Best Electric Guitar Pickups 2024

best electric guitar pickups

The 3 Best Electric Guitar Pickups:

Electric Guitar PickupsReason to Buy
DiMarzio Super Distortion Humbucker Electric Guitar PickupHot output and mid-boost make it great for crunch and high-gain tones. Versatile for both neck and bridge positions.
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Humbucker Electric Guitar PickupPerfect for heavy distortion, offering clean tones that are clear. Suitable for heavy blues or rock, though some note a lack of clarity in the low end.
Fender Tex-Mex Stratocaster Electric Guitar PickupBudget-friendly with warm Texas blues sound. Provides a good balance of grit and clarity, offering a wide range of tones.

Among the crucial components you need for an electric guitar are electric guitar pickups that stand out as the heart and soul of your instrument’s tone. Just as a painter carefully selects their colors, a guitarist must carefully select the guitar pickups that will bring their music to life.

The world of electric guitar pickups is a universe of possibilities, where nuances in design, materials, and construction can dramatically alter the way your guitar sings. Whether you’re a soulful blues player, a shredding metalhead, or a versatile rock aficionado, the right pickup can take your playing to new heights.

In this exploration of the best electric guitar pickups, we’ll delve into a curated selection of pickups that have captured the hearts and ears of musicians across genres.

From classic PAF-style humbuckers to cutting-edge active pickups, let’s embark on a journey to discover the tones that resonate with you on a profound level.

Go here if you’re looking for the best guitar pedals (effects pedals).

Things To Consider When Choosing Electric Guitar Pickups

Choosing the right electric guitar pickups is crucial for achieving the desired tone and playability of your instrument. Here are some important factors to consider when making your selection:

  1. Type of Pickup:
    • Single-Coil Pickups: Known for their bright and clear tones, single-coil pickups are popular for genres like blues, funk, and classic rock.
    • Humbucker Pickups: Humbuckers offer a warmer and thicker sound, with reduced noise due to their design that cancels out hum. They are favored for genres like rock, metal, and jazz.
    • P-90 Pickups: These pickups fall between single-coil and humbucker designs, providing a unique and gritty tone suitable for various styles.
  2. Tone and Sound Quality:
    • Consider the tonal characteristics you’re aiming for. Do you want a bright and chimey sound or a fat and thick sound? Research the pickups used by your favorite guitarists in the genres you’re interested in.
  3. Output Level:
    • Pickups with higher output levels provide more distortion and sustain, making them suitable for heavier genres. Lower-output pickups can be more dynamic and responsive to playing nuances.
  4. Playing Style:
    • Your playing technique can influence pickup choice. If you play with a lot of aggression, you might prefer pickups that handle high gain well. If you prefer a lighter touch, you might want pickups that respond well to dynamics.
  5. Genre and Musical Style:
    • Different genres often require different tonal characteristics. Research what pickups are commonly used in the style of music you play to help guide your decision.
  6. Coil Configuration:
    • For humbuckers, consider whether you want a standard two-coil design or something more complex like a coil-splitting or coil-tapping option for increased tonal versatility.
  7. Magnet Type:
    • The type of magnet used in the pickup can affect the overall sound. Alnico magnets (Alnico II, III, IV, V) offer varying degrees of warmth and clarity, while ceramic magnets provide a stronger and more focused sound.
  8. Neck and Bridge Pickups:
    • Neck pickups are usually warmer and more articulate, while bridge pickups are often brighter and have better cutting power. Some pickup sets are designed to complement each other for a balanced overall sound.
  9. Wiring and Controls:
    • Some pickups come with additional wiring options like coil splitting, phase switching, or series/parallel configurations, which can greatly expand your tonal palette.
  10. Brand and Reputation:
    • Established brands often have a track record of producing reliable and high-quality pickups. Do your research and read reviews from other players to get a sense of a brand’s reputation.
  11. Budget:
    • Pickups come in a wide price range. Determine your budget and explore options that fit within it. Keep in mind that pickups can significantly impact your guitar’s tone, so it’s often worth investing in quality.
  12. Installation:
    • Consider whether you’re comfortable installing the pickups yourself or if you’ll need professional help. Some pickups might require modifications to your guitar’s body or electronics.
  13. Personal Preference:
    • Ultimately, your own preferences play a significant role. Trust your ears and choose pickups that resonate with your musical vision and style.

Remember that pickups can significantly influence your guitar’s sound, so take your time to research, listen to demos, and ideally, try out different options before making a decision.

10 Best Electric Guitar Pickups

1. DiMarzio Super Distortion Humbucker

DiMarzio Pickup (SUPER DISTORTION) F Spaced, Black
  • Recommended for: The Super Distortion is primarily a bridge position pickup, although it can be used in the neck position with a relatively low-gain amp. Specifically designed for solid-bodies: hollow and semi-hollow guitars can be hard to control with warm, high output pickups
  • Quick Connect: No
  • Wiring: 4 conductor
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Resistance: 13.68 Kohm


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: High
  • Wiring: 4-conductor
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Position: Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Classic high output sound
Well-suited for rock and metal genres
Strong midrange presence

Reasons to Avoid:

Might lack versatility for certain styles
Can be too aggressive for softer genres
Not ideal for clean tones

In-depth Description:

The DiMarzio Super Distortion Humbucker is a legendary pickup known for its high output and powerful sound. Designed with rock and metal genres in mind, it delivers a signature crunch and sustain that has been favored by countless guitarists. The ceramic magnet contributes to its aggressive tone and strong midrange presence, making it perfect for cutting through dense mixes. It’s typically installed in the bridge position of electric guitars.

One of the main reasons to buy the DiMarzio Super Distortion is its iconic sound. When you’re looking to crank up the gain and deliver crushing riffs, this pickup shines. It’s the choice of players who seek that classic hard rock and metal sound with thick, harmonically rich tones. The Super Distortion’s high output ensures that your solos will soar effortlessly above the mix, and its pronounced midrange ensures your playing won’t get lost in the band’s sound.

However, due to its inherently aggressive nature, the Super Distortion might not be the most versatile pickup. It’s not the best choice for players who dabble in various genres, especially those requiring clean or mellow tones. The pickup’s emphasis on midrange and high frequencies might not be suitable for styles like jazz or blues, where a warmer and more balanced tone is desired.

In conclusion, the DiMarzio Super Distortion Humbucker is a beast of a pickup that has left an indelible mark on the world of rock and metal music. If you’re a guitarist who loves high-octane riffs, searing solos, and a commanding stage presence, this pickup is worthy of serious consideration. Just be mindful of its specific sonic character and ensure it aligns with your preferred playing style.

2. Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Humbucker Pickup

Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Bridge Humbucker Pickup – Electric Guitar Pickup, Perfect for Blues, Country, Punk, Hard Rock, and Metal
  • Powerful and Versatile – Time-tested hot-rodded bridge humbucker for any style – from blues to thrash; delivers full lows, crisp highs, and singing upper-midrange that adds crunch to heavy chords.
  • Dynamic Sustain – Hot output pushes your amp for added sustain and harmonics. Provides a perfect complement for single notes, solos, and heavy chords alike.
  • Easy Tone Customization – Use 500k volume pot for high-end cut or 250k pot for softer tones and smoother styles. The JB Model pairs well with Jazz or ’59 neck pickups, or you can even use a JB pickup in the neck position for an extra-fat solo tone.
  • Legendary Humbucker – The JB Model is the ultimate hot-rodded humbucker, with a reputation backed for nearly five decades, making this pickup a true modern classic.
  • Made in the USA – Hand built in our factory in Santa Barbara, CA, this humbucker pickup uses an alnico 5 bar magnet, nickel silver bottom plate, 4-conductor lead wire for multiple wiring options, and is vacuum wax potted for squeal-free performance.


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: High
  • Wiring: 4-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Position: Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Versatile for multiple music genres
Balances between high output and clarity
Dynamic response

Reasons to Avoid:

Might not be “extreme” enough for some metal subgenres
Treble can be too pronounced for certain setups
Neck pickup pair might be needed for tonal balance

In-depth Description:

The Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Humbucker Pickup is a versatile powerhouse known for its ability to handle a wide range of musical genres. With a balanced combination of high output and clear articulation, it’s a popular choice among players who want a pickup that can seamlessly transition from clean to distorted tones. Positioned primarily in the bridge slot, it’s famous for its dynamic response and tonal flexibility.

One of the standout features of the JB SH-4 is its versatility. It’s equally comfortable delivering crunchy rhythms as it is producing searing lead lines. This adaptability makes it a go-to pickup for guitarists who enjoy playing different styles within the rock and metal spectrum. The Alnico V magnet contributes to its well-defined treble response while maintaining a warm low end.

The JB SH-4’s high output and clear highs are key reasons to consider it. The pickup is responsive to pick attack and volume changes, allowing for expressive playing dynamics. It’s able to handle high levels of gain without becoming muddy, ensuring that even complex chords and fast passages remain distinct and well-defined.

However, for players seeking the most extreme levels of metal distortion, the JB SH-4 might fall short in comparison to more specialized pickups. While it excels in many genres, it might not provide the ultra-tight low-end response required in certain subgenres of metal.

To maximize tonal balance, pairing the JB SH-4 with a suitable neck pickup is recommended. This ensures that the full spectrum of your playing is accurately represented, from warm and smooth neck tones to aggressive and cutting bridge sounds.

In summary, the Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Humbucker Pickup is a versatile workhorse that caters to a wide range of musical styles. Whether you’re performing classic rock, blues, or hard-hitting metal, this pickup’s ability to deliver both power and clarity makes it a solid choice for players who demand versatility without compromising on quality.

3. Fender Tex-Mex Stratocaster Pickups

Fender Tex-Mex Strat Pickups
  • Produces the characteristics of a vintage-style Stratocaster.
  • Offers increased output.
  • Alnico V magnets with Polysol-coated magnet wire.
  • The Fender volume pedal, the sleekFender volume tone pedal gives you masterful, zen-like control over both volume and, um, tone.
  • Tilt this bad boy back and forth to reign supreme o’er the kingdom of volume


  • Type: Single-coil
  • Output: Vintage
  • Wiring: 3-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Position: Neck, Middle, and Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Classic vintage Stratocaster tone
Well-suited for blues, rock, and country
Versatile for various playing styles

Reasons to Avoid:

Might not provide high-output tones
Limited suitability for heavy distortion
Noise and interference common in single-coil pickups

In-depth Description:

The Fender Tex-Mex Stratocaster Pickups capture the classic, timeless sound that has defined Fender Stratocaster guitars for decades. Designed to replicate the tone of vintage Strat pickups, these single-coils are ideal for players seeking that iconic chime, quack, and bell-like clarity. With positions available for the neck, middle, and bridge, these pickups contribute to the quintessential Stratocaster sound.

One of the key reasons to consider the Tex-Mex pickups is their ability to produce vintage Stratocaster tones. These pickups offer a balance of warmth and brightness, making them well-suited for genres like blues, rock, and country. Their Alnico V magnets contribute to the traditional Stratocaster character, providing a smooth yet articulate response that’s perfect for both rhythm and lead playing.

The Tex-Mex pickups offer versatility across a range of playing styles. From clean and jangly chord progressions to biting solos with a touch of overdrive, these pickups excel in delivering a broad sonic palette. However, due to their vintage nature, they might not provide the high-output tones needed for heavy metal or aggressive hard rock genres.

It’s important to note that single-coil pickups like the Tex-Mex can be prone to noise and interference, particularly in high-gain environments. Players who require silent operation or extreme levels of distortion might find these pickups less suitable compared to noise-cancelling or humbucker alternatives.

In conclusion, the Fender Tex-Mex Stratocaster Pickups embody the soul of Fender’s most iconic instrument. If you’re a guitarist who appreciates vintage tones, crystal-clear highs, and the ability to switch between genres effortlessly, these pickups offer a reliable and authentic solution. Just be aware of their inherent noise susceptibility and ensure they align with your desired playing style.

4. EMG 81 Active Guitar Humbucker Pickup

EMG 81 Active Guitar Humbucker Bridge/Neck Pickup, Black
  • Utilizes powerful ceramic magnets and close aperture coils
  • The tone was designed with detailed intensity, incredible amounts of high end cut, and fluid sustain
  • In the bridge position of your guitar, it will make your leads slice right through even the densest mix
  • When used in both neck and bridge positions the sound can only be described as blistering
  • Other recommended pairings include the classic 81/85 setup and the versatile 81/60 combo


  • Type: Active Humbucker
  • Output: High
  • Wiring: Solderless (Quik-Connect)
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Position: Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

High-output metal tones
Low noise and interference
Solderless installation

Reasons to Avoid:

Less suitable for clean tones
Active electronics require battery
Limited dynamics compared to passive pickups

In-depth Description:

The EMG 81 Active Guitar Humbucker Pickup is a staple in the world of modern metal and hard rock. Known for its high-output and aggressive sound, this active pickup is specifically designed to provide the intense distortion required for heavy genres. As an active pickup, it incorporates built-in electronics that require a battery to operate.

One of the standout features of the EMG 81 is its ability to deliver crushing metal tones. The ceramic magnet contributes to its high-output and tight response, ensuring that palm-muted riffs and blistering solos cut through the mix with precision. Its low-noise performance is another advantage, making it a popular choice for high-gain setups.

The EMG 81’s solderless installation process, known as Quik-Connect, simplifies the pickup installation process, even for players without extensive technical knowledge. However, its active nature requires a 9-volt battery to power the onboard electronics, so regular battery replacements are necessary.

While the EMG 81 excels in producing extreme distortion, it might not be the best choice for players seeking clean or dynamically responsive tones. The pickup’s inherent nature can lead to a somewhat compressed sound, limiting the dynamic range compared to passive pickups.

In conclusion, the EMG 81 Active Guitar Humbucker Pickup is a go-to solution for players who thrive on extreme metal tones and require minimal noise interference. If you’re looking for that signature tightness and sustain associated with modern metal, this pickup offers a reliable solution. Just keep in mind the need for battery replacements and the pickup’s characteristics when it comes to clean playing and dynamics.

5. Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Black Plastic Set

Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Pickup Set with Black Plastic Cover
  • Active Humbucking-sized Electric Guitar Pickup Set with Multi-voice Fluence Ce – Black
  • The most coveted, historical single coil tones without the hum; From vintage sweetness and clarity to muscular overwound punch, in the same guitar
  • Original and totally re-imagined, Fishman Fluence pickups are free from the hum, noise and frustrating inductance issues that plague even the most coveted wire-wound pickups
  • Fishman is dedicated to helping musicians achieve the truest sound possible whenever they plug in


  • Type: Active Humbucker
  • Output: Variable (multiple voice options)
  • Wiring: Solderless (Quik-Connect)
  • Magnet: Alnico/Ceramic blend
  • Position: Bridge and Neck

Reasons to Buy:

Multiple tonal voices for versatility
Noiseless operation
Balanced Alnico/Ceramic tone

Reasons to Avoid:

Complex electronics might require learning curve
Active electronics require battery
Premium price point

In-depth Description:

The Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Black Plastic Set represents a leap forward in pickup technology. These active pickups offer multiple voicings, allowing you to switch between different tonal profiles within the same pickup. This set is designed with the modern guitarist in mind, offering high-output and versatile tones for a range of genres.

One of the standout features of the Fishman Fluence set is its voice options. With multiple distinct tones available, you’re not limited to a single sonic character. From vintage warmth to modern aggression, these pickups cater to a wide spectrum of playing styles. This versatility eliminates the need to swap out pickups for different genres.

Noiseless operation is another advantage of the Fishman Fluence pickups. Traditional single-coils and some humbuckers are often plagued by unwanted hum and interference, but the active electronics in these pickups ensure a quiet signal path, even in high-gain situations.

The blend of Alnico and Ceramic magnets contributes to the balanced tonal character of the Fishman Fluence set. This blend aims to capture the warmth of Alnico while maintaining the punch of Ceramic, resulting in a dynamic and responsive sound.

However, the advanced electronics of the Fishman Fluence pickups might come with a learning curve for those unfamiliar with the technology. Additionally, like other active pickups, these require a battery for operation, and they come at a premium price point due to their innovative features.

In conclusion, the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Black Plastic Set is a cutting-edge choice for guitarists who demand tonal versatility and modern performance. If you’re seeking a pickup that adapts to various genres without compromising on sound quality, and you’re comfortable with the technical aspects of active pickups, these pickups are worth considering.

6. Gibson 57 Classic Humbucker Pickup

Gibson Original 57 Classic Pickup Double, Black Nickel Cover
  • Wax Potted
  • Double Black Bobbins Nickel Cover
  • Features Alnico II Magnet, and braided 4-conductor wiring for more tonal options
  • Vintage vibes with rich, warm tones and balanced coils


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: Vintage
  • Wiring: 2-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico II
  • Position: Neck and Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Authentic vintage PAF tone
Smooth and warm sound
Suitable for blues, jazz, and classic rock

Reasons to Avoid:

Might lack the bite and aggression for modern genres
Limited coil-splitting options
Less output for heavy distortion

In-depth Description:

The Gibson 57 Classic Humbucker Pickup pays homage to the legendary PAF (Patent Applied For) pickups that defined the sound of vintage Gibson guitars. With its Alnico II magnets and classic construction, this pickup offers a smooth, warm, and balanced sound that’s perfect for players who appreciate vintage tones.

The primary reason to consider the Gibson 57 Classic is its authentic vintage character. These pickups are designed to replicate the tonal qualities of the original PAFs from the 1950s. With a focus on warmth, clarity, and harmonic richness, they’re particularly well-suited for genres like blues, jazz, and classic rock.

The smooth and warm sound of the 57 Classic is another selling point. These pickups excel in producing clean and articulate tones, making them a preferred choice for those who prioritize expressive playing and melodic lines. The Alnico II magnets contribute to the pickup’s lush and musical response.

However, the 57 Classic might not be the best fit for players seeking aggressive and modern tones. Their lower output and vintage construction might lack the bite and edge required for genres like heavy metal and hard rock. Additionally, the limited coil-splitting options compared to modern pickups might restrict tonal exploration.

In conclusion, the Gibson 57 Classic Humbucker Pickup is a must-have for guitarists who are drawn to vintage authenticity and a warm, timeless sound. If you’re a fan of classic rock tones, bluesy licks, and smooth jazz melodies, these pickups capture the essence of vintage Gibson and are well worth considering.

7. Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup

Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup Set – Zebra
  • Electric Guitar Humbucking Neck/Bridge Pickup Set – Uncovered
  • Zebra Bobbins


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: Vintage
  • Wiring: 4-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico II
  • Position: Neck and Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Classic Texas blues tone
Versatile for rock and country
Balanced output for dynamic playing

Reasons to Avoid:

Might lack extreme high gain
Not suitable for modern metal
Limited voicing options

In-depth Description:

The Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup is celebrated for its association with the iconic Texas blues sound. Co-designed with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, these pickups are known for their warm, slightly gritty character that’s ideal for delivering expressive bluesy tones.

One of the main selling points of the Pearly Gates pickups is their ability to capture the essence of Texas blues. The Alnico II magnets contribute to their vintage tone, providing a balance of sweetness and bite that’s reminiscent of classic blues recordings. These pickups excel in producing dynamic and responsive clean tones, as well as gritty overdriven sounds.

The Pearly Gates pickups offer versatility across various genres. While they’re renowned for blues, they’re also well-suited for rock and country styles, making them a versatile choice for players who enjoy diverse musical expressions.

However, if you’re seeking extreme high-gain tones or modern metal sounds, the Pearly Gates might not be the best fit. These pickups are designed for subtlety and nuance, and while they can handle moderate amounts of gain, they might not provide the searing distortion required for certain heavy genres.

In summary, the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup is a tribute to the classic Texas blues sound and offers a warm, expressive character that resonates with fans of vintage tones. If you’re a guitarist who appreciates dynamic clean tones and wants to infuse your playing with a touch of bluesy grit, these pickups provide an excellent avenue for exploration.

8. EVH Frankenstein Humbucker Pickup

Fender EVH Frankenstein Humbucker Pickup
  • Humbucking Guitar Pickup
  • Think of this pickup as a brand-new version of the original Frankenstein’s battle-worn guitar pickup, wound to the exact original specs and built to fit in any humbucking-pickup-equipped guitar
  • Wound to the exact specs as the original Frankenstein’s pickup, this humbucker is a the perfect upgrade for your guitar
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: High
  • Wiring: 4-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico II
  • Position: Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Designed for iconic Van Halen “Brown Sound”
High-output with harmonic richness
Signature tone for hard rock and shred

Reasons to Avoid:

May not suit mellow or clean styles
Very specific tonal signature
Limited versatility outside of intended sound

In-depth Description:

The EVH Frankenstein Humbucker Pickup is designed to replicate the legendary “Brown Sound” that defined Eddie Van Halen’s iconic tone. Named after his iconic guitar, this pickup is all about high-output, harmonic-rich sound that’s perfect for hard rock and blistering shred solos.

The main reason to consider the EVH Frankenstein pickup is its association with the Van Halen tone. This pickup aims to capture the distinctive growl and sustain that characterized Eddie’s sound. It’s tailor-made for those seeking the aggressive and harmonically complex tones that Van Halen popularized.

The high-output nature of the Frankenstein pickup contributes to its powerful sound. These pickups are capable of delivering a searing lead tone that cuts through the mix with ease. The Alnico II magnets provide a balance of warmth and aggression, ensuring that your solos are both expressive and intense.

It’s important to note, however, that the EVH Frankenstein pickup is very specific in its tonal signature. While it excels in hard rock and shred styles, it might not be the best fit for mellow or clean playing. Additionally, its focused tonal character might limit its versatility if you’re seeking a broader range of sonic options.

In conclusion, the EVH Frankenstein Humbucker Pickup is a must-have for fans of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary tone. If you’re a guitarist who aspires to capture the “Brown Sound” and wants to infuse your playing with the spirit of hard rock and shred, these pickups are a fitting tribute to the late guitar virtuoso.

9. EMG JH James Hetfield Signature Humbucker Set

EMG JH James Hetfield Signature Guitar Pickup Set, Black Chrome
  • James Hetfield Signature Pickup Set
  • “Stealth” looking set
  • Active tone with the clarity and punch of a passive pickup
  • Familiar tight attack with less inductance for a cleaner low end
  • Solderless install system


  • Type: Active Humbucker
  • Output: High
  • Wiring: Solderless (Quik-Connect)
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Position: Neck and Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Signature tones of Metallica’s James Hetfield
Powerful and aggressive sound
Low noise and interference

Reasons to Avoid:

Active electronics require battery
May not suit all genres
Less versatility compared to more neutral pickups

In-depth Description:

The EMG JH James Hetfield Signature Humbucker Set is designed to capture the iconic tones of Metallica’s frontman, James Hetfield. These active pickups are built for heavy and aggressive playing, delivering the powerful sound that Metallica is known for.

The standout feature of the JH Signature Set is its ability to replicate Hetfield’s signature tones. These pickups are optimized for Metallica’s brand of heavy music, providing the aggression, sustain, and punch required for chugging riffs and intense solos.

The active electronics of the JH Set contribute to its high output and tight response. These pickups are particularly effective in producing a focused, modern metal sound that cuts through the mix without getting lost in the chaos. Additionally, the active design minimizes unwanted noise and interference.

It’s important to note that while these pickups excel in heavy genres, they might not be as versatile across a wide range of styles. The specific character that makes them perfect for Metallica’s music might not translate well to genres that require a cleaner or more neutral tone.

In conclusion, the EMG JH James Hetfield Signature Humbucker Set is a must-have for fans of Metallica’s sound and those who seek powerful, aggressive tones. If you’re a guitarist who wants to emulate Hetfield’s style or play heavy music with a dominating presence, these pickups are a fitting choice.

10. DiMarzio PAF Pro Humbucker

DiMarzio DP 151W PAF Pro DP151W
  • PAF Pro White
  • 4-core magnet Alnico 5, power 300 mV
  • Easy to use


  • Type: Humbucker
  • Output: Moderate
  • Wiring: 4-conductor
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Position: Neck and Bridge

Reasons to Buy:

Versatile for various genres
Balanced output for dynamic playing
Smooth and warm sound

Reasons to Avoid:

Might lack extreme high gain
Less suitable for heavy metal
Might not stand out in ultra-high-gain contexts

In-depth Description:

The DiMarzio PAF Pro Humbucker is designed for versatility, catering to a wide range of genres and playing styles. With its moderate output and balanced tonal profile, this pickup is well-suited for players who want a dynamic and expressive sound.

One of the main advantages of the PAF Pro is its versatility. These pickups can handle clean tones, bluesy passages, and even moderate amounts of gain with finesse. The Alnico V magnets provide a balanced response, ensuring that your playing dynamics are accurately represented.

The PAF Pro’s smooth and warm sound is another standout feature. These pickups excel in producing expressive lead lines and melodic solos, making them suitable for players who prioritize musicality and tone. They’re also comfortable in delivering rhythm tones with a touch of overdrive.

However, if you’re seeking extreme high-gain or heavy metal tones, the PAF Pro might not provide the aggression and tightness required for those genres. While they can handle moderate gain, they might not stand out in ultra-high-gain contexts.

In summary, the DiMarzio PAF Pro Humbucker is a versatile pickup for players who want a balanced and dynamic sound. If you’re seeking a pickup that covers a wide range of genres and allows you to express yourself with clarity and warmth, these pickups provide a reliable solution.

What is the best pickup for soloing?

The “best” pickup for soloing can vary based on personal preference, playing style, and the type of tone you’re aiming to achieve. However, there are certain pickup characteristics that can be advantageous for soloing:

  1. High Output Pickups: Pickups with higher output levels can provide more sustain, compression, and overdrive when you play with high gain. This can be beneficial for lead playing as it helps your notes cut through the mix and sustain longer.
  2. Humbucker Pickups: Humbuckers tend to have a thicker and warmer tone compared to single-coil pickups, which can enhance the richness of your solos. They also typically have reduced noise, making them suitable for high-gain settings.
  3. Bridge Pickup: Many guitarists prefer using the bridge pickup for solos. The bridge pickup often has a brighter and more cutting sound that helps your lead lines stand out in a mix. It can add clarity and definition to your solo work.
  4. Coil Splitting or Tap: Some humbucker pickups come with coil-splitting or coil-tapping options. These features allow you to transform your humbucker into a single-coil, providing you with a wider tonal palette for different soloing scenarios.
  5. Dynamic Response: Look for pickups that are responsive to your playing dynamics. This means the pickup can accurately capture both your softer passages and more aggressive attacks, adding expressiveness to your solos.
  6. Versatility: While high-output pickups are often associated with soloing, pickups that offer versatility are also valuable. Pickups that can clean up nicely for melodic or clean passages can make your solos more dynamic.
  7. Tonal Characteristics: Consider the tonal qualities you prefer for your solos. Some guitarists prefer a bright and cutting tone, while others lean toward a warmer, singing sustain. Your desired tone will influence the pickup choice.

It’s important to note that the “best” pickup for soloing can be highly subjective and may vary depending on the specific musical context and genre you’re playing. Many guitarists use a combination of pickups, amp settings, and effects to shape their soloing sound. Ultimately, the best pickup for soloing is the one that helps you express yourself and achieve the desired emotional impact in your playing. Experimenting with different pickups and setups is the best way to find the sound that resonates with your unique style.

Are EMG pickups better than humbuckers?

EMG pickups and traditional humbuckers each have their own strengths and characteristics. Here are some factors to consider when comparing them:

EMG Pickups:

  • Active Design: EMG pickups are active pickups, which means they require a battery to power an internal preamp. This results in a higher output signal, reduced noise, and more headroom, making them particularly suitable for high-gain and metal genres.
  • Clarity and Articulation: EMG pickups are known for their clarity and precision. They have a tight and focused sound that can help your notes cut through dense mixes and maintain definition even with heavy distortion.
  • Consistency: Due to the active electronics, EMG pickups offer a consistent sound regardless of the guitar’s volume or cable length. This can be advantageous for live performances and recording.
  • Solderless Wiring Kits: EMG pickups often come with solderless wiring kits, making installation and swapping pickups relatively easy.

Traditional Passive Humbuckers:

  • Warmth and Vintage Tone: Passive humbuckers are known for their warm and rich tone, with a smooth high-end roll-off. They are often associated with classic rock, blues, and jazz styles.
  • Dynamic Response: Passive humbuckers respond to your playing dynamics and touch, offering a more nuanced and expressive range of tones.
  • Versatility: Depending on the specific model, passive humbuckers can cover a wide range of genres and playing styles. They can deliver both clean and distorted tones effectively.
  • Classic Aesthetics: Traditional humbuckers have a classic look and feel that some players find appealing.

Ultimately, the choice between EMG pickups and traditional passive humbuckers depends on your musical preferences and the style of music you play. If you’re into high-gain metal and want a modern, high-output sound with precise articulation, EMG pickups might be a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re drawn to classic rock, blues, or jazz and want a more vintage and dynamic tone, traditional passive humbuckers could be a better fit.

It’s worth noting that many professional guitarists use both EMG pickups and traditional passive humbuckers, often in different guitars for different musical contexts. The “better” option is subjective and depends on your individual needs and goals as a guitarist.

Best Electric Guitar Pickups FAQs

What pickups does Slash use?

Slash primarily uses Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Slash signature pickups in his guitars.

Why are Seymour Duncan pickups so good?

Seymour Duncan pickups are highly regarded for their craftsmanship, attention to detail, and extensive testing. They offer a wide range of tonal options, excellent build quality, and have a reputation for producing pickups that cater to various playing styles.

Do electric guitar pickups make a difference?

Yes, electric guitar pickups play a significant role in shaping the sound of an electric guitar. Different pickups have distinct tonal characteristics, affecting the guitar’s overall sound, including its brightness, warmth, clarity, and output.

Does guitar pickup matter?

Yes, the type of guitar pickup you use matters as it directly affects the tone and sound of your guitar. Different pickups have different magnet types, coil configurations, and output levels, all of which contribute to the unique tonal qualities of a guitar.

Is a medium or heavy pick better for electric guitar?

The choice between a medium or heavy pick for electric guitar depends on personal preference. Heavier picks generally produce a thicker tone and can be suitable for rhythm playing and achieving a fuller sound. Medium picks offer more flexibility and can be preferable for intricate lead playing.

What pickup is best for rock music?

For rock music, high-output humbuckers are often preferred. They provide a powerful and saturated tone that works well for the aggressive and dynamic nature of rock music. Pickup choices like the Seymour Duncan JB, DiMarzio Super Distortion, or EMG 81 are popular among rock guitarists.

What pickups did Van Halen use?

Eddie Van Halen famously used his custom-made “Frankenstein” guitar, which featured a combination of pickups, including a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge position and a single-coil pickup from a Stratocaster in the neck position.

Do expensive pickups sound better?

Expensive pickups can offer higher-quality materials, precision manufacturing, and unique designs that may result in improved tone and performance. However, whether they sound “better” is subjective and depends on individual preferences and playing styles.

What pickups sound like Jimmy Page?

Jimmy Page is known for using Gibson PAF (Patent Applied For) humbuckers in his iconic Les Paul guitars. Various pickup manufacturers offer replicas or models inspired by these vintage PAF pickups that can capture the classic Led Zeppelin tone.

What pickup does ACDC use?

AC/DC’s Angus Young has been associated with using Gibson PAF-style humbuckers, particularly the ones found in his signature Gibson SG model. The exact specifications may vary over the years, but his pickups are generally of the high-output humbucking variety.

How do I choose the right pickups?

Choosing the right pickups involves considering your preferred playing style, the genre of music you play, the tonal qualities you desire, and your guitar’s characteristics. Researching different pickup types, listening to sound samples, and trying out pickups if possible will help you make an informed decision.

What is the easiest pickup to work on?

Single-coil pickups are generally easier to work on compared to humbuckers. They have simpler wiring and construction, making modifications and adjustments more straightforward.

Why are EMG pickups so popular?

EMG pickups gained popularity for their active design, which provides high output, low noise, and enhanced tonal clarity. They are often favored in metal and hard rock genres for their ability to deliver a powerful, focused sound even in high-gain situations.

Which is better EMG or Fishman pickups?

The choice between EMG and Fishman pickups depends on your musical preferences and the specific sound you’re seeking. EMG pickups are known for their active design and modern tonal characteristics, while Fishman pickups, particularly those designed for acoustic-electric guitars, offer a more natural and acoustic-like tone.

Does Eric Clapton use humbuckers?

Eric Clapton is known for using Fender Stratocaster guitars with single-coil pickups. While he predominantly used single-coil pickups earlier in his career, he has also used humbucker-equipped guitars like the Gibson ES-335 on occasion.

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David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others.
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