5 Best Pickups for Metal: Power – Precision & Attitude 2020

Nowadays, metal has been one of the most popular genres to play. However, it’s necessary for guitarists to get pickups to improve their tones for metal music. There is a lot of pickups for metal available out there. Therefore, it’s not easy to choose the perfect one.

There are many things you have to consider when choosing the best pickups for metal. Today, we will introduce you to some excellent pickup models you can choose. Now, look at the detailed review of each product below:

Best Pickups for Metal

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Top 5 Best Pickups for Metal Reviews

EMG JH pickups

This model is built with the standard brushed chrome finish. These pickups are the best combinations of passive and active pickups. It produces a similar tone to that of an active pickup.

The pickups promise to give you a unique tonal quality thanks to the tight attack as well as the clean low-end response. Moreover, these pickups also can be used for any type of metal that loves lower-key tunings.


  • Very loud
  • Impeccable note pickup
  • Universally recognizable sound
  • Both vintage and modern tone accents
  • Great combination of active and passive pickups


  • A bit expensive


Seymour Duncan Mick Thomson Blackouts

These pickups are made to offer your guitar a very nu-metal hardcore vibe. They are known for their drop D or lower tunings. They ensure to give note separation as well as heavy richness. These pickups are ideal for those who need a maximum definition of the lower and higher registers.

However, these pickups are not as versatile as other metal models. Well, metal covers many different sub-genres.


  • Unique sound
  • Great for riffing and soloing
  • Consistent delivery
  • Great clean potential


  • Not too big on highs


EMG ZW Zakk Wylde Signature Humbucker

You will receive the EMG 81 and EMG 85 active pickups in the EMG Zakk Wylde Signature set. They ensure to provide you with an impressive amount of note sustain. Therefore, this choice is ideal for fast riffing and soloing.

Both pickups feature a universal metal tone. They are used popularly for guitars with passive pickups.


  • Cool signature set
  • Nice note sustain
  • Comes with EMG 81 & 85 active pickups
  • Great for fast play styles
  • Features versatile tone


  • A bit expensive


Seymour Duncan Black Winter Humbucker Set

They are 4-wire split-able pickups. They come with very high output. Moreover, these pickups are equipped with an aesthetically pleasing all-black finish that operates well on any metal guitar. They use ceramic magnets because of their versatility.

Remember that you should adjust the tone slightly once you plan to step outside the black metal genre. In fact, they may be tuned to emphasize highs, over mids, or lows if you don’t set up properly.


  • Great for extreme metal
  • High output
  • Passive pickups
  • Versatile
  • All-black finish


  • Less clarity on clean


DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion

If you’re a metal enthusiast, don’t miss the DiMarzio DP100. It can help to warm up a tone. At the same time, it also gives you a vintage feel. It promises to provide you with pretty much anything you need.

However, this one is not ideal for those who don’t like an open natural sound. This model is less Six Feet Under and more Def Leppard or Boston.


  • Reliable and durable
  • Vintage metal sound
  • Clear clean tone
  • Comes with coil-splitting


  • Not ideal for extreme metal genres


How to Choose Best Pickups for Metal

Type of Pickups

Pickups are available in two major types, single-coil, and dual-coil pickups. Single-coil pickups are popular for their immense bite and attack. They are for pop, blues, and surf guitarists. The dual-coil has come later. They come with higher output in general. They are more popular for hard rock, jazzists, as well as metal musicians.

Active or Passive Humbuckers?

When choosing the best pickups for metal, you have to make a decision between active and passive pickups.

  • Active Pickups

They bring low natural output. They can remove hum and background effectively. They come with the highest output of the most pickups out there. Actually, these pickups are able to get pretty hot without losing detail and clarity. Therefore, many metal guitarists love them. However, they have a low dynamic range as well as colder tones.

  • Passive Pickups

They come with a little lower output than active pickups. They are great for lead guitarists. These pickups allow lead guitarists to showcase creativity. However, these pickups offer more feedback once the volume becomes high.

Replacing your Pickups

It may be hard to upgrade or swap guitar pickups. However, this way is friendly to your budget. We recommend you to check out tutorials to get the hang of it quickly. Once you get advanced skills, you can adjust humbuckers into single-coil cutouts with a little modding.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pickups for Metal

Are active pickups better?

Active pickups come with a higher output compared to passive pickups since active pickups rely on a power source. If you want to get more powerful sounds, you should choose active pickups. Also, these pickups offer a more consistent tone compared to a passive pickup.

Can I put any pickups in any guitar?

Well, you can do this as long as you don’t try to fit an Active pickup battery pack into a guitar or a humbucker in a single-coil slot.

Are active pickups quieter?

Actually, active pickups work on less power compared to passive pickups. Moreover, these pickups are quieter regardless of any length of the cable you have.

What are active pickups for?

An active pickup uses electronics to improve the signal from the guitar’s strings. Not like passive ones constructed of wire wound around a magnet, these pickups need an external power source to perform.


After reading this article, you can get a perfect idea about your next pickup. Because of a variety of pickups available on the market now, we’ve narrow your choice by our top 5 products above. All of them are considerable choices. More importantly, you have to determine what you are looking for. Good luck with your search!

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