EMG 81 VS Fishman Fluence Modern (comparison)
Our pick: Fishman Fluence Modern pickups
While the EMG 81 and 85 are a strong-voiced, formidable pickup configuration, the Fishman Fluence Modern set has it beat with an incredibly articulate, yet thick and heavy tone that gives you a sort of balance between what we like about active and passive pickups.
The EMG 81, which is usually paired with the EMG 85, and the Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers are two sets of popular, modern-voiced pickups. In this comparison, we look at them side-by-side to see where they differ, and to help you decide which one would be better for you.
EMG 81 VS Fishman Fluence Modern: Simple Comparison Tool
In a simple comparison chart we see differences in price and magnet type, though both pickup sets are active. The Fluence set retails for around $240 while the Zakk Wylde Signature set (the 81 and 85 together), goes for about $200.
Fishman Fluence Modern Set
EMG 81/85 Set
With tone pickup comparison, keep in mind it depends a lot on the gear around the pickup (the guitar, amp, etc.). But we'd say based on these two demos that the Fluence sounds a little better and is more articulate, giving you more definition from your picking hand and more power on the low end. Though both pickups share a similarly aggressive and modern tone profile.
Pickup Spec Sheet
Fishman and EMG isn't as good as DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan when it comes to sharing technical specs. Note that the Fluence pickups uses a kind of stacked coil technology, which is designed to give you tone qualities we like about both active and passive pickups, hence the more articulate response. Also note the ceramic magnets used in the EMG 81 and 85.
Bridge and neck (set)
Bridge and neck (set)
Ceramic VIII/Alnico V
Number of Conductors
Which one is better?
Our simple answer is that we prefer the Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers because they sound better and give you more variety in your tone. It's also really difficult to beat what Fishman has done with the stacked coil technology. If you want a smooth, heavy modern tone with an articulate high end, pay the extra 40 bucks and go with the Fluence Modern set.
Questions about the pickups
If you have questions about the EMG 81/85 or the Fishman Fluence Modern set, drop those in the comments section below. You can also share your experience with us if you've used or owned either set.