EMG DG-20's Explained

EMG DG-20 Pro Series Pickup Set

Around 1985, Gilmour switched from vintage guitars with passive pickups to EMG battery powered active pickups. If you’re looking for a tone from the classic Pink Floyd albums of the 1970’s then a standard Stratocaster will do fine. But if you’re looking for a tone similar to those achieved on the tour for A Momentary Lapse of Reason or the album and tour for The Division Bell then the EMG DG-20 setup could be right for you.

The EMG DG-20 setup comes complete with three active SA single coil pickups, a five-way selector switch, master volume knob, EXG Guitar Expander circuit, and an SPC Presence Control circuit all mounted on a white pearl pickguard. A battery clip with a switching output jack is also included. A minimum amount of soldering (from the pickguard to the output jack) makes it easy to install.

The combination of tones available in the DG-20 is almost endless. The EXG, located just below the volume knob, acts as a treble/bass boost. What this will do is shape the signal in a “V” on a graphic equalizer. This cuts the mids and raises the treble and bass portions of the signal. With this control set upwards of 6–10, it creates a crisp, clean, tone that you will mainly hear while Gilmour plays clean rhythm parts. “Brain Damage” is an excellent example. Through the main riff of the song, setting the EXG on a high setting through the main riff will give you a clean bright tone. The tone is thinner and cuts through the mix, adding clarity. The song “Signs of Life” is another good example of the EXG at work. Here the EXG is set high, while the SPC is rolled back. In certain circumstances, it is possible to use the EXG to get a Telecaster type of sound. You can use the bridge pickup, set the EXG around 8 and the SPC around 2 and it will give you a somewhat “twangy” Telecaster sound while the addition of the SPC gives the signal a little boost. This works well on a song such as “Run Like Hell.”

The SPC effectively cuts the treble and bass while raising the mid portion of the signal (an inverted “V” on a graphic equalizer is another example.) It will give a single coil pickup a warm, humbucker-like tone. Keeping the SPC on zero will yield a flat response. As you turn up the tone, you begin to notice the warm, rich tone associated with Gilmour’s recent work. Take the song “Sorrow;” the SPC is on 10 when the opening riff is performed live. The SPC also effectively boosts the signal, which is essential for any lead.

In essence, the EXG is used to tighten up the tone for clarity and crispness for rhythms while the SPC is boosted to give a thicker tone for lead.

With the complexity of Gilmour’s Pink Floyd performances, with extensive lighting and effects, the EMG setup eliminates unwanted buzz. The setup also drives the enormous amounts of pedals that Gilmour has at his disposal. This in itself is important, there is no tone loss, or signal degradation. In comparison, the signal with on standard Strat with passive pickups would probably seem flat and in need of a volume adjustment. There is no loss of signal or frequency drop off when the volume is turned down on the EMG set up, where you may get frequencies cut in the standard Strat set up. An excellent example would be the recent solo performances (Meltdown and the January London & Paris shows.) Gilmour used guitars without EMG pickups, the tone was good, but it lacked the punch and presence that you come to expect from a Pink Floyd performance. The Delicate Sound Of Thunder and Pulse live videos and CD releases provide an excellent example of Gilmour’s EMG setup at work.

For more detailed information please visit the EMG site www.emginc.com and here is a link to the wiring schematics for the DG-20s http://www.emginc.com/content/wiringdiagrams/DG20_0230-0028A.pdf and a great video on installing them: http://www.emginc.com/videos/emgtv_video/96