The EMG-85 was developed as a replacement for the original EMG-58. EMG still manufactures the EMG-58 on occasion, but the newer EMG-85 is different from the original 58. Both models have characteristics that are admirable, but the 85 won out in the end.
Although the EMG-85 has more measurable output than the EMG-81 its frequency response and string interface are different. The 85 uses two Alnico magnet loaded coils with a wide aperture to maintain a beefy low-end and a fatter top end. It’s a perfect choice as a rhythm pickup in combination with an EMG-81 in the bridge, which is the same pickup combination used by Zakk Wylde.
The midrange has better definition and doesn't get foggy or muddy in the rhythm position either. Steve Lukather uses the 85 as his lead pickup in the bridge position of his Ernie Ball Signature "Luke" model. It has loads of output and isn't muddy. The 85 has a natural tone that works great as a rhythm and blues pickup. It appeared on the later Guild Bluesbird (designed by George Gruhn) model which was a favorite of blues player Buddy Guy for years. The EMG-85 works best if you like the natural distortion that comes from overdriving the front end of your amp. Under any conditions it responds accurately to your technique.
|Resonant Frequency (Khz)||2.55|
|RMS Output Voltage||1.25|
|Peak Output Voltage||1.75|
|Output Noise (dBV)||-89|
|Output Impedance (Kohm)||10|
|Current @ 9V (Microamps)||80|
|Battery Life (Hours)||3000|