Humbucker pickups have been around since several decades now, and they are basically a type of dual coil passive guitar pickups. Passive, because they don’t require any power input and don’t contain a preamp built into the pickup circuit.
One set of coils is wound clockwise, while the set of coils next to it is wound counterclockwise onto the poles. This means that whenever any electrical interference is picked up by one of the coils, it is immediately canceled by electromagnetic field of the second coil. Also, humbuckers tend to sound slightly darker than single-coil pickups and deliver a deeper, fuller sound.
If you are looking for more specific pickups try here: Pickups for Stratocaster Guitars and Pickups for Les Paul Guitars.
Choosing the best humbucker pickup?
When it comes to choosing the perfect humbucker, you need to focus on a few factors, namely- build quality, magnet type, winding, and form factor. The build quality must be such that the humbucker feels sturdy and delivers a consistent performance at all times.
Look for quality steel, aluminum or wood shells. Steel or iron based magnets are common in cheaper humbuckers, however, you must get a humbucker with Alnico magnets. Alnico is short for AlNiCo- an alloy comprised of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt. Alnico magnets come in different classes, ranging from 1 to 5. The higher the class, the darker and deeper your guitar will sound.
Below, you’ll see that we have listed some of the top humbuckers. Choose one which will fit your guitar, you can know that by looking at its overall form factor and design.
Guitar Bass Pickup Zebra Faced Humbucker Double Coil PickupsPro: Set of bridge and neck pickups, easy to mount, sturdy construction (for the Price)
Con: Included leads are a little too short
If you want a set of great sounding pickups for a bargain price, then you can’t go wrong with these zebra faced guitar pickups. You’ll get a set of two- one for the bridge and the other for the neck. The bridge pickup has got more turns and generates a darker, heavier note while the neck pickup is much lighter and brighter in terms of sound quality. Tonal response is great considering the price point, and although you don’t get a whole lot of tuning options, the overall build quality is still amazing and the mounting procedure is fairly simple- just place it on top of your guitar and dive in the 4 screws for each of the two.
Kmise MI0342 Hexbucker Guitar Humbucker PickupPro: Matched set of 2 pickups (bridge and neck), 15k turns on the bridge and 7.2k for the neck.
Con: Could use a magnet upgrade
The name Kmise might seem a little unfamiliar to you, and we too had never heard of this brand before. Turns out it is a rather new entry into the field of acoustic and electric guitar equipment. Their MI0342 Hexbucker is a pretty surprising humbucker pickup that comes with a weird name. The lows are gnarly and beefy, while the mids are full of sustain and resonate beautifully with all acoustic guitars that feature Sitka, spruce, or mahogany wood. There are two pickups in the package, one for the bridge and the other for the neck. There is plenty of power coming out of the bridge unit, thanks to the powerful electromagnetic field generated by the 15k turns.
DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Humbucker PickupPro: Solid all metal construction, braided leads, a variety of cover choices
Con: Slightly overpriced for what they offer
When you first look at the DiMarzio DP100, you’ll be impressed by the way these things are built. Even before you take them out of the packaging and mount them onto your guitar using the custom mounting brackets, you’ll notice the amount of weight that these things carry, thanks to the full metal construction and the use of long, thickly braided leads. The cover is available in gold as well as nickel plated options, or you can choose to go with the exposed coils option. The sound is not strikingly extraordinary, but is remarkably balanced and features especially thick lows. Highs are a different story though, as they tend to sound pretty clean and have a decent amount of snap to them, although they tend to get muddy as you climb upwards.
EMG-81 Humbucking Active Guitar PickupPro: Alnico A2 magnet, amazing harmonics, superb picking response
Con: Not true “EVH” sound, but still pretty close
These are designed to emulate the “brown” sound of the original EVH albums, but you will find that these things are not quite there yet. However, they are still leaps and bounds ahead of what any other pickup has to offer in terms of EVH emulation. The magnets are made of Alnico, and are classified as “A2”. This means that the sound will be brighter and more snappy than usual, but the bass is still there for you to bring out. Picking the strings is a truly fun experience with these pickups, and you’ll definitely be able to notice the amazing amount of sustain in them as you pluck them.
Seymour Duncan SH13 Dimebucker DimebagPro: Stainless steel blade design, powerful ceramic magnets, heavy and punchy sound that is great for rock, metal, etc.
Con: Sounds slightly muffled on the extreme low end, requires a bit of EQ to bring the tone up
These require no introduction. If you want the hottest, hardest, most glaringly brash sound ever from your acoustic guitar, then pick up one of these humbuckers and strap it onto the bridge or neck of your guitar. These are based on the original Humbucker pickups used by the legendary Dimebag himself, and they perfectly emulate the exact same guitar sound that they were designed to reproduce. The highs are snappy and bright which allow you to pluck your strings with confidence, while the lows are extremely sustainable with lots of power and crunch to them. Midranges are extremely gnarly, and you can make them sound as distorted or stretched as you want with some EQ.
EVH Frankenstein Humbucker PickupPro: Solid build quality, anti-interference shielding, split shaft volume/tone control set
Con: May not fit on certain older guitar models
If you’re ready to pay a premium for excellent build quality, anti-interference shells, great balanced sound, and plenty of control, then take a look at the EVH Frankenstein. These will not disappoint when it comes to playing rock, metal, or similar styles of music that rely on heavy and powerful lows with lots of sustain in the mids. You can stretch the tunes as far as you want without damaging the overall “feel” of the sound. Plucking the strings will feel really good as you will hear the twang of the strings resounding across the room, and the best part is that the magnets on these passive pickups are so good that you can emulate the same level of sound output on a medium-large stage thanks to the high amount of sensitivity that you’re getting.
Gibson 57 Classic-Plus HumbuckerPro: DP 100 super distortion bridge pickup, black with chrome pole pieces, heavy duty ceramic magnet
Con: Pole pieces stand out from the rest of the hardware and look ugly
Gibson does manufacture some really great guitar pickups, but this is the first time that we have seen a passive pickup from Gibson with this much balance and sustain in the low-mid ranges. This is a humbucker, but it is capable of generating a fair bit of controlled distortion with some tweaking, and you can generate a wide range of effects with some EQ. The overall construction of this pickup is extremely solid and it packs some really heavy duty ceramic magnets inside that give it extremely good response and a powerful low-mid range sound output.