According to the good people at EMG pickups, their more recent X-series gives more headroom and extended range in the bass and treble while supposedly also giving a more passive feel to the active pickups. Rodney McG puts that to the test as he takes a closer look at the EMG PX, PCSX, and PAX pickups.
In our pickup comparison, we pit the original and decades-old classic EMG precision and Jazz combo to the newer X-series offerings. The PJ combination has been a classic and industry standard for decades, defining the sound of many recordings and popular boutique basses.
Our comparison will have all three of the current X-series PJ offerings. The PX, the PCSX, and the PAX. So how did they fare?
The PX definitely proves itself to have the extended range advertised. Deeper sub lows and higher frequency response in the upper triple range. The less compressed feel is also present.
The PJCSX is a different flavour than the standard X. It has a significant bump in the 300-hertz area of the low-mids, and some dialled back upper mids giving it more punch and growl, but it still retains the signature EMG PJ tone.
Finally, we have the PAX. This set gives the most distinctly different flavour by having far more center mids in the 500 Hertz area. This gives it a much throatier, and what could even be considered a more vintage style EQ curve that you might find in older passive Fender style split P pickups.
My conclusion was, while many players may pick a favourite, there could be a lot of value in having different variations of the pickup to tailor to the characteristics of your instrument. If you have a particularly scooped bass tone, adding the PAX could compensate, bringing back many center mids. If you have a particularly trebly or bright bass that you want to add some thickness to, the PJCSX combo may give the low-mids that are missing.
Having four different variations on the classic PJ set up with three X and a non X offering, it's not going to be difficult to be able to find exactly the complementary set to the bass you're looking to outfit. All of the different pickups carry the same quick-connect wiring, making installation and removal easy, and solder-free. Having multiple versions of the pickups for easy swap out and different tones in the same instrument is a strong consideration as well.
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