This is our review on the 10 Best Humbucker Pickups for all your guitar scenarios.
I’m a guitarist of 25 years and started out on an old Les Paul with Di Marzio pickups. Since then I’ve been through 100s of humbuckers good and bad!
I’ve carefully considered the Best 10 Humbuckers for all occasions. All budgets considered.
Let’s get into it…
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Best for Blues/Country
Best Jazz & Crunch Tone Options
Best For Modern Rock Tones
Great Budget Option
Best For The Stratocaster and Rock Music
Heavy Metal God Like Tones
The King Of Vintage Grissle
Classic Gibson Sound Of Old
Best Telecaster/Strat Option
The 10 Best Humbucker Pickups: Full Review
Best for Blues/Country
Fired up and ready to rock, the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Set Zebra humbucker is a tuned down Texas sizzle that covers all of your country fried tones.
Channeling raw outlaws like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson with its vintage voice, this set complements any Les Paul style guitar for an authentic country sound.
Compact, focused midrange with zesty attack ensure dynamically rich performances with plenty of sustain and balanced amp response.
You can pull off everything from laid back blues to AC/DC-influenced crunch metal without the “mud” often associated with heavy overdriving. All without ever having physically touched a pedal!
Seymour Duncan has been at the helm of building some of the best guitar pickup coils on Earth!
Now, get an endorsement from rockin-Hendrix like tones with these clean Seymour Duncan PG set humbuckers.
The SD Pearly Gates set is perfect for blues guitarists who need their pickups to have a warm, thick sound. Two searing humbuckers in middle and bridge positions which allows you to blend that classic tone with blistering overdrive.
They have a single volume knob and 3-way selector switch which will help give your guitar that signature blues growl from the old records of the 70s.
The tone is robust and has plenty of output for what you need on stage or at home practice sessions!
Seymour Duncan is a company with decades of experience in crafting the best pickups on the Planet.
Absolutely my choice for the best humbuckers for blues.
Best Jazz & Hot Tone Options
For that unbelievably smooth, warm, mellow “jazz” tone, Seymour Duncan JB and Jazz humbucker pickups will not disappoint!
The JB and Jazz Set is the perfect combination for any musician looking for a wide range of versatility.
The guitar humbuckers from both pickups offer wonderfully warm voicing with clarity, harmonics, and punch that is unmatched by other guitars on the market today.
These pickups are designed to work ideally in various genres ranging from rock to country to jazz making it perfect for any setting you might be playing in!
Every note rings out beautifully without being too overpowering or muddy sounding even at high volume levels.
Both pickups are designed to emulate the sound of a single coil pickup with an Alnico 5 magnet.
They also happen to be two of Seymour Duncan’s most popular single coil pickups available today. The JB model has been around since 1974 and is great for everything from blues to clean or distorted tones.
If you crave that classic jazz tone with the crisp attack of a single coil, Seymour Duncan has got you covered. This pickup set is designed for everything from old school modern jazz guitar.
Seymour Duncan’s JB and Jazz Set electric guitar electronics are made to reproduce that classic Fender U.S.-made tone without the high end scratchiness of other pickups on the market today – at a fraction of the price!
These pickups will make your Strat or Tele sound as warm as an older Gibson humbucker-equipped instrument, but also bright and crunchy like those magnificent humbuckers from Kalamazoo!
Need something laid back for those mellow ballads? Or maybe you’re after some righteous rock grit.
You’re in safe hands with the JB and Jazz Set from Seymour Duncan. They certainly know what they’re doing.
Best For Modern Rock Tones
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a guitarist without a decent guitar pickup is seldom seen. Along those lines, it should be obvious that your pickups are pretty important to your guitar.
For instance, getting the best guitar humbuckers for modern rock music, you have to nail down how much power and aggression you’re looking to pack into your sound as well as how much you need for dynamics. Too much of one can ruin the other!
The Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Alnico & Ceramic Pickups offer a fresh take on the classic guitar pickup, incorporating a fishbone-style design that is both eye-catching and functional.
This patented technology monopolizes sound quality, power, and versatility to provide you with the best sound when playing any style of music.
These pickups are perfect for this year’s selection of modern rock tunes! The humbucker pickups are the most requested type for guitarists looking to maximize their sound.
Fishman’s Fluence Modern Humbucker set is designed to give you all of the power, articulation and nuance that make these pickups hot right now. It’s time to step up your game with killer, high-output Alnico & Ceramic bridge or neck position humbuckers!
Young rock stars need more than just an amp; they need something that will help them bring out their artistic imagination.
These versatile beauties allow for both amplification and acoustic playing modes by transforming into either a microphone or electric guitar (with overdrive). You can switch back and forth depending on how you feel like rocking it today..let the artistic juices flow.
Don’t be fooled by its stunning good looks – this model is a dangerous instrument of tone mayhem.
The Treble Boost preamp has been specially tuned to drive signal from the coil split humbuckers into an intense, high-octane distortion that will take over any amp.
Beautifully futuristic in look and made by the masters at Fishman. A truly versatile option for modern players.
Best Budget Option
‘The old ones are still the best’. I hear this all the time!
Well, there is some truth in this statement.
Seymour Duncan’s SH-4 JB Model Humbucker Pickups are as perfect as they come for import players looking to upgrade their axes both sonically and stylistically.
Budget guitar humbuckers typically sound thin and weak, but Seymour Duncan solves the issue by installing ceramic magnets and coil winding resulting in an articulate, punchy tone with a (very) high level of versatility, plus double volume.
It’s like two single coils! Strings jump out at you, yet remain even keeled thanks to the highs that won’t wail or feedback horribly.
The Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Model Humbucker Pickups are specially designed for guitarists on a budget, made with the best components possible.
A favorite among guitarists in the know, these beauties are assembled by hand and only use the most premium of materials to ensure that they give you just enough chime without too much brilliance or muddy lows.
Try the SH-4 JB are fantastic humbuckers at their most affordable price point. In my opinion, the only one worth having at this price.
They feature a fat low end, bell like highs, and clear harmonics. The slight nuances in each note will ring out beautifully — something you don’t often get with budget pickups!
Seymour Duncan’s new budget-friendly pickup model, the SH-4 JB Model humbucker is just what you’re looking for if you’ve been itching to get your hands on something great but don’t have a lot of cash.
If you think that Seymour Duncans are too expensive, then this is exactly the pickup for you! The SH-4 JB Model has all the quality and tone of wireguard pickups without any of the pesky maintenance worries.
When it comes to low budget humbuckers, there is no way I’m going to endorse some of the cheapest models on the market. It’s a complete waste of money. Buying cheap, means buying twice! Fact.
Here is the best option by far. Manufactured by the best humbucker player in the market.
Best For The Stratocaster and Rock Music
Seymour Duncan Hot Rails are tone monsters for that true big, fat strat sound.
Notice how Hot Rails never gets brassy or strident like some other pickups do? This is because they’re made with Alnico 5 magnets, so you get the natural warmth of ferrous metal without any drawbacks.
It’s hard to go wrong with Seymour Duncan, and these humbuckers continue their amazing run!
Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickups use a new copper alloy formula with magnets that resonate brighter and cleaner for excellent tone definition, clarity, and articulation.
These humbuckers work wonderfully with single-coil amps because they’re 50% more sensitive to string vibrations, which translates into crystal clear tone reproduction.
Seymour Duncan engineers install the pickups in classic Stratocaster guitars for professional musicians who want to keep their sound and performance balanced and consistent across fingers and technique changes.
They also offer outstanding sustain with heavy overtones when boosting your amp’s gain pedal or using effects pedals like reverb or delay.
Help to end the dirty and distorted tone you’re getting from your Stratocaster. The Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1b Hot Rails give a huge, well-rounded sound – much like classic rock ‘n roll guitar sounds you want in your music!
With the Floyd Rose tremolo system it’s simple to get that rhythmic pulsing effect in any style of music.
Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbuckers are the best guitar pickups for a Stratocaster and rock music, with their high-output sound and great touch sensitivity.
Seymour Duncan redesigned these famous Hot Rails humbuckers to reduce noise and electrical interference and improve tonal definition by using hand-ground alnico V magnets keeping it true to the original design while making subtle improvements for modern players.
What more do you need? I’m very much a Strat man and these babies are top of my list.
Heavy Metal God Like Tones
EMG ZW Zakk Wylde Signature Humbucker Guitar Pickups let you enjoy the tone and performance that has helped drive heavy metal for years.
The EMG-85 delivers intense, thick distortion with a pronounced mid range couple to sustain like no other pickup can. It’s easy to master volume control since it retains articulate notes even at extreme volume levels.
Alternatively the EMG-60 offers aggressive throaty overtones and complexity.
These pickups are made with the signature sound of Zakk Wylde’s guitar in mind, and they will most likely fit your heavy metal demands. These pickups allow you to focus on what really matters: playing and rocking out.
Zakk Wylde signature pickup systems are designed by EMG. The ZW Signature Humbucker Pickups produce a warm, fat tone that is ideal for heavy guitars and guitars tuned down to Sabbath-friendly tunings.
Zakk’s EMGs will help you achieve the raw sound of Black Label Society or solo work with Ozzy Osbourne better than any other pickups on earth!
The EMGs deliver a guitar pickup set that captures all of this intensity while respecting his personal preferences.
With long shaft volume and tone controls for installation in your beloved Les Paul or similar styled guitars; these high output pickups will make you believe you joined forces on stage with one of metal’s living legends.
Zakk Wylde is one of the loudest shredders to walk planet Earth. Now you can get your hands on his signature EMG humbuckers for guitars. It starts with the 60-cycle balanced output which always has a strong low end, no matter how hard you’re smashing those strings!
Now you not only hear everything he wants you to hear, but with these pickups, you’ll also feel his sound coming through – all fiery hot with paralyzing sustain and scorching output with a dynamic response that captures every note and nuance.
An absolute must if you’re looking for tones anywhere near the ‘Zakk Wylde’ sound.
The King Of Vintage Grissle
When it comes to pickups, we all know that one size doesn’t always fit all. That’s why the Bare Knuckle Humbucker pickup set has a range from vintage sounds with a lot of punch and twang, to smoother and more refined style.
Whether you want a more vintage blues sound for country rock or smoky and grizzly growls for hard rock, these babies could be the pickup set for you.
Made with Alnico 5 magnets instead of ceramic, the Juggernauts are capable of retaining all the dynamics and rawness that only a humbucker can offer. And don’t worry about having to deal with pops and crackles because Bare Knuckle has coated each coil to reduce noise interference.
It has so much low end, no matter the volume, it’s never lost in the mix. And turn up to get a thick, meaty tone regardless of where you are on the neck.
These high-output pickups have more than just punch – this range has an amazingly focused bass response that won’t muddy into other complex extended chords.
Plus there’s plenty of sparkling highs that scream clarity even with distortion or overdriven sound giving lush vocal textures while still delivering ultimate articulation and dynamic control no matter what style is being played.
These pickups will help you get the most out of your guitar. The Juggernaut humbuckers come with either a standard or cool looking ‘Bulb’ design cover etch so you can stand out on stage and show off to your audience.
With this pickup set, you’ll be able to crush rhythms and fluid solos with ease and create massive, clean soundscapes that demand attention.
You’ll need powerful pickups to get the most out of your amp. The Bare Knuckle Juggernaut humbucker set is a great choice for crushing rhythms or fluid solos.
The ‘all rounder’ of the review.
The Classic Gibson Sound Of Old
As time goes on, classic guitars become more and more timeless. Gibson has made it their mission to be the best guitar company in the world, always striving to stay ahead of others with beautifully appointed instruments for any style of play you can dream up.
The Gibson ‘57 pickups will provide such rich tones that your friends won’t recognize it when you step into a well-deserved spotlight!
An elegant balance between warmth and crunch, every good guitarist should know what these things do: they give us access to those gorgeous tones we hear in old records without strangling all life out of them. Sit back and enjoy less hassle with perfect pitch.
The Gibson 57 Humbucker has been recreated to sound as close as possible to the ‘Patent Applied For’ pickups from back in 1957, with custom-wound Alnico II magnets.
If you love tinkering around with your tone and exploring a variety of tonal possibilities, these are for you.
The Gibson ’57 Classic really captures the look and flavor of vintage PAF humbuckers. That means a rich, meaty tone with a balanced response, packing all the crunch you’d expect from this revered staple in Gibson history.
Since they’re made to the exact same specs as the original classics, every last detail counts—from Alnico II magnets giving it that rounded richness; nickel-plated pole pieces for true old-school vibe; nickel slugs for dynamic punch; maple spacers providing warmth and balance with strength; and braided wiring similar to what musicians like Les Paul demanded back in 1957.
Gibson ’57 Classics are a beautiful sounding pickup that will sit in the bridge of your guitar without feedback or noise. They bring a sweet candy tone to your pickups and just want you to cut loose and climax with pure, straight-to-the bone power!
Gibson ’57 Classic humbucker is the perfect pick for anyone who needs that classic full, vintage tone. That means all of us!
There’s nothing like the sound of an Invader Neck. Literally!
Its massive ceramic magnet, larger hex cap, and steel pole pieces combine to create that crushing metal tone guitarists are searching for!
The unique Invader pickups are huge and covered in metal oxide. They give these humbuckers a big, beefy tone that’ll make your guitar sound like thunder. Watch out because these pickups can really dish out some noise!
The Invader set is perfect for heavy duty players who want to take their sound over the edge with a true metal pickup. From tapping solos to odd time signatures, these will make you feel unstoppable!
Put these pickups in your shredding rig, go power chord crazy, and never look back.
This pickup is made for heavy metal enthusiasts who just can’t get enough of that beautiful low end tone and crunchy treble that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Easily switches from articulate lead tones on rhythm playing to super thick distorted rhythms on chords with a quick flick of your guitar volume knob due to its self compensating feature! Let these invaders into your life and never go back again.
The Invaders were designed with the intention of truly expanding your sound and giving you more freedom on stage and in the studio. Invader pickups give you a new level of power, control, and musical versatility that’s unmatched by any passive pickup.
The Seymour Duncan Invader is a handcrafted pickup that will give your sound the touch of power and aggression you need to stand out from other trad artists.
Seymour Duncan has been a leader in pickups since the 1960s, and now they’re back with an electric guitar pickup set that invokes the grungy crunch of American punk rock.
From magnetic high mass to ceramic bar magnets to even better sound than their acclaimed JB Model, Seymour Duncan’s Invader is perfect for any style of music up to metal.
Just be careful out there, these contain a serious amount of power.
10- Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little 59 Tele
Best Telecaster/Strat Option
Seymour Duncan made a pickup that’s great for rocking. It sounds full and ready to go with just the right amount of single coil bite when you’re in Tele position–but our favorite thing about it is how well it sounds when moved into the bridge position.
Move your Little 59 to any spot on your guitar where you need aggression, or even cut it into an acoustic guitar for lead or rhythm tone.
Seymour Duncan’s Little 59 Lead pickup is perfect for all occasions. With a midrange scoop that gives it rich, full-bodied sound and thick output, the Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little 59 Lead pickup can handle anything from country to rock.
With the 4 conductor lead wire you have the choice of parallel or split wiring to allow multiple wiring options from standard parallel linkages to stacked configurations for hum cancelling in positions 2 and 4 on your 5 way switch—plus its wax potted construction guarantees it will perform without electronic interference no matter what string set you choose!
Little 59 single coil pickup is designed to handle the differences in playing styles of today’s guitarists. Crank out some Country tunes with its beefed up bottom end or turn it up for some Classic Rock riffs, this pickup has you covered either way!
Seymour Duncan offers the ST59-1 Little 59 Lead pickup—a full bodied humbucker that has a bass and treble response with a slightly scooped midrange.
If you’re looking to harness that classic sound for your guitar, then Seymour Duncan’s Little 59 is the best solution out there!
The ST59-1 Little 59 Lead is designed for guitars with 9.5 inch to 11 inch long routes, making this pickup perfect for 1969 SG style guitars (though it will sound great with any guitar).
It’s pretty simple, if you’re looking to upgrade your telecaster tone, look no further.
How Do I Choose A Humbucker Pickup?
The first factor to consider when choosing a humbucker pickup for your electric guitar is what type of tone you’re looking for?
The most common types are the vintage, modern, and aggressive tones.
- Vintage pickups sound like they were made in the 1950s or ’60s and have more bass response than mids or highs.
- Modern pickups are designed with an emphasis on cleaner overtones with less distortion which make them perfect for recording.
- Aggressive pickup produces a brighter higher output that’s great for playing hard rock music but may not be suitable if you play any other genre of music.
One of the most important decisions that you will make as a guitarist is which pickup to install in your electric guitar.
This decision has a significant impact on the tone and sustain of your instrument, so it’s worth taking some time out to think about what you’re looking for from a humbucker pickup before making any purchases.
Consider how much output power you need – if all you are playing are clean rhythm parts with occasional lead lines, then lower outputs should suffice; but if distortion and heavy overdrive are part of your sound palette then higher outputs will be better suited to your requirements.
Contemplate whether you prefer a warmer, more vintage tone or if bright and snappy is your thing.
If it’s warmth and depth that you’re looking for then Alnico II magnets should be high on the list of things to consider; but if brighter tones are what you need then ceramic magnet pickups will likely fit the bill better.
As I was growing up, I would research the guitarist I liked at the time. You can always find the gear your favorite rock players are using to get a better general idea of what tones you will be drawn towards.
What Are The Most Versatile Humbuckers?
If you’re looking for a brand that covers the widest spectrum of musical genres. I would say Seymour Duncan provides the best options for you.
They are masters in creating humbuckers that can comfortably deal with an extensive range of pallets and tones for most guitar music genres.
If you’re looking for an exact answer to the question, I can only give you my opinion from past experience.
The Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB is the most versatile humbucker pickup.
It excels at anything from heavy blues to heavy metal.
The JB has a wide dynamic range and sounds great clean as well as distorted. The lows are full, the highs detailed but not harsh while the mids have just enough edge to cut through anything!
The JB has a moderate attack, not too mellow like vintage PAF’s and not real tight like most modern metal pickups.
It also comes with nickel or gold-plated pole pieces which allow you to adjust the string balance. This means that if your guitar is slightly neck heavy (or vice versa), you can compensate for it
by adding more or less weight to the bridge-side pickup. This way your strings will feel and sound balanced no matter which string you use!
With everything considered, it’s no surprise that the Seymour Duncan SH4 JB humbucker is one of the most versatile and musical sounding pickups available.
Since its debut almost 30 years ago, the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB has served as the ideal model for moderate output humbuckers covering the music genre spectrum better than any other humbucker.
You will be shocked by how affordable these are considering the popularity of these humbuckers with players like myself.
Active Vs Passive Pickups: The Differences
The majority of humbucker pickups are passive, which implies they don’t require a battery to function.
A passive bridge pickup produces a more rounded deeper, more robust sound with a warmer tone in general.
Passive pickups are those that produce the sound of a guitar through vibrations generated by its strings.
They have two basic elements in common: a magnet and copper wire, which pick up the string’s vibrations.
The vibrations are detected as a current and sent through your cable before reaching your amplifier.
Because passive pickups make use of a circuit similar to active ones, they generate a weaker electric signal that requires more amplification.
The amplifier is where your sound is boosted, giving it far better projection.
Active pickups, on the other hand, have a greater output than passive pickups since they require a power source. Active pickups will give your sound more power and consistency than a passive pickup.
Why not try them both out? Playing guitar over a long period is a series of experiments to see what fits you best.
Always trying out new avenues and equipment is always a good thing.