|Magnet type||Ceramic magnet|
|Voltage (RMS), V||3.00|
|Voltage (peak), V||4.50|
|Power source||9 V battery|
|Battery life, hours||3000|
The EMG 81 is a popular active humbucker guitar pickup manufactured by EMG, Inc.. It is usually considered a lead pickup for use in the bridge position, paired with EMG's 85 as a rhythm pickup in neck position (Zakk Wylde is famous for this configuration). It's not uncommon, however, to see a guitar with two EMG 81s in both bridge and neck positions (for instance, Kirk Hammett's EMG-KH21 pickup sets, which include two EMG 81 pickups for both neck and bridge positions).
The EMG 81 pickup is preferred as a lead pickup because of its high output and smooth control from having a rail magnet. Rail magnets tend to sound smoother through string bends because they have a constant "rail" that runs through the pickup, while typical guitar pickups have polepieces under each string that lose signal strength as the string bends away from the polepiece. The EMG 81 can be recognized by its dark grey humbucker form-factor and a silver embossed EMG logo.
With its high output, focused mids, consistent tone, tight attack and distinct clarity even under heavy distortion, the EMG 81 is a favorite among heavy metal guitar players.