Roundup of Cheap Electric Guitar Pickups

There's no denying that pickups play a major role when it comes to electric guitar tone. By simply replacing your pickups, you can substantially change your tone for the better.

Sweetwater

This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Electric Guitar Pickups stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

Thankfully, there are some quality yet affordable options available so you won't have to spend too much to upgrade your pickups. These pickups are great for entry-level electric guitars, immensely improving the sound when compared to stock pickups. Experienced players can also benefit from these cheap pickups for use with their project guitars, or to experiment with various pickup combinations without having to burn a hole through their pockets. Whatever your case maybe, sound better with these quality and budget friendly pickups.

Skip ahead to the type of pickups you're interested in:

Single Coil or Humbucker

Single Coil Pickups:


    DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Tele

    DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Tele

    DiMarzio is a US based manufacturer known for aftermarket electric guitar pickups, their Super Distortion model pickup was the first after-market replacement guitar pickup introduced in 1972. Now they have a huge line up of electric guitar pickups that cover various styles, one of which is the Twang King, designed specifically for Telecaster style guitars.

    This single coil pickup delivers true vintage Tele tones that come complete with the hot-rodded spank and high frequency snap as found on older Telecaster guitars. This neck pickup is particularly responsive to subtle variances in your pick attack, allowing for the dynamics of your playing to shine through - the harder you hit the strings, the louder your sound becomes. The result is a guitar that "sings" in a much more organic way when compared to regular Tele style pickups. Add this to your guitar and experience a big improvement in your tone which will positively affect your playing. Retail Price: $59.99 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    Seymour Duncan SVR-1b

    Seymour Duncan SVR-1b

    The Seymour Duncan SCR-1b is a tricky pickup to categorize because it has the shape and size of a single coil, but operates with a twin-coil design with parallel wiring. We decided to put it on the single-coil list because it is meant to replace any single-coil size pickup.

    Instead of traditional pole pieces, the SVR-1b features a unique split-rail configuration that together with its twin-coil design allows for vintage Strat style single-coil tones without the unwanted hum. This modern single-coil pickup is ideal for the usual Strat infused music styles including Blues, Rockabilly, Surf, Pop, Ska and even classic rock. Interestingly, they were able to replicate the quack tone even when combined with other regular single coil pickups. Because of its rail design, the string to string volume balance is improved and it eliminates volume dropout when bending strings. It you're looking for a vintage voiced single-coil pickup with modern improvements, then get the SVR-1b. Retail Price: $75.95 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    DiMarzio DP175W True Velvet Strat

    DiMarzio DP175W True Velvet

    The DiMarzio True Velvet is a great sounding Strat-style single-coil pickup that gives you vintage style quack and sparkle without going beyond your budget. The company was able to reproduce genuine Strat tones while at the same time removing the excessive high-frequencies that usually accompanies standard single-coil pickups.

    This affordable single coil pickup emphasizes the "sweet spot" where the highs are bell-like, allowing you to substantially improve the sound of any Strat style guitar. To hit the sweet spot, the True Velvet uses a special magnet stagger designed to reduce unwanted harshness above when playing notes above the 12th fret. This results in a clear tone with vintage sonic quality that easily outclasses default pickups and other alternative Strat style pickups in this price range. Being part of DiMarzio's lineup, you can expect this pickup to be reliable and consistent. If you're looking for old school Strat tone, get the DiMarzio True Velvet. Retail Price: $54.99 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.


    Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

    Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

    If you're looking to add more oomph to your Strat sound then who better to get it from than Fender themselves. This single-coil pickup is designed to reproduce the in-your-face punchy Texas blues sound as heard on featuring overwound coils calibrated to pickups found on real vintage Strats.

    To recreate genuine Texas blues sound, Alnico 5 magnets and enamel coated magnet wire were used to increase the output, resulting in a vintage voiced tone that is louder and punchier. This pickup is essentially a hot-rodded vintage single coil, giving you some extra grit when pushed while still cleaning up nicely when you roll down the volume. And since this one is hand built using cloth lead wires and fiber bobbins at the Fender Custom Shop, you can be sure that you get a reliable and great sounding pickup with tighter bass, bell-like highs and quacking midrange. Highly recommended that you get either the bridge or neck, if not both! Retail Price: $79.99 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    Fender 60th Anniversary Strat Pickup Set

    Fender 60th Anniversary Strat Pickup Set

    A more cost effective way to get better tone is to get a new set of pickups, this allows for a discounted price that saves you some dough when compared to buying each pickup individually. Also sets like the 60th Anniversary Strat have each pickup tuned to complement each other well, very important when playing utilizing in-between pickup positions.

    This commemorative set comes with three single coil pickups designed for Strat style guitars, with each pickup inspired by real 1954 era vintage Stratocaster pickups. It features Formvar magnet wire and Alnico 3 magnets that allow each pickup to reproduce the bell-like highs, and old school quacks of old Strats. The 60th Anniversary Strat Pickup Set comes complete with mounting screws, pickup height adjustment tubing, a wiring diagram and a wiring harness. Note that only 1,954 sets will ever be made, so this special pickup set is available for a limited time. Retail Price: $149.99 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


Sweetwater

This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Electric Guitar Pickups stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

Humbucker Pickups:


    Seymour Duncan SHPR-1b P-Rails

    Seymour Duncan SHPR-1b P-Rails

    The SHPR-1b P-Rails pickup is easily the best bang per buck humbucker in the market today, featuring a unique design that gives you three distinct tones - humbucker, P-90 and single-coil. This multifunction pickup is packed in such a way that it conveniently fits into regular sized humbucker slots without any need for modifications.

    Instead of just being emulations or close representations, these pickups actually contains the circuitry of a real P-90 and a blade single coil pickup that combines into a humbucker. This allows for genuine tones when switching between the three modes, making this the ideal aftermarket pickup for the gigging guitarists that plays a wide variety of musical styles. Although a bit pricey, this pickup is a great investment because it has 3-in-1 functionality, especially if you are looking to expand the sonic expression of your electric guitar. If you are looking for a versatile humbucker, then this is it! Retail Price: $89.95 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    Seymour Duncan SH-1b '59 Zebra

    Seymour Duncan SH-1b '59 Zebra

    Founded in 1976, it took the company many years before their popularity started soaring, thanks to the then popular Kramer Guitars which came with Seymour Duncan pickups along with Floyd Rose locking vibratos. Now various models from big name guitar manufacturers go to Seymour Duncan for pickups, and their aftermarket offering continues to be among the most sought after, this ofcourse includes the SH-1b '59 humbucker.

    The '59 Model SH-1 is the company's version of the Seth Lover PAF humbucker as found on Gibson Les Pauls from the late '50s. Although it doesn't have the pickup cover and visual flare as the more expensive models, it features the same internal design resulting in vintage voiced tones that will improve the sound of any humbucker equipped guitar. With its ceramic magnets and overwound coils, some even compare it to the Duncan Distortion pickup which costs way more! If you play rock and metal and you are looking to improve your tone, this affordable aftermarket option is heaven sent. Retail Price: $72.95 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    EMG H4 Passive Ceramic Humbucker

    EMG H4 Passive Ceramic Humbucker

    Today's rock and metal players are always looking for ways to drive their sound to the hottest levels, and as such the quest for high output pickups is never ending. EMG continues to dominate this niche market, offering pickups that many now consider as standard configuration. Among the most affordable in their line up is the EMG H4, a high output passive pickup.

    This pickup is the same pickup used extensively in many ESP electric guitars, featuring two bar-loaded coils that are designed to produce the hottest possible output. Tonewise, the EMG H4 is considered as the passive equivalent of the popular EMG 81 active pickup, and as such is meant for the bridge position. With its tight bass, crunchy highs and crazy harmonics, the H4 has become sought after by rock guitar players who are looking to improve their tone without having to switch into active circuitry. Finally, this pickup comes with a 5-wire "quick-connect output" which makes wiring easy and allows for a number of control possibilities. If you're looking for more modern rock tones from your humbucker equipped guitar, then you should get this one.
    Retail Price: $69 |Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    Seymour Duncan Blackouts AHB-1

    Seymour Duncan Blackouts AHB-1

    If you are looking to upgrade from passive to active, or if you are looking to replace the stock active pickups on your guitar, it is best to get an active guitar set. This way you are getting ones that sound well together and get significant savings compared to buying them one by one. The Blackouts AHB-1 is a great entry point into the world of active pickups, having a reasonably affordable price tag while offering immense tone improvements.

    While other active pickups tend to go too over the top, the AHB-1 has the rough edges rounded off, resulting in a hot-rodded tone that works well with the various shades of rock, from old school punk to modern heavy rock styles. Seymour Duncan was able to achieve this by using a balanced input design, which allows these humbuckers to operate quietly and at the same time reduces the unwanted harshness or "muddiness" as found on other active pickups. Finally, this bundle comes complete with everything you need to setup the guitar, and thanks to its blade magnet design, it works well with various string spacing configurations. If you're looking to go the active pickup route, then this is the best place to start your search. Retail Price: $179.95 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


    EMG ZW Set Zakk Wylde Signature

    EMG ZW Set Zakk Wylde Signature

    Although not as affordable as we'd like it to be, the Zakk Wylde Signature Set from EMG is still a cheap way to turn your axe into an exciting rock instrument, and as such it is highly recommended. It is priced reasonably well considering how much improvement you'll get when you equip your guitar with them.

    Note that this is the same pickup found on Zakk's popular Bullseye guitar, albeit with a more stripped down look. This means that you get as close as possible to Wylde's wild gritty tones, at a more cost efficient price point. Breaking down the set gives you one active EMG 85 humbucker for the bridge and an active EMG 81 humbucker for the neck, both of which are tweaked to meet the demands of Zakk's rock playing style. We agree with the consensus that this set will turn any tame humbucker equipped electric guitar into a certified roaring metal machine. Retail Price: $199 | Get the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater


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GFS Pickups

The Tele pickups that GFS offer are a great value too .If you are a Tele nut like myself give them a try!!!

pickups.

Between the Duncan Performer and the Powered by Lace which would you recommend for high gain drop tuning? I need to be able to maintain decent articulation at high gain high bass settings and I don't tend to scoop my mids too much or too often. I also need a very clean articulate neck HB. Combining the 2 if necessary would be alright by me.

Humbucker sized P90

Humbucker size P90 pickups do not in any way replicate an authentic P90. Inside they are merely overwound Strat pickups.

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