6 Best Humbucker Pickups

The guitar is an amazing instrument, and playing it gives you a fuzzy feeling like no other. It is a lifelong hobby that for many becomes a passion. And players relish in that sweet sound that comes from twanging the strings.

But unlike an acoustic guitar, electric guitars are a little more complex, and can produce all sorts of different sounds from each other. This depends on the model you buy, and and more specifically, the type of pickups that it has.

And if you buy an electric guitar hoping to make some smooth and deep tones. But end up playing something a little more crisp and clear, then you probably have the wrong pickups.

You can try adjusting your amp, or buying pedals and other gear to get the sounds you want, but that is expensive. And not to mention the headache that it would give you.

However, what you can do instead is swap out the pickups for humbuckers. Humbuckers have a double coil which gives them an extra kick. And it will give you the deep, rocking sound that you are after.

It is the classic Gibson sound, and has graced our ears throughout the decades thanks to players such as Jimmy Page, Angus Young, and a host of others.

So in this guide we go through the best humbucker pickups for your guitar playing!

Best Humbucker Pickups

There are different humbuckers to suit all different styles of guitar. We will go through different m kinds, so you are sure to find something for what you want to play.

Best All-Round: Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Set

Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Set

Fishman never fails to surprise, and with the fluence modern humbucker set they take things to a new level. They are not like normal humbuckers, and this is clear from all of their modern humbucker sets.

These humbuckers are standouts because they are designed in a way which other brands do not use, giving them some high-end features and a solid build quality.

They are active pickups, and also have a dual voicing feature for each pickup in the set. They rock the Alnico 5 magnets, and have Fishman’s specially designed covers.

Described in one word, these pickups are versatile! And it is difficult to say exactly which type of tone they produce.

They do carry a lot of high mids and high-ends, which is not to be unexpected from double coils. But they can also stray into uncharted territory, and produce some really unexpected but beautiful tones. And the sonic structure voicing control makes achieving this a lot easier.

These Fishman humbuckers are especially popular with modern rock players, but truth be told are a great setup for any kind of genre.

They do sound great in modern licks thanks to the squeaky clean tones that can also be achieved. But if you want to keep things simple and just use your basic controls.

  • Active or Passive: Active
  • Coil Tap: Yes
  • Coil Split: Yes
  • Phase Reversal: Yes
Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Alnico & Ceramic Pickups Set, Black Nickel
  • All the musicality, power and explosiveness of alnico. Full chords and fluid solos, plus a voice you’ve never heard in a humbucker.
  • Cutting Ceramic attack. Brutal Active aggression and passive punch in the same Guitar. Great in both positions, or commonly paired with Alnico neck
  • Are multi-voice. Set and forget, or wire-up to toggle between two musically complimentary voices. Drop right in and replace standard humbucker pickups
  • Are rechargeable on your Guitar. Optional lithium-ion battery pack offers weeks, not hours, of playing time

Best For Strats: Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR – 1b Hot Rails

Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR - 1b Hot Rails

Whether single or double coil, Seymour Duncan always produces top-end pickups. But if you love the traditional sound of a single coil electric guitar, but do not fancy modifying the electronic cover or making any changes to the body cavity, then you should definitely check out these hot rails.

They are basically humbuckers that are made with a smaller single-coil size. This gives them a mid-heavy tone, without the regular humbucker size. And due to its unique design, this particular model of hot rails is a special favorite of Stratocaster players.

Because these are classic hot rails, they do not have the regular magnet poles. But instead, they have two individual rails which produce a slightly different tone.

They cannot be adjusted according to individual string action, but the full continuous magnetic field is pretty decent thanks to the rail design. The magnets are ceramic, so this also has an impact on tone.

It is key to know that these pickups are designed for the bridge position to get the best results. And despite being intended mainly for strats, they do work with other single-coil design guitars.

Overall, hot rails bring a unique humbucker sound to the game because of the smaller distance between the coils. But no worries, you will still get the sustain and heavier tones that you want from a humbucker.

Go for these SHR-1b Hot Rails if you are a strat player who wants to move away from the clean and crisp fender tones to a ruder style of playing, without modifying your guitar too much.

  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Coil Tap: No
  • Coil Split: No
  • Phase: Reversal
Sale
Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1b Hot Rails Strat Guitar Pickup Bridge Black
  • The two thin blades with powerful coil windings give you the incredible sustain and a fat
  • full sound that?s needed for playing heavier rock music^This pickup responds to the subtlest finger movements^Available in black or white Four conductor cable^Bridge Position

Best Rail Humbuckers: Seymour Duncan Wes Hauch Jupiter

Seymour Duncan Wes Hauch Jupiter

Let’s now look at the Jupiter Rails, also known as the Wes Hauch signature humbuckers. Wes brought his metal experience, teamed up with Seymour Duncan, and built in some of the best possible features into a single pair of pickups.

They have rail design which covers all six strings, instead of a single pole piece for each individual string. Although this means that poles cannot be adjusted to individual string actions, it does create an even magnetic field, which some players prefer.

Also a versatile pickup set, the Wes Hauch signatures are ceramic magnets. And they have a 4-conductor wire which can create some sweet combinations.

Rail setups with ceramic magnets create a mid end oriented tone. But within the whole sonic palate, there are also higher mids and high ends.

This gives players a choice of weaponry, which adds something different to what is otherwise a darker humbucker pickup tone. Because of Wes’ metal influence, these signature pickups are great for lead, as well as rhythm metal sections.

All in all, these are some solid humbucker pickups for metal players. It is not often that you find such a versatile beauty for this kind of music. And this makes them popular with metal rockers.

  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Coil Tap: Yes
  • Coil Split: Yes
  • Phase Reversal: Yes
Seymour Duncan Wes Hauch Jupiter Rails 6-String Humbucker Pickup Set Black
  • Dual stainless-steel rail poles
  • Finely tuned high output wind developed closely with Wes
  • Aggressive mid-range focused attack
  • Evenly balanced string response
  • Ceramic magnet

Best For Blues: Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Set SH-PG1N

Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Set SH-PG1N

This list is full of Seymour Duncan pickups, and rightly so. These blues babies are another model which replicates the classic Gibson pickup variation. And they do a fine job of it as well.

Along with the Alnico 2 magnets, there are a few other variations within these pickups. And they are available as covered, or uncovered.

All of the unique traits of these pickups were not included to just make them look pretty. Everything contributes to an amazing-sounding tone. And what we love is that these Pearly Gates bring higher ends into the mix.

And while the mids and bass lie under the radar compared to the crisper higher end, the bottom-end shines through. This creates an interesting tone, and brings a harmonic sound that kind of mimics a single coil.

You will not have the same arsenal, and the pickups will still have a more controlled sound than a single coil. But it is a great spin on the classic humbucker design.

So who are they great for?

Well, these blues pickups will make your day if you love the overdriven and fuzzy sound. Team them up with a vintage tube amp and an overdrive pedal, and you will not be disappointed. So use them blues, blues rock, and even hard rock guitar.

They are a little more expensive than competitors, but they are worth it.

  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Coil Tap: Yes
  • Coil Split: Yes
  • Phase Reversal: Yes

Best For Rock: Seymour Duncan SH-18 Whole Lotta Bucker Set

Seymour Duncan SH-18 Whole Lotta Bucker Set

Seymour Duncan has taken what Gibson did a while back, and pushed it to new heights. But they have done this all while staying true to some of the basic tones that Gibson made us all fall in love with.

The name of these buckers sounds familiar to any guitar player. And that is because they pay tribute to the legend that is Jimmy Page.

To give that Jimmy Page tonality, these humbuckers have Alnico 5 magnets sand-casted. And finishing off the job is a 42-gauge enamel wire wrapping, along with a nickel silver bottom plate.

Coil tap and coil split options are made easy thanks to a quality 4-conductor wire. The rig is then covered with a smooth finish.

With the Whole Lotta Buckers, Seymour Duncan is trying to replicate that classic 1950s guitar sound, but with a double coil kick.

Others might disagree, but these pickups are mid-heavy. And this is what is often called the British style tone.

The output is slightly higher, but overall things are nice and controlled. And they are pretty good for when you want to push a tube amp to the max without using a distortion pedal or too much gain.

These humbuckers turn back the clock a little, but they can still put out some modern rock as well as metal sounds.

What do we say? Go for these double coiled buckers if you want to play some blue rock or hard metal, but with a vintage sound.

  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Coil Tap: Yes
  • Coil Split: Yes
  • Phase Reversal: Yes
Seymour Duncan SH-18 Whole Lotta Bucker Humbucker SET NICKEL Jimmy Page
  • SH-18 Whole Lotta Bucker Bridge & Neck in Nickel / Silver
  • Jimmy Page Signature Pickups
  • Ships USPS priority mail

Best For Jazz: Seymour Duncan SH2N

Seymour Duncan SH2N

By now we all know that Seymour Duncan has made a name for themselves in the guitar pickup game.

Their pickups are known for stellar quality and for partnering with a lot of big brands. These include leaders like Fender and Epiphone, who have put Seymour Duncan pickups in their instruments.

Taking the well-known Gibson PAF pickups, and marching them into uncharted territories, there are many sweet SD humbuckers worth talking about here. The one that we thought was worth mentioning is the SH2N model.

This humbucker model primarily has jazz in mind. But it is a solid option for all 6-string guitar’s neck position.

You will usually see them matched up with Seymour Duncan’s SH-4 or SH-5 pickup models in a guitar’s bridge position. But, the cool thing is that they have no trouble working alongside any standard bridge humbucker.

This pickup has standard Alnico 5 magnets and can be covered or left uncovered. It also boasts a 4-conductor lead wire, and is built in a way to keep performance tight and controlled .

These humbuckers will sort out any lead player, and it does not matter which genre. But, they work really well in prog rock and prog metal settings.

  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Coil Tap: No
  • Coil Split: No
  • Phase Reversal: No
Seymour Duncan SH2N Jazz Model Humbucker Pickup - (Black)
  • For players who need an accurate
  • clear tone for fast jazz runs^The brighter sound has slightly less output and is a good match with most pickups^Popular combination: The Jazz in the neck & either a JB (SH-4) or Duncan Custom (SH-5) in the bridge^When distorted
  • the tone is full and bright^Ultra clean and clear for articulating jazz runs.

Buyers Guide

Have a read of this buyer’s guide before you dive into choosing your humbuckers. It will save you time, and help ensure you pick the right setup.

Humbucker Variants

Guitar players are picky devils, and they always have been. But oddly, this is one of the main reasons for innovation in guitars.

We really just want more options. Even with those seemingly simple concepts and guitar components. So it makes sense that there are a number of variations when it comes to the overall humbucking pickup design. And here are the things we thought you ought to know.

Uncovered Humbuckers

The most basic of humbuckers, just like the ones that we could see in the early days of electric guitar, do not have a cover, and have exposed coils.

In many models, you can see that one side has completely flat poles, and the other has screw poles that can be adjusted in height.

In other models, on both coils the adjustable poles have hex pole pieces. By playing around with these adjustable poles, guitar players can adjust the balance over all of the strings.

In any case, uncovered humbuckers have one advantage and one disadvantage, potentially. The good news is that the tone is warmer and more inviting. In case you need to smoothen it out, you can always turn down the tone dial.

The potential bad news is that because of less shielding, there could be an increased chance of electromagnetic interference. But not to worry, it’s not anywhere near as bad as compared to single-coils. But you might still pick up some unwanted noise.

Covered Humbuckers

Covered humbuckers do not have this problem. But they do have an opposite problem. The cover takes away some of the open and crisp tones that come with their uncovered counterparts.

This is particularly true with nickel or chrome covers. But then, their metal covers help to get rid of any potential unwanted noises in your tones.

Covered humbuckers usually have open holes for pole pieces on one side. In the neck position, the holes face the headstock. And in the bridge position, the holes face the bridge and the tailpiece.

In some models, there are also holes for both sides, or a completely covered variation.

But it is all just a matter of [personal choice really. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to covered or uncovered pickups. Find out what you like best and go with it.

Rails And Variations

And there are also some other examples of humbucker pickups. You can have a variation on the standard magnetic pickup with magnetic poles.

Some humbuckers come with a rail design. and obviously, there is also the option to have single-coils in the form of a single rail instead of 6 individual pole pieces.

But in humbuckers, there are a few variations of the rail design. There is the standard-sized humbucker with two rails, or a more compact rail that fits a single-coil slot. This is like the Hot Rails design.

Another example is the combination of a rail coil and a standard pole piece coil. And a really interesting combination is the P-Rails pickups, which are made by Seymour Duncan. These models include the standard P90 type of pickup with an additional rail coil.

Rail pickups also have their advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that the magnetic field is fully covered.

So even if you bend the string and move it out of place, the magnetic field picks it up better than pickups with individual pole pieces. But, you cannot adjust the rails the way you would adjust individual pole pieces.

This makes it harder to get a fully balanced output with all the subtleties covered.

Humbucker Pickups

so those are some of the best humbucker pickups for your electric guitar. Spend some time reading the buyers guide so that you can be confident in your decision. And then crack on with buying your new pickups. They will boost your tones, and take you playing to a new level. Have fun with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does A Humbucker Do?

Humbucking pickups are especially good at doing two things: Suppressing external noise. Producing a big, loud and warm sound that contrasts with the bright, snappy sound of many single-coil pickup

What Is The Difference Between A Humbucker And A Pickup?

These are the main differences between humbucker and single coil pickups:

Humbuckers have two coils. This gives them thicker, deeper, and smoother tones. Single coils have brighter and crisper tones.

Single coils make a humming when you are not playing the strings. Humbuckers get rid of the hum. This is where the name comes from.
Humbuckers are suited to jazz, hard rock, and metal. Single coils are better for surf and country.

Why Are Humbuckers Called Humbuckers?

The name comes from the way they buck, or get rid of the humming noise of a single coil pickup.

Are Humbuckers Better Than Single Coils?

Single-coil pickups have brighter and crispier tones. But humbuckers typically have what is described as a thicker and fuller sound; a sound that is heard to be warmer.