Seymour Duncan Invader VS EMG 81 (comparison)
Our pick: Seymour Duncan Invaders, but it depends...
Since I've used the Invaders in my PRS electrics for a long time, I'm partial to them in this comparison. They give you plenty of aggression, but with some passive-leaning grit and a more natural blues feel. Though for fans of the smoother active pickup tone profile, the EMG 81, and the full Zakk Wylde signature set, are great alternatives.
This is a comparison article focusing on the Seymour Duncan Invaders and the EMG 81 humbucker, the second of which is often paired with the EMG 60 or the EMG 85. All of those EMG pickups are active, meaning they have their own power source, namely a 9V battery.
The Seymour Duncan Invaders - while an aggressive pickup set with a modern edge - are passive pickups.
We'll pit the two against one another using a specs sheet comparison and a grading table.
Let's jump in.
Compare the Seymour Duncan Invader VS EMG 81 (price and specs)
Use this table to shop and compare pricing for the Invader and EMG 81 pickups. Note that the compare+ buttons allow you to see pricing and several of the most relevant specs for these two pickups. If you have questions, feel free to drop them into the comments section below.
Seymour Duncan Invaders
We like the Invaders a little better in most areas where we'd prefer passive pickups. They're a little noisier, but also a bit more organic-sounding. We'd even say the overall tone quality is a bit better in the Invader and would prefer it over the EMG 81 in most scenarios.
Keep in mind, the Invaders come as a set, while the EMG 81 is a single humbucker, usually placed at the bridge position and then used in tandem with a second EMG passive humbucker.
Note that both pickups sound good on the lower end of the EQ spectrum, and both score high for handling distortion (high gain).
We like the 81 a little better for distortion, but they're both excellent with high-gain tones.
Here's our full table, which compares basic grading.
Overall Tone Quality
Comes in a set?
Specs Comparison: Seymour Duncan Invader VS EMG 81
Now, we'll do a second table that compares the spec sheets of both pickups.
Bridge and neck
Bridge (paired with 85 or 60)
Both pickups use a ceramic magnet, while the Invader runs off a 4-conductor lead wire. No mention of this in the EMG 81, perhaps because of the powered, solderless connection.
The 81 is certainly easily to install, and comes with everything you need to do the job yourself.
I've installed the Seymour Duncan Invaders into my PRS CE 24 and it was not particularly simple.
However, I'd still take the Invaders over the 81, regardless of the 60 or 85 pairing.
I just like the sound a little better with some added edge that I can't seem to get out of active humbuckers.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Both of these pickups are great options.
The difference will be how you feel about the passive vs active pickup argument.
Some people swear by active pickups and always use them, while other people are content to stick with passive pickups because of the more natural-sounding appeal. Even humbucker fans that don't use single coils are typically going to have passive humbuckers.
In the Seymour Duncan Invader VS EMG 81 argument, it's helpful to figure out which side of the active/passive coin you are loyal to.
Base your decision on that, as much as any of the differences we've highlighted here.
If you have questions about our comparison or either pickup, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.