The 6 Best Single Coil Pickups for Metal in 2019
Some of the most common words in the lexicon of guitarists are amp, chords, tuning, capo, pickups and so on and so forth. Guitar strings and amp are important but so are pickups. So, what are they? A pickup is a magnet with a coil wrapped around it and its role is to convert the vibrations of the guitar into electronic signals. Pickups are used on electric guitars and other acoustic instruments so we hear what is being played- be it rock, jazz, country or metal. The same pickup cannot be used to play all those; so pickups come in different shapes, sizes, and types and produce different tones. The right pickup can do wonders to your guitar play and that’s why it’s important to choose wisely. Let’s look at the 6 best single coil pickups for metal-
Pickups for metal
There are three main types- Single coil, Humbucker, and P90.
Musicians have been experimenting with single coil pickups for a long time and the options differ in quality, price, and sound- Fender, Kinman, DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan are some big names that often crop up in this context.
Few brands have a dedicated single coil lineup and DiMarzio is one of the few that believes it can achieve the kind of tone profile it wants. This is one of the best single coil pickups for metal- a pickup that offers exceptional versatility and shows great adaptability. It not only covers almost all genres but shows great enthusiasm in adapting to the pedals you add to your sonic mix. This is perfect for users that use the pedal frequently, who like to extend the range of playing to cover a spectrum of styles and also a range of frequencies.
This pickup consists of four conductors, uses a couple of Alnico magnets and has a high output. It overcomes the limitations that single coils are always associated with. Single coils produce a buzz that can sometimes be distracting enough to prevent you from enjoying the hot sound that is being produced. Now, in DiMarzio pickups, this background buzz is eliminated and pure sound seeps through. Although this injector pickup is meant to be used in the neck position, it works well in the bridge too, where the sound is more aggressive and full. Depending on the setup you are looking for, you can decide the position. For those looking at a combination of modern and vintage tones, this one seems to be perfect.
This single coil pickup is very affordable, has a crisp, natural sound and eliminates the inevitable hum. A simple pickup that’s worth what you pay for it.
If you’re looking for exceptional sound quality for metal or rock, then this pickup is for you. It is chrome plated and can play metal, jazz, and djent with awesome sound. Though it plays heavy music with ease because of the high output, the same can’t be said when it plays blues. It also produces smooth sound when playing in rhythm and lead and pairs well with an eclectic range of guitars. In fact, it figures among the best single coil pickups for extended guitars and is well suited for large stage performances.
When operated in a split mode, this single coil pickup experiences no volume drop and that’s a huge plus point. It’s well suited for distorted, high gain guitar sound and even when large chords are distorted. The tone is smooth and admirable. Lovers of high music will love this pickup and though it’s very expensive, you can’t complain about sound delivery.
The Deathbar is versatile and has been developed keeping fanned and straight necks in view. Though it works as a single coil, this high definition, high output pickup for extended range guitars is popular and is used extensively.
Want to save a few dollars but still want rich sound- Tex-Mex pickups should be your choice. The tones are warm and bright and can be used with different guitar pedals and to achieve different effects. Though these lean towards blues, they still deliver well while playing rock or hard rock. Crank it up a little and you can even play heavy metal with great ease. 5 Alnico magnets wrapped with Formvar wire and an over-wound bridge ensure that you’re not disappointed with the resulting output when you play metal. These pickups come in a variety of patterns and one of them should suit your guitar.
If you want to upgrade your Squire or Strat to achieve super sound without the background noise and static, then these will do that for you. It’s only when the gain on the amp is turned on high that the static is noticeable. There are three single-coil pickups (bridge, middle, and neck) and these deliver a nice bright Strat tone with a high output and low gain. Tex-Max is a great option to consider when you want a good strat sound or want to upgrade an inexpensive guitar. Suitable for a medium budget range and gives you more oomph than a typical single coil pickup.
This budget-friendly Fender pickup pairs well with the affordable Fender guitar- so try it out and see its effect. Though the pickups gel well with the company’s Stratocaster guitars, remember, it is impressive with guitars other than from Fender.
This single coil type pick up produces fantastic sound and the best part is that they bring out the real character of the wood used in the construction of your guitar. It’s capable of producing clear, expressive and strong blues tones. Usually, single coil pickups offer great tone but that comes along with the usual hum. If you want bright, clear sound sans the hum, then this active single-coil pickup with an Alnico V bar magnet will give you the airy, noiseless richness. The Alnico V bar magnet helps to balance the output during big string bends and that’s what contributes to tone clarity. A low impedance preamp and internal shielding are what makes this pickup produce authentic single coil sound with no hum. The best part of the EMG pickup is that you don’t have to compromise on an authentic true single coil tone. These single coils are also vacuum sealed, and that goes a long way in reducing microphonic squeals and other effects.
As EMGs are silent, they are often a popular choice on the stage or studios or while using high gain. Regardless of the musical style, you are playing- blues, metal, country or jazz, this pickup will never disappoint. The pickups are also easy to install because of EMG’s solderless wiring. Installed in the neck and middle positions, this versatile pickup produces a beautiful strat tone that’s light and clean. The pickup comes with the connection cables and pre-wired controls for tone and volume.
In two colors, this single coil pickup is versatile and also responsive. The pickup is so sensitive it reacts to even the smallest of changes in your fretting and strumming. The volume and tone controls are also sensitive. This is a great advantage as it allows you to express your unique playing style while performing. Apart from being highly responsive, there is no hum and improved high-quality sustain is brought about by the unique coil wiring and the two thin blades. This pickup can be operated as a single coil on one side and as a humbucker device on the other. They can be combined or used alone. This combination allows musicians to produce a full, large sound that is characteristic of heavy rock or metal. It is often used in the bridge position of a Telecaster electric guitar when you want thick sound for heavy rock or punk. The Chord sounds are powerful and even the single notes are striking. This pickup will transform your guitar into a new and different instrument and easily figures as one of the best single-coil pickups are around.
DiMarzio is well known for its modern pickups. Most of its single coils are in actuality single coil sized humbuckers. When you compare a single coil pickup with a humbucker, the latter scores on many counts. But what happens if a humbucker can be scaled down to a single coil? That’s what this pickup is all about- it’s a humbucker in a single coil format. As a result of this scaling down, two things happen- the noise that single coils bring with them is eliminated and DP184 turns into a pickup that courts a wide range of sounds and encourages harder playing styles. The sound depends on the wood of your guitar-in dark and neutral colored guitars; the sound is high-end while an ash guitar produces sounds that are twangy.
The pickup enables you to get good sustain and power even from the amps that distort easily. And, under distortion, it produces a sound that is smoother than that from a humbucker and stronger than that produced by a single coil. When paired with other pickups, it produces a thicker and stronger tone. These passive pickups don’t call for a lot of adjustments- so put them on to a Stratocaster and listen to the guitar sounds- the results are just amazing.
The case for Single Coils
Single coils are popular and used as they cater to almost any genre of music. They have more note definition between strings and their snappy, jangly tone is ideal for blues, country or surf.
Humbucker pickups have a higher output, a thicker sound and handle distortions well. They use two separate coils wound around a magnet and are great for hard or classic rock and also metal. Many metal guitarists prefer the high-output pickups as they distort and saturate fast, giving sound the metallic ‘crunch’ that’s needed.
That though is only half the story- some guitarists disagree and prefer to use single coils even for metal. Many metal musicians use single coil pickups because they give them brighter and crisper tones and have more bite than humbuckers have. They believe it’s just a matter of choosing the right single coil pickup and using the right single coil brand. Single coils are easy to build- two magnets wrapped with wire and it’s done. Because it’s so simple, it gives guitarists ample room to experiment with. Coupled with the correct amp, single coils have produced tones that are classic but can also suit any type of genre you want to play on your guitar, even metal.
What is in vogue?
Given the fact that single coils produce crisp and bright sounds while humbuckers produce loud, heavy and dark sounds, it would seem that the latter is more suited for metal. You need to remember though that “any sound can be achieved with almost any pickup”. In addition, there are hybrids too- humbuckers that sound like single-coils, single coils that sound just as humbuckers do and guitars that use a combination of single coils and humbuckers. So, single coils are very much in the picture.
So while buying single coils, you need to keep all that in mind. Go ahead, experiment with single coils, find out what they do in different guitar positions. Then decide whether you want to go with them or use a hybrid. Happy single coil guitaring.