Types of guitar pickup – All you need to know

Guitar pickup is one of the most important parts of a guitar. It is important as the strings, fretboard, and amplifier of your guitar. In a nutshell, it is something that allows your instrument to be heard. These guitar pickups come in different shapes and sizes and work differently for different purposes.

In this blog, we will classify different categories of guitar pickups following their purpose and tone difference.

So let’s start

What is a guitar pickup?

A guitar pickup is simply a magnet with wrapped wire around itself. It converts the vibration of the strings into electric signals. A guitar pickup can be used in both types of guitars that are acoustic and electric guitars.

Classification of Guitar pickups

Mainly, Guitar pickups can be classified into the following types:

    1. Passive Pickups – These pickups are simple transducers that are built by wrapping coils of copper wire around a permanent magnet. Generally, these permanent magnets are made up of Ceramic or Alnico. Furthermore, these magnets are situated in the proximity of the strings that causes the guitar strings to magnetize to become a magnet. Consequently, whenever these strings, they eventually interfere with the magnetic fields and causes an electric current to pass through the wire.The majority of electric guitars feature passive pickups such as SGs, Strats, Les Pauls and many more.
    2. Active Pickups– These pickups utilize the active circuit that requires a 9 V battery that is already embedded into the guitars. Active pickups boost signals that result in a higher amount of output from your guitar. It also facilitates you to boost frequencies from your guitar. This feature is commonly available on most acoustic-electric or semi-electric guitars. When we talk about electric guitars, active pickups are used for different genres that require higher modes of distortion such as hard rock and metal. On electric guitars, active pickups are generally only used for genres that require high levels of distortion, like metal and hard rock.

Different types of electric guitar pickups

Electric guitar pickups can be classified into three different categories i) Single Coil ii) Humbucker iii) P90

  • Single coil

 

A single-coil pickup uses a single magnet. Generally, they are brighter than P90 and Humbucker electric guitar pickups but on the same hand, they do not have any easy to define tone. Single coil guitar pickups are used in mostly all types of electric guitar brands such as Fender, Les Paul, Ibanez and many more.

  • P90

These types of pickups come in between Single coil and Humbucker pickups. P90 guitar pickup has significantly more output when compared too Single coil pickups. These pickups are best suited to blues and rock.

  • Humbucker

Humbucker coils are nothing but two standard single-coils working together. They have a warm tone as compared to standard single-coil pickups. Moreover, Single coil pickups are designed in a manner such that they can be subjected to a 60-cycle hum whereas the Humbucker guitar pickups were designed to buck the hum. Hence, the name Humbucker is derived due to this reason. Whenever we talk about the high-level o distortions then Humbucker guitar coils beautifully outperform the standard single-coil pickups.

However, Humbucker pickups are not that good in playing country and surf otherwise they are simply beyond good.

Now, let’s discuss the pickups used in the bass category of electric guitars

These are designed similar as that of electric guitar pickups. But they are more classified into different categories:

  • J – Pickups

Fender’s Jazz bass was the first bass guitar that deployed J – pickups. They have a very warm and clear tone and are commonly used by jazz musicians.

  • Split – Coil

Two halved of a single coil is known as the Split coil. The one half resting coil is slightly higher than the other one. They are used by Rock and Punk musicians to enhance the punkness in the tone.

  • Dual Coil

These are Humbucker coils that are used less often as compared to split coil pickup or J – pickup.  They are simply pairs of Humbucker pickups. Dual coil is known for its vintage clarity.

  • Soap bar

Soap bar pickups are J-bass pickups with a wider housing. They are sealed in order to protect them from moisture or any other type of degradation.

Also Read: Top 10 Guitar Amplifiers

Different types of acoustic pickups

These pickups are divided into the following three categories:

  1. Transducer pickups

Transducer pickups work by adhering to your instrument’s soundboard and then translating its response into an electric signal. The downside of transducer pickups is that they tend to be more sensitive to feedback.

  1. Piezo Pickups

They are placed under the saddle where your strings pass over. Piezo pickups sound more synthetic than soundboard transducer. These pickups sport a strong mid-range hump known as a piezo quack. If you want to play at bigger venues or play with nasty volumes then you piezo pickup can be a perfect option for you.

  1. Sound hole pickups

They are electric guitar pickups that fit in the sound hole of an acoustic guitar. Sound hole pickups have a well defines electric quality to their tone. Sound hole pickups feature a technology that is similar to a microphone. It offers a similar response without being too sensitive to feedback. These pickups are generally pretty feedback resistant and can still pump out a lifelike tone which makes them a great option between soundboard transducers and piezo pickups.

After going through the classification, now we will have a quick look at the top electric and acoustic pickups.

Let’s start

Top 12 affordable electric guitar pickups

  1. DiMarzio DP184 The Chopper Single Coil

This guitar pickup has dual blade magnets that allow it to work as a conventional Humbucker. Well, it does have a thin single coil factor that allows you to fit this pickup in Strat style guitars.

You can give your standard SSS configuration style guitars a sonic makeover without modifying the body. This pickup doesn’t have any pole magnets that need to be in line with the strings. Hence, dual blade magnets also make the pickup viable for any position.

Features

  • Stacked humbucker design
  • Ideal for Strat-style guitars
  • Dual rails suitable for both bridge and neck positions
  • Big low end and midrange
  • Wiring: 4 conductor
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Output: 260
  • DC resistance: 9.16 K

Specifications

  • Type: Humbucking Single-coil Style
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Position: Bridge, Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Covered

Pros

  • Best for Rock, metal, and blues.
  • Fuller tone
  • Favorable bridge positioning

Cons

  • Not perfect as a Humbucker

This guitar pickup is suitable for strat guitar players who are looking for a humbucking taste in their tone profile without doing any major specifications in the body.

Price – INR 5,253

Buy – https://amzn.to/2toQDTa

2.     Seymour Duncan SHR-1n Hot Rails Strat Neck

In a single coil sized package, Duncan SHR-1n Hot Rails Strat Neck Electric Guitar Pickup is a high-output Humbucker. It makes a snap for musicians having a single coil equipped guitar to get access to more full sounding humbucker tones. This model is well tuned to work in the neck position that is known for warm tones. It is suitable for a lot of musical styles such as jazz, blues, hard rock and many more.

This pickup has a bit lower end without sacrificing high and mid frequencies.

Features

  • Humbucking design in single-coil-sized
  • Neck position
  • Color: White
  • Ceramic magnet
  • High output
  • Great for heavy tones
  • Four conductor wire

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Position: Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Covered

Pros

  •  Better tone clarity
  • Perfect ratings
  • Suitable for Tele style and Strat style

 

Cons

  • Less powerful

If your neck pickup is too warm and doesn’t have a high enough output then this pickup is a one stop solution.

Price – INR 6,037.11

Buy – https://amzn.to/363rlHs

3.     Fender Original ’57/’62 Strat Pickup Set

It is based on an old 1963 Stratocaster that offers you a vintage tone by swapping out your pickups. It produces a clear and expressive tone that is expected from a vintage Stratocaster. It features a Formvar coated magnet wire that provides the highs close to that of old strats. It also features fiber bobbins and cloth covered wire.

Features

  • Formvar-coated magnet wire
  • Delivers a bright, glassy tone
  • The staggered hand-beveled pole piece
  • Balanced output
  • Alnico V magnets
  • Incredible focus and dynamics
  • Period-correct cloth-covered wiring
  • Fiber bobbins
  • Aged white pickup covers
  • Authentic vintage appearance
  • Includes installation hardware

Technical specifications

  • Type: Single-coil set
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico 5
  • Position: Bridge, Middle, Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 2 wire
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Aged White

Pros

  • Fuller and detailed tone
  • Good vintage sound performance
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Single coil users may get turned off by the vintage style tone offered from this pickup.

It is a convenient upgrade to the guitarists who want vintage style tone.

Price – INR 9,169.11

Buy – https://amzn.to/373YKmG

4.     DiMarzio Twang King Tele Pickup Set

It is a true drop in pickup that includes bridge and neck pickups along with pre-wired control plate complete with knobs and wiring harness. Twang King Tele Pickup set replaces the entire electronics and related hardware of your Tele style guitar. It ensures compatibility among different components

It utilizes controlled-tension coil-winding, wax pots, hand calibrated magnets that allows each pickup to reproduce a wide range of picking styles.

Features

  • Position: Neck and Bridge for Telecaster
  • Magnet Material: Alnico 5
  • String Spacing: Telecaster Standard
  • Available Colors/Covers: Black (Bridge) and Nickel (Neck)

Technical specifications

  • Type: Single-coil
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico
  • Position: Bridge
  • Number of Conductors: 2
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • Exotic tonewood
  • Better dynamics
  •  Easy to install

Cons

  • Not ideal for higher outputs

This pickup is recommended for those guitarists who are looking for improvement in the sound of their Telecaster without straying from classic twang tones.

Price – INR 4,902.23

Buy – https://amzn.to/2NCe7Ls

5.     Fender Tex-Mex Strat Pickup Set

This guitar pickup is a set up of three modern output pickups with a modern voicing. It has a great tone quality and medium amounts of grit. In a nutshell, this guitar pickup is one of the versatile guitar pickups available in the market.

Features

  • Polyol-coated magnet wire
  • Bright, sparkling tone
  • Overwound bridge pickup
  • Extreme output
  • Reverse-wound/reverse-polarity middle pickup that provides hum canceling in positions 2 and 4
  • Staggered pole pieces that yield balanced output
  • Alnico V magnets
  • Incredible focus and dynamics
  • Modern-style vinyl-covered wiring and plastic bobbins

Technical specifications

  • Type: Single-coil set
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico 5
  • Position: Bridge, Middle, Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 2
  • Number of Strings: 6

·         Covering: Covered

Pros

  • Great market response
  • Full pickup set
  • Balanced tone
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Not clear at higher gains

Price – INR 4,747

Buy – https://amzn.to/2TtI58p

6.     DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Humbucker F-Spaced

This pickup is considered as one of the finest aftermarket pickups launched in the market. In fact, it is one of the first aftermarket high output pickups in the market that led to its widespread adoption among rock and metal guitar players.

If you are looking for some amazing hard rock and metal tones then DP100 Super distortion Humbucker F-spaced can be a perfect choice for you.

Features

  • Humbucker
  • F-spacing
  • High-output pickup
  • Best for solid body guitars
  • Used at the bridge position
  • Great as a neck pickup with lower-gain amplifiers
  • 4-conductor wiring
  • Ceramic magnets
  • Output: 425
  • DC resistance: 13.68

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Position: Bridge, Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • Thick – mid range response
  • Huge low end and smooth highs
  • Can handle high gains of distortion

Cons

  • Not tuned for clean and subtle overdrive

It is a long running Humbucker pickup that is highly rated in the market. It is suitable for those who want a high output Humbucker.

Price – INR 5,615

Buy – https://amzn.to/2RDM5kf

7.     Seymour Duncan SH-8b Invader Bridge Pickup

The pole pieces in Seymour Duncan SH-8b Invader works together with three large ceramic magnets and over wound coils. It results in expanded frequency handling. Interestingly, these pickups are hand built in Seymour Duncan’s Santa Barbara, CA facility. It is tuned to improvise the mid range tone. Furthermore, it comes with 4 conductor lead wires for those who prefer to implement split coil switching.

Features

  • High output
  • Humbucker
  • Three ceramic magnets
  • Over-wound coils
  • 12 black oxide screws
  • Wide magnetic field
  • Works for any 6-string guitar
  • 4-conductor hookup
  • Great for aggressive music

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Position: Bridge
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • Fuller Sound
  • Ideal for musical styles that require low lower than usual tunings.
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Pickup is loud and in your face

It is a highly rated Humbucker that offers a good high output tone along with flexibility for split-coil settings.

Price – INR 6,325.25

Buy – https://amzn.to/38huTaQ

8.     Seymour Duncan SH-8n Invader Neck Pickup

This pickup is the neck counterpart of the SH-8b. It has oversized metal oxide pole pieces that are hard to miss. Seymour Duncan SH-8n Invader Neck pickup sports three large ceramic magnets and over-wound coils that offer you wider frequency handling and more output.

It is suitable for those who want to add split-coil functionality to their guitar.

Features

  • High output
  • Active Humbucker design that delivers a maximum output
  • Three ceramic magnets
  • Over-wound coils
  • 12 black oxide screws
  • Wide magnetic field
  • It works for any 6-string guitar regardless of string spacing
  • 4-conductor hookup allows for advanced wiring options
  • Awesome for aggressive music

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Position: Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • High gain style playing
  • Warm tone
  • Ideal for different music styles
  • Good replacement pickup

Cons

  • May not meet that standard of those who are looking for more vintage-correct tones.

It is a good replacement humbucker for those who are looking to improve the sound of their guitars.

Price – INR 7,038

Buy – https://amzn.to/368dPmh

9.     Seymour Duncan SH-1b 1959 Bridge Pickup

It is drop-in Humbucker pickup that was designed to reproduce the vibe and tone of Seth Lover PAF pickups that were found on Gibson Les pauls in the late 1950s. This pickup features vintage specs such as including single conductor cable, long-legged bottom plate, 42AWG plain enamel wire and much more. Duncan SH-1b has been tweaked to have a slightly scooped mid that results in brighter and compresses tones.

Features

  • Classic Humbucker for the bridge position
  • Standard spacing
  • Vintage-style sound and design
  • Flexible tonal options
  • Single-conductor wire
  • Plain enamel wire
  • Long-legged bottom plate
  • Vacuum-potted for squeal-free performance

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico
  • Position: Bridge
  • Number of Conductors: 1
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Covered

Pros

  • Affordable replacement
  • Bright and compressed tone
  • Cost effective

Cons

  • It may not meet the expectations of those guitarists who are looking for more vintage correct tones.

Seymour Duncan SH-1b can be a good replacement humbucker for those guitarists who are looking to improve the sound of their Les Paul style guitar.

Price – INR 7,743

Buy – https://amzn.to/2sx1x90

10.      Seymour Duncan SH-PG1b Pearly Gates Humbucker Bridge Pickup

Duncan SH-PG1b is based on the bridge pickup of 59 Gibson Les Pauls. This Pickup features Alnico 2 bar magnet along with nickel silver bottom plate and 4 conductors lead wire.

Features

  • Humbucker
  • Standard spacing
  • Moderate output
  • Black
  • Bridge Position
  • 4-conductor wire
  • Great for a variety of tones

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico
  • Position: Bridge
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • Sweet sound
  • Good sustain and harmonics
  • Subtle overdrive

Cons

  • May not meet the needs of those guitarists who are looking for a high-gain Humbucker tone.

It is suitable for those who are looking for a traditional-sounding humbucker with a dash of modern clarity.

Price – INR 7,033.33

Buy – https://amzn.to/360oYVT

11.       Gibson 57’ Classic Plus Humbucker Nickel Bridge

Gibson 57’ Classic Plus pickup has a warm vintage tone with some more modern bite. You will get more consistent performance out of these pickups. This pickup also uses vintage construction such as enamel coated wire, nickel slugs, two conductors braided wiring and maple spacers.

Features

  • Position: Bridge
  • Magnet Material: Alnico 2
  • String Spacing: Likely Standard Gibson Spacing
  • Available Colors/Covers: Nickel, Gold, Double Black, Zebra

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico
  • Position: Bridge
  • Number of Conductors: 2
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Covered

Pros

  • Improved depth and quality of sound
  • Responsive and dynamic
  • Versatile
  • Better position

Cons

  • The price is a bit steep for some owners

In a nutshell, this guitar pickup is a worthy investment for those who are into the classic Gibson Les Paul tone

Price – INR 12, 432

Buy – https://amzn.to/2FZGxL8

12.         Seymour Duncan SH-4 & SH-2n Hot Rodded Set

Duncan SH-4 has an alnico 5 bar magnet along with a coil that is specially tuned to give the pickup a mid-scooped tone. It emphasis on the lows and highs that works well for many musical genres.

This pickup is used by many prominent musicians such as Jeff Beck, Randy Rhoads and many more.

Features of SH-4

  • Humbucker
  • Standard spacing
  • High output
  • Color: Black
  • Bridge position
  • Strong treble detail with aggressive harmonics

Features of SH-2n

  • Humbucker
  • Color: Black
  • Neck position
  • Clean, articulate tone
  • Versatile
  • Moderate output

Technical specifications

  • Type: Humbucker
  • Active/Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico
  • Position: Bridge, Neck
  • Number of Conductors: 4
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Covering: Uncovered

Pros

  • Improved sound quality
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for any type of instrument

Cons

  • Till now, there are no noteworthy negative opinions to mention

Price – INR 10,031

Buy – https://amzn.to/30HCIEh

So, this was all about guitar pickups along with a list of best electric guitar pickup. In next article, we will discuss about best acoustic guitar pickups.

Stay tuned to Ganatunes

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About Manish Sharma

Of course! A writer. Check out my latest blogs here. Would love to hear your opinions and reviews in the comment box below.
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