7 Best Humbucker Pickups of 2024

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There’s no better way to upgrade your guitar than changing pickups. Regardless of your instrument, style, or genre you play, getting the right guitar pickup can dramatically change your sound and take your guitar to a new level.

However, choosing the right electric guitar pickups requires a deep understanding of your musical instrument and needs as an artist, which is why I decided to dedicate a piece to the best humbucker pickups in the market these days.

I'll focus exclusively on humbuckers not only because it'd require a book-size article to analyze every kind of guitar pickup but also because humbuckers are an excellent option for every guitarist, giving the versatility and tonal quality required by beginners and guitar heroes alike.

Quick Summary of the Best Humbucker Pickups

  1. Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB (Best Overall)
  2. Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker (Best for Hard Rock)
  3. Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover (Best for Classic Rock)
  4. EMG ZW Zakk Wylde Active Signature Set (Best for Heavy Metal)
  5. Mojo Tone DW Humbucker (Best for Progressive Rock)
  6. Gibson Classic 57 (Best for Jazz)
  7. DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Humbucker Pickup (Best Budget Humbuckers for Metal)

Best Humbucker Pickups

The list below includes humbucker pickups for every style, from jazz to blues and metal. Some guitar pickups are great for the versatile guitarist, while others are the ideal choice for purists looking for a specific sound.

As always, prices vary greatly, so in this list, you'll find electric guitar pickups for every budget.

1. Best Overall – Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB

Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB


  • Active or Passive: Active
  • Magnet Material: Alnico V
  • Covering: Uncovered

Perhaps the most iconic humbucker, the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB, is a Swiss Army pickup with unique harmonics and sustain that can perfectly fit in any genre, from jazz to heavy metal.

The tone is rich and articulated, with a warm sound that can magnify the sonic characteristics of your guitar, regardless of the genre.

Although I’d recommend the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB to guitarists who want to explore various genres, these electric guitar pickups truly shine when you make the most of its more aggressive harmonics, like in blues and hard rock.

2. Best for Hard Rock – Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker

Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker


  • Active or Passive: Active
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic VIII and Alnico V
  • Covering: Covered

One of the many great things about the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker is that it's noiseless. Contrary to many vintage-like electric guitar pickups, the active electronics ensure your sound won't be affected by cables or excessive gain, giving you clarity no other pickups can provide.

The dual voicing feature allows you to have two completely different sounds to work with: Modern Ceramic has a crisp and vibrant tone, while the Modern Alnico magnets will create the perfect tone for heavier and distorted parts.

With refined highs and galvanizing mid and low frequencies, the Fishman Fluence Modern Active is a beloved pickup among metal and hard rock guitarists. Still, it will work magnificently, regardless of your genre or style.

3. Best for Classic Rock – Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover

Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover


  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico II
  • Covering: Covered

For those looking for the timeless sound of rock music, the Seymour Duncan SH-55 might be the perfect choice.

Designed in collaboration with Seth Lover, the inventor of the humbucker pickups, the SH-55 delivers the perfect 50s sound, with vibrant highs and a galvanizing treble that’ll enrich your rock sound and help you create unforgettable classics.

The Alnico II magnets and the tight attack of the pickup in the bridge position are only some of the features that make the SH-55 Seth Lover one of the best electric guitar pickups on the market.

This passive pickup can transform a standard electric guitar into a classic rock powerhouse, so I'd recommend this classic humbucker to anyone who wants to recreate the 50s sound without spending thousands of dollars on a vintage guitar.

4. Best for Heavy Metal – EMG ZW Zakk Wylde Active Signature Set

EMG ZW Zakk Wylde Active Signature Set


  • Active or Passive: Active
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic/Steel and Alnico V
  • Covering: Covered

Zakk Wylde's signature set will help you create the iconic tone of Wylde's Les Paul. The high output provided by the EMG pickups 81 (bridge pickup) and 85 (neck pickup) gives a powerful attack and rich sustain, ideal for a wide array of heavy genres, from hard rock to heavy metal.

However, the warm and lush tonality makes the EMG ZW Zakk Wylde pickup an excellent choice for blues guitarists looking for a more powerful sound.

These active humbuckers are undoubtedly one of the best signature pickups in the market because they can revolutionize the sound of electric guitars and make them more powerful and immersive.

5. Best for Progressive Rock – Mojo Tone DW Humbucker

Mojo Tone DW Humbucker


  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico V and Ceramic Magnets
  • Covering: Covered

The Mojo Tone DW Tomahawk offers a carefully crafted balance between power and precision that’ll upgrade the sound of hard rock and metal guitarists.

With a combination of alnico and ceramic magnets, the sound created by the Mojo Tone DW is clear and expressive regardless of whether you’re playing chords or a solo, and the distortion is as hot as it can get.

The blend of a warm neck pickup and a sharp, responsive bridge pickup works magnificently on these classic humbuckers, resulting in an electric guitar tone reminiscent of the best Seymour Duncan pickups but with a high output perfect for metal guitar players.

6. Best for Jazz – Gibson Classic 57

Gibson Classic 57


  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Alnico II
  • Covering: Covered

Another excellent option for those looking for a timeless sound, the Gibson Classic 57 is a faithful replica of the Gibson PAF electric guitar pickup that defined the sound of the 50s, offering the richness and depth you hear in the classic blues and soul music of old.

Aside from the timeless vintage sound, the Gibson Classic 57 can also provide the crisp sound required by modern music standards and a balanced tonality that'll help you express yourself across multiple genres and styles.

7. Best Budget Humbuckers for Metal – DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Humbucker Pickup

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Humbucker Pickup


  • Active or Passive: Passive
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Covering: Uncovered

Are you looking for a perfect blend of power and unique tonality? Then the DP100 DiMarzio Super Distortion might be the right electric guitar pickup for you.

The deep lows and rich highs of the DP100 will fill the room and magnify the power of your distortion. The sound is balanced and immersive, with a wonderful gain and a juicy tone that’ll give you the versatility you need when playing hard rock and heavy metal. 

One of the crucial features of this excellent humbucker is the high output: with the DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion pickup set, your sound will reach new heights and give you all the power you need to create high-quality heavy music.

Best Humbucker Pickups Buyer's Guide

If you’re interested in learning more about humbuckers and how to choose the best one for your needs, let’s take a look at the aspects you should analyze when choosing your next pickup.

Let me start by saying there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for guitarists when it comes to pickups, so you’ll need to choose one based on your instrument, playing style, and the sound you aim to achieve.

Music Genre

The music genre you intend to play is probably the most crucial aspect to consider when choosing your next humbucker guitar.

If we were to divide music genres into macro-sections, I'd go for the following categories: jazz, blues, rock, hard rock, and metal.

No one stops you from playing blues with a metal humbucker pickup, but chances are you won't be able to reproduce the sound of blues' timeless songs perfectly.

Generally, jazz music requires a smooth sound with bright overtones and a pinch of treble. Mid frequencies are crucial and require a detailed and balanced sound that can seamlessly transition from rhythm to lead guitar when the solo comes.

Blues is all about a warm and rich sound, enhanced by an energetic low end and a treble that enriches the sonic texture. Humbuckers for classic rock are versatile and give an authentic, immersive feel, whether the sound is clean or distorted.

Hard rock and heavy metal are the genres that require the most from humbuckers: you'll need one with a deep low end and powerful highs, as well as a detailed midrange to sustain the song.

Guitar Type

The first thing to clarify is that humbuckers react differently depending on the guitar you put them on.

A solid body guitar will respond differently than a semi-hollow or a hollow body, so ensure you do some research to see whether a certain pickup can enhance the characteristics of your guitar before buying.

Also, if you own an entry-level guitar, is it worth it to replace the pickups, or wouldn't it be better to simply replace the guitar?

Many guitarists grow attached to their instruments, especially the ones they associate with their early days as musicians. While the right pickup could dramatically change your sound, it might not be worth the investment in some cases.

Covered vs. Uncovered Humbuckers

Covered vs. uncovered (or Open Coil) humbuckers is an ongoing debate and one that ignites man guitarists. While the difference is clearly visible (one has a cover over the top, the other doesn’t), the tonal differences are often hard to make out.

All in all, an open coil pickup will sound brighter and more detailed, while a covered pickup will have a warmer and smoother tonality. One is not necessarily better than the other, so it’ll be up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Rail Humbuckers

Rail humbuckers are an exceptional solution for guitarists who bend strings often. Unlike traditional humbuckers with six pole pieces in the coil, the "rail" design ensures that the guitar strings are always within the full magnetic field. This minimizes the chances of volume drop, even during string bending.

On the other hand, a rail humbucker won’t allow you to customize poles to your needs, as you could with a standard covered or uncovered humbucker.

Neck and Bridge humbucker

Switching between neck and bridge humbucker is what makes guitars sound so expressive. To put it simply, a bridge pickup is louder and has a higher-pitched sound, whereas the bridge humbucker has a warmer and smoother feel to it.

In the bridge position, the humbucker will have more attack and a brighter sound, while in the neck position, you'll have a more immersive sound.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are humbucker pickups?

Humbuckers are guitar pickups that use two separate wire coils to increase the signal output and reduce the humming typical of single-coil pickups, thanks to the two coils being polarity reversed. They were invented by Seth Lover and Seymour Duncan.

Humbuckers have been popular since the dawn of rock music when guitarists started looking for an energetic and expressive sound that'd galvanize their audience.

As opposed to the single-coil pickups, humbuckers have a warmer and more enveloping sound and enhance the characteristics of the tonewood by emphasizing the guitar's sustain.

What are the differences between single-coil and humbucker pickups?

Generally, a single coil pickup has a brighter and crispier sound, whereas humbuckers tend to have a warmer and deeper sound.

Single-coil pickups are preferred by country guitarists, while musicians working in the fields of jazz, blues, rock, and metal opt for humbuckers.

Finally, single-coil pickups tend to pick up electrical interferences, which causes humming and unwanted noise.

Single coil pickups are recommended for guitarists who are looking for a sharp, distinct sound, but with enough tone control and effects, you can use them to create any sound you like, from jazzy to modern metal tones.

What is the difference between active and passive pickups?

Active pickups need a 9V battery to function, while passive pickups don’t require a power source.

Active pickups are great for heavy metal and rock because of their greater output, but passive ones are ideal if you want to capture the real guitar tone of your instrument.

Finally, active pickups are extremely popular among guitarists who play heavy music (metal, hard rock).

What is the best humbucker pickup for metal music?

Metal music it’s so diverse it’s hard to find one pickup that’d work well for everyone. However, the DiMarzio Super Distortion is a classic pickup that’s been used for decades by some of the greatest hard rock and heavy metal guitarists, so you can’t go wrong with this one.

Seymour Duncan's humbuckers have always been among the best electric guitar pickups for heavy music and for a good reason.

Their pickups provide a fat tone and rich sound that is ideal for powerful genres, especially when paired with a tube amp that can accentuate your guitar's tonal qualities.

What is the best humbucker pickup for classic rock music?

If you’re looking for a sound that made the history of rock music, look no further than the Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover.

This humbucker delivers a vintage sound that’ll satisfy the needs of all rockers, with a classic Seymour Duncan sound that’ll upgrade your guitar and make your songs timeless.

What is the best humbucker for jazz music?

The Gibson Classic 57 is a versatile humbucker with a rich sound perfect for jazz music. Many iconic jazz guitarists used these electric guitar pickups because of their expressivity and recognizable clean sound.

While being ideal for jazz, the Gibson Classic 57 also works well with blues and rock music, making it the perfect choice for guitarists with no music boundaries.

If you want to try something different, you can also experiment with a single coil pickup. In that case, I'd recommend the Seymour Duncan SJBJ-1N to recreate the sound of the SH-4 but with a single coil pickup.

Final Thoughts

I believe that's all there is to know about humbucker pickups!

To summarize, if you're looking for the best electric guitar pickups, I'd go for the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB: adaptable to any genre and with a distinctive sound signature, these pickups can upgrade your guitar and unleash your creativity.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a more affordable option, the DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion offers exceptional value for its price.

My last piece of advice is to experiment with pickups to create your unique sonic signature. Don't simply try to imitate your favorite guitarists by using the same electric guitar pickups they do, but explore new sounds and find guitar pickups that'll make your sound recognizable and worth emulating.

Good luck, and stay creative!

Interested in learning more about pickups? Why not browse our guide about the best les paul pickups?

Captivate your audience with amplified elegance. Discover our superior pickups for classical guitars and stand out on stage.

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