In this roundup we're pulling together electric guitars with EMG pickups. This means they ship with EMG pickups already installed and have no need for a pickup upgrade.
It's no more complicated than that.
And we're doing this for a few simple reasons:
- You can't sort by pickup type/brand on most retailer platforms
- EMG pickups are awesome
- It's easier to sift through a list like this
- We're making recommendations from guitar models, series, and brands that we know and trust
In other words, if you've settled on EMG pickups as a priority feature, this list will make it easy for you to find guitars that meet a high quality standard and ship with a set of EMG pickups already installed.
Electric Guitars with EMG Pickups (our list)
Every single guitar in this list comes with a set of EMG pickups. Hit the comments section if you know of one that we've missed.
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Schecter C-1 Hellraiser Electric Guitar
ESP LTD TE-1000 Evertune
ESP LTD Kirk Hammett Signature KH-602
Fender Jim Root Telecaster HH
Schecter Banshee GT-6 FR
Schecter Damien Platinum 6
ESP LTD EC-1000
ESP E-II Eclipse Blue
Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR-S
Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster
Fender Jim Root Signature Stratocaster
ESP LTD GH-600 Gary Holt Signature
ESP LTD Kirk Hammett EKH-3 Spider
ESP LTD MH-1000FM EverTune
ESP LTD EC-1000 QM
ESP LTD Arrow-1000
ESP LTD Reba Meyers RM-600
ESP E-II Horizon NT-II
Ibanez Premium RG6PKAG
ESP LTD James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte
ESP E-II FRX
ESP LTD M-400
Ibanez Iron Label RGIB21
Jackson Pro Series King V KVTMG
ESP Original Eclipse Custom
ESP LTD James Hetfield Iron Cross
ESP LTD Jeff Hanneman JH-600
Jackson Pro Series Signature Phil Demmel Demmelition Fury PD
A Little Bit About EMG Pickups
Most EMG pickups are active as opposed to passive.
This means they have more natural output with magnets that are actually boosted by power from a 9V battery. They're able to do a particularly good job of handling higher levels of gain and distortion.
On the other side, passive pickups rely on the magnets alone, without any external power source.
Passive pickups are far more common.
You can read more about the differences between active and passive pickups, which could be particularly helpful if you're second-guessing your move into active pickup territory.
One quick note:
The battery in an active pickup might seem like an annoying concept, but they don't need changed often. Depending on how much you play, once or twice a year isn't unusual.
The active EMG pickups you typically find on these electric guitars are a bit louder (hence the higher output) and go well with higher levels of gain and heavier tones. They're used by a wide range of artists, but are particularly popular amongst the metal and heavy rock crowd.
Guitar Brands that Most Commonly Use EMG Pickups
If you're trying to buy the guitar and the pickups you want in one purchase, you'll find that certain guitar brands tend to favor certain pickup brands. This is especially true when you're talking about a reputable third-party pickup company like EMG.
In this case, there are two guitar brands - in particular - that consistently use EMG pickups in their mid to high-level guitar lines.
They include the following:
- ESP LTD
Fender, Jackson, and Ibanez will also occasionally put out guitars that come with EMG pickups installed.
However, the bulk of your options will come from the first two companies.
I don't know for sure if this means they have some kind of deal or partnership in place. I would assume that's true, but I do not know this for sure. It doesn't seem to mean that you can't find EMG pickups in other guitars, but it definitely seems like there's some kind of a business relationship between Schecter, ESP LTD, and EMG pickups.
If you don't want to buy one of these guitars or the options available are turning you off to the idea (maybe you don't like Schecter or ESP LTD), the alternative is to buy the guitar you want and the pickups you want, then do the swap/upgrade yourself.
That's a tougher road to take, but it gives you more flexibility, allowing you to choose exactly the guitar and the pickups you want.
- Buy the guitar with pickups already installed: Easier, quicker, with less options
- Buy the guitar and pickups separate, then do the swap yourself: Harder, but more options
There's no right or wrong way, but if you aren't a fan of modding guitars or you just don't want to fool with that process, the list above could be helpful to you.
None of these are good fits. What now?
As I alluded to, maybe you're disappointed with these options.
Here are two potential alternatives:
- Different guitar and bring-your-own-pickups
- Different guitar brand with different pickups already installed
Other guitar brands will ship with different pickups. For example, Gibson and Fender guitars typically ship with their in-house pickup brand, both of which are fairly good and stand on their own reputation. In fact, people will buy Gibson and Fender brand pickups to put in other guitars.
Other pickup manufacturers include Seymour Duncan (which is all over the place), Fishman, and DiMarzio.
If it's just the nicer pickup you're after, EMG certainly is not your only choice.
Looking into other third party brands will open up your options significantly.
Anything to add?
Have we missed anything in this roundup?
There are certainly other electric guitars with EMG pickups on the market, and if you know about them, leave us a note in the comments section below.
I'll jump in there, check out your recommendation, and add it to the list if it fits the bill.
Keep in mind, we're looking for guitars that ship with EMG pickups, so don't mention anything that is used or has simply had a pickup swap at some point. Otherwise, all is fair game.
I'll see you guys there.