EMG pickups-same in different housings?

I am looking at pickups for my first bass build and have settled on EMG for the simple reason that I do not know how to solder. EMG has a number of humbucking pickups for different housing–e.g., MusicMan and Thunderbird. I am wondering whether these pickups actually try and reproduce the sound of their namesakes, or whether they are just a standard EMG humbucking pickup arranged to physically fit in the cavities of their namesakes.

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@Al1885 can weigh in here as he is the EMG guru, but….

I do not like EMG passive pickups much, active yes, passive - meh.
I only have experience with PJ sets though.

EMG is not the only brand that makes electronics that are solderless.
Contact or look at Best Bass Gear, talk to Frank there, he can give you options.
Just note they are a small shop and email response will be slow, but they will respond.


Thanks @John_E.

@Old_WannaBe, can you be more specific? What are you looking for and for which bass.

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Also besides solderless. you can get wire harnesses that have solderless connecters for the pickups.

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I am building my first bass and planning on a single passive hbucker in the middle position. I don’t know how to solder, so am looking for a plug and play pu and pots


To answer your original question, EMG makes both types of pickups, ones that have an original vibe and others that have more an EMG sound. They also make P and J pickups in humbucker housings


If you want to put one pickup in the middle position may be look at 35 or the 40 series. There are more choices to fit your tonal taste.

If you have your mind set on the thunderbird and MusicMan then the thunderbird would be a better choice because of the different models offered. You can choose from jazz, precision or the dual coils so one selector is jazz and another is humbucker.

MusicMan is better suited for neck or bridge position got bet the maximum warmth from the neck or growl from the bridge.

Emg active system is not quite the same as many the other active pickups or preamp, the circuit is actually using current to cancel the hum and not just boost the signal. They are not usually boost the signal by much more than the regular passive pickups, just more and cleaner. If you want more boost in signal/volume choose the X series.

You can also run 18v for much cleaner signal at higher volume, there’s no risk getting distorted or buzz as there’s a lot more headroom to spare. In contrary to popular belief, 18v is not higher volume it’s the ability to turn it up with the fear of peaking.

If you like more tonal option I highly recommend the twx series it’s available in many models. Push/pull will switch between mode.

Another fun idea would be the inverted p pickup where you put the E and A string pickup on the bottom it offers better balance as many p bass middle position knows that sometimes the E and A strings usually a lot louder than the D and G strings. By inverting the pickup it solves the issue for many.

Also like @John_E said there are other soderless options out there. Not as cheap but plenty of options. Emg is just the simplest out there.

Shoot me any questions I’ll do my best to share my experience with you.

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Good day, A total noob here with bass as I am only 4 months in. Starting off with a MIM Fender Precision Plus, a great instrument thus far. Looking to upgrade the pickups possibly, as I am new to bass I am very new to pickups so just seeing what anyone thinks for a rock solid upgrade.


What kind of sound do you want? For modern Dimarzio model PJ are fantastic, for something more vintage Dimarzio Sixties P and an Area J are good (your bass is a PJ iirc) or something from Fralin would do.

All comes down to what to the sound you’re shooting for is

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Yeah I really love my Model P. I’d agree that it’s not really a Motown pickup though. It’s got all the bright, mids-driving goodness you’ll find with ceramic pickups. Making it dark and thuddy would require work. Flats might not even be enough.

But for rock, punk or metal it’s pretty much perfect.

With bright Roto 77 flats it’s really good, if you want flats. They’re a good match string and pickup.

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