it’s been already a month since I installed the EMG DG20 pick ups to my Fender Strat. The reasons I had to change the pick ups were very clear, I got my guitar at a local (Shenzhen) store and I was never satisfied with the stock pick ups. The sound was not completely clear and the noise I got while using Fuzz pedals or high gain OD was too much. I wrote sometime ago about EMF and humming noises in a rig because of that annoying noise. It was a noise that you could hear even at a low volume and we all know that we always use a computer, Ipads and different gadgets around while practicing thus making your noise even more disrupting.
So, I started the quest of finding pick ups suitable for my work. I play mostly in my room to make some recordings and laying tracks for music I will later use in my teaching. So i needed a very versatile guitar, I went over all the Seymour Duncan catalogue and asked a good friend who is in the pedal and guitar gear business here in China and he gave me this off the wall almost mathematical explanation of how to get the sounds I needed (too much of a trouble to have a quiet guitar) and as far as I heard the Seymours are either “too hot” or “too cold” and I don’t have the time and the proper amps to make it worthwhile. And besides the professional or technical expertise of the guys working at the local stores didn’t give me enough confidence to trust them with this decision.
I then turned my attention to some 69′ custom shop fender pick ups and once again I found myself involved in an engineering decision that I cannot control, installing them properly and making a good shielding could make the difference but who was going to make this happen? send it to who? here in Shenzhen there are no places where you can get an expert or experienced tech. There was a guitar teacher from UK who kindly offered himself to install them but the guy needed 2 weeks to do so, and to be honest I think he was going to take the guitar giggin’ or using it for fun, ‘cause in a previous conversation he mentioned he could install pickups within an hour (??)
As far as the story goes, you can see that it is not something clear or easy to grasp while you need your guitar fully functional. I am also trying to develop some guitar pedals with a friend and testing and playing is something I have to do almost everyday.
Then I went to check the EMG catalogue and from the moment I read the word “solderless” I knew I was getting to the right place…
I started going through the different products until I found the PRO Series section, here I could go through their different products and specs. To be totally honest, as soon as I read the name “David Gilmour” there was not too much to think about, the words “Clean”, “Clear”, “Sustain” and of course “Fender” came to my mind. I started to read the specs and info of the DG20 and there was a word always getting in the way “Active” . For a guitar player without too much experience the comments you read on internet is that Active pickups are almost banned for the purists. And the idea of having to change batteries to my guitar was not very appealing (I really dislike the “battery-powered world” we live in)
One issue that also bothered me was the price, more than 300$ for some pick ups I thought was excessive but then I started to ponder on how professional and clean my guitar would turn. The name “David Gilmour” is very heavy and hard to dismiss. But this research did not make the difference in my decision, one afternoon I was walking around the local music mall in Shenzhen, (Ke Xue Guan) and to my surprise there’s a new store on the 4th floor and they had the DG20 in the main display window! I went in and with my poor Chinese asked about it to the guitar tech. He went over in English and said: “best pick ups for the working guitar player”
It was not a hard thing to ask how much were they and if they could install it. They just told me bring your guitar and in less than an hour it would be installed by our boss, the ‘boss’ turned out to be the nicest guy and a hell of a guitar teacher.
Next day I had the DG20 installed in my guitar and ran back home to give it a try, I use a Fender Mustang III amp (100 watts) and as soon as I stroke the first chord it blew my mind! clear, consistent, clean, and above all with a great sustain. I started to add more effect via a MXR dyna comp and the results are impeccable, the almost crystal and crisp sound you get without much of a problem is remarkable. Once I turned my EHX soul food we had a bigger animal in the room. I sue a Tri Reverb pedal by Biyang and it makes the guitar shake the wall painting.
The volume know does not compromise tone, the second know is an EQ or tone modifier, call it as you want, it controls the 3 pick ups and goes from neutral to very “treble” or sharp. The third know is where the DG20 goes rogue. It is to emulate a humbucker pick up and gives all the pick ups a more aggressive sound without compromising the quality of the overall sound.
STILL LOVING THERE PICLC UPS!
MORE REVIEWS TO COME