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How do YOU choose pickups /humbuckers


Buy used, try for a while, keep what you like, sell what you don't.
Repeat until satisfied, wife says stop, or you end up where you started. ;)


From reading TGP for the past few years I have learned that there are 20+ different "ultimate" pickup makers out there and you'd probably be satisfied choosing just about any one of them as long as you have a basic idea of the sound you're after.

It probably makes sense to buy used... chances are you might be a little less biased as you listen for improvement in your guitar's overall tone.


Senior Member
Heard a set of Lollar's in a friend's telecaster and that was it. I use them for both humbuckers and single coils.


Until I had a draw full of rejects I didn't have a clue and Im still learning through spending. 2nd hand definately a good option. Understanding magnets, winds, output/resistence etc is really helpful so keep track of what values you end up liking rather than fancy names as you try pickups.

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
I don't do a whole lot of experimenting. Some. It's partly a rational, decision-based process, mostly not. First comes luck, as in I trade into a guitar with p/us I've not otherwise heard, or have a friend give me a set I've been curious about. Then there's the "gut feel" thing, a feeling I get over time hanging out here about certain p/us. Best example of that for me is the Tom Short undercover mini. Something about the descriptions made me very curious, and gave me the sense that p/u would work for me. At least in terms of gear, my instincts turn out to be more right than not. I had the same curiosity about Don Mare's 2324 tele p/us, was lucky enough to trade into a partcaster that came with them installed. Chalk another victory for instincts.

My latest favorite p/us were strictly the result of a youtube demo, Lance Keltner's review of the Ian Anderson guitar. What he heard and found in these p/us, I do too. Some musical opinions are very much worth paying attention to ...



I guess something like a cross between JPage and Trey Anastasio. Trey uses SD59s that are modified and that awesome hollowbody so that might not be the best place to start
Chasing Trey's tone, while an admirable quest will be hard...he uses a bridge piezo pickup system that bascially equals infinite sustain. Incredible sounding, but not easy to reproduce without a lot of coin.


I just keep experimenting until I find the right ones, with magnet swaps also.
This works best for me. I usually try to go for what I think will work best initially, but generally I do a swap or two before I land on something that I really like. Sticking to one builder can help. If you start with Fralin Blues Specials and think they're too hot, congested, and overpowering - go down to the vintage hots. If you dislike the character of the pickup in general then try something with different magnets. A benefit of the emporium is that you have a decent change find someone who wants what you have and you want what they have.


Silver Supporting Member
what you'll find, especially for humbuckers, the differences are minimal and whatever you think they are, they can be made up for with either tweaking your amp and/or raising or lowering them...There. I just saved you years and years of needless spending/fiddling LOL


Currently I like consistency. I have my rig dialed in perfectly with my Wolfgang so that is the benchmark.

I do my best to identify what's missing and whats over emphasized in the guitar I want to alter. Then I find a pickup thats has the characteristics I'm looking for.


I just posted a WTB ad in the Emporium saying I wanted 4-conductor, PAF-style pups, and bought the first two sets that were offered. :dunno

Like you, I was intimidated by all of the possibilities, and had no hope of sorting through it all. I imagine that more experimentation is in my future. I think the best you can hope for is to try a few common models to narrow down characteristics that you like, and then find comparisons between ones you've tried and ones you might like to try. That's my approach to speakers as well.

If only every manufacturer had a recording through my rig with every possible combination of guitar, pickups, amp, speaker, cab, etc. my gear search would be over! I could just listen, pick my favorite, purchase, and start playing!


i just bought different ones over the years...

Gibson 57 plus is the best one ive ever come across no matter the genre of music....
Gibson Angus Young was pretty cool too...

but yeah, just buy them and find out. Surprise, surprise

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