Best Guitar Pickups 2024 – Including Best Cheap Guitar Pickups

Best Guitar Pickups 2024 - Including Best Cheap Guitar Pickups

Upgrading electric guitar pickups is a surefire way to improve your guitar’s tone. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent pickups that can be had with minimal spending. Featured here are our top picks among the best cheap guitar pickups, along with expert advice on tone, playing style, and pickup selection.

Best Bridge Humbucker for Rock
DP100

Dimarzio Super Distortion DP100

The DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 is a legendary humbucker pickup that has left an indelible mark on the world of electric guitar.

Best All-Around Humbucker
seymour duncan

Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker

The Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Model is a legendary humbucker pickup that has been a favorite among guitarists for nearly four decades

Best Neck Position Humbucker
Seymour Duncan SH 2n Jazz

Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz

The Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz Model is a versatile humbucker pickup known for its clear and bright tone.

Best Stratocaster Pickup Set
Seymour Duncan SH 2n Jazz

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

The Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Stratocaster pickups are renowned for their distinctive sound, particularly associated with hot Texas blues.

Best Telecaster Pickup Set
tone rider vintage plus

Tonerider Vintage Plus

The Tonerider Vintage Plus Set for Telecaster is a versatile pickup set that balances warmth, clarity, and versatility.

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Let’s discuss one of the most crucial components that defines the sound of your electric guitar. Yes, you guessed it right—it’s the pickups! These little magnetic wonders are nothing less than the heart and soul of the guitar, influencing all the iconic guitar tones we love.

Wondering why pickups matter so much? For starters, they’re the primary source of your guitar’s tone. No matter how good your guitar’s construction or tonewoods are, the pickups transform your acoustic sound into something more refined, dynamic, and expressive, even before it hits the amp and speakers. 

But that’s not all—each pickup type has unique characteristics that can help you sculpt your guitar’s personality. For instance, single coils are perfect for genres like funk, blues, or country, thanks to their crisp and bright sound. On the other hand, humbuckers offer a richer, fuller output that’s ideal for rock or heavy metal. 

And here’s the best part – upgrading pickups can help you fine-tune your sound without investing in a new guitar. Whether you want more warmth, clarity, or aggression, the best guitar pickups can help you achieve it. 

So, don’t underestimate the power of these little wonders – they can take your playing to the next level and truly define your guitar’s sonic identity. Trust us; your guitar will thank you!

You don’t even have to go for expensive boutique pickups. You can achieve tone improvements by going for the best cheap guitar pickups. They’re also an easy upgrade. Note that some pickups are priced higher because they come in a set.

Sweetwater

Best Guitar Pickups

Dimarzio Super Distortion DP100

Best Bridge Humbucker for Rock

DP100

Dimarzio Super Distortion DP100

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

This legendary humbucker pickup revolutionized the world of electric guitar when it was invented in the early Seventies as a replacement pickup. It continues to be a classic choice for guitarists across genres.

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Looking for the perfect pickup to boost your sound? Look no further than the iconic DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100! It sports one of the highest outputs among passive pickups.

So, what makes the Super Distortion so unique? Its design and features were specifically crafted to push a tube amp into total overdrive, creating a wall of sound that fills any room or track. Its tonal balance includes thick, boosted mids, big lows, and fat highs, making it the perfect bridge position pickup for single notes or chords. Plus, with 4-conductor wiring, you can instantly access Strat-like split and series-parallel modes.

Not convinced yet? Consider the famous users who have relied on the Super Distortion for decades, including Ace Frehley, Al Di Meola, Phil Collen, Tom Scholz, and Paul Gilbert. Eddie Van Halen has been rumored to have used one on one of his guitars. No wonder this pickup has graced platinum records and stood the test of time. It’s one of the best pickups for Les Paul type guitars.

But what about the pros and cons? On the plus side, the Super Distortion livens up guitars, offers versatility, and rounds out and warms up the tone, especially in Gibson Les Paul guitars. Its thick lows and crunchy midrange tones are perfect for rock and metal styles, and its ability to cut through the mix ensures that lead playing shines through in a band context. Controllable feedback is achievable a few seconds into a sustained note. Plus, DiMarzio’s quality construction makes this high output pickup reliable and durable.

On the downside, some players may find the low-end bass response not as tight as they’d like, and the EQ spikes in the bass and midrange may not suit everyone’s taste. However, these are subjective issues that boil down to personal preferences. For output and tightness, Active Pickups would be better. 

The DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 is one of the best high output pickups for guitarists who want that classic, powerful tone that has stood the test of time. Whether you’re rocking out, playing blues, or diving into hard rock, this pickup delivers the goods. So what are you waiting for? Give your guitar the best pickups it deserves!

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Humbucker
Position: Bridge, Neck
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Ceramic
Conductors: 4 wire plus ground
DC Resistance: 13.68K
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker

Best All-Around Humbucker

seymour duncan sh 4jb

Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

This pickup is ideal for players who want a versatile sound that can handle various music genres, such as blues, punk, hard rock, or metal.

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If you’re a guitar enthusiast, chances are you have heard of the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Model. It’s a classic pickup that musicians have loved for almost 40 years! 

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. The Seymour Duncan JB Model, also known as the SH-4, is a high-output humbucker perfect for the bridge position of electric guitars. Thanks to its Alnico 5 magnet, it’s an absolute powerhouse that delivers a balanced blend of warmth and aggression. Its strong treble detail and aggressive harmonics make it perfect for lead work and rhythm playing. 

Moreover, the SH-4 JB has an upper-midrange boost that adds crunch and chunk to heavy chords, making it an excellent choice for aggressive music genres. But that’s not all—it can also clean up nicely for warm, sweet tones, making it a truly versatile pickup. 

If you’re still not convinced, let me tell you that this pickup is hand-built in California by a team of master builders with an average of 21 years of experience. Each pickup is period-correct and designed to create the most fantastic sound possible. 

Of course, as with any pickup, there are some cons to consider. Some players may find the SH-4 JB’s tone not to their liking since personal preferences play a significant role in pickup selection. Also, since it comes stock on some electric guitars, a few users have replaced it with other pickups, such as the DiMarzio X2N or Crunch Lab, to better suit their preferences. 

Overall, the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Model is a modern classic that won’t disappoint. It’s one of the best cheap guitar pickups for metal around. So, if you’re after a versatile humbucker that can handle everything from sweet cleans to searing leads, you should definitely check it out!

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Humbucker
Position: Bridge
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Conductors: 4 wire plus shield
DC Resistance: 16.6K
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz

Best Neck Humbucker

Seymour Duncan SH 2n Jazz

Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

This versatile humbucker is praised for its clear bright tone, and excellent quality, making it a go-to choice for jazz and blues players alike. 

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Are you on the hunt for the perfect neck position clean tone for your guitar? Look no further than the Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz Model!

Crafted with an Alnico 5 bar magnet and a special coil wind, the Jazz Model offers a glassy treble response and full, tight bass when played clean. When distorted, its tones are full and bright and provide smooth sustain. The glassiness persists even when rolling down the volume knob.

But that’s not all! The SH-2n Jazz Model’s slightly lower output makes it designed to match most bridge pickups. With its scooped mids, each note sings clearly, even under extremely high gain.

This pickup also comes with a four-conductor hookup cable for versatile wiring options, making it a versatile choice for various genres. Plus, its moderate output balances well with other pickups.

Of course, no pickup is perfect for everyone. While the SH-2n Jazz Model’s smooth and warm tone, rich harmonics, clarity, and versatility make it an excellent choice for many players, it may not be the best fit if you prefer a warmer, darker tone or if you’re specifically looking for a pickup for high-gain distortion. 

Ultimately, pickup preferences are subjective, so it’s worth trying the SH-2n Jazz Model and seeing how it works for you! Combined with the Seymour Duncan JB model. they make the best humbuckers for all around playing.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Humbucker
Position: Neck
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Conductors: 4 wire plus shield
DC Resistance: 7.5K
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

Best Stratocaster Pickup Set

fender custom shop texas special strat

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Strat Pickup Set

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

These pickups are renowned for their distinctive sound, particularly associated with hot Texas blues. Let’s delve into the details and discover why they are a fantastic reliable workhorse for guitarists.

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Looking to add some searing single-coil blues sound to your Stratocaster? Look no further than the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Stratocaster pickups.

Crafted with meticulous attention to detail and over-wound for increased output, the Custom Shop Texas Special pickups deliver a powerful and expressive tone. Each single coil pickup is has Alnico 5 magnets and enamel-coated magnet wire, they balance warmth and bite. The staggered pole pieces ensure balanced output across the strings, while the reverse-wound middle pickup cancels out hum effectively. They are period-correct with cloth wire and fiber bobbins.

Regarding tonal characteristics, the Texas Special pickups offer warm vintage clean tones with a touch of midrange bite, crystalline highs, and tight bass. They are ideal for genres like blues, rock, classic rock, country, and pop.

What are the pros and cons of the Texas Special pickups? On the positive side, they have a hotter output than standard Strat pickups, delivering more punch and drive. They capture the essence of classic hot rodded Texas blues tones, providing that signature growl and bite. They also offer a slightly enhanced midrange response, which can add thickness and clarity to your playing.

On the downside, some players find that the pickups have slightly more midrange than others. They can also be noisy in certain positions when using high gain, typical for most single-coil designs. They can be managed with proper shielding and noise reduction techniques.

Overall, if you’re after that Stevie Ray Vaughan vibe and want to add some distinctive character to your playing, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Stratocaster pickups are best stratocaster pickups for blues rock. Get ready to infuse your playing with that unmistakable Texas blues sound!

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Single-coil Set
Configuration: SSS
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Conductors: 2 wire
DC Resistance: 6.56K (bridge),
6.27K (middle), 5.94K (neck)
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Tonerider Vintage Plus Telecaster Pickup Set

Best Telecaster Pickup Set

tone rider vintage plus

Tonerider Vintage Plus Pickup Set for Telecaster

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

These pickups are designed to balance warmth, clarity, and versatility, making them suitable for various playing styles.

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Are you a guitar enthusiast looking for the perfect single coil pickups for your Telecaster? You might be interested in the Tonerider Vintage Plus Set!

Let’s dive into the details: the set includes a neck pickup (T1N) and a bridge pickup (T1B). The neck pickup features an in-house nickel-silver cover for tonal transparency. In contrast, the bridge pickup has a copper-plated ferrous baseplate, and alnico rod pole pieces staggered in height, emphasizing the third and fourth strings.

So, what can you expect in terms of tonal characteristics? The neck pickup offers warmth and clarity, making it perfect for genres like country, blues, pop, and jazz. On the other hand, the bridge pickup is versatile and can handle everything from country licks to classic rock. These pickups deliver a balanced blend of thick mids, big lows, and fat highs, giving you that timeless Telecaster sound.

But that’s not all! The Vintage Plus pickups are scatterwound on Alnico V magnets, delivering the complex chime that professional Telecaster players demand. The bridge pickup retains dynamic high-end, essential for country-style playing. Plus, the new higher output wind ensures plenty of low-end beef.

Of course, as with any pickup set, tonal preferences are subjective, so some players may prefer different characteristics or have specific tonal requirements. Additionally, installing and adjusting pickups can be tricky for beginners, so professional installation or setup may be necessary. Lastly, while the Vintage Plus Set excels in clean and moderate gain scenarios, it may not be the best choice for heavy distortion or metal genres.

In summary, the Tonerider Vintage Plus Set is a versatile, high-quality pickup set that can bring your Telecaster to life. Whether you’re strumming chords, bending notes, or exploring intricate melodies, these affordable pickups have you covered!

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Single-coil Set
Configuration: SS Tele
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Conductors: 2 wire
DC Resistance: 6.8K (bridge),
7.4K (neck)
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Wilkinson Vintage Tone Alnico V Overwound

Best Budget Humbucker Set

tone rider vintage plus

Wilkinson Vintage Tone Alnico v Overwound Humbucker Set

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

These pickups are all the rage among electric guitar players for a reason – they’re versatile, reliable, and bound to take your sound to the next level. It has a vintage-inspired, high-output sound. 

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Are you a guitar player seeking a vintage-inspired, high-output sound that can deliver a big, fat, and creamy tone? Look no further than the Wilkinson Vintage Tone Alnico 5 Overwound humbucker set! These are some of the best cheap electric guitar pickups around.

Let’s dive into the details. These pickups are compatible with most electric guitars, including Fender, PRS, G&L, Ibanez, ESP, and Jackson models. They can be used in both the neck and bridge positions. Constructed with genuine Wilkinson parts, they feature an open-style design and are wax-potted for reduced feedback. 

Expect a vintage tone with plenty of harmonics and character – perfect for rock, blues, and classic styles. The Alnico 5 magnets provide incredible focus and dynamics, and the D.C. resistance is approximately 7.6K ohms for the neck pickup and 14.1K ohms for the bridge pickup. Each pickup has four conductor wires: black (ground), yellow (hot), and red/white (for coil splitting). 

But that’s not all! The set includes two pickups, and the overwound bridge pickup delivers a mighty and creamy sound when driven with overdrive or distortion. Plus, the ability to split the coils is a great feature that expands your tonal palette, giving you more options to play with. The middle position gives you a lot of chirp for those Jimmy Page-style licks.

Of course, as with any product, there are pros and cons. Remember that these humbuckers are known for their brighter and more articulate sound, which may not be a cool thing for some. Additionally, these pickups may not be the best choice if you plan on using heavy distortion or high-gain settings. 

Despite the cons and the price, these are still some of the best budget humbuckers around. 

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Type: Humbucker Set
Configuration: HH
Active/Passive: Passive
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Conductors: 4 wire plus shield
DC Resistance: 14.1K (bridge),
7.6K (neck)
Connectivity: Soldered
Number of Strings: 6

Things To Consider When Buying Electric Guitar Pickups:

Budget

If you’re planning to purchase an affordable pickup, it’s essential to establish a spending limit to avoid overspending. The cost of pickups can vary significantly depending on the brand, model, and features. Therefore, setting a reasonable budget that aligns with your needs and preferences is crucial.

It’s worth noting that higher-priced pickups don’t always guarantee better sound quality. Sometimes, the difference in sound quality between a low-priced and high-priced pickup can be negligible, and you may pay more for features you don’t necessarily need.

Even active pickups, being more expensive with the extra electronics, may not be what you need for your tone. 

Therefore, it’s essential to research, read reviews, and try out different pickups within your budget range to determine which offers the best value for money.

Still cheap electric guitars can benefit from a pickup upgrade. And if you really know the sound that you want, even the best electric guitar under 1000 will sound better with the right pickup replacement.

Tone Preference

When choosing the type of pickups for your guitar, you must consider the music you play. Different pickups offer distinct tones that can drastically affect the sound of your instrument. 

Single-coil pickups, for instance, produce a bright and clear sound ideal for genres like blues, funk, and country. Their crisp and articulate tone is perfect for playing clean, intricate melodies. However, they can be prone to picking up interference from electronic devices, which can cause unwanted noise.

On the other hand, humbuckers produce a warmer, thicker tone that’s suitable for rock, metal, and jazz. They have a higher output and a more powerful sound for playing distorted riffs and solos. They are also less susceptible to interference, making them a popular choice for players using high-gain amplifiers.

Ultimately, the choice between single-coil and humbucker pickup models will depend on your preferences and the music you play. Experimenting with different pickups is important to find the tone that best suits your playing style and musical genre.

Playing Style and Genre

When selecting a pickup type for your guitar, consider your playing style and the genre of music you primarily play. If you’re a lead guitarist who enjoys playing rock or metal, consider using humbuckers, as they provide more sustain and power compared to other types of pickups. 

On the other hand, if you’re a rhythm player who specializes in blues or country music, single-coils or P-90s may be the better choice, as they offer a clearer and twangier tone that perfectly complements these genres. 

Even on cheap guitars, the right guitar pickup type depends on your preferences and the sound you’re trying to achieve.

Output Level

Regarding guitar pickups, output level plays a crucial role in determining your instrument’s tone and sound quality. Higher output pickups have a stronger magnetic field and generate a stronger signal, which drives your amplifier harder and results in a more distorted sound. On the other hand, lower output pickups have a weaker magnetic field and generate a weaker signal, resulting in a cleaner and more dynamic sound.

When choosing the right output level for your guitar pickups, it is essential to consider your amp and effects setup. If you have a high-gain amplifier or use a lot of distortion pedals, higher output pickups might be the way to go. They will push your amp harder and provide a heavier, more aggressive sound. However, if you prefer a cleaner tone and rely on modulation and time-based effects, lower output pickups might be a better choice. 

The best cheap pickups for guitar will allow your sound to remain more transparent, and the dynamic range will be more pronounced. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the type of music you play.

Installation

When correctly installing pickups, you have two options – either do it yourself or seek the help of a professional. 

Most pickups require soldering, which can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with electronics. On the other hand, some pickups come with easy plug-and-play options that make the installation a breeze. 

Ultimately, the decision of whether to install the pickups yourself or seek professional help will depend on your level of comfort with electronics and your overall experience with guitar maintenance. This principle also applies to the installation of acoustic pickups.

Brand Reputation

When you’re in the market for the best cheap guitar pickups, it’s important to research and select a reputable brand with a proven track record of quality and reliability. One way to ensure you’re making the right choice is to read reviews from other guitarists with experience with the brands you’re considering. 

It’s always helpful to seek recommendations from those who have firsthand knowledge, as they can provide valuable insight into the pros and cons of each brand. 

By doing your research and gathering information from trusted sources, you can feel confident that you’re making the best decision for your needs and budget.

Other pickups that are popular in the guitar world include Rail type like Seymour Duncan Hot Rails, and Filtertron pickups as used in Gretsch guitars.

 

Conclusion

Pickups play a crucial role in shaping the sound of your guitar. Different types of pickups have their own unique tonal characteristics that can drastically affect the overall sound of your instrument. For instance, single-coil pickups are known for their bright and clear sound, while humbuckers are famous for their warm and full-bodied tone. 

It’s essential to understand the importance of pickups when it comes to tone enhancement. Upgrading cheap guitars’ pickups can significantly improve their sound quality and versatility. With so many affordable options available, you don’t have to break the bank to get a noticeable improvement in your guitar’s sound. 

So, whether you want to add more clarity, warmth, or sustain to your guitar sound, exploring different pickup options can be a great way to achieve your desired tone. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pickups and find the one that best suits your playing style and musical genre.

Raphael Pulgar

Lead Author

Alexander Briones

Editor

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