Choosing the right pickup for your electric guitar is one of the most important factors in getting the tone you want. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which pickups are the best for your style and guitar. When shopping for a new pickup, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.
First, determine what type of tone and sound you are aiming for. Do you want a warmer, vintage tone or a brighter, more modern sound? Single coil pickups generally have a brighter, cleaner tone, while humbuckers produce a thicker, heavier sound. If versatility is important, look into pickups that are coil-splittable or allow switching between single coil and humbucker modes.
You’ll also want to consider the output level or gain you want from the pickup. Higher output pickups emphasize low end and distortion, while lower output pickups have a cleaner, more balanced tone. Output level will impact the amount of sustain and overall responsiveness of the pickup. Consider whether you want hot, high output for hard rock and metal or vintage output for blues and classic rock.
Does reduced hum and noise matter to you? Single coil pickups are noisier, while humbuckers almost completely eliminate hum. There are also noiseless single coil designs if you want single coil tone without the hum. And don’t forget about pole pieces. Alnico versus ceramic magnets produce different sounds, and flat versus staggered poles impact string-to-string output balance.
Choosing the ideal pickups for your electric guitar comes down to thinking about your tonal priorities and the nuances that matter most to your sound. Take the time to consider the key factors, weigh your options, and test some pickups out to find your perfect fit. The right pickups can make your guitar come alive.
10 Best Pickups For Electric Guitar
The product is ideal for professional musicians or guitar enthusiasts looking for high-quality sound and a unique design.
Ideal for heavy metal music with fast, low-tuned riffing and extended range soloing, thanks to its 7-string configuration.
The product is ideal for musicians looking for a versatile and high-quality electric guitar with a silver finish and smooth fingerboard.
This electric guitar is ideal for musicians seeking a high-quality instrument with powerful pickups and a visually striking design.
This product is ideal for musicians who want a high-quality, customizable electric guitar with a unique color and comfortable playability.
Ideal for professional guitarists seeking high-quality sound and performance with an edgy, standout design.
This product is ideal for musicians seeking a top-quality electric guitar with a unique color and excellent playability.
Ideal for electric guitar players seeking high performance and bold style with Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups and a unique design.
The product is ideal for musicians who want a high-quality 7-string guitar with Fishman Fluence pickups and a Black Aurora Burst finish.
Ideal for metal and hard rock guitarists who want a versatile instrument with high-quality features and sleek design.
1. Esp Ltd Arrow-1000 Electric Guitar, Violet Andromeda
The Arrow shape has been reimagined into a bold and unique design with high-end components and exceptional build quality, making it an excellent choice for all genres of music, especially metal and hard rock.
Crafted with a neck-thru-body design, the guitar features a solid mahogany body, a 3-piece maple neck, and a Macassar ebony fingerboard. The combination of these materials provides a robust and sturdy feel, suitable for the most intense performances.
To complement its aggressive vibe, the guitar is equipped with a set of EMG 85 (neck) and EMG 81 (bridge) pickups, delivering a powerful and dynamic sound. The Floyd Rose SE bridge with stainless steel screws ensures precise tuning and intonation, while the Grover tuners offer stability and ease of use.
The guitar's Violet Andromeda finish is a standout feature, changing colors depending on the light's angle, adding to its already mesmerizing aesthetic. With its exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail, this guitar is sure to make any musician stand out from the crowd.
2. Fender Player Stratocaster Hsh Electric Guitar, Silver, Pau Ferro Fingerboard
The electric guitar being reviewed boasts of an alder body with a glossy finish, which adds a touch of elegance to its overall appearance. The sleek design of the guitar is complemented by its excellent sound quality, thanks to the two-player series humbucking neck and bridge pickups, and the one-player series single-coil Stratocaster middle pickup. These pickups provide a rich and diverse range of tones, making it an ideal choice for guitar enthusiasts.
The guitar features a “Modern C"-shaped neck profile, which ensures comfortable and effortless playing. The 9.5"-radius fingerboard is smooth and easy to maneuver, allowing for a seamless playing experience. The two-point tremolo bridge with bent-steel saddles is another notable feature of the guitar. It not only enhances the sound quality but also adds to the overall stability and tuning accuracy.
The guitar's pickup configuration is a combination of humbucker and single-coil pickups, which provides a versatile range of tones to suit different playing styles. The guitar is designed for right-handed players, making it an ideal choice for most guitarists.
3. Jackson Rhoads Rrx24 Electric Guitar With Blackout Pickups.
The RRX24 electric guitar is a right-handed instrument designed for the modern metaller. With a poplar body and through-body maple neck, featuring a graphite reinforcement and scarf joint, this guitar is built to last. The 12-16 inch compound radius bound laurel fingerboard boasts 24 jumbo frets and a reverse Jackson pointed 6-in-line headstock.
The RRX24 is equipped with Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups, known for their searing tone. The active pickups can be further shaped by two volume knobs, a single-tone control, and a three-way blade switch. Additionally, this guitar has a recessed Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo system that provides outstanding sustain and solid intonation.
Metal players will appreciate the warm, complex chording and singing leads that the RRX24 delivers. The double-locking tremolo system features zinc alloy saddles and a zinc alloy sustain block. Its design allows for locking the guitar in tune at the nut and at the bridge, resulting in excellent tuning stability and sustain during the most aggressive pull-ups and dive bombs.
4. Fender Special Edition Custom Telecaster Fmt Electric Guitar, Black Cherry Burst, Laurel Fingerboard
The Nato Body with Carved Flame Maple Top guitar is a stunning piece of musical equipment that is sure to catch the eye of any discerning musician. With its sleek design and expert craftsmanship, this guitar is the perfect combination of style and substance.
One of the standout features of this guitar is its Seymour Duncan ’59 and Pearly Gates pickups. These pickups are renowned for their high-quality sound and ability to pick up even the subtlest nuances of a performance. Whether you are playing live or recording in the studio, these pickups will ensure that your sound is crisp, clear, and full of character.
Another key feature of this guitar is its set neck. This design allows for greater sustain and resonance, while also providing a comfortable playing experience. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, you will appreciate the smooth feel of this guitar as you play your favorite tunes.
The body of this guitar is crafted from Nato wood, a durable and lightweight material that is ideal for musical instruments. The carved flame maple top adds a touch of elegance to the overall design, while also enhancing the guitar's tone and resonance.
5. Neon Blackout Rhoads Electric Guitar
The RRX24 electric guitar is a six-string instrument designed specifically for right-handed players. Its body is made of poplar, while the neck is constructed from through-body maple with graphite reinforcement and a scarf joint. The bound laurel fingerboard features 24 jumbo frets and has a compound radius of 12-16 inches. The reverse Jackson pointed 6-in-line headstock completes the sleek look of the guitar.
For a searing tone, the RRX24 is equipped with a pair of active Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups. These pickups are perfect for modern metal players and can be further shaped by two volume knobs, a single-tone control, and a three-way blade switch. Additionally, the guitar features a recessed Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo system for outstanding sustain and solid intonation.
The RRX24 is an excellent choice for metal players who want warm complex chording and singing leads. The double-locking tremolo system is made from zinc alloy saddles and a zinc alloy sustain block. Its design allows the guitar to lock in tune at the nut and at the bridge, providing excellent tuning stability and sustain even during the most aggressive pull-ups and dive bombs.
6. Fender Special Edition Custom Telecaster Fmt Electric Guitar, Amber, Laurel Fingerboard
Introducing the Nato Body with Carved Flame Maple Top guitar, a high-quality instrument designed for musicians who demand top-notch performance and style. Crafted from premium materials, this guitar is the perfect choice for those seeking exceptional tone and playability.
One of the standout features of this guitar is its stunning carved flame maple top, which not only looks great but also adds to the instrument's overall tonal qualities. The body is made from nato wood, which is known for its balanced tone and sustain.
The guitar comes equipped with two high-quality Seymour Duncan pickups – the '59 at the neck and the Pearly Gates at the bridge. These pickups are renowned for their clarity and versatility, making them perfect for a wide range of musical styles.
The set neck design of this guitar ensures excellent sustain and resonance, while the package dimensions of 4.4"H x 44.6"L x 16.1"W make it easy to store and transport.
7. Neon Blackout Rhoads Guitar By Jackson
The RRX24 electric guitar is a top-of-the-line Right-Handed Dexterity instrument designed for metal players who demand the best. With its basswood body and through-body maple neck, this guitar exudes quality and craftsmanship. The graphite reinforcement and scarf joint ensure optimal stability and strength, while the 12-16 inch compound radius bound laurel fingerboard allows for effortless playability and comfort.
This guitar is equipped with a pair of active Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups, which deliver a powerful, searing tone that is perfect for modern metal music. The pickups can be further shaped with the two volume knobs, single-tone control, and three-way blade switch. This allows for complete control over your sound, ensuring you can achieve the exact tone you desire.
The RRX24 also features a recessed Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo system, which provides outstanding sustain and solid intonation. The tremolo system is made with zinc alloy saddles and a zinc alloy sustain block, ensuring optimal durability and reliability. The double-locking design allows you to lock your guitar in tune at the nut and at the bridge, resulting in excellent tuning stability throughout your most aggressive pull-ups and dive bombs.
This guitar is the ideal fit for metal players looking for warm complex chording and singing leads. Its reverse Jackson pointed 6-in-line headstock and bound laurel fingerboard add a touch of elegance, making it not only a powerful instrument but also an attractive one.
8. 7-String Axion Label With Fluence Pickups.
The Ibanez Mono-Rail bridge is an innovative design that reduces cross-talk between strings. This unique feature ensures that each string produces a clear and distinct sound, making it perfect for both beginner and advanced players.
Crafted from Macassar Ebony, the fretboard delivers a tight low and mid-range, while also providing a strong attack in the highs. With quick response and rich sustain, this fretboard is ideal for a variety of playing styles.
The humbucker pickups are specifically designed to produce an aggressive tone without creating excess noise. This is particularly useful for players who want to unleash their inner rock star without worrying about feedback or other unwanted sounds.
The Nitro Wizard 5-piece Panga Panga/Walnut neck is crafted to provide a substantial increase in sustain. The neck is made from high-quality materials that ensure it remains stable and durable, even during the most intense performances.
The Schaller S-Locks strap system is built to withstand the toughest conditions on stage. With its indestructible design, these straps will never fail, ensuring that the guitar remains securely attached to the player at all times.
9. Schecter Reaper-6 Fr-S – Satin Inferno Burst
This electric guitar is a solidbody instrument that boasts a swamp ash body, providing a unique tonal quality that is both warm and articulate. The Floyd Rose Tremolo system offers a smooth and stable vibrato, allowing for expressive playing and dive bombs. The satin inferno burst finish gives the guitar a sleek and stylish look.
Equipped with a Sustainiac humbucking pickup, this guitar produces a rich and sustained tone that is perfect for lead playing. Additionally, it features a humbucking pickup that delivers a classic and versatile sound. These pickups are wired to a 5-way switch, providing a wide range of tonal options.
The guitar has a maple/walnut neck that is both sturdy and comfortable to play. The neck is designed for speed and precision, making it ideal for shredders and players who demand accuracy. The guitar has a 25.5 inch scale length and a 24 fret rosewood fingerboard, providing ample room for exploration and experimentation.
Best Pickups For Electric Guitar FAQs
Are active or passive pickups better for achieving a modern, high-gain sound on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a modern, high-gain sound on an electric guitar, both active and passive pickups have their own advantages and disadvantages. Passive pickups are known for their warm, organic, and dynamic tone, which is ideal for achieving vintage and classic rock sounds. On the other hand, active pickups are designed to boost the signal and provide a more aggressive, focused, and compressed tone, which is perfect for modern metal and heavy rock styles.
In terms of output and sensitivity, active pickups are generally louder and more responsive than passive pickups, which makes them ideal for high-gain and shredding techniques. However, they can also be more sterile and less expressive than passive pickups, which can be a disadvantage for some players.
Ultimately, the choice between active and passive pickups depends on personal preferences, playing style, and the specific genre and sound you want to achieve. Some guitarists prefer to mix and match both types of pickups to get the best of both worlds, while others stick with one type for consistency and simplicity. The key is to experiment and find the right balance of tone, clarity, and power for your playing needs.
Are single-coil or humbucker pickups better for playing blues on an electric guitar?
When it comes to playing blues on an electric guitar, both single-coil and humbucker pickups have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Single-coil pickups are known for their crisp, bright tone, which can help you achieve a more twangy and articulate sound in blues music. They are also great for playing clean tones, which is a common feature in blues music. On the other hand, humbuckers are known for their thicker and warmer tone, which can help you achieve a more mellow and smooth sound in blues music. They are also great for playing distorted tones, which is a common feature in rock and blues music.
Ultimately, the choice between single-coil and humbucker pickups for playing blues on an electric guitar depends on your personal preference and the sound you want to achieve. Some blues guitarists prefer the bright and articulate sound of single-coil pickups, while others prefer the warm and mellow sound of humbuckers. The best way to find out which one is right for you is to try them both out and see which one you prefer.
Are there any pickups that are particularly versatile and work well for a variety of different styles on an electric guitar?
Yes, there are several pickups that are known for their versatility and ability to handle a wide range of musical styles on an electric guitar. One of the most popular pickups is the Seymour Duncan JB, which is known for its balanced tone and ability to handle everything from blues to heavy metal. Another popular choice is the DiMarzio Super Distortion, which is known for its high output and ability to produce thick, rich tones. The Gibson Burstbucker is also a favorite among many guitarists, as it offers a classic, vintage sound that works well for a variety of styles. Other versatile pickups include the Fender Vintage Noiseless, the EMG 81/85, and the Bare Knuckle Nailbomb. Ultimately, the best pickup for you will depend on your personal preferences and the specific sound you are looking to achieve, but any of these pickups would be a great starting point.
What are the best pickups for achieving a classic rock sound on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a classic rock sound on an electric guitar, the choice of pickups is crucial. Single-coil pickups or humbuckers are the most popular options for achieving this sound. Single-coil pickups are known for their bright and clear tone, while humbuckers offer a thicker and warmer sound.
For a classic rock sound, many guitarists prefer the clarity and brightness of single-coil pickups. The Fender Stratocaster is a classic example of a guitar that uses single-coil pickups. The bridge pickup on a Stratocaster provides a bright and cutting tone that is perfect for playing classic rock riffs and solos.
On the other hand, humbucker pickups are also a popular choice for classic rock. They offer a thicker and warmer tone that can really beef up a guitar sound. The Gibson Les Paul is a classic example of a guitar that uses humbucker pickups. The neck pickup on a Les Paul provides a warm and full-bodied tone that is perfect for playing bluesy and soulful solos.
Ultimately, the best pickups for achieving a classic rock sound will depend on personal preference and the specific sound you are trying to achieve. It's always a good idea to experiment with different pickups and find the ones that work best for your playing style and musical taste.
What are the best pickups for achieving a clean, crisp tone on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a clean, crisp tone on an electric guitar, the choice of pickups plays a crucial role. Generally, single-coil pickups are known for their brighter and cleaner sound, while humbuckers are known for their warmer and fuller sound.
For achieving a clean and crisp tone, single-coil pickups like Fender Stratocaster pickups or Seymour Duncan SSL-1 pickups are a great choice. These pickups are known for their clarity, brightness, and articulation. They are great for playing clean rhythm guitar parts, as well as for lead playing that requires a lot of note definition.
Another great option for a clean and crisp tone is the P90 pickup. It's a single-coil pickup that has a slightly thicker sound compared to traditional single-coils. It has a more mid-range focused sound that provides a great balance between warmth and clarity.
Ultimately, the best pickups for achieving a clean and crisp tone will depend on personal preference and playing style. It's always a good idea to try out different pickups to find the one that suits your needs best.
What are the best pickups for achieving a vintage tone on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a vintage tone on an electric guitar, the pickups are one of the most important factors. There are a variety of pickups on the market that can help you achieve this sound, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
One popular option is the single-coil pickup, which was commonly used in vintage guitars from the 1950s and 60s. These pickups have a bright, clear tone that is often associated with genres like blues, rock, and country. Some popular single-coil pickups include the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster pickups, as well as the Seymour Duncan Antiquity series.
Another option is the humbucker pickup, which was developed in the 1950s as a way to reduce unwanted noise and provide a thicker, more powerful tone. While not typically associated with vintage tones, there are several humbucker pickups that can help you achieve this sound, such as the Gibson Burstbucker and the Seymour Duncan '59.
Ultimately, the best pickups for achieving a vintage tone will depend on your playing style, the type of guitar you have, and the sound you're trying to achieve. It's always a good idea to try out different pickups and consult with a professional before making a purchase.
What are the best pickups for achieving a warm, full-bodied tone on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a warm and full-bodied tone on an electric guitar, there are several pickup options that can help you achieve this desired sound. Humbucker pickups are known for producing a warm and thick tone, due to the fact that they use two coils to cancel out unwanted hum and noise. P-90 pickups are also a great option for a full-bodied tone, as they produce a wider frequency range and a more complex sound than a typical single-coil pickup. Single-coil pickups, such as those found on Fender Stratocasters, can also provide a warm and full tone, especially when used in combination with the guitar's tone and volume controls. Additionally, using thicker strings and playing techniques such as fingerpicking or palm muting can also contribute to a warmer and fuller tone. Ultimately, the best pickups for achieving a warm and full-bodied tone will depend on personal preference and the specific sound you are trying to achieve.
Which pickups are best for achieving a bright, sparkly sound on an electric guitar?
When it comes to achieving a bright and sparkly sound on an electric guitar, there are a few pickup options that can help achieve this tone. Single-coil pickups are often a popular choice for this type of sound, as they have a brighter and more articulate tone than humbucker pickups. Some popular single-coil pickups for achieving a bright sound include the Fender Stratocaster pickups, the Seymour Duncan SSL-1, and the DiMarzio Area 58. Another option is to choose a humbucker pickup with a coil split option, which allows you to switch between a full humbucker sound and a brighter single-coil sound. Examples of humbucker pickups with coil split options include the Seymour Duncan JB and the Gibson Burstbucker. Ultimately, the best pickups for achieving a bright and sparkly sound will depend on personal preference and the specific guitar and amp setup being used.
Which pickups are best suited for playing jazz music on an electric guitar?
When it comes to playing jazz music on an electric guitar, there are a few different types of pickups that can work well, depending on your personal preferences and playing style. One popular option is the humbucker pickup, which is known for its warm, fat tone and ability to reduce unwanted noise and feedback. Many jazz guitarists prefer humbuckers because they can produce a full-bodied sound that complements the complex harmonies and melodies of jazz music. Another option is the single-coil pickup, which has a brighter, more articulate tone that can help individual notes stand out in a mix. Some jazz guitarists prefer single-coil pickups because they allow for more nuance and expression in their playing. Ultimately, the best pickups for playing jazz music on an electric guitar will depend on your own playing style and preferences. It's worth experimenting with different pickups and configurations to find the tone that works best for you.
Which pickups work best for playing heavy metal and hard rock on an electric guitar?
When it comes to playing heavy metal and hard rock on an electric guitar, the choice of pickups can greatly affect the overall sound and tone. Typically, high-output pickups with a strong midrange and bass response are preferred for these genres.
One popular option for heavy metal and hard rock is the humbucker pickup, which features two coils that cancel out hum and noise while delivering a thick and powerful sound. Humbuckers with ceramic magnets are often used for their high output and aggressive tone.
Another option is the active pickup, which uses a battery to boost the signal and provide a higher output. Active pickups are known for their clarity and sustain, making them a popular choice for heavy distortion and fast playing.
Ultimately, the best pickups for playing heavy metal and hard rock will depend on personal preference and the specific sound you are trying to achieve. It is recommended to try out different pickups and experiment with settings to find the perfect tone for your playing style.