"I've become increasingly skeptical that higher-output bridge pickups are necessarily a good thing!"


I can play metal just fine on the Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups I have in my LP style guitar as well as the high output Mastertone actives I have in another similar guitar. Or any other style you can think of.

Nobody needs super high output pickups for gain when most amps have enough gain and there are a million pedals to add more with or without coloration.

Engine Swap

Lately, I'm liking bridge pickups in the 6-7K range. Seems to deliver clairity, with a decent amount of body.

In my younger days, I loved a Hotrails in the bridge, but now it's just too much.


Wax Rhapsodic
Platinum Supporting Member
Yep, I thought that was a known Thing: a lower-output pickup brings out more of the character of the guitar and gives the amp more to work with.

My Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup is based on his old Blackguard Tele’s bridge pickup. Tele with vintrage-output bridge >> Blackstone MOSFET >> Tweed Deluxe Replica. V on 8.5, T on 5. Thick rich rock tones.


High output pickups are essential for certain genres of music, mainly metal. As a few of you already stated, output is not much of an issue anymore, but the sound of high output pickups into a high gain amp is crucial for many genres of metal.

I am sure you can get a good djent tone from a tele, but if a high output pickup does the job better then why bother?

fuzz guy

I've bought a few guitars that came with higher output humbuckers in the bridge position and haven't cared for them. The latest is an Epi Korina V that has the infamous HOTCH pickup. I tried to make peace with it, figuring I have a few other guitars with "vintage" output bridge humbuckers and a bit of variety would be good. I just can't though, it lacks too much clarity and note separation. Using the volume and tone I can get it sounding okay, but then I lose the flexibility of being able to ride the knobs to get different tones. When this pandemic stuff goes away I'll order some replacements from Guitar Madness. I'm thinking PAF style, A2 in the bridge and A5 for the neck.


It depends on how you get your overdrive. If you use a pedal or a high gain amp, you don't need a high output bridge pickup. If you like playing through a low gain amp, for example a Marshall 2203 or 2204, a high output pickup is better, especially for soloing.
...High output pickups are essential for certain genres of music... ...output is not much of an issue anymore, but the sound of high output pickups into a high gain amp is crucial...

Exactly this.

People commenting "you can get all the gain you need from the amp now" are missing half the point.

The overall chain is filter, gain, filter, gain, filter, gain, filter, repeat until tired and frustrated.
Filter (pickup), gain, filter, gain, filter, gain, filter (speaker).

The transducer at the start and the transducer at the end are really important.

Some boutique 7.5k unpotted replica PAF is not the same filter/voice/curve as a Custom Custom / Tone Zone / Super D. You can't EQ it back to be the same. Just like you can't EQ an SM57 into a U87 or a C414.

If you don't concentrate on playing these genres, then you perhaps don't understand.

...I am sure you can get a good djent tone from a tele...

Hah yeah maybe, I've seen videos where people did this and congratulated themselves, but it just sounded bad, you could hear all the fizzy highs that shouldn't have been there at the start of the chain.


I like the 17k HBs i have and the volume "sort of" brings them into PAF range. Can't ramp up a low output pickup to do metal without it getting loose so HO are more versatile even if not perfect.


Silver Supporting Member
Holdsworth used a double screw 59’ neck wind. Not a hot pu at all.


Holdsworth used a double screw 59’ neck wind. Not a hot pu at all.

I guess that's the point of Joe Gore in that statement. If you lose a little bit of clarity in the bridge position by designing a louder bridge pickup to balance it with the neck, it's not a good idea.


I use a Gibson 498T and like how much upper mids it has. It really sings. I set it pretty low so it cleans up too. I play mostly classic rock type stuff. I use my LP with 498t in my Fleetwood Mac tribute. Its great!

As much as Id love to try something else for fun, its working well for me.


I can be happy with non-high output pickups... I'm just glad I finally embraced the volume knob about 10 years ago, after virtually ignoring it the first 10 years of playing guitar :confused:

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