Updated: October 7, 2020 by Richard Cole
Every guitar manufacturer does an elaborate job at figuring out which pickups to use on their models. This will vary depending on the price range of the guitar and its intended application.
Usually, with lower priced guitars you will get pickups that aren’t all that great. They will offer a more basic performance that most users are looking for, and not much else. As you grow your experience, and are able to notice even the most subtle tone changes, you will probably realize that you need a better guitar.
Many guitar players reach this point every day. To solve this issue, you have two options. Either you go out and get a whole new guitar, or you upgrade your old one using an aftermarket pickup kit. Those that choose the latter will be informed that there are only so many companies to choose from.
One of the most popular ones is definitely EMG. Their 81/85 combo has become somewhat legendary by now.
Quick and Easy
Until quite recently, swapping pickups in your guitar required some skill, and a lot of knowledge. You needed a number of tools at your side before you could even attempt to perform this task.
The main issue aside from figuring out how much wire you will need, and where to connect everything, was the fact that you had to solder everything yourself. No matter how simple this task sounds, soldering new pickups requires soldering skills that not a lot of people have. For every good pickup swap there are at least 2 or 3 that went horribly wrong.
All this changed when EMG started shipping their pickups with quick connect kits. EMG quick connect is a package of goodies whose aim is to completely remove soldering from the equation.
Instead, you get components that are plug and play ready. Every piece of wire and every component comes with jacks and inputs that are already made. All you have to do is plug everything in its place and you’re ready to go.
Of course, you get a manual with the kit that tells you everything you need to know about how to install the kit correctly. Even though it will still take some time to get everything done, but nowhere near as long as it took to solder every connection individually.
This gave EMG a huge edge over its competition, which slowly caught on to the new trend. These kits are definitely becoming a standard in the industry, and for a good reason.
Many people, especially the more conservative guitar players, questioned the quality of connections these pre-made kits offered. For some, soldering is the only way to go.
However, it’s been a while since EMG quick connect kits were first released, and so far all of the fears we as users had were proven to be unfounded. These kits work, and offer a much better rate of success than soldering.
What we like
The reduction in complexity EMG quick connect kits brought to the table completely changed the way pickup swapping works. No longer is it a daunting task that many were too scared to even attempt.
With these, you can swap the pickups on your guitar no matter how technologically proficient you are. It’s like putting together a Lego set.
What we don’t like
There is nothing we can say is bad about these kits. They brought pickup swaps from guitar shops into individual user’s homes.
EMG completely changed the industry when they first introduced the quick connect kits with their pickups. They made it so easy to swap pickups that many are now customizing their old guitars, and giving them a whole new life.
The fact that other manufacturers adopted this new standard means that you are not limited to purchasing EMG pickups if you want an easy install, you have a choice.
No matter how you look at it, EMG quick connect kits are the improvement we waited for a long time. Today changing pickups on your old guitar is easier than ever, and that is something we can only appreciate. If this is something you are interested in doing, we definitely recommend you take this route.