EMG 60 Vs 85 [Differences & Which Guitar Pickup is Better]

A guitar without the right pickup does not seem right. What we are trying to point out is as a musical instrument, a guitar produces a sound that is melodious to hear. But if a guitar does not provide the right track of sound, then there is a problem to sort out. There can be many reasons for your guitar to provide a bad or buzzing sound. However, one of the freaking reasons for that is not choosing the right pickup for your guitar.

The pickup is the primal source of your guitar because, with its assistance, your guitar can provide the vivid and accurate sound that you need for real. Now that pickup has certain variations and ranges to some extent, some guitar users get confused about which one to pick. Not only pickups but also their manufacturers are in the spotlight too for their dedication to making progressed pickups.

EMG is one of such manufacturers that are manufacturing pickups for years and now people get confused about which one to choose among its amazing pickup collections and additions. However, between EMG 60 Vs 85, most of the players of hard rocks, metals, and heavy metals get stuck. They are very much keen to learn more about these pickups because they actually provide top-notch service.

EMG 60 Vs 85

Now that, pickups play a legit significant role in guitars, you cannot just ignore their importance. If you want your guitar to produce an accurate melody without any buzz, then stay with us and observe the detailed description of both EMG 60 and 85. Then you can come to a conclusion that which one will suit your guitar most to gain the best out of it.

Details about EMG 85 Vs 60 –

EMG and their pickups are worldly known. Apart from pickups, you will see EMG is great at making humbuckers too. Their progression in making passive pickups is also worth mentioning.

However, speaking of their pickups, you will be glad to know that both EMG 60 and 85 have great demand in the market because of their boosting ability to the sound mechanism of your guitar.

But they are not entirely the same even though they both are from EMG. There are some slight variations that we tried to point out. So, if you want to know about them, stay with us until the end of this article.

About EMG 60 Review –

If you are a fan of the active humbucking pickup, then there is hardly any better option than this EMG 60. EMG has always shown extraordinary talent in making both active and passive pickups, but EMG 60 is known individually because it carries that much weight to make the sound quality of your guitar higher. This pickup is supposed to be positioned on the neck of your guitar. It’s because that’s how it functions well and provides its best performance.

EMG 60 About

Because you need to position it in the neck of the guitar, people also recognize it as a “rhythm” pickup too. Besides that, you need to pair it with EMG 81 pickup model if you want a distinct sound coming out of your guitar. For hard rock, if you pair EMG 60 with the particular EMG 81 pickup, you will not need any other side guitarists to play behind.

This whole combination of EMG 60 and EMG 81 gives the right atmosphere and top-notch chunky tone. As thickness is often required in hard rock music, what could be a better option than EMG 60, right?

For a solo hard rock player, there can be no better combination than EMG 60 and EMG 81 applied together on a sole guitar. The latter needs to be positioned in the bridge to get the expected result.

However, going back to the discussion on EMG 60 individually, this pickup has got ceramic magnets. This feature just enhances the capability of the guitar and the trebles to provide immense output. Also, for solos, a clear and distinguished sound is a gift from this pickup to speak the real truth.

Configuration System:

Moreover, the high-end construction allows this pickup to have a 2.95 kHz resonant frequency. With this sharp frequency, the pickup can provide up to 10kOhms output impedance. For the lead player of guitar, adopting this EMG 60 neck pickup would not be a loss for sure. Guitars like BC Rich, SG, ESP, or Ibanez get pretty along with EMG pickups 81b/60n. Besides the outstanding 3000 hours of battery life of the EMG 60 pickup, the transparent, glassy sound will get you stunned.

On a side note, you can also use this EMG 60 neck pickup in the bridge position. It will bring an interesting and mostly thicker tone and it’s a bit unconventional way of conducting EMG 60 pickup too. However, for a show where the bass player’s tone is less active and dimmed, then you will definitely realize the sharp tone that the EMG 60 pickup provides.

Things We Liked About / Pros:

  • It is considered one of the best active humbucker pickups for the position of the neck for its outstanding features and high lead output.
  • Built with ceramic magnets to provide a clearer, smoother, and thick tone from the guitar.
  • Can be paired with EMG 81 bridge pickup to provide a fantastic sound quality, and also can be positioned in a bridge for diversity in the tone.
  • Can cover the whole performance with its thick tone and no other player is needed in the background while playing hard rock music.

Things We Didn’t Like About / Cons:

  • Not enough suitable when you try to produce a thinner tone from this EMG 60 neck pickup.

About EMG 85 Review –

It wouldn’t be alright if we do not mention that EMG has got this 85 pickup from the very beginning of its progression. It is another neck pickup manufactured by the Electromyography brand.

Its consistency and faithfulness to the tone are reliable to the greatest extent. As we have mentioned before about the EMG 81 bridge pickup, you will definitely see some similarities of it with EMG 85. However, there are some evident differences between EMG 81 Vs EMG 85 too.

About EMG 85 Gold Pickup
About EMG 85 Gold Pickup

EMG 85 comes with a more flourished feature than EMG 81. And that’s why people see this pickup as the sophisticated version of EMG 81. Nevertheless, it is also well-rounded and offers a more enchanting tone than any other pickup. Another reason for this pickup being robust in the feature is that the inside coil is filled with Alnico V magnets. Because alnico is made with aluminum, cobalt, and nickel following the right proportionate, it contributes to the sophisticated sound of the pickup too.

For a bombast sound quality, the contribution of this magnetic feature is legit inexpressible. This also assists in producing the muscular growl and bass tone for the sake of metal and heavy metal music. With all these magnificent features, the versatility of this pickup is standing out in front of people.

However, there is a popular tendency among the players to pair the EMG 85 with EMG 81 pickups. As they get along really well and brighten up the tone to the largest extent, this is a worthy pair so far.

Configuration System:

With its great configuration, this neck pickup provides with 2.45 kHz resonant frequency. Also, the 10 kOhms output impedance from these pickups is worth praising. This level of providing output and frequency accumulates the idea of its being powerful and sophisticated as a pickup of a guitar. Thus, it justifies the versatility of the pickup too. However, you can also use this neck pickup as a bridge pickup. This will provide a very different and catchy tone to some extent.

As this pickup has been the first active neck pickup in EMG manufacture, many renowned users have been seen adopting the EMG 85n/81b pickups to get superb sound and Zakk Wylde is one of them. Besides, this pickup also comes with a lifetime of 3000 hours. For detail-oriented metal or hard rock players, the combination of 85n/81b is a great deal.

Things We Liked About / Pros:

  • Comes with the best configuration as the aperture coil is filled with alnico magnets and they subscribe to the good tone too.
  • Provides an extremely thick, powerful, muscular growl tone that is perfect for metal players.
  • Can be paired with bridge-positioned pickup in order to enhance the sound quality and performance of the player.
  • The versatile quality of the pickup easily attracts detail-oriented metal players as the pickup is also able to provide a twisted tone.

Things We Didn’t Like About / Cons:

  •  It has the problem of mudding up easily which ruins the accurate tone to some extent.

Difference between EMG 60 Vs EMG 85:

Difference between EMG 60 Vs EMG 85
Difference between EMG 60 Vs EMG 85

There are different types of pickups that can provide different types of tones and sounds. You can have a thicker or thinner sound, a clear or muddy tone, or anything you like. Among several types of pickups, not every piece comes with quality features and provides a satisfactory tone according to your desired music genre.

However, as today we have picked EMG 60 and 85 pickups and both these pickups have immense demand, it is tough to decide which one is the more capable one to the very extent. First, let us see the similarities and dissimilarities of these fantastic pickups, and then come to a conclusion about the best one.


a) Neck Pickups –

The significant feature of both these pickups is they both are active neck pickups of the EMG brand. Therefore, they both provide accurate and a great range of vibrations and movements for the right tone. You might also notice that a bridge pickup is not that much capable of making the string vibrates enough.

But in the case of neck pickups, you can rely on EMG 60 and 85 to the greatest extent.

b) Duration –


Pickups that run through the battery, serve pretty well to the player. In the case of EMG 60 and 85 pickups, their duration is also worth mentioning.

Both of them come with the ability to run 3000 hours or more. This duration is huge especially when it runs on a 9-volt battery. Besides, this enhances the structure and features of these pickups along with their longevity.

c) Impedance –

Both EMG 60 and 85 provide the same output impedance. Impedance is important to a player who is serious about his job. It determines the resistance of the wire that can be attached to the pickups.

This specification also shows how capable your pickup is in providing the highest output. However, both EMG 60 and 85 pickups carry 10kOhms output impedance discretely.

d) Pairing and Purpose –


Being neck pickups, both EMG 60 and 85 can be paired up with EMG 81 bridge pickup. This pair-up actually brings a good tone to the instrument. The function of both neck and bridge pickups evokes a twisted and interesting sound together.

However, both these neck pickups’ purpose is to provide the right movement and vibration for hard rock or metal players. They both are capable of bringing satisfactory sound for the accomplishment of music.


a) Sound Quality –

EMG Sound Quality
EMG Sound Quality

There are very slight differences between EMG 60 and 85. Yet these differences can make a huge gap in the satisfaction level of a true and grim player.

For example, while some renowned players choose EMG 60 neck pickups for their show, others will take the side of EMG 85. It’s because EMG 60 provides a clearer and more transparent tone.

On the other hand, EMG 85 pickup provides a “bassy”, muscular growl, or muddy tone. It will not provide as clean of a tone as EMG 60. But EMG 85 pickup is perfect if you want a thicker sound.

b) Configuration –


If we observe the configuration of both EMG 60 and 85 pickups, we will very little difference. EMG 60 pickup comes with ceramic magnets. These magnets enhance the sound quality by boosting up the trebles. That’s why the configuration of EMG 60 is appreciable. On the other hand,

EMG 85 pickup is built in a way that bass-oriented players will like it more. This configuration is also responsible for the result of muddy sound from the instrument.

c) Players Tone –

player tone
player tone

Another difference between these pickups is that EMG 60 neck pickup is used when the bass player requires low-end sound.

It, then, provides clear and effective sound cooperating with other tones of instruments. On the other hand, if the bass player requires a brighter sound, then EMG 85 provides the lead and solo tone alone.

So, Which Guitar Pickup You Should Choose?

From the overall view, we are already convinced that both these pickups are more than capable. Yet, from the differences, it is evident that EMG 60 active neck pickup provides the clearest tone with its magnificent configuration.

Besides that, EMG 60 avoids providing a “bassy” sound while playing amps. But that does not lower the sound quality that EMG 85 provides. Some metal players prefer the muscular growl and muddy sound that EMG 85 pickup offers. This type of tone enhances the versatility of the EMG 85 pickup too.

Therefore, in the end, EMG 60 Vs 85 both these pickups are high-end and preferable and the rest is up to the personal choice of the player.

FAQs –

Question 1. Do EMG pickups sound good and clean?

Answer: To cover metals or hard rock heavy genres, there could be a no better option than an EMG pickup.

As most of the pickups of EMG are active humbucker pickups, the sound quality is quite clean and enchanting.

Question 2. What is the difference between EMG 60 Vs 60a?

Answer: The main difference between EMG 60 Vs 60a is in their tone. While the former contains ceramic magnets, the latter carries alnico 5 magnets.

This makes the 60a pickup have a robust and clearer tone than EMG 60.

Question 3. Does an EMG 81 or 85 go in the bridge?

Answer: It is EMG 81 that goes in the bridge. The 85 one goes in the neck position. However, you can use both these pickups to enhance the tone quality. Also, you can use them alternately and get a very twisted tone.

Question 4. What is the difference between EMG 81 and EMG 85?

Answer: The main difference remains in the output of EMG 81 and 85. EMG 81 excels in being the maximum output pickup. But EMG 81, as more high-end, provides a brighter sound than EMG 85.

Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Perry Garner

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