Roundup of Cheap Electric Guitar Pickups
You don't have to spend big bucks to improve your tone, check out these impressive electric guitar pickups that you can get reasonably cheap.
Getting affordable replacement pickups is a great way to improve or change your tone without replacing your guitar. Beginners will find that entry-level electric guitars can benefit from pickup replacements immensely, while experienced players can experiment with affordable pickups without having to burn through their pockets. Whatever your case maybe, here are some budget friendly pickups that gets our thumbs up approval.
Note that below we show the cheapest price you can get if you shop around - these are usually less than the MSRP listed by the manufacturer.
Skip ahead to the type of pickups you're interested in:
Single Coil Pickups:
GFS True Coil Noise Canceling Pickups
GFS pickups continue to increase in popularity, thanks to their impressive quality and affordable price. In line with that, our top recommendation goes to the GFS True Coil Noise Canceling Pickup. This pickup combines traditional building techniques with modern noise canceling technology, resulting in a vintage sounding pickup that reduces almost all of the 60 cycle hum. GFS used old school fiber bobbins, Formvar wire, sand-cast Alnico V magnets and they applied copper shielding and wax potting on the assembly. True Coil Noise Canceling Pickups come in various models, covering everything from warm vintage '50s sound to hot over-wounded sounds. Retail Price: $31.95. Manufacturer Info.
Lace Tres Hombres Pickup
Lace pickups also provide great sounding pickups in the sub $50 price range, and the Tres Hombres Single Coil is one of them. This unique looking pickup features 3 poles that have different metal content tweaked to match the strings that they are assigned on. This design results in improved harmonics and stronger string vibrations. Users have commented on its great string balance, fat tone and quiet operation. If you are looking for a pickup replacement that is out of the ordinary, then this is the right one for you. Retail Price: $34.99. Manufacturer Info.
Fender Tex-Mex Strat Bridge Pickup
The Tex-Mex bridge pickup is over-wound to give you increased output, expanding the dynamics and punch that you can get when you switch to the bridge position. Users describe it as producing warm vintage tones with emphasis on the high frequencies. This is the same pickup used by Jimmy Vaughn on his signature model. Squier Strats and other Stratocaster style guitars will benefit immensely by upgrading to this pickup. Retail Price: $39.99. Manufacturer Info.
Kent Armstrong Rebel Tele Hot Front
The Kent Armstrong brand may not be as popular as other big names, but they have been getting increasing word of mouth recommendations. A good example of the quality of their products is the Rebel Tele Hot Front. It features a 7.5K Alnico V magnet and is wound to be hotter than the typical Tele neck pickup. The sound is described to be smooth, full and slightly brighter, offering more clarity when compared to ceramic pickups. Retail Price: $44.99. Manufacturer website.
DragonFire Strat Pure Vintage Set
The label "vintage" automatically comes with the impression of being expensive, however this does not apply to the DragonFire Strat Pure Vintage Set. For just under 50 dollars, you get not one, but THREE single coil pickups tuned to mimic the sound of '50s era Stratocasters. This is a bold claim for something so cheap, but reviews have been consistently favorable. The set features staggered alnico magnet slugs, enamel coated wire, fiber bobbins and wax potted enclosures. The middle pickup is also reverse wound for hum cancelling tones in positions 2 and 4. With this set, you can upgrade all three of your pickups in one go without breaking the bank. Retail Price: $49.95. Manufacturer Info.
GFS Retrotron Nashville Vintage Humbucker Gold
GFS set out to recreate the vintage sound of Filtertron pickups, as heard on vintage Gretsch guitars. After a year of research, they came up with the Retrotron series, which provides a close approximation of the sound while retaining an affordable prize, and a standard humbucker size. This means that you can easily get this affordable vintage sounding pickup, and install it into any guitar with a standard humbucker slot. The Retrotron Nashville utilizes ceramic magnets for a fat and clear sound that is a bit on the soft side. High output varieties of the pickup is also available for those that want more juice. Retail Price: $37.95. Manufacturer Info.
EMG OC1 SRO Open-Coil Humbucker
There's no denying that EMG is an established pickup brand, so finding one of their products in this low price range is quite a surprise. The OC1 SRO is a traditional open-coil design humbucker, featuring Alnico V Bar Magnets that are tweaked for clarity and versatility. Although this is a passive pickup, it follows the typical EMG inclination towards high gain use. This humbucker is a natural born rocker, providing increased sustain when you hit your dirt pedal. HSS configuration Super Strats and Les Paul style guitars would benefit from this pickup. Retail Price: $40. Manufacturer Info.
Powered By Lace Humbucker
This humbucker is part of Lace's affordable pickup line labeled "Powered by Lace". This ceramic based pickup is designed to provide high output and enhanced high-frequencies. Users describe it as clean with a slight overdrive when pushed and played hard, and many comment that this humble pickup made a very big difference to their sound. If you are looking to improve the sound of an affordable HH configuration guitar, this is a great pickup to work with. Retail Price: $22.06. Manufacturer Info.
Another big name in pickup manufacturing enters the cheap guitar pickups race, Seymour Duncan. Having an open coil design, this pickup does not have the flare and visuals of its more expensive cousins. However it does have the same "heart", providing impressive tone that has satisfied quite a number of guitar players world over. This pickup is said to be comparable to their high-output pickup Duncan Distortion that costs more than three times more. It features a ceramic magnet with over-wound coils that give it a very hot output. Ideal for all types of rock, and can be a budget pickup for metal players. Retail Price: $29.99. Manufacturer Info.
DragonFire H90s Hum-sized P90 Set
Dragon Fire is another pickup maker that is well known to guitarists that modify their instruments. They offer a long list of pickups that sound surprisingly good for their cheap price. One that caught our attention is the great looking H90s with white pearl top cover. This pickup set (yes you get a pair of pickups for under 35 bucks!) feature P90 style design, built to fit humbucker slots. Since P90 pickups are essentially single-coil pickups that have more midrange, this would make a great replacement pickup for players that want to get more single coil like sounds from their humbucker equipped guitars. This is simply a very tempting value-packed pickup set that is hard to skip on. Retail Price: $34.95. Manufacturer Info.
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