EMG has been a presence in metal for so long now, it’s hard to imagine certain bands’ sounds without them. Slayer, Metallica, Exodus – their guitar tone is partially defined by the high output active pickup company that started it all.
The “new kid” in the EMG signature artist line (as of NAMM 2016) is Judas Priest axe handler Glenn Tipton, an EMG 81 user for a decade who has just released his own set – the GTV Glenn Tipton Vengeance pickups. I decided I needed to hear for myself what one of the elder statesmen of metal wants in his ideal pickup, so I spent some quality time with them.
Because of Glenn’s longtime use of the 81, the GTV are of course based on them, but with some key differences. The magnets used in the pickup are a combination of ceramic and steel magnets, and the resonant frequency has been shifted. I found the changes to be for the better – it’s possible that I’ve just heard the 81 so much that I welcomed the variation – but I heard it as being less boosted in the low midrange are that makes the 81 a little overbearing, and more crunchy and clear instead. They sounded far smoother to my ears, especially for leads, and a bit more modern.
The output hasn’t changed, so if you thought a dude from a vintage band would prefer vintage output, you’ve got another thing comin’. These things are screaming for vengeance, and with their new red covers, your guitar will look about as subtle as these pickups sound.
I haven’t installed EMGs in a guitar in a very long time, and the advances they’ve made in their installation system are absolutely amazing. I’m pretty far from competent with a soldering iron, so the ability to install them with almost no soldering really impressed me and made the whole process a breeze. I think every pickup manufacturer should lobby EMG to license out their solderless system so every installation could be this easy. I’d pay a little extra for any pickup I buy to be compatible so I didn’t have to pay a tech to install it for me. Think of how many more pickups every maker would sell! It’s not just easier to install, it’s actually fun – like putting together a Lego set, everything fits together, slot A into tab B.
So if you’re a big Priest fan, you’re likely gonna want to get your grubbies on a set of these to put into your pointy axe to nail that Tipton sound.
The GTV sell for $229 for the set, direct from EMG. For more info and specs and to order, check out EMG’s website.