The best passive pickups for metal can only help you ring louder and prouder, whether you’re trying to realign gravity with the metallic power of your riffs or traveling long-distance cosmos on a pilgrimage of sustain. While there’s no denying that vintage-style components may still produce some fantastic heavy tones, metal pickups come with a more modern, high-output tone right out of the box. Swapping pickups is a non-permanent and inexpensive way to boost your guitar: get it right, and you can turn an average-sounding plank into a colossal beast in no time.
DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup Black Regular
The Super Distortion was one of the first aftermarket pickups to hit the market in 1972, and it effectively put Larry DiMarzio on the map. It has about twice the power of a standard PAF-style pickup, which allows it to push the input stage of any guitar amp harder, making it extremely popular among hard rock, metal, and shred musicians. Adrian Smith, Phil Collen, Paul Gilbert, and Zoltan Bathory are among the renowned users who have used it over the years. On Instagram, Steve Vai said, “I was 12 years old in 1972 when Larry invented the first replacement pickup to be put onto the guitar world with his Super Distortion model.” “It shook the foundations of everyone’s world.” And it wasn’t until I was 16 that I was able to purchase my first DiMarzio replacement pick up. DiMarzio pickups have been practically all I’ve used since then.”
One of the most noteworthy features of the DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion is that it is the first tube amplifier to go into complete overdrive. It also has a very high output, the highest in a passive device. This pickup is outstanding in every situation, but it excels at the bridge position, where it provides excellent balance. Face-melting riffs at their best, with excellent lows, enhanced mids, and piercing highs.
A ceramic magnet is used in this pickup, which helps it create the thick midrange it’s known for. The DiMarzio Super Distortion is best for guitarists that want liquid high gain tones that are perfect for chugging power chords and playing furious guitar solos.
EMG JH James Hetfield Signature Guitar Pickup Set
- James Hetfield Signature Pickup Set
- "Stealth" looking set
- Active tone with the clarity and punch of a passive pickup
This EMG pickup kit is a clear winner in many passive pickups for metal reviews. Its James Hetfield trademark design and a truly cool-looking “stealth” aspect may have contributed to its success. If you desire active tones and punch in your passive pickup, this pickup could be useful. This one was designed with that in mind, and it’s capable of delivering it in a range that’s as broad as you’d imagine. Another notable aspect is the sound’s tight assault, which results in a crisp, punchy passive pickup sound mix that has come to define rock music today.
This unit’s stealthy appearance is enhanced with ceramic poles that are uniquely intended to increase your output while also expanding your core.If Metallica’s James Hetfield thinks this model is amazing, then it’s a good sign that this is the first passive pickup you should look into. EMG also included a number of cap alternatives in its design to provide you with greater sonic power.
If you’re all about maximizing features, you’ll appreciate the fact that product comes with EMG Metal Services’ signature finishes. It also includes the solderless installation components that have helped EMG become a market leader.
Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Model Humbucker
- Hum bucking pickup design delivers high-volume, low-noise guitar tone
- Standard spacing
- High output drives even the most stubborn tube amps to overdrive bliss
Although it isn’t specifically advertised as a metal pickup, the list of heavy hitters who have supported the JB over the years speaks for itself, including Tool axeman Adam Jones, Alice In Chains singer/guitarist Jerry Cantrell, and Megadeth thrash pioneers.
Perhaps its versatility, with superior clean and blues tones than higher output active pickups while yet having a reasonable amount of bite, is what makes the JB such a perennial favorite.
Some could say the JB is more of a rock pickup than a metal pickup, with nowhere near as much low-end as some of the other options on this list. It’s often combined with the ’59 or Jazz Neck. But it has a way of cutting through like nothing else, which is why the JB is still a solid favorite nearly five decades after its conception.
EMG H4 Passive Electric Guitar Humbucker Pickup
- Combines the power of our active 81 with the soul of a passive PAF
- Produces a well-balanced tone, with tight bass response, glassy mids, and crunchy highs
- Utilizes over-wound coils loaded with ceramic bar magnets that are fully shielded to reduce noise
EMG has long been a key participant in the pickup industry, particularly for heavy metal guitarists, and the EMG H4 is unquestionably one of the best, offering incredible value for the money and excellent overall performance. This is your best bet if you want the sound of the EMG 81 Active pickup in a passive format, as it uses two bar-loaded coil sets with a five-wire quick-connect setup that is clearly detailed in the owner’s manual.It’s also insulated, and it looks great in any metal setting. This beast’s performance is outstanding, with a wide dynamic range, responsiveness, gobs of gain, and a big output.
EMG is one of the most well-known brands in metal, with legends like as Zakk Wylde and Kirk Hammett using their pickups, with the EMG 81 being a particular favorite among metal fans. Despite the fact that EMG’s H4 (unlike the EMG 81) is often associated with active pickups, it is a tonal powerhouse that is fully passive. Over wrapped coils loaded with ceramic bar magnets, all insulated to avoid unwanted noise, produce a tight bass end with crunchy highs.
The H4 is EMG’s best-selling passive pickup, which comes as no surprise. They sound fantastic, are reasonably priced, and come in a variety of cap colors.
Seymour Duncan Mark Holcomb Alpha & Omega Humbucker Set Black
- Alpha Mast & Omega Bridge Set
- DCR: 12.96
Periphery’s progressive metal virtuosos are noted for their technically difficult rhythms and precise tones, which necessitate high output passive humbucking pickups with exactly the perfect amount of power and articulation, whether used alone or in a dense mix. To match that degree of precision and adaptability, the Alpha and Omega pickups were developed.
The Omega bridge pickup was developed in collaboration with guitarist Mark Holcomb to generate devastating percussion and growl in the mids and low end. It’s aggressive, but it’s also bright and clear, cutting right through whether you’re playing intricate chords, single-note lines, or powerful solos. The Alpha neck pickup isn’t like most other neck pickups. It was voiced to blend the greatest attributes of a neck and bridge pickup, with some thick glassy tone and plenty of pick attack and fretting-hand phrasing.
The Mark Holcomb Signature pickups Alpha & Omega passive humbucker pickups are handcrafted in Santa Barbara, California. Individual neck or bridge pickups in 6, 7, or 8-string variants are available as a set or as individual neck or bridge pickups. 6-string Trembuckers are an extra Trembucker alternative. ” For the past few years, the Alpha/Omega set has been the beating heart of my sound. I’ve had the same pickup set in every one of my 6, 7, and 8-string guitars, live and in the studio, since we designed and released the first 6-string set in the custom shop. It’s one of the few things about my rig and setup that I haven’t even considered changing.” -Matthew Holcomb
Seymour Duncan SH13 Dimebucker Dimebag Darrell Pickup
- Perfect for heavy rock and metal^D.C Resistance: 16.25k ohms^Inductance: 8.45 H; Resonant Frequency: 5.1k Hz^Hand built in Santa Barbara
- California^Includes mounting hardware
- custom mounting ring and detailed schematic
The best passive pickup for metal today comes from Seymour Duncan, with the Dimebucker, a limited-edition humbucker modeled on the sounds of late iconic Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darel. This is a fantastic high-end focused pickup that is ideal for metal and will produce excellent tones in general.
The powerful ceramic magnets employed on the two stainless steel blades in the body of this pickup provide excellent performance. Its key selling feature is the small metal mass in its core, which is responsible for providing higher resistance and a higher resonant peak.
The Seymour Duncan SH13 Dimebucker is able to send stronger impulses as a result of this, resulting in thicker and punchier sounds. The biting strong tones that arise from the violent highs are also fantastic, and my personal favorite.
Bill Lawrence L500XL Hot Humbucker Electric Guitar Pickup Black
- Trademark Disclaimer:Jzchak Wajcman DBA Bill Lawrence USA is not associated with the designer Bill Lawrence since 1984
The L500 was created in 1979, with the patent expiring in 1981. Bill desired a high-performance pickup with a variety of voice options. A wide range of musicians use the L500 in lapsteel, blues, rock, heavy metal, and even jazz. With all of your gear and playing techniques, you color your sound.
The tone of the L-500XL is extremely similar to Dimebag Darrel’s Washburn guitars. The L-500 series pickups aren’t only for metal; they’re also terrific for blues, rock, and even jazz. The L-500 series, which was first patented in 1981, is still in use today, with the XL being the most common neck position.
Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Alnico & Ceramic Pickups Set
- All the musicality, power and explosiveness of alnico. Full chords and fluid solos, plus a voice you’ve never heard in a humbucker.
- Cutting Ceramic attack. Brutal Active aggression and passive punch in the same Guitar. Great in both positions, or commonly paired with Alnico neck
- Are multi-voice. Set and forget, or wire-up to toggle between two musically complimentary voices. Drop right in and replace standard humbucker pickups
In the metal pickup market, Fishman’s cutting-edge Fluence Modern Set is a relatively new yet incredibly formidable instrument. What is it about them that makes them so special? For starters, if you need both active and passive sounds in one collection, they are the crème of the crop. When it comes to metal-ready electronics, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better alternative.
The Fluence Modern genius and creativity lies in the interconnected design of printed coils stacked in numerous layers, rather than the usual design based on wound copper wire coils. As a result of this design, there is ideal balance and stability throughout the dynamic and tonal spectrum. Furthermore, the Fishman Fluence Modern produces exceptional clarity and accuracy, resulting in a lightning-quick attack reaction.
Artist signature models for guitarists in Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Animals As Leaders, and other bands are based on this design. In any case, the Fishman Fluence Modern Set is a fantastic choice for any metal musician seeking for a nice all-around tone on a 6, 7, or 8-string guitar. The Fluence Classic Set is equally remarkable if you like a more mellow sound and vintage tones.
The Fluence Classics are also available in three voicings, including a chimey neck tone, a hot-rodded bridge tone, and single-coils for both humbuckers. Steel Panther’s Satchel tells us in the trailer for his Charvel Pro-Mod DK, “Fishman pickups are the greatest pickups on the market as far as I’m concerned” (fitted with the Classic set). “They have a hefty metal sound to them.” It would probably sound like a hacked Eddie Van Halen on Van Halen 1 if you plugged it into your grandmother’s refrigerator and turned it up to ten. “How cool is that?” you might ask.
Seymour Duncan TB-4 JB Trembucker
- Classic hot-rodded humbucker sound
- Part of a complete Seymour Duncan pickup set
- Humbucking pickup design delivers high-volume, low-noise guitar tone
The Seymour Duncan JB requires no introduction when it comes to metal pickups. It has been one of the industry’s most popular aftermarket pickups. It’s quite popular in all genres, and many professional guitarists have adopted the JB over the years.
Because of its lasting popularity, there’s a high chance you’ll find a JB guitar in your local music store. This makes it a lot easier to try it out! The JB is a high-output Alnico V sports pickup with an upper midrange bump, making it ideal for defined chords and powerful lead lines that need to break through the densest mixes.
Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid
- Unique Hybrid of TB-1 '59 Model and TB-5 Custom, F-Spaced
- Combines TB-1 '59 Screw Coil with TB-5 Custom Slug Coil
- Black with Seymour Duncan Logo
The Seymour Duncan 59 Custom Hybrid is a one-of-a-kind instrument with a fascinating background. Some members of the Seymour Duncan forum began experimenting with merging two coils from different pickups to combine the best of two pickups into one.
One of the forum users eventually combined the Seymour Duncan 59 and the Seymour Duncan Custom. Seymour Duncan was so taken with this new “hybrid” that he decided to make this Frankenstein pickup a commercial model. With an Alnico V magnet and a medium output, it has the rich full-range sound of the 59, but the Custom’s coil keeps it tight in the low-end.
After playing with a 59 Custom Hybrid a few times, I can attest to the fact that this pickup is ideal for guitarists who enjoy late-eighties metal but also wish to play rock or mellower genres.
Suhr DSH+ Bridge Humbucker
Suhr is best recognized for their high-end handcrafted guitars. They’re one of the most well-known brands among professional musicians looking for a long-lasting workhorse. Most people are unaware, however, that Suhr also manufactures their own pickups, ranging from low-output PAFs to high-output pickups for players seeking more aggression.
The lush middle and tight bottom end of the DSH+ pickups are well-known. The pickup’s Alnico V magnet guarantees that the top end cuts through a dense mix without sounding harsh, making it ideal for solos and thick-sounding riffs.