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Best humbuckers of 2022

Did you know that Gibson pioneered humbucker pickups? Electro-Voice invented the first humbucking coil in 1934. But it wouldn’t be until Gibson employee Seth Lover invented the PAF (Patent Applied For) humbucker in 1955 that they would be used in guitars.

Humbuckers have a very different sound than their single coil counterparts. They have a big, wide sound with a lot of depth. They can also be very smooth. They’re the preferred choice of guitar players in heavier styles like metal and classic rock. But with the right rig they can fit into any genre.

They come in passive and active variations. One of the coolest things about them is since there are two coils they can be wired in a variety of ways so you can get almost any sound you want out of them.

So let’s take a look at some of the best humbuckers for 2022!

Best humbucker overall: Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB

seymour duncan sh-4 jb
best Humbucker overall
seymour duncan sh-4 jb
The SH-4 JB is tonally balanced, offers multiple wiring options, and is hot but cleans up well.
Pros
Classic humbucker sound
Can be wired different ways
Cleans up well
Cons
Works best in bridge position
Higher output might not suit everyone
Best Of 2022

There are such a wide variety of humbuckers on the market, it’s difficult to select a single “best overall.” So what did we take into consideration when making this our top choice?  We were looking for one that is well-made, versatile, cleans up well, and above all else provides a classic humbucker sound. That’s when we settled on the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB.

Seymour Duncan pickups need no introduction. As one of the world’s leading pickup manufacturers, the company has been making the best-of-the-best since 1976.

The SH-4 JB is a versatile humbucker that’s tonally balanced across the frequency spectrum. It’s just right on the low end and midrange, but the high frequencies are where it really brings it. It’s got a lot of output, so it’s pretty aggressive. 4-conductor wiring lets you get multiple sounds out of it, cleans up well which makes it one of the best humbuckers around.

Best classic P.A.F humbucker: Seymour Duncan Seth Lover

seymour duncan seth lover
best classic P.a.f. Humbucker
seymour duncan seth lover
Designed with original creator Seth Lover, this PAF gives you the tone of Gibson’s golden age.
Pros
Classic PAF tone
Design true to original
Created in conjunction with Seth Lover
Cons
Not hot enough for some styles
Somewhat expensive

If you’re looking for the classic humbucker sound, this is the best model this side of 1955. Seymour Duncan remained true to Lover’s original design and sound. He even helped design it!

So just how closely this design match Lover’s original? For starters they aren’t wax potted. But the most important part is that tonally they are the most accurate representation of the PAF sound since his original for Gibson in 1955.

The bottom plate is the same long-legged made of nickel and silver. It has a single conductor cable that is braided and shielded, and the bobbins are the traditional Butrytate plastic. The magnet is one the most important part’s in determining the tone of a pickup, and this one uses an Alnico 2.

They are made to sound great with any guitar, but of course sound best in a Gibson model or something with a similar build ideology. If you’re looking for that Gibson golden era PAF tone – this is it.

Best humbucker for classic rock: DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion

dimarzio dp100 super distortion
best Humbucker for classic rock
DiMarzio DP100 super distortion
The DP100 Super Distortion is a high-output pickup that became the sound of classic rock.
Pros
The sound of classic rock
High output ceramic magnet
4-conductor wiring
Cons
Might be too hot for some
Best for bridge position
Only really works with solidbody guitars
Buy From

DiMarzio’s DP100 Super Distortion was a preferred choice of rock guitar players over the 70s and 80s. The balanced sound and high output was a perfect match for the heavy tones these bands were chasing.

If the name didn’t imply, these pickups are hot – perfect for helping to push the input of your amp into crunch without needing an overdrive pedal in between. Its balanced sound gives clarity to single notes and weight to chords.

The highs on some humbuckers can be thin, but not with the Super Distortion. And the all-important midrange is boosted to give presence to the area of the frequency range where the guitar lives. 4-conductors let you wire it up however you’d like.

A ceramic magnet build is what gives the extra boost, but it might be a little too much for some player’s rigs. It works best in solid-body guitars. If used in a semi-hollow, there is a potential for it to cause too much feedback. While it works in the neck position, it is ideally fitted into a bridge slot.

Best active humbucker: Fishman Fluence Modern

fishman fluence modern
best active Humbucker
fishman fluence modern
Two voices and rechargeable power supply make the Modern one of the best active pickups available.
Pros
Dual switchable voices
Easy install, no soldering
Rechargeable power supply
Cons
Really hot, won’t work with most styles

It was tough to choose between this and something from EMG when it comes to the best pickups for metal. They both sound amazing and have their pros and cons. But the people have spoken, and more and more metal guitar players are moving to Fishman’s Fluence line in their guitars.

The game changer? The multi-voice Fluence Core feature. It gives you two switchable voices that let you choose between passive or active sounds! The active sound is as modern metal as it gets. High output and tight. The passive side is great for pushing a preamp. It’s big and punchy, but still has the feel of your favorite passive pickup.

A direct replacement design lets you hot-swap it without having to bust out the soldering iron or worrying about damaging your axe. Active pickups require power to run, and the Modern’s rechargeable supply has a staggering 200 or more hours of life.

It comes with everything you need for installation. This includes the pickup, wiring, and two types of pots – push/pull and standard. If you play metal guitar, Fluence is revolutionary.

Best wide range humbucker: Mojotone ’72 Clone

mojotone 72 clone
Best Wide range humbucker
mojotone ’72 Clone
Wide range design gives an openess not usually found in humbuckers, and this one is a perfect example.
Pros
Big sound with a lot of clarity
4-conductor wiring gives you multiple setup options
Cons
Only for F-style guitars
Only for use with 500k pots
Only fits ’72-size humbucker cavities

Wide range humbuckers can be confusing. A lot of people think they are physically bigger than a standard humbucker. They aren’t. They’re a standard humbucker size, but they do have a wide sound and are great for clean tones.

These made-in-America pickups will inject some serious mojo into your sound. They have a focused clarity and a singing chime that humbuckers generally aren’t known for. This is achieved using threaded through-bobbin magnets instead of magnetized steel poles. The neck pickup is underwound to better match the bridge.

How do you want to wire your pickups? Doesn’t matter. With the 4-conductor wiring you can use methods like series, parallel, coil-tapping, and more. Using 500k pots will yield the best sound.

Mojotone’s ‘72s provide a sound all their own, different than any other on this list. So if you’re looking for a replacement for your F-style guitar these will be all the mojo you need.

FAQ

Which humbucker is the best?

This totally depends on your needs. You need to decide what type of sound you want, if you need an active or passive design, and which magnet gives you the tone you’re chasing.

What is the best pickup for rock?

Humbuckers are a great choice for rock music. The Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB is a great choice. It’s pretty hot but it cleans up really well and can nail all kinds of tone in between.

What are some good quality Les Paul pickups?

Anything from Gibson is a great choice. But if you’re looking for another brand, the DiMarzio Super Distortion is a nice, hot pickup. The Seymour Duncan Seth Lover will give you “the” Gibson sound – the original P.A.F. designed with Seymour Duncan by the engineer that created the original.

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