NAMM 2023: EMG seeks to revolutionize offset guitar tones with the launch of active JMaster pickups for Fender Jazzmasters

NAMM 2023: Iconic active pickup manufacturer EMG has ventured into offset waters with the announcement of its new Retro Active JMaster electric guitar pickups for Fender Jazzmasters.

Featuring Alnico V magnets and wide-stacked coils, the active single-coil designs are driven by a vintage-inspired preamp that promises to combine classic feel and playing response with the benefits of an active preamp – namely low noise, more even string response and consistent output.

As well as standalone pickups, the JMaster single coils are also available as a prewired pickguard, which adds additional functionality that goes far beyond the traditional Jazzmaster remit.

That’s no rhythm circuit up there on the upper horn – instead, EMG has packed the pickguards with a range of boosts to shape the sound, which function no matter what pickup selection is active.

First up is the SPC Presence Control, which fattens up tone with a broad midrange boost, adjusted via the roller control nearest the neck. This can be swapped out for a flat boost of up to 12dB via the upper-horn toggle switch.

The other roller tweaks the company’s EXG Expander, which boosts low and high frequencies for chunky yet sparkly sounds.

This is a bold move for EMG and could be a tonal revolution for Jazzmaster players, many of whom will likely find the prewired pickguard’s comprehensive boosting options more useful than the oft-maligned rhythm circuit.

The JMaster prewired pickguard is available at the end of March for $379-399, while standalone pickups – featuring EMG’s solderless wiring kit – start at $229. Black, white and ivory pickup covers are available on all options.

For more info, head over to EMG Pickups.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.