mode switch, which the wires were too short for to do anything with that aside, once they were in they sounded great. They do sound a little compressed at low volume, but once I opened up the amp to the volume I use while playing live shows they sounded excellent. Anyone who has the problem with compressed sound either has too much amplifier or is not playing loud enough. Other than the installation, the only problem I had with these is that the tone is not all that different between the two. The bridge and neck pickups have almost the same tone. But all things considered, I would definitely buy them again, just plan on spending another $50 or so to have them professionally installed

(5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Powerful Baby!

By 1313 Arterial Ave.

from Waco, Tx

About Me Experienced

See all my reviews

Ask me a question

Pros

  • Easy To Use
  • Functional
  • Good Quality
  • Improves Sound

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Concerts
    • Practicing

    Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

    Finally - after all the talk about how good actives are - I made the switch...couple years late to the party, but I'm here to have a good time with the 81/85 set - picked these pups up brand-spanking new at GC (Is that namedrop allowed here?!) for little to nothing on clearance....was a decision between these or the Hetfield set - I went with these simply because the Hetfield set was chrome - so - I get home, decide to replace the passive EMG-HZ set (which is a great alternative to these, btw...) in my coveted LP Nightfall, my love, my baby. I am not good with installation of wiring, but the solderless quick connects truly sold me on this - and believe me, the set up is COMPLETELY solderless....the only soldering involved is desoldering existing wires (optional - a little wire snipper will do the trick) - I decided to take my time and really study the installation, which was very informative and gave you a few different options on a setup - after about 2 hours (yea, I'm slow) - the guitar that was stripped of any wires finally had some *ammo* in it - hurried to my amp, plugged her up - and it was POWERFUL, BABY! The tones rang out like a bell, I grabbed my 9 all I heard was....bliss - very noticeable different between passive and active - the sustain was more - more mids and less whiney highs - the low end had some chugga-chugga - and the pickups just compliment ANY guitar so well - they carry a mysterious look to them - are they gonna be nice and clean or naughty and dirty? That's completely up to you and your application! Although I am probably the last cat (meow) to switch to EMG, I will highly recommend this set, and would gladly pay MSRP for them again, as it was so easy to set up and I am 110% satisfied with the end result!

    (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    THE BEST PICKUPS EVER!!!

    By Ray St John

    from Miami, Fl

    About Me Professional Musician

    See all my reviews

    Ask me a question

    Pros

    • Amazing Guitar Tone
    • Best Pickups Replacement
    • Easy To Use
    • Good Quality
    • Great Bottom
    • Improves Sound
    • Plug In Pickups

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Heavy Metal
      • Rock Music

      Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

      I'm not a ZAKK WYLDE fan of any sorts but I'm glad that EMG put these iconic pickups in one package.

      As an example, if you buy an Ibanez guitar, you have no choice but to change pickups. Unless you buy an ESP or a CHARVEL that I just got that comes with these pickups.

      These pickups developed in the 80s are still hard to beat after 30 years. They have stood the test of time for being the very best Active Guitar Pickups on the market and possibly be for many years.

      The have a nice crunchy tone that I haven't come across any passive pickups and I tried the Seymour Duncan JB and it was the worst decision I made as a teenager at the time.

      If you like 80s Rock and Heavy Metal and you are gearing to get that type of tone, this is IT. Don't look any further!!

      If your guitar has a control knob, replace it with the knob circuit EMG SPC - STRAT PRESCENCE CONTROL that will boost the distortion an additional 2dbs.
      But the pickups alone will do is justice unless you wish to push the envelope.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Emg Zack Wylde Pickups

      By Maveric Matt

      from New York

      About Me Experienced

      See all my reviews

      Ask me a question

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Functional
      • Good Quality
      • Improves Sound

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Concerts
        • Practicing

        Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

        I had reciently purchased the Hetfield Pickups for my Prs Paul Allender guitar and loved them but decided i wanna try and 81/85 set and Zacks Pickups were the right choice for me the sound blew me away when you play on clean the clarity is awesome and then when you switch to overdrive man its aggresive and sounds incredible

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Great Pickup

        By Jeriah S Radice

        from lincoln ne

        Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

        i got these stock in a bc rich i bought. man was i blown away!! i was using passives b4 stuf lke ibanez powersound and V8 pickups and a strat. these thing kick all sorts of a@#! i like tht they are consistent and have alot of cut to them. the distortion is amazing and really versatile hell even led zeppelin riff sound nice on these! any metal u can think of will sound good as well as most punk and any kind of hard rock. the 81 is a godsend with a noisegate and the 85 flippin smokes i love that pickup for slow bluesey stuff and they make the one knob useful cause it dont kill the highs when u roll it down oh they pick up any little thing u do on the guitar tho so if ur used to just bashing the strings that may not work or sound the same if u have a controlled technique and an even alternate picking technique wow the sound is awesome i got theses cause i wanted to tyr something different from the gibsons and duncans i played b4(my buddies guitars) and i like these much better! the cleans are nice and "perfect" if that makes sense they have a nice twing to them(yes i said twing) and can be used for alot of stuff i actually use my volume knob! i get alot of different sonds out of these cause there so responsive like i said earlier if u just bash the guitar and dont have a "Proper" technique u may not like these cause they are wa too responsive for that stuff all actie pickups are basically rip offs of these so there u go but trust me if u have tchnique these are amazing try them out u can alway return them

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        By far the best pickups ever!

        By PsychoBob

        from Utah

        See all my reviews

        Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

        At first I couldn't decide whether to buy the Mustane Seymour Duncans or the these Zakk Wylde EMG's. Both had great reviews and both guitarist are my idols. I visited both manufacturers websites since Musicians Friend has to be brief on the website. I found that the Seymour Dunacans didn't come with everything you needed. They tell you to use your old capacitor and all connections needed to be soldered by the person installing their product. EMG on the other hand had a complete solderless setup and enough knobs for every type of setup. I installed them on my first guitar, an old Gretch with a solid walnut body. I had to carefully router some room behind the pick guard in the knob area of the body. I also installed a EMG-PA pre-amp booster switch. The hardest part was routering a place on the back side of the body for batteries. I could have used just one but decided to wire it with 2 batteries.The sound is incredibly awesome!!! I use guitar rig 3, my computer, an Alesis MultiMix USB 2.0 board and Mackie studio monitors (the big ones!)at home. Sounding like Zakk is so easy. Getting tones like disturbed or godsmack are easy as well. I have recommended these pickups to all my guitaris friends and recommend them to you as well. The best feature was not having to solder any wires. wired the guitar in about 20 minutes!

        (2 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Heavy

        By guitarslim

        from Durango Colorado

        See all my reviews

        Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

        Overall these pickups are for melting faces with heavy metal. 8 on features due to the set not coming with a new switch. It comes with four pods and an input jack, but no switch. 10 on quality because if you use them for what they're meant for, they are INSANE!!!!!!!!! 9 on value because if you want to play blues or classic rock or just clean, it can be very dificult or impossible to get the sound you want. But if it's metal you're after..... these get the job done.

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Kick butt

        By guitarslim

        from Durango Colorado

        See all my reviews

        Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

        Sound AMAZING. Installation AMAZING. Features ALMOST AMAZING just would like a switch. These are awesome. If anyone doesn't know what it is like to have this solderless system you should check it out. Plugged these bad boys into my peavy sig ed and ran it through my buddies marshall stack. On three, it about knocked my out of my chair...
        Plug and play. Wires everywhere! Prepare to have twice as many wires flying around, but also prepare to have easy maintanance. Since nothing is soldered, it is all easily removable and adjustable. Only two things that dampered my experience. One, my input jack cover for some reason was to small to accomodate the new jack that came with the set. Easy fix, only had to file it down a little at work. Two, why did this not come with a new switch? For the price im just saying.....
        Great. Everything was brand new and in great shape. The pickups are HOT. (Not literally, you can touch them) The neck tone is so full, heavy and powerful. The bridge is hot and satisfying.
        Again I am giving this a 9 only becasue, there is no switch included. Which is ok because wow, installing the wiring was insane! But once you get it down its so easy and remarkable. If I bought new pickups today that were plug and play, five minutes tops till I could have them in. Its soooo easy.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        If you like metal get these!

        By Rod

        from Raleigh, NC

        About Me Experienced

        See all my reviews

        Pros

        • Easy To Use
        • Functional
        • Good Quality
        • Improves Sound

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Backup
          • Concerts
          • Practicing

          Comments about EMG ZW Zakk Wylde 81/85 Humbucker Set:

          I installed these pickups on my Omen Extreme 6 with Floyd Rose tremolo system. If you are somewhat mechanically inclined you can install these yourself, just read the instructions carefully and take your time with each step. These are the first active pick ups I've ever used. What an amazing difference!!! I can't believe the sound and how responsive they are. All I can say is they sound incredible clean or with distortion.

          Displaying reviews 1-10

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