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Author Topic: Emerald Review  (Read 12285 times)

Slartibartfarst42

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Emerald Review
« on: September 01, 2012, 12:35:04 AM »
This was originally to be a review of an Emerald set in my PRS SE Custom 24 but the bridge turned out to be too bright so I had to return it and get a Holydiver instead. As a result, most of this review will be about the neck version of the Emerald but I will touch on the bridge version in case my limited experience of it can be of use to others so let's get that out of the way first.

Bridge Emerald

This is a bright pickup, there is absolutely no doubt at all about that but that doesn't mean it's bad. It just needs to be in the right guitar. I thought that as my PRS had a mahogany body, that would be enough to tame it but I was wrong and the maple neck and maple top meant the guitar wasn't naturally dark enough for this pickup. I want to stress that the tone was never bad (far from it), it was simply too bright.

For a vintage hot pickup, this thing is hot and I can see why it's used by a number of Metal players. It's very highly articulate and does have some aggression to it, in a way that is very reminiscent of Thin Lizzy. I can see this doing anything from early Thin Lizzy to John Sykes era and it has enough articulation and tightness that you could certainly do Metallica's version of 'Whisky in the Jar' with it. What marks it apart from other hot pickups is that it retains quite an open sound that does make you think of a PAF tone. It will easily dip into Blues with a healthy Rock edge to it and go on to cover 80's Metal with relative ease. The Emerald is not a pickup that is well represented here sadly and it's a great shame because it has a lot to offer in a very versatile package but you do need a dark guitar to make it work. I nice Les Paul would be ideal but I suppose any dark, all mahogany guitar would work. Just don't get fooled into thinking that the mahogany of a PRS SE will do the trick because it won't.

Neck Emerald

The neck version of the Emerald is a real keeper; no doubt about it. Let me start by saying that this is not my first decent neck pickup. In the past I've used a few different Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio products in the neck as well as a Cold Sweat and Trilogy Suite from BKP. Needless to say, the offerings from Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio don't even come close to what the Emerald will do so I won't bother with those as a comparison. As the Trilogy Suite is single coil I'll also ignore that and base my comparison on the Cold Sweat as that's a very popular neck option so it will serve my purposes well.

The Cold Sweat is good and I mean, REALLY good so I very nearly just ordered another one of those but I'm glad I didn't. To my mind, the Emerald is a better neck pickup even than the almighty Cold Sweat and I assure you, I don't make that claim lightly. It's one of the main reasons why I haven't written this review before now as I've been asking myself if I really feel the Emerald is that good. It is, and here's why:

It does share a number of characteristics with the Cold Sweat in that it is very articulate, not too compressed, very fluid and quite creamy. The thing is, the Emerald is all of that and more. In terms of articulation, there's nothing in it and the Emerald is a bit more open than the Cold Sweat but it is also noticeably more fluid in its lead tones and significantly creamier too. You could play early Dave Murray leads with this thing all day long, when he was using PAF pickups instead of those awful Hotrails. Leads are thick, creamy and fluid all over the neck and NEVER turn to mush, even with quite a bit of gain. The alnico IV magnet really helps I think as the pickup has about the sweetest tone I've ever heard on a neck pickup and I'd have to say that it is a lot sweeter than the Cold Sweat. Like the bridge pickup, it's bright but it's nothing like as overpowering as it is in the bridge model. I now have a Holydiver in the bridge and the Emerald neck pickup is a perfect match, giving you a huge range of tones. As long as you don't have a very bright guitar, you'll probably find the neck pickup more balanced than you'd expect. It's bright but the smooth, thick, fluid creaminess means it's also completely captivating in the tone it produces. I'm using this pickup for anything from high gain solos to Blues and clean strumming. It never disappoints.

The biggest difference between the Emerald neck and the Cold Sweat is in the clean tones. I always loved the Cold Sweat cleans but compared to the Emerald, I'd have to say it's a bit sterile. There is a richness about the Emerald and a sweetness to its tone that the Cold Sweat just can't match. Strum a clean chord on the Emerald and you'll get a chord that is rich and warm with loads of harmonics in it. It's the nearest thing I've ever tried on an electric guitar to playing an acoustic and it's the rich harmonics that are in there that do that.

For once I have no quibbles with the description on the website. It's perfectly accurate and actually, doesn't really do justice to what this pickup can do. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the Holydiver and it really does work well in my PRS but I'm finding I'm constantly switching to the neck pickup for solos so I can get a load of that beautiful Emerald goodness. I even look forward to playing the boring lighter songs with more strumming and less solos because the Emerald is so good. There's a few people on this forum who have said how good the Emerald neck is and they're honestly not lying. Until getting this Emerald, the Cold Sweat was the best neck pickup I'd ever tried by quite a long way but I honestly think the Emerald is better, and not just marginally so. If I could only have one neck pickup to do everything, it would be an Emerald without hesitation. Couple it with a Holydiver in the bridge and there's very little you wouldn't be able to play convincingly. I sincerely hope that more people will give the Emerald a chance because you've no idea what you're missing.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

itamar101

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 12:45:24 AM »
Very good review. Happy you like it :)
I really love it. Definitely the most articulate, balanced and versatile neck pickups I've used!
And the holy diver is just a perfect match in the bridge position :)

Nez

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 08:55:52 AM »
Been waiting for a review like this. Fantastic :)

Miracle Man

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 10:37:22 AM »
You write the best reviews Slarti! Thank you!   8)

One question though: did the Emerald bridge seem to lack bass? I know it's a tight pickup, but I'm worried it might lack some bottom end.

dingleberry

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 11:40:41 AM »
You write the best reviews Slarti! Thank you!   8)

One question though: did the Emerald bridge seem to lack bass? I know it's a tight pickup, but I'm worried it might lack some bottom end.

+1 on the killer reviews, you posted a HD review right before I was planning to and my gf is just about to order an EM bridge for our anniversary lol

Also very interested in the bass content
HD b, VHII n, BD b, Mule n

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 02:21:35 PM »
It has bass but it was so bright in my guitar that the treble dominated everything and as a result the whole thing seemed to lack body. All that treble means it's very tight and articulate but unless you have  a guitar that's nice and dark like a Les Paul, the treble will be too much. It will cut through a lot of mahogany like a hot knife through butter. In my guitar, yes, it lacked bass but in a dark mahogany guitar it should balance up nicely. The core tone was fantastic but in the cold light of day, my PRS SE isn't significantly darker than my Jackson SL3 and that just isn't enough for this bridge pickup. Honestly, if you have a thick and dark sounding Les Paul or any guitar with a lot of mahogany, it should be superb but you really do need that to tame the treble.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 08:59:11 PM »
I should stress that the same is not true of the neck Emerald. Yes, it's still fairly bright but's not overpowering and really does work beautifully in my PRS in a way that the bridge version just wouldn't.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

TheyCallMeVolume

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 11:13:11 PM »
I think BKP should put you on the payroll.

darkbluemurder

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 09:40:52 AM »
Again a brilliant review. Makes me want to put the Emmy neck in the PRS Custom to replace the Cold Sweat neck.

Cheers Stephan

Philly Q

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2012, 11:16:08 AM »
Yes, great review!  :D

I'm very much looking forward to hearing the Emerald neck model, but on the other hand I must admit I am getting slightly worried that the bridge will be too bright.......

Fortunately I'll probably never get round to actually fitting them  :wink:
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM

Brow

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2012, 12:57:14 PM »
I'm very much looking forward to hearing the Emerald neck model, but on the other hand I must admit I am getting slightly worried that the bridge will be too bright.......

Fortunately I'll probably never get round to actually fitting them  :wink:

And that's why you should just give in and sell them to me!  :lol:

Seriously though this review has really given me GAS to take the RYs out of my thicker bodied Tokai LP and replace them with some Emeralds  :D
Selling lots of gear, enquire within!......

Philly Q

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2012, 01:42:33 PM »
I'm very much looking forward to hearing the Emerald neck model, but on the other hand I must admit I am getting slightly worried that the bridge will be too bright.......

Fortunately I'll probably never get round to actually fitting them  :wink:

And that's why you should just give in and sell them to me!  :lol:

Seriously though this review has really given me GAS to take the RYs out of my thicker bodied Tokai LP and replace them with some Emeralds  :D

I feel like I really need to at least try them before I give in and sell them!  :lol:

Interesting that you're thinking of replacing RYs with them, I'm starting to wonder if the Emerald bridge may actually be rather similar to the RY bridge?
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM

TheyCallMeVolume

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2012, 02:30:09 PM »
No experience with an Emerald bridge, but have plenty of experience with an Em neck and RY neck. They are very similar in terms of EQ and overall sound, but I feel like the Em is a bit smoother, creamier, and fluid, while the RY is a bit more aggressive, and in your face. You can take that as you'd like, some like creamy and some like aggressive. I myself like aggressive. YMMV.

Deafcat64

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2012, 02:39:38 PM »
I don't own any Emeralds, but I did spend three weeks trying four sets of BKPs in different guitars. We tried them in 6 different guitars (2 Gibson SGs, Gibson 335, 1970 Les Paul Standard, Jackson Strat with Basswood body, Fender Tele with alder body & 2 humbuckers). The Emeralds sounded best in the most resonant guitars. They sound bright in the less resonant guitars. The vintage LP, the darker of the two SGs and the strat & Tele were amazing, but entirely different tonaly. The 335 was a unique sound. The thing that I noticed was that the guitars that sounded the same acoustically, sounded vastly different with the Emeralds, depending on the resonance of each. The 490, Fralin, and Duncan pickups didn't react this way. I think the Emeralds are the most outstanding pickups we tried in resonant instruments. I think your review is dead on, with the experience I had in the less resonant guitars we tried. I want to put a set of Emeralds in a very resonant 1980 SG Special I have.
1990 G&L S-500, SG Standard
Abraxas, Mississippi Queen

Philly Q

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Re: Emerald Review
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2012, 02:54:34 PM »
^

This is very interesting! 

Did you find that your most resonant guitars also tended to be lighter in weight?  I don't like heavy guitars so I always shop around for lighweights -  and most of those lightweights are also nicely resonant.

I'm now wondering if the Emeralds might work in my super-light, super-resonant Mira X..... 
BKPs I've Got:  RR, BKP-91, ITs, VHII, CS set, Emeralds
BKPs I Had:  RY+Abraxas, Crawlers, BD+SM