EMG Active Pickups Not Working [Reason & Fix]

EMG active pickups are renowned for their exceptional clarity, low noise, and powerful tone. However, like any electronic components, they can encounter issues over time. One common problem guitarists might encounter is when their EMG active pickups stop working. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of potential reasons behind this issue and effective solutions to fix it.

EMG Active Pickups Not Working

Are All EMG Pickups Active?

Yes, all EMG pickups are active. Unlike traditional passive pickups, active pickups incorporate a built-in preamp, requiring a power source such as a 9-volt battery. This preamp contributes to the enhanced signal strength and reduced noise that are characteristic of EMG pickups. However, this also means that issues related to power and electronics can arise, causing the pickups to stop working.

How to Install EMG Active Pickups –

Proper installation of EMG active pickups is crucial for their optimal performance. Follow these steps for a successful installation:

Gather Required Tools:

Read to the all necessary tools, including soldering iron, solder, screwdrivers, and wire cutters.

Disconnect Power:

Before working on your guitar, remove the old pickups and disconnect any power source (battery) to avoid accidents.

Follow Wiring Diagrams:

Follow Wiring Diagrams

EMG pickups come with detailed wiring diagrams. These diagrams show the color-coded wires and their corresponding connections. Follow the instructions closely to avoid mistakes.



Carefully solder the wires according to the diagram. Use heat shrink tubing to insulate connections and prevent shorts.

Secure Pickups:

Mount the pickups onto the guitar body, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Make sure they are securely in place.

Battery Connection:

Battery Connection

If your EMG pickups have an active preamp, connect the battery as per the instructions. Ensure the battery is fresh and properly seated.


Before reassembling the guitar, test the pickups to ensure they are working correctly. We’ll delve into the testing process shortly.

How to Test EMG Active Pickups –

Testing your EMG active pickups can help identify whether the issue lies with the pickups themselves or other components. Testing guide line –

Check Battery:

Check Battery

Ensure the battery is not depleted or incorrectly connected. A weak battery can lead to diminished or no output.

Visual Inspection:

Examine the wiring for loose or disconnected connections. Sometimes, a loose wire can result in no output.

Use a Multimeter:

Use a Multimeter

A multimeter can help you measure the output of the pickups. Set the multimeter to the appropriate voltage or resistance setting and measure the output of each pickup.

Tap Test:

Gently tap each pickup with a non-metallic object while your guitar is plugged into an amplifier. If you hear a tapping sound, the pickup is likely working.

Swap Cables:

Sometimes, the issue might be with the guitar cable. Test your pickups with a different cable to rule out this possibility.

Check Output Jack:

A faulty output jack can also result in no sound. Inspect the jack for loose wires or damage.

Consult a Professional:

If testing reveals no issues, it’s advisable to consult a guitar technician or EMG customer support for further assistance.

Common Reasons for EMG Active Pickup Issues:

Dead Battery:

Dead Battery

A weak or dead battery can lead to no sound output. Regularly replace the battery to prevent this issue.

Loose Connections:

Vibrations from playing can sometimes loosen wires and connections, leading to loss of signal.


Over time, corrosion can develop on contacts, affecting the pickup’s performance. Clean contacts with contact cleaner and a soft brush.

Faulty Wiring:

Faulty Wiring

Mistakes during installation or worn-out wiring can result in non-functioning pickups.

Component Failure:

Electronic components can fail over time. If other troubleshooting methods fail, you might need to replace the preamp or other components.

Effective Ways to Fix EMG Active Pickup Issues:

Replace Battery:

Start by replacing the battery with a fresh one to ensure proper power supply.

Check and Secure Connections:

Open up the guitar and check for any loose or disconnected wires. Re-solder if necessary and ensure secure connections.

Clean Contacts:

Use contact cleaner and a soft brush to clean any corrosion from the contacts.

Inspect Wiring:

If the issue arose after installation, inspect the wiring for errors. Correct any mistakes and ensure the wires are in good condition.

Professional Help:

If you’re unsure or unable to identify the issue, consult a professional guitar technician or contact EMG’s customer support.

EMG active pickups offer exceptional tone and performance, but issues can arise due to various reasons. Proper installation, regular maintenance, and troubleshooting are essential for keeping these pickups in top condition.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively diagnose and fix the “EMG Active Pickups Not Working” issue, ensuring that your guitar continues to produce the powerful and clear tones EMG pickups are known for.

FAQs –

Q1: What could cause my EMG pickups to stop working suddenly?

Answer: Sudden issues could stem from a dead battery, loose wires due to vibrations, corrosion on contacts, faulty wiring, or even component failure.

Q2: Can a weak battery affect my EMG pickup’s performance?

Answer: Yes, a weak battery can lead to diminished or no output from your EMG pickups. Regularly replacing the battery is crucial for consistent performance.

Q3: How do I clean the contacts of my EMG pickups?

Answer: Use contact cleaner and a soft brush to gently clean any corrosion from the contacts. This can help restore signal flow.

Q4: Can faulty wiring be the cause of inactive EMG pickups?

Answer: Yes, faulty wiring, either due to mistakes during installation or wear and tear over time, can lead to inactive pickups. Check the wiring for errors and ensure the wires are in good condition.

Q5: Are there any regular maintenance tips to prevent EMG pickup issues?

Answer: Yes, maintaining your EMG pickups involves checking the battery regularly, securing connections, and ensuring the overall wiring is in good condition. Regular cleaning of contacts can also prevent corrosion-related problems.

Q6: How long do EMG pickups typically last?

Answer: With proper care and maintenance, EMG pickups can last for many years. Regularly replacing batteries and addressing issues promptly can extend their lifespan.

Q7: Can extreme temperatures affect EMG pickup performance?

Answer: Yes, extreme temperatures can potentially impact the performance of any electronic components, including EMG pickups. Avoid exposing your guitar to excessively hot or cold conditions for prolonged periods.

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Perry Garner

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