• mafmmx

    Need advice on which pickup to replace EMG 81 in my ESP M1, What do you use?

    Picked up a new 2012 ESP M-1 last month ( use to own one a year or so ago, had to sell it but promised i would get another one )

    Anyways LOVE the guitar, Love the style and the feel of the M1. I am a huge fan of single pickup/single volume hard tail guitars. Problem is, I am not that big on EMGs.

    I did try the 18v mod also, to try and warm up and make it sound more natural/organic.. and it seemed to help a little. Problem is, I don't play metal really ( heaviest i play is Metallica, Skid Row, etc ) Some may ask, Why i bought a M1 if i don't play metal? Ahhh, The guitar is awesome and i do play Hard Rock and use a good amount of gain, i just can't bond with the EMG. They have a digital sound to them that i cannot get over.

    I was thinking of just swapping out the single 81 with another EMG ( i believe these are quick connect right? so all i would have to do is unplug the old 81 and plug in the new EMG ) but i think all powered pickups will have that digital almost processed sound.

    So with that said, What have some of you people swapped your EMG out for? What passive pickups ( just the bridge i am interested in ) are you using? and on what model ESP?

    I use a 57 classic in my Gibson SG and 57/08s in my PRS SC245 and they sound PERFECT! ( though they could use a hair more output ) BUT these guitar are mahogany bodies, maple tops and rosewood fretboards, The M-1 is totally different wood and neck wood, So its going to be bright and a little thinner sounding, So the pickups i use on those guitars, I don't think will work on the M1 due to the different woods.

    Am i looking for a darker sounding pickup? Will that balance out the sounds and give it a nice, thick, organic tone? I know i won't be getting LP tones out of a M1 but i would like to make it sound Thick and Organic if possible.. Something that is Med/High gain.

    Any suggestions? Thoughts?

    Thanks guys!

    • WildeStarr

      What amp are you using?? It might not be the guitar pickup that sounds bad! As for the pickups, if you want to stick with EMG's, try an 85 and see how that sounds. If you want to go passive, try the Seymour Duncan JB SH-4. Get it in 4 conductor wiring, that way you can use a push/pull pot to do the coil split function.


    • D-EJ915

      Seymour Duncan SH-5 Custom

    • JSHRED

      Well, when I can get my Fingers Dirty in tremolo spacing I'll be a happy camper.
      But for other Gibby pickups, I do stand humbly corrected.

      On a separate "note" if I pick up this H/S ESP M-II like I'm planning, I figure I'm putting in an F-spaced Crunch Lab and a Norton-S.

      • WildeStarr

        Well, when I can get my Fingers Dirty in tremolo spacing I'll be a happy camper.
        But for other Gibby pickups, I do stand humbly corrected.

        I looked around, it looks like the DF pickups only come in the narrow spacing. Most of the other Gibson pickups are now available in both sizes.


    • Geetarguy70

      I reccomend the EMG 81 :p

    • Digiadaamore

      you could try the X series emg. they were made for people like you you who want more open organic sound, you could also try a sd blackout that will work with your current hardware and was also made to be an organic active

    • JonCurcio

      I would try a DiMarzio Super Distortion in that guitar.

    • Impulse 101

      This may help.


      This is was recorded through one of best amps I've heard in years, it's amazing. The Rhodes Colossus. Check it out, I'd take it over Diezel or Bogner.


    • JSHRED

      I like the Demon, but fair warning, it's definitely in the medium output category. Don't count on it for crushing metal tone, but for hard rock and classic rock, it might be one of the best pickups out there. To me it sounds like a 59 with just a touch more bite and grind. In the Duncan family, I'd say the next (commonly used) pickup in line for increased gain would be the venerable JB, followed by the blistering Distortion. If you're considering going active, I'd do the Duncan Blackouts before EMG 81. I've done my own A-B testing, and even people visiting my studio always choose the Blackouts after a blind test. Supposedly the EMG-X series is trying to bring back the players that EMG lost to Blackouts, and I do hear it's pretty good. Haven't had opportunity to test it myself.

    • mightywarlock

      I have an M-1
      Loaded with a Bare Knuckle Ceramic Warpig.

      Simply amazing for this guitar.

    • Saiko

      Another idea, try an Afwayu from Motor City Pickups. If you want an idea of what it sounds like, Jerry Cantrell uses it in all of his G&L Rampages which are single pickup/volume guitars as well. Hugely underrated pickup company and amazing pickup.

    • jsp

      The ceramic Warpig is nice, but way overpriced.

      Given what you like in your other guitars, I'd say Dimarzio Norton. It is extremely versitile and will smooth out the sound of a maple neck guitar nicely.