EMG unveils the JMaster pickups, offering Jazzmaster modders an active option for classic tones and a zero hum performance

EMG has expanded its Retro Active series with the JMaster, a new electric guitar pickup set available as a standalone pickup pairing or as an integrated Pickguard System
(Image credit: EMG)

EMG has expanded its Retro Active series with the JMaster, a new electric guitar pickup set available as a standalone pickup pairing or as an integrated pickguard system that is aimed at the six-string demographic most likely to perform an aftermarket modification to their instrument, the Jazzmaster owner.

Yes, Jazzmaster aficionados, here comes yet another option to augment your beloved offset, and EMG promises, you won’t even need to fire up the soldering iron. Shipping with Black, Ivory and White pickup covers, the JMaster pickup is a wide stacked single-coil designed around Alnico V magnetic rods. They might look familiar. And judging by the demo videos, they might even sound familiar. But that, says EMG, is the whole point. 

These single-coils are inspired by the original Jazzmaster pickups, trafficking in “a rich and balanced single coil tone”, only with their active design, powered by 9V battery, they offer a zero-hum performance – which is handy when you consider that Jazzmasters are often deployed in highly stocked pedalboard scenarios and with a generous lick from the fuzz pedal.

The JMaster pickups present players with powerful EQ controls, mounted on the pickguard in the usual location on the upper horn of the electric guitar. The SPC control can offer a mid-boost, or with a flick of the switch, you can apply a 12dB boost across all frequencies. 

The EXG control, meanwhile, applies a boost simultaneously bass and treble frequencies, “giving your instrument a liquid tone with full bottom end and enhanced highs”. 

EMG advises checking with your Jazzmaster to see whether it is compatible with the pickguard system before ordering. If not, then maybe the pickup pairing would be a better option. 

The pickguard system is offered with the option of Ivory pickup covers on a tortoiseshell ‘guard, with the Black and White pickup coverings shipped with matching ‘guards. The latter would look particularly clean and cool on a Ice Blue Metallic, but it’s certainly a tough call to make when considered alongside the classic Ivory and tortoiseshell aesthetic. 

The pickguard system arrives with EMG’s solderless install system. Inside the pickup set, you’ve got everything you need for the mod; a 25k tone pot, a 25k volume pot, battery buss, stereo output jack, I/O buss for both pickups, mounting screws, connect cables, and cables for the output and battery. An illustrated four-page instructions booklet shows you what to do and when. 

These pickups are made to order and ship between one and two weeks from purchase. The JMaster pickup pairing is priced $229. The JMaster Pickguard Set is priced $379. And they’re available to preorder now direct from EMG Pickups, shipping from the end of the March.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.