Installing an EMG Afterburner on a guitar with passive pickups

The EMG Afterburner package content

The EMG Afterburner package content

I recently bought an EMG Afterburner as a “tuning part” for my guitar because it was rather cheap and quite an improvement. I didn’t buy the real deal (i.e. EMG 81/85 pickups) because they would more than double the value of the guitar and this wouldn’t be worth it. My guitar feature passive pickups (two single coils, one humbucker) and installing the Afterburner was rather easy, but the wiring is not covered by the instruction manual supplied, so I decided to write this little article.

The EMG Afterburner is a push/pull knob that boosts the output signal by up to 20db, resulting in greater volume for clean sounds and longer sustain for distorted sounds, just as you would get from active pickups.

Simple setup for testing the EMG Afterburner

Simple setup for testing the EMG Afterburner

To install the Afterburner, you first need to replace the input jack from your guitar with the one that comes with the Afterburner. It has an additional connector that is attached to the 9v battery required for the system and that supplies the Afterburner with power when the cable plug is connected (in conclusion this means that you should remove the plug from the jack when the guitar is not in use in order to prolong battery life).

The wiring itself is rather easy. The AB comes with a wiring harness and a battery clip. Connect the wires as follows:

  • The white wire connects to the hot output of the volume control. This is the connector where the tip of the jack you removed was connected to.
  • Solder one of the black wires to ground, wherever  you want, e.g. to the casing of the volume or tone control.
  • The other black wire has to be soldered to the sleeve of the guitar jack.
  • The red wire get connected with the red wire from the battery clip.
  • The green wire is the hot output of the Afterburner and has to be soldered to the tip connector of the guitar jack.
  • That leaves us with the black wire of the battery clip. This wire has to be connected to the third connector of the EMG replacement jack.When the plug is inserted, the battery gets connected and the Afterburner is ready to roll.
EMG Afterburner mounted on the pickguard

EMG Afterburner mounted on the pickguard

The rest of the installation process is simply figuring where to put the control knob and the battery. Remove the plastic knob from the AB using the allen key that it came with and remove the nut. When you found a position with enough space for the AB inside you guitar, drill a hole just big enough for the thread to fit through and secure it from the other side using the nut. Reattach the knob, connect the quick connect socket and a battery (if unsure, you can mount the battery using double sided adhesive tape). Reassemble your guitar and you’re done.

You can know activate the Afterburner by pulling the knob out and increase the boost by turning the knob clockwise. Enjoy!

More images detailing the installation process are available from my Flickr account.

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