Seven String Pickup Guide

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Digital Black, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. 7 Dying Trees

    7 Dying Trees Forum MVP

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    May 6, 2004
    7th Ethereal Plane of interstellar hell, Innit Bru
    Bareknuckle Nailbomb 7 (Bridge), custom rewould single coil 7 and Cold Sweat 7 (Neck) in basswood (RG1077xl)

    Nailbomb 7:
    This is the alcino5 version, can also be got in ceramic. Very clear, but punchy and aggressive while still retaining a smoothness across the whole pickup. Makes a lot of other pickups I've tried sound compressed. It's very open and breathes really nicely. DIstorted it has a nice high mid/treble bit that isn't annoying like the JB7 can be, as it has a smoothness to it. The mid range really cuts through, and the bass is tight while still retaining character. Harmonics do just leap off with ease. One thing though, is that because of it's clarity it's a less forgiving pickup than some, you can really hear if you muck up and there's no hiding. When palm muting has that nice crunch to it, and handles fast picking on the low strings well. Not as focused as say a lundgren, but still very clear, and with a good amount of life to it.

    With clean tones although it is a hot pickup it doesn't distort. Very spanky, with that nice vintage-like alcino goodness. When split you get that really cool bridge single coil sound. ABsolutely gorgeous, you can mess around with the clean sound for hours, and this is coming from someone who gets bored with clean sounds really easily.

    Cold Sweat 7:
    Also alcino 5. The best way to describe it is that it's very fluid, but with a bell like single coil overtone to it. Kind of almost the thickness of the air norton, but with less spread. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's a gorgeous neck pickup. Leads do just punch through, and I found that I could even get away with playing rythm on it. It's also a lot easier to hit pinch harmonics and naturals harmonics and stuff with it, as some neck pickups do lose that screeching sound you get with the bridge pickup. Not to say it's trebly, but just that I reckon the single coil vibe of it helps to pickup. Again, you'll hear mistakes you make a lot more with this pickup.

    Clean, well, not as sparkly as the nailbomb, but well rounded. As with the nailbomb this thing sounds amazing clean, it's kind of like the notes leap off the guitar and sing. Just inspirational sound wise. Split it just sounds awesome.

    Custom Rewound Single coil 7:
    I sent tim at BKP the stock new7/whatever the fuck single coil 7 that came in the 1077. Whilst he couldn't redo the magnet (shame, but apparently it is a weird shape) he did rewind it. While technically not a bareknuckle, the job he did is still awesome and makes this sound a hell of a lot better than it did, in fact, night and day better. And whilst not a production pickup, well worth mentioning as it was rewound to make a set with the NB and CS. Basically, this thing sings. Split with the coils of the humbuckers, the mix of alcino and ceramic really is spanky and very hendrixy in the bridge/mid pos(2) and, well, gorgeous in position 4 :D I'm not too familiar with clean sounds, but suffice to say that I actually really love the sound of the mid single on it's own now, it's no longer a bit useless like the blaze single coil. In fact, I think all my single coil blazes are going to slowly get shipped off to tim, as for the price of less than a new dimarzio (in the states) and for half the price of a new one in the UK you can get an awesome sounding pickup, especially as choice for single coils is limited for 7stringers. Hell, this thing even sounds cool distorted for leads which I'd never have though it would.

    I couldn't be happier, and they just really do make all the other guitars I have bar the LACS (which is swamp ash/maple) sound a bit dull and lifeless. The set I got compliments each other very well, and with the humbuckers split with a push pull pot and 5 way wiring it's given me 7 distinct usable gorgeous clean sounds. For the distorted arena, I have all the nuts from the nailbomb and the silkiness from the cold sweat and all the split tones in between, however for distorted stuff I pretty much just use the neck and bridge pickups.

    A few other things:

    exactly what this many says.

    The good:
    - Sound amazing, and if you are in europe, the slight extra cost compared to dimarzios is more than worth it. I'd actually be happy with them if they were 50% more than they already are.
    - The rewound single coil is a revelation. I was worried about having to route out bits of the guitar to fit other single coils, but turning swine into pearl and having it calibrated to the set is awesome. Very very pleased.
    - Superb build quality
    - Excellent value for money. Trust me.

    The bad:
    - Once in one guitar you'll find yourself trying to think of a way to get them into all your other guitars.
    - For US residents they are expensive, but, not much more than the Seymour Duncan custom shop from what i've read... But even then, i actually think that even for the price they are an absolute bargain for a handwound hand built pickup as part of a calibrated set (calibrated sets work out cheaper). And it's worth it. Just as much as buying an expensive head is.
    Sang-Drax likes this.
  2. djpharoah

    djpharoah Awwww Yeaaaah Super Moderator

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    Sep 9, 2006
    Well I got a k7 about 4 days ago and it has a blaze neck in the bridge and the original paf7 in the neck. Note this is in Mahogany bodied guitar.

    PAF7- neck
    Cleans: This pickup is :drool: . On a clean setting (JC120 on my cube) with slight delay and chorus, this pickup rocks. Its very clean and has a nice classy vibrant tone. It is also very smooth on clean, unlike the AN7, which I found could sound clanky and sharp on clean.

    Low Gain: Tried it out with the plexi model on my cube. It really sounds good. Very bluesy like and great for soft rock kind of stuff.

    High Gain: This pickup officially is now my favorite neck pickup. It has some nice blaze neck like tones, but really nice. It just rocks!!

    Blaze Neck - bridge
    Cleans: Its quite alright for this. However I find I usually use the neck or neck+bridge for cleans. The tone is nice with some nice chorus/delay.

    High Gain: This is where this pickup is :metal:. It is so articulate and clear due to its low output that even with high gain on my pedals/amp, I can hear every note in chords! Its got great midrange and the low end just is soo tight. Its almost like a better evo!! Can't believe I just said that but yes with new strings I put on last night - this pickup is sweet.
  3. necronaut

    necronaut Dunce

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    Jan 15, 2008
    I bought a RG7321 recently. So many people say the stock pickups aren't that good. I wondered if someone with a wider experience of pickups could tell me how you would describe the tone with the stock pickups compared to something more expensive and why they're deemed bad?
  4. ibznorange

    ibznorange Chief Officer/RHLC © Contributor

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    Aug 18, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    DiMarzio DSonic 7
    Guitar used: RG7620BK
    Position: Bridge
    Notes: Swapped magnet to an Alnico 8. Bar facing bridge.

    The pickup seems to put out a bit of noise in my shitty practice amp, but my plexi is pretty quiet (even though its absurdly loud lol), and the noise doesnt really come through on there. Kinda bright with the bar facing the bridge, I've played them with the stock ceramics in both directions, and prefered the bar towards the neck by a good bit. I'll be switching it when i have some extra lead wire to attach. I have the guitar tuned to G#, and have been playing around in Drop F#, and it handles it just fine with a .070. sounds totally fine all the way up the strings, with a high c# using a .010
    The magnet swap is a very good thing. i think it could benefit from an Alnico 5, but im not sure if i want to sacrifice the extra tightness that a8 (or c8) provides. DEFINITELY better with the a8 though. added a bit of aggression, although the pickup already had its share, while buzzing off some of the harsh highs
  5. reguv760

    reguv760 Regular

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    Jul 30, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Since I've sold the Blaze Bridge from the neck position of a UVGR, I moved the Evo7 from the bridge to the neck and got a D-Activator7 for the bridge. Here are my impressions on both:

    Evo7 in neck:
    Good: wow... tons of sustain and cuts through the mix. Not bassy at all! The mids seems to be dominant in this position. Otherwise, I dig the Evo tone in this position.
    Bad: Not recommended for clean settings unless you roll the volume knob to 5. Also had to find the appropriate height so it balances out with the D-Activator7 without bottoming out. Can get a fat "jazzy" tone by rolling both vol + tone knobs to 6/7.
    Ugly: Picking attack sensitivity is less defined and not as pronounced.

    D-Activator7 in bridge:
    Good: Took me a while to actually hear and comprehend the differences between this and an Evo7. In the end, the D-Activator is "active" sounding as it gets. It responds and attacks like an EMG and handles pick dynamics without sounding "compressed" and "metallic" while retaining the clarity DiMarzio's seem to be good at. Triplets and crunches are also top-notch.
    Bad: It's a bright pickup... might have to adjust treble/presence settings on amp. Not your typical "Dimarzio tone" but one can hear the PAF-ness on the D-Activator7. Cleans are very natural but somehow lack "character".
    Ugly Picks up more ground noise; the X2N's are much quieter! Noise suppression recommended for hi-gain madness with these pickups.

  6. idspispopd

    idspispopd Regular

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    Jan 25, 2008
    Bradenton, FL
    Pickup: Seymour Duncan JB-7
    Guitar: Ibanez S7320 (mahogany body)
    Position: Bridge

    Clean: I'm usually not a big fan of using the bridge pickup for cleans but here's what I noticed

    Really woody and organic sunding, think Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane live at woodstock.

    Nice funk tone, except there is a TON of attack in the upper register. Nothing a little tone knob adjustment didn't fix though.

    Overall this pickup is loaded with attack and punch.


    Lots of attack.

    The highs are through the roof. I can't even play a low C# power chord without getting overtones, even with the pickup as far away from the strings as it could go. BUT some rolling of on the tone knob fixes this right up. Lead tone is great.

    Tight low end. DJENT DJENT AHH YES

    nice blues tone too

    I really like this pickup, but the only problem with it is it would be unusable in a guitar with no tone knob. Other than that :yesway::yesway::yesway: 1/2 out of 4
  7. Kryss

    Kryss Your new god!

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    Jun 26, 2008
    Central IL, USA
    i pretty much just stick with dimarzio evolution 7s they sound amazing. just a great great pickup imo. i always find myself going back to them when i play something else.
  8. djpharoah

    djpharoah Awwww Yeaaaah Super Moderator

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    Sep 9, 2006
    Dimarzio X2N7
    Guitar: Agile Septor 727 - 27"
    Mahogany wings - Maple Neckthru - maple fretboard - TOM

    This pickup rocks as a bridge pickup. It has the raw output lke an active pickup in the bridge and is great for rhythm/djent whatever you wanna call it. It needs to be placed in the right height away from the strings to really get it going. Also I recommend using heavier gauge strings as the x2n7 just sounds a lot fuller with them.

    Distorted this pickup is nice. Remember it has a relatively flat EQ with a small scoop in the mids. It has the nice chunky rhythm tone.

    Cleans is where this pickup surprised me the most. Coil tapped this pup has some nice shimmering cleans. Even with both coils its awesome!

    Dimarzio Dactivator 7 Neck

    Guitar: Agile Septor 727 - 27"
    Mahogany wings - Maple Neckthru - maple fretboard - TOM

    This pickup was one that I wasn't really sure about before I bought it. I was like hmm mdo I want an active sounding pup in the neck considering I never liked the EMG stuff in the neck.

    Anyways I go to wire it up and find it sounds :yummy: almost like a smooth hotter PAF. I can achieve nice cleans with it to high gain steve vai stuff. It has now become my favorite neck pup from dimarzio pushing out the an7/blaze.

    With a JCM800 Jubilee patch I can get Slash like tone, Satriani stuff to even YMalmsten stuff.

    Great pickup. I would pair this hot pup with either the X2n7, the EV07 or the DS7.
  9. daemon barbeque

    daemon barbeque Banned

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    May 24, 2007
    Côte d'Azur
    Q-Tuner GL7 SuperHighZ Bridge
    It's in my 1527

    Well after extensive tweakage and tests ,it's time to make a In-Depth review.

    The most important thing about the Q-Tuner is it's clarity.No other active/passive PU has this clarity ,and I can play High-Gain stuff without any noise cancelling gadget!

    The second most important thing is it's range.After playing some minutes ,the range of this PU only takes your breath. You can hear harmonics that you never knew they where there.

    And the third most important thing is 36 pole-pieces.There are great possibilities to push the midds ,get more harmonics etc.Works well for different Radius applications.

    Okay. Let's talk about sound

    The Q-Tuner doesn't have it's own sound like many PUs. It's rather transparent and Hi-Fi sounding ,therefore it's not well suited for "raw" players.

    It's dead quite and really sensitive for any little resonance on guitar.The finger scratches ,small harmonics ,and free ringing strings are much more present than normal ,so It needs a really clean fingerwork.

    Since it's Flat EQed (Better said it let's every single freq thru) ,it's important what kind of tone-character your guitar has.

    The sound is like EMG60 ,X2N and BKP MiracleMan crossed.

    I put a 1 MegOhm pot to get "every drop of highs out ,and it works really well.

    The only "negative" thing is the PU height adjustement. You need to be really carefull (Like on X2N) of the PU height. Since the magnets are Neo. the magnetic field is even and strong.If you get too close to the strings ,the break-up is fast and false harmonics are jumping.It's soo strong that you can't even play a "normal" note on high-E after 18. fret.Everything rings on harmonics without end.

    But a small adjustment clears every problem. It's a really versatile PU ,but i wouldn't recommend it for Stoners ,Doom players etc.

    Every note is exact , too well defined and strong.

    I will get Q-tuners for every guitar I own and going to own ,including my upcoming custom 8...

    Great quality and value.
  10. Daemoniac

    Daemoniac Rivethead Magnate. Contributor

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    Jul 24, 2008
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    DiMarzio X2N 7; Bridge position

    Came on the new 7 string i got. Im pretty sure the 7 string has a mahogany body, wizard II maple neck, and 10-70" strings (Drop A).

    The site says it has a slightly scooped tone as follows:
    Bass: 6
    Mid: 5
    Treble: 6

    Its a really high output humbucker, not the hottest by any stetch, but a good amount. Im going to steal Mind Riot's format here... so cheers for that...

    Positive: Nice amount of gain and output, more aimed at slightly heavier styles. Due to the scooped nature of the pickup though its probably aimed more at a metal market. Good round clean tone, easy to control, and doesnt lose too much definition at lower tunings.

    Negative: There is something reall strange about the voicing, and i cant quite figure out what it is. Maybe it just isnt for me. Also, it isnt quite 'thick' enough for me, i think because of the scooped voicing.

    Its definately a good pickup, but its got a weird voicing that i think you will either love or hate.
  11. 8stringlover

    8stringlover Banned

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    Aug 19, 2008
    Lavigny CH
    those are the most powerful pickups you will ever play on... i have a pair in my 7 string... the neck pickup is very warm sounding with great power, the bridge pickup is chrome sounding, very very bright with massive power 25K yet perfect definition....
  12. xma223

    xma223 Regular

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    Jul 7, 2005
    Anyone know if Seymour Duncan planning on AHB-2 Metal Blackouts for seven string? I have been using Livewires for a long time and would love to carry that sound to a sevenstring.

  13. caughtinamosh


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    Oct 23, 2008
    When I first got my RG7321 I thought the stock pickups were OK - nothing outrageously wrong with them nor anything brilliant. I asked Tim from Bare Knuckle (a REALLY helpful guy - email him your rig/guitar and the sound you're after and he'll tell you what you need) what pickup I needed for an Eric Peterson sorta sound. He told me that I should buy the Miracle Man, so I did.

    HELL, what a difference. While Bare Knuckle pups are known for their versatility (especially their contemporary high output ones), this is one is DEFINITELY voiced for hard rock/metal. It will do cleans, but with half the enthusiasm it has for distorted tones. It's EMG-esque, but it is succeeds where EMG fails - it doesn't sound as sterile and cold as hell. It can even produce really good tones through my Pod (known for their "digital" sound).

    The bads? Like all Bare Knuckle pups, it's expensive, but if you're looking for heavy, there is nothing better. :hbang:

    I don't think so man. The only active Seymour Duncan 7 string pup I know of is the regular Blackouts.

    Livewires? :eek: Don't they give such outrageous output that it's impossible to get a clean sound at all on them?
  14. sevenstringj

    sevenstringj Banned

    Likes Received:
    Jul 19, 2008
    JB 7

    What I hate about this pickup is that I always come back to it after trying other pickups. It's like, I really want to have a great alternative, but nothing seems to quite match the JB's combination of warmth, clarity, heaviness, tightness. The closest I've gotten is, believe it or not, the Dimarzio Chopper, which is a single coil-sized humbucker. Too bad Dimarzio's "custom shop" isn't really all that custom or I'd slap one on my 7-string in a heartbeat. The Chopper sounds like someone took the blanket off the JB.

    I think my dream pickup would be a full humbucker Chopper.

    Jazz 7

    Pick attack can be piercing. Otherwise, quite a lush tone. Great clarity. Though I still prefer single coil tone for hot solos.
  15. saltyrevenge

    saltyrevenge Regular

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    Oct 28, 2008
    long island, new york
    has anyone tried the blaze bridge
  16. TomAwesome

    TomAwesome I LIKE JUICE!!!

    Likes Received:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Do a search. It's a very popular pickup, so there are probably countless posts about it, including more than a couple in this very thread.
  17. mika ale

    mika ale Regular

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    Jun 1, 2008
    Few di-marzio (again...)
    Well, when i got my xyphos, i found that there wasn't enough difference between the D-activator7 neck and the d-activator7 bridge model. I mean they are nice pick ups, with the right amp and stompbox, it kicks ass, but, the sounds are too much similar.:spock:
    Then i set a blaze neck and a d-sonic7 : Well, the blaze is quite muddy attacking the low B, but is very hot when you play on the treble strings, while the d-sonic deliver you power and sustain (but without the typical attack of an EMG 81-7) and is as efficient soloing in low strings than in treble strings, un little bit with less precision in treble notes than the blaze.:metal:
    With this guitar, i use a RG1527 with a X2N7 and an AirNorton7 : the X2N makes you feel a growl. I mean that it's the same thing that hear howling a bear far from you. It's a very powerful pick up to play rythm guitar when lead uses a blaze, but, the sound will be more dirty than on a d-sonic, less clean. I use the Air norton as "single coil" on my Rg, using the parallel sound and with a chorus effect, it provides very nice sounds, bright, really like it. :yesway:
    I really love di-marzio sounds, you have a big choice of pick ups that allows you to find the sound you're looking for, but, i think that solid rythm need for tainted trash metal project need the attack of EMG active pickups.
  18. LEWY7777777

    LEWY7777777 Regular

    Likes Received:
    Jul 19, 2006
    I just wrote Seymour Duncan earlier today about making me a permanently jumped version in white and in an emg style housing, they will be responding probably within a week or so.

    Yeah it rocks, I have a white DP700 in the bridge position of a modded RG7321- only pickup with just an on/off switch. It has simulated carbonfiber pickguard and coverplates. Very ibanez, very DiMarzio sounding.
  19. Niilz

    Niilz Niilz

    Likes Received:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Andreas Kloppmann Pickups are well known here in Germany (but nearly unknown in the US :-(

    Andreas builds some of the best replicas of old Gibson PAF Pickups (worldwide! nonsense) and so I asked him for a custom 7-String Set based on his '58s PAF-replicas.
    These pickups are quite "cool" (Neck: 8,3 k ohm / Bridge: 9,4 k ohm) and sound very open w/ a superb definition (good bass, not too thin, not too treblely, amazing midrange).
    Since I work in a quite big guitar store (1200m²), I had the possibilities to compare them in a guitar w/ mahogany body, w/ set neck (mahogany w/ rosewood fingerboard; 24 frets) to all available Seymour Duncan and Di Marzio 7-string production pickups. They are absolutely superior!!!:yesway:

  20. bulletbass man

    bulletbass man Classical & Metal

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    Jul 14, 2008
    King of Prussia
    I've been working on this for years. I've posted it on a few other forums and figured I'd pull some copy and paste and add it to here as well.
    If you don't agree with me :fawk:

    Nah more seriously though I love any possible input you guys can give me. Send me Pms if you have an inquiry on a certain model. I often forget to update the list with models I have used (or have used them but not enough to give a good review)

    Also PM me if you have anything you would like added to this list. I don't add anything from other users though unless I have a lot of respect for you or have gotten several reviews from a variety of users to sort out bias.

    Anyways hope you enjoy.

    A special thanks to Zimbloth who is helping me critique some of my reviews as well as greatly enhance the bareknuckles section.

    Another thanks to a friend of mine, Dave, who helped get this idea started and critiqued a few of the models as well
    Seymour Duncan:

    SH-1 59: Bit harder sounding than a PAF. Has kind of a vintage sound is good for blues, classic rock, and hard rock. Most common in neck position but is found in the bridge also. Decent cleans but has better od then the jazz- versatile.
    Pros: Versatile.
    Cons: Jack of all trades.
    Hint: great for neck position use with high output bridge humbucker- has good cleans but takes nicely to overdrive too.

    SH-2 Jazz: Low output. Very clean sounding. Mainly used in the neck but I have seen it used in the bridge once or twice. Very commonly paired with SH-4 JBs, SH-6 distortions, and SH-5 Customs. Poor overdrive IMO but some like it.
    Pros: good cleans.
    Cons: poor overdrive for anything heavier than blues.
    Hint: good in neck position if you only need good cleans.

    SH-4 JB (Jeff Beck Signature): One of the most popular pickups. It has relatively high output. It’s great for heavy blues to grunge to metal. Very trebly. Better cleans than most high out put pickups.
    Pros: Good hard rock/thrash tones, better cleans than you’d expect.
    Cons: Hard to predict which wood it’ll work well in- although it’s very trebly, I’ve liked it in (some) alder guitars more than mahogany guitars. Can sound thin sometimes too.
    Hint: Great choice on guitar with one humbucker. (fat strats, G&L Rampage, and such) Decent cleans with good Overdrive. Only down sound is it’s a bit eqed but set up properly its not much a problem

    SH-5 Custom: Sounds like a beefed up PAF. It’s great for hard rock and I recommend it as a vintage-ish sounding metal pickup. Very commonly paired with a SH-1 in the neck. Pretty crappy cleans and can get a bit muddy is the down side.
    Pros: Like the sound of your Gibson but need more gain
    Cons: Pretty lousy cleans. Can get muddy if not eqed pretty perfectly.
    Hint: Not very versatile but good for a beefed up classic tone.

    SH-6 Distortion: It has high output, Good for metal, punk, and hard rock. Very commonly used with a SH-2 in the neck for versatility. Does not have great cleans. It also can get very muddy.
    Pros: gives the amp a good kick for distortion. Works well in darker-voiced woods.
    Cons: Very trebly but can get muddy too if you aren’t careful.
    Hint: Avoid in alder guitars (especially with maple necks)- will be extremely bright! However some disagree.

    SH-8 Invader: Like a SH-6 on steroids. Made for metal but can be used for Hard Rock, Punk, and other Aggressive styles. Usually only used for the bridge but can be used for neck. Terrible cleans in my opinion. It can be very muddy too. However I have been told it is good for beefing up the sound of a hollow body. But I don't really know why you would buy a hollow body to beef it up. But if you already have one, 70 dollars on a pickup is better than a few hundred on a guitar.
    Pros: Lots of gain, and can be used to fatten out a thin or bright-sounding guitar.
    cons: Extremely muddy with darker amp or guitar
    hint: use it to beef up a really thin sounding guitar or amp

    SH-10 Full Shred: Good for metal, hard rock, classic rock, and, well, shred. In-between a SH-5 and a SH-6 in the output but has a lot of presence. Great harmonics best on a Seymour Duncan pickup imo!!!
    Pros: Great for classic rock, hard rock, or metal. I've liked it in both mahogany and alder guitars
    Cons: Not great cleans but not too bad either
    Hint: Really nice in the bridge position. Brings out good playing but devastating to poor.

    SH-11 Custom Custom: Bright sounding, not as bright as JB though. It’s like a SH-5 except with alnico II magnets. Good for classic rock and blues. Can get a bit muddy with a high gain amp.
    Pros: “Nice” bright, rather than piercing. Mature, expressive tone.
    Con: gets a bit muddy with high gain, partly because of alnico II magnets. But with a high gain amp that is natrually very tight sounding its not muddy.
    Hint: As it’s bright, works well in Mahogany guitars. great solution for more gain in your classic rock voiced guitar

    SH-12 Screaming Demon: Moderate output. A lot like a PAF, but more in a rock vein. Good for classic rock and hard rock. Very nice harmonics.
    Pros: not super hot, so quite versatile (or at least, more than you’d think).
    Cons: You’re paying extra for the Lynch name.
    Hint: great for an old-school superstrat tone.

    SH-13 Dimebucker: It has seriously high output. I only recommend for metal. And is seriously trebly too, but can get muddy too.
    Pros: I’m thinking hard here… High output?
    Con: can be too trebly yet muddy at the same time. Seriously not recommended.
    Hint: Avoid.

    SH-14 Custom 5: Like custom custom except with alnico V magnet It’s great for blues, classic rock, and Hard rock.
    Has a good deal of bottom end.
    Pros: Better tone than the custom and better for high gain than the custom custom.
    Cons: Doesn’t achieve the extremes the other customs do.
    Hint: If your considering the custom custom and have a high gain amp I'd go for this instead

    SH-55 Seth Lover: Well its pretty much a modern PAF. It was designed with the humbucker inventor Seth lover. Great for blues, country, and Classic Rock. However with gain it gets very muddy. It also feed backs like a mofo as it’s unpotted.
    Pros: Gives that awesome classic rock tone
    Cons: not meant to be used with any higher gained amp, or any high wattages either. A 50 watt plexi reissue is pushing it in both terms.
    Hint: If your play primarily cleans and need a warm tone It's a pretty great sounding pickup. However if you're using any large amounts of gain or volume I'd avoid.

    SH-PG1 Pearly Gates: Warm slightly hotter than normal vintage humbucker. It’s great for blues, country, classic rock, and hard rock. My favorite pickup of SD. I like it in the neck position.
    Pros: Great for classic rock or a neck pickup paired with something higher gained
    Cons: muddy with high gain. Not the greatest cleans but good cleans.
    Hint: Neck position paired with a high gain pickup in the bridge. Or both if going for a classic rock tone. Much cheaper that say a Gibson pickup Great vintage soloing tone. Suprising amount of dynamics for a low gain pickup.

    APH-1 Alnico II pro: Warm vintage sounding humbucker. It’s great for jazz, blues, hard rock, and classic rock.
    Pros: very warm tone, great for jazz and similar stuff.
    Cons: needs to be paired with a warm-sounding bridge humbucker (if fitted in the neck position) as you’ll struggle to EQ both pickups properly if you don’t.
    Hint: Don’t pair with bright bridge pickup

    DiMarzio: Overall DiMarzios have a lot of presence. Usually bring out every note which is great for more experienced players. But for beginners who have started making bands it will cause for a lot of awkward silences from the crowd.

    Air Classic: Vintage sounding. It’s relatively bassy. It’s great for blues, classic rock, and hard rock.
    Pros: nice cleans and nice overdrive. More warm than bright.
    Cons: Muddy with high gain. Not the best cleans either.
    Hint: similar to Duncan 59 but warmer compared to brighter

    Bluesbucker: Higher output vintage pickup. It has more treble than the average vintage pickup. This pickup when split gives awesome Jimmy Page tone. It’s great for blues, classic rock and hard rock. Pretty obviously Dimarzios wanna be burstbucker.
    Pros: Nice cleans and great slight OD.
    Cons: Muddy with too much gain
    Hint: brighter sounding vintage pickup. Good for a mahogany guitar

    PAF/PAF Classic: Built to sound like the old PAFs of the 50s but its considerably brighter. It’s great for classic rock, blues, county, and hard rock. Can get a bit muddy. I much prefer PAF pros.
    Pros: great cleans and good light od
    Cons: muddy with too much overdrive
    Hint: Some use it in the neck paired with a paf pro in bridge.

    PAF Pro Another one of DiMarzios most popular pickups. Been used by nearly every shredder out there. Not a lot of gain but still upholds a lot of presence.
    Pros: Extremely Versatile, Great tone, Great Clarity
    Cons: Not the most forgiving of pickups
    Hint: It's a great pickup. Solid for leads. May not have as much gain as some of the more metal guys would like so may be best in the neck paired with something hotter in the bridge.

    Air Norton: one of DiMarzios most popular pickups. A good vintage sound with a little more kick. Great midrange. Good for almost anything.
    Pros: versatile.
    Cons: can get muddy.
    Hint: Brighter woods suit it better- such as alder.

    PAF Joe: Made for Joe Satriani. He wanted a mix of a PAF and an old 50s Gibson humbucker. It has a great balance in tone. It’s great for classic rock, hard rock, blues, and more.
    Pros: warmer than dimarzio PAFs.
    Cons: Not the greatest cleans and gets muddy with gain
    Hint: use with brighter guitar and lower gained amp.

    Fred: Also used by Satriani. It has great harmonics. It has a much more balanced tone than most of Dimarzios pickups. It’s great for shred, metal, hard rock, and even blues.
    Pros: vocal tone. Sounds like Joe.
    Cons: not too versatile.
    Hint: It has very vocal tone. It's really great for soloing but i would not recommend it if you play a lot of rthym or are in a band with a singer.

    Mo’ Joe: A hotter, more intense Fred. It’s great for shred, metal, and hard rock.
    Pros: slightly more versatile when it comes to hard tones. Less vocal.
    Cons: still a bit muddy. Not as vocal as fred (yes not as vocal is both a con and pro)
    Hint: like satch but want to be heavier. Heres the answer Better rthym tone as well.

    Evolution: Designed for Steve Vai. It has pretty high output and a tone of presence. Every note really jumps out. There is a slight lack of low end when played clean. It’s great for Shred, Metal, and Hard Rock. Loaded with mids.
    Pros: very good for shred. Suprisingly good cleans. Great soloing tone for both bridge and neck pickups.
    Cons: Not for beginners.
    Hint: Only for experienced players. with the right amp and in the right guitar it will make the tone you want. Effects your tone more than you average pickup swap.

    Evo 2: Just like the evolution with a little less power.
    Pros: Better cleans than evo. More bass.
    Cons: Doesn't bring out playing like an Evolution
    Hint: Good for someone with a very bright amp compared to evolution.

    Breed: Also designed for Vai. Basically a Evo and PAF pro mixed together. It has awesome harmonics and output with a more vintage tone.
    Pros: much more versatile than Evos.
    Cons: perhaps not hot enough for the crazy metal stuff. Not as good with dark amplifiers.
    Hint: don't get for the super high gain (modern metal) but definitely hot enough for less gainy metal. Do not use with a dark amp. Better in brighter tonewoods.

    X2N: Very High output. It’s good for metal and Shred. Pretty lousy palm mutes however. Very Muddy and really bad cleans. Personally I hate this pickup.
    Pros: eh
    Cons: Too much gain. Sounds like poop
    Hint: Avoid

    Super Distortion: Often compared to Seymour Duncan’s Distortion in tone. Great distorted tone but not too great of cleans. Nicer harmonics than the SD distortion. It’s great for Hard Rock and ballsier classic rock.
    Pros: better than SD distortion
    Cons: Still not great cleans and its quite bright
    Hint: Brings out thin sounding guitars nicely. Really nice sounding pickup.

    Tone Zone (six string): Very versatile. It’s often compared to Seymour Duncan’s Jb.
    Good from harder blues to Metal. Much deeper tone than JB, though.
    Pros: Good solo tone, reasonably versatile.
    Cons: Prone to muddiness.
    Hint: Avoid in darker sounding woods, like mahogany. I would also not suggest one with a dark amp.

    Dactivator: It was meant to be an emg with passive perks. It turned out to be a metal machine but certainly isn't that comparable to an emg. More of a very high gain passive.
    Pros: A great pickup for rthym playing. A tight lowend.
    Cons: Can be a little sharp, piss poor cleans
    Hint: It's great if you just want something for great rthym tones and decent lead tones. It's definitely Dimarzios best pickup for ultra low tuned stuff. (much tighter than other models)

    EMG: These sound great for modern metal, and like all pickups, sound best through a quality (more often than not) tube amp. Not terribly versatile (apart from the single coils). The word "sterile" is something I describe them as. It's mainly because the active preamps on the pickups boost certain frequencies far above the others. So they don't sound quite as organic as your passive.

    81: Great for Metal and that’s about it. Pushes a tube amp way more than your average pickup. Eqed to be nearly all treble and high mids so it's rather bright.
    Pros: Extreme amount of output. Good harmonics.
    Cons: Prone to thin-ness.
    Hint: Sounds best in mahogany.

    85: Has same output than the 81 but is bit more versatile. Has a very chunky sound. It’s great for metal/harder rock.
    Pros: more versatile than 81, doesn’t sound as thin.
    Cons: Still not very versatile compared to a good passive pickup.
    Hint: works well in alder.

    89: Has coil-splitting possibilities. Therefore is one of the most versatile pickups EMG makes. It’s more similar to the 85 than the 81.
    Pros: Want to coil split here's your answer
    Cons: same as all emgs. It's still is a bit sterile.
    Hint: Good answer for someone who likes the sound of emgs but plays a lot of styles. Perfect for pairing with SAs in my opinion

    60: Cleanest sounding of active EMGS. Brightest sounding also. Mainly used in the neck paired with either a 85 or 81 in the bridge. Good for metal and hard rock. Still far from great cleans.
    Pros: better cleans than most active pickups far more versatile
    Cons: Still not very versatil
    Hint: If you need super high gain but want to have a chance at decent cleans here is your answer
    This is the most unbiased I could be. Personally I'm not a huge fan. But you can try them at nearly any guitar store. Just look for Jackson or Esp guitars. They're not for everyone including me. But you may love them.

    SA series is quite nice.
    pro: much better clean tone than emg humbuckers
    con: quite bright. Not to be paired with an 85.
    Hint: Really awesome with an 89. has a less sterile sound than emg humbuckers,

    Gibson: These are quite good for stock pickups, but to be honest, unless you’ve tried them (and compared them to other branded pickups) and like them, I wouldn’t really consider them for an upgrade- especially in the UK/Europe where they’re hideously expensive.

    57 Classics: Nice Blend of mids, highs, and lows. It’s great for classic rock, blues, hard rock, and more. I much prefer burstbuckers however.

    Angus Young: Much like a 57 classic but hotter.

    Burstbucker: Used in mainly les Pauls. Classic sound. It has relatively high mids and bass. It’s great for classic rock, hard rock, blues, and more. My favorite Gibson pickup.
    Pros: Sound good clean and distorted.
    Cons: Expensive, especially in UK.
    Hint: If you want a Gibson tone then it may be worth it. But a Pearly Gates would do more than suffice

    Tony Iommi: High output. It’s great for metal and hard rock. Not the greatest of cleans however. Mainly used in the bridge with a 57 classic or 490r in neck. A little trebly.
    Pros: comes in epi Iommi sig. Best pickups available in a epiphone solid body guitar
    Cons: trebly. Bad cleans
    Hint: I wouldn't buy it except if I were looking at sgs and on a budget. Where I would buy the epiphone Iommi.

    Dirty fingers: High output. Not too great of cleans but ok distorted. Comparable to the X2N and invader. In my opinion way too muddy and way too sterile.
    Cons: Horrendously bad
    Hint: Avoid

    496R Hot Ceramic/500T Super Ceramic: Used mainly in explorers and Vs. Has mediocre cleans but good distortion. Good for hard rock and metal. I still prefer burstbuckers.
    Pros: very hot.
    Cons: crap tone.
    Hint: replace as soon as possible.

    490R/490T: Standard in many Gibson guitars. It has decent cleans and good distortion. It’s great for blues, hard rock, soft rock, metal, and more. It’s very versatile. But I much prefer burst buckers.
    Pros: better than the 496R
    Cons: still bad
    Hint: replace

    498T Hot alnico: Like the above but a little hotter. I prefer it over the standard 490T.
    Pros: Doesn't need to be replaced like other gibsons do
    Cons: Not a bad pickup but not great either
    Hint: don't buy other than stock

    Guitarhead Pickups:
    Megametal: Somewhat similar to an X2n but not as over the top. Very good tapped tones as well. A fairly bright pickup
    pros: Great price, high but manageable gain, good harmonics
    cons: Neck pickup is a little too hot and over powering.
    that's my 2 pennies.
    Hints: Cheap pickups that really rock for the price. Great for a variety of styles. Better suited for warmer woods.
    Thanks to metalmike for this one

    Swineshead pickups

    Venom: Very high out put pickup but has great tone. It even manages pretty good cleans. Similar to an evolution but a little more rounded out. Neck pickups sings and bridge brings good amount of gain.
    pros: Versatile for high gain. Really good tone.
    cons: A little bright and cleans aren't the greatest.
    hint: Very good pickups, Especially if you do a lot of lead parts

    Warthog: Similar to venom but with less gain and and alnico V compared to ceramic.
    Pros: More versatile than venom. Better cleans.
    Cons: Could use a bit more gain in bridge.
    hint: Can be used for anything with the right amp. But could use a bit more gain in the bridge. A warthog neck and Venom bridge make a fantastic pair.
    I have heard great things about other swinesheads. But haven't used them personally. My friend has yet to send me his opionions on them.


    Miracle man: Really good gain on passive. However has a lot more clarity than an emg would have. And has better cleans and lighter od as well.
    pros: Great for achieving a fairly high level of clarity with lots of overdrive. With the right amp is rather versatile.
    cons: Not fantastic cleans. A little harsh when improperly eqed.
    Hint: really fantastic stuff.

    Nailbomb: Awesome pickup my favorite of this brand (actually all pickups) Extremely versatile. The only thing it doesn't do extremely well is jazz. But properly eqed it does it well enough. Amazing clarity and feel.
    pros: insane clarity, extremely versatile, great soloing tone
    cons: not the best for jazz
    Hint: If you spend more time with high gain I'd suggest this

    Painkiller: Another one of BareKnuckles High gained pickups. A tight, clear, and ferocious midrange, screaming harmonics, high mid emphasis opposed to low mid like on the warpig. More of a snarl than a growl. Fairly bright but not overly so.
    Pros: Screaming midrange and loads of clarity
    Cons: May be a bit bright in a bright tone wood. The high midrange isn't for everyone
    Hint: Great match for mahogany guitars.

    Coldsweat: Another awesome pickup from BKP. Again extremely versatile. Less gain than the other high gain models but still plenty to get the job done. Does jazz better than the nailbomb. Not quite as good of a soloing tone in my opinion. Retains insane clarity. Rather bright but does not have a lot of mids.
    Pros: great clarity extremely versatilte, better at jazz (only in neck model)
    cons: not quite as good as nailbomb in high gain and soloing arena. But still very very recommended.
    Hint: get over nailbomb if your play a lot of jazz. Due to Ceramic magnet opposed to Alnico V (bridge pickup only) it's a little better suited for a very dense piece of mahogany as it's rather bright in the bridge

    Stormy Mondays: This pickup is far more geared towards low gain use. Insane jazz tone. Does blues and classic rock tones quite amazing as well. Perfect for your jazz box or Lespaul.
    Pros: Amazing cleans, great for jazz and blues.
    cons: Gets alittle muddy for gain. Then again if you bought this pickup for hard rock you deserve it.
    Hint: Use for low gain applications.

    Zimbloth will be helping me enhance this section greatly as well as the overall thread

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