Best Guitar Pickups For Rock – 2021 Reviews

| Last Updated: December 27, 2021

The pickup of any electric guitar or acoustic-electric guitar is an essential component. Without the ability to convert the vibrations of the strings into electrical signals, an electric guitar is a mute instrument. Pickups exist in a variety of designs, with the most popular ones being single-coil and humbucker pickups.

Can Any Guitar Pickup Be Used For Playing Rock?

It is clearly established that the components used on a guitar directly influence your tone and sound. It should then be accepted that specific sounds require the correct devices in order to be recreated perfectly. For this reason, there is a specific type of pickup that should be chosen to play rock and roll music.

Do not be deterred by thinking that having the correct pickup is essential. When still learning and practicing, the accuracy of your sound is not as important. As long as you practice consistently and correctly at first, the sound will be secondary.

How to Choose a Guitar Pickup For Rock

Choosing a guitar pickup will come down to the personal choice of the artist and what kind of tone they want to produce. Because of this personal difference among guitarists, it is advised to experiment and learn more before purchasing just any pickup.

Tone Range

You will need to know what kind of tone range the genre you want to play belongs to. The parts of a pickup are what create the wide versatility.


When selecting the pickup, you will need to check whether the winding of the coils is compliant to your tone needs. You must also consider the number of coils and the type of magnets used, as well as the positioning of the pickup on the guitar. Some are placed on the neck to produce a different tone signature.


If you prefer to recreate the sounds of popular artists, research what their preferences are to make your own conclusion. If you are a rookie and only just learning, we would advise not to concern yourself with the right kind of sound just yet.


Once you are more experienced, the choices will be much easier to make. Also, remember to keep your budget in mind, especially if you are just starting out.

Comparison of the Best Guitar Pickups For Rock

  • Best Overall Guitar Pickup for Rock
  • Alnico 2 Bar magnet used for fine pickup
  • Affordable Texas blues-rock tone recreation
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  • Special 2 Bar Alnico magnet
  • Crisp, crunchy sound ideal for rock music
  • Enamel-coated wiring and nickel-specific slugs and poles
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  • Best for the Money
  • Hot output with extensive mid-boost
  • Features a ceramic magnet and coil-splitting capabilities
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  • Enamel-coated magnet wiring
  • Features Alnico 5 Bar magnets
  • Fiber bobbin and copper-plated bridge pickup steel bottom
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  • Alnico 5 Bar magnet
  • Vacuum wax potted for squeal reduction
  • Four-conductor wiring with silver-nickel bottom plates
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Reviews of the Best Guitar Pickups For Rock

If you are a rock enthusiast and love those warm tones, then the following pickups will be your most ideal choice.

Best Overall:
Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup


  • Brilliant for clear harmonics performance
  • Versatile functionality and clear, beautiful sound
  • Works great with semi-hollow and hollow-bodied guitars
  • Based on the ‘59 Les Paul Standard that defined early rock


  • Recommended to be installed by a professional guitar repair shop
  • Only available in black or zebra, which could be unappealing to some

What Recent Buyers Report

People have adored the creations of Duncan Seymour for a long time. The Pearly Gates is one of their famous pickups. The opinion is widely agreed upon that it is a brilliant advancement in guitar pickups. People love its clear sounds and its familiar Texas rock tones.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Pearly Gates has established itself as the prime pickup in providing warm rock tones for many reasons. Its sound quality is agreeably generous and up to the highest standards. If you need excellence, this would be a perfect choice. It comes at a far better price than the most expensive pickups, as well.

Who Will Use This Most

Particularly, any Texas tone lover would find this the crown of all gifts. Other than being the best suited for warm tones and clear produced sounds, it is also ideal for harmonics techniques. Anyone looking for an ideal upgrade to their tone in this desired direction should not hesitate to invest.

Bottom Line

The essence of it is simple. If you love Texas rock, or blues, or any similar genre, the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates is the ideal choice. If you are searching for the best of the best that is still affordable, again, the Pearly Gates would be a good option.

Gibson ’57 Classic Humbucker Neck Pickup


  • Two-conductors
  • Nickel-plated poles and nickel slugs
  • Braided wiring to further produce vintage rock tones
  • Makes use of vintage design and enamel-coated wiring
  • Classic humbucker recreating the legend of the earlier Gibson pickups


  • Neck-specific positioning

What Recent Buyers Report

It is very rare that you could find a person who could possibly complain about Gibson products. Whether its Gibson's guitars or components, there is hardly anything to talk bad about. Their products have been loved and appreciated by the world’s societies of guitarists for a very long time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Coming in as our chosen runner-up, it is second only to the Pearly Gates because it specifically fits the neck position only. Its quality is as brilliant as its chosen superior here and fails only because the Pearly Gates may be a more suitable set.

Who Will Use This Most

The Gibson '57 Classic is ideal for anyone looking to either replace a neck pickup or alter the tone of their guitar. What is great about only buying the neckpiece pickup is its ability to pair with a variety of other pickups. This will allow you to experiment with an endless versatility of sounds.

Bottom Line

What more excuse would you need to invest in this pickup than its incredible quality? The Gibson '57 Classic is an addition that any true musician would appreciate. As a practice pickup, it is sure to be a pleasing piece of equipment.

Best for the Money:
DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup


  • Most affordable rock specialist pickup available
  • Four-conductor versatility with coil-splitting options
  • High output range for getting the best scream from your guitars
  • Ideal for reproducing classic rock sounds and harsh metal genres


  • Quality is at a lower standard for affordability

What Recent Buyers Report

Plenty of people appreciate DiMarzio’s pickups, like the DP100. It is a classic reproducer of sounds made famous in the seventies and eighties. In modern times, it is appreciated for its distortion quality. People absolutely adore the DP100 and especially celebrate its affordable quality.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The DP100’s affordability, accompanied by the fine standards of the product, is the main consideration for selecting it as our budget-friendly choice. If you are unfortunately hampered from owning the best pickup due to a tight budget, then the DP100 would be an excellent alternative.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be the ideal choice for metalheads and grunge lovers. Its hot output and loud tones would be ideal for a dirt guitarist. Anyone looking for the most affordable specialist in producing classic rock sounds would do well with this choice. It offers decent quality at an attractive price.

Bottom Line

As our choice for the most affordable rock guitar pickup, we would absolutely recommend the DiMarzio DP100. With its splitting ability and four-conductor wiring, it is an ideal and affordable pickup to have. If you decide to invest in it, you are not going to be easily disappointed.

4. Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele Pickup


  • Trustworthy Fender quality
  • Razor-sharp sound and clear tones
  • High output for warm familiar rock sounds
  • Ideal for those old school Texas rock and blues


  • Slightly more expensive price range

What Recent Buyers Report

People who are familiar with Fender know that there is hardly anything to complain about. If there are any complaints, it is most likely because it is not within the user's affordable price range. Everyone who does have the money to invest in a Fender will not be disappointed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Fender pickup stands out to us the most simply because it is made with Fender quality. If you can afford a Fender, it is one of the most recommended products to invest in. Not only is the sound production among the highest quality that you will find, but the products Fender produced are guaranteed to last.

Who Will Use This Most

The Fender's quality is of such a high standard that there is no clear indication of who would use it the most. The versatile design of the Texas Special simply allows it to be used and paired for a great variety of genres, tones, and sounds.

Bottom Line

If you are in search of only excellent products to use with your setup, we would recommend looking into Fender. Their quality is widely celebrated and appreciated by a great number of artists around the world. They produce high-quality products that are worth every penny you invest in them.

5. Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Humbucker Pickup


  • Crispy, full, detailed low tones
  • Warm and crunchy mid-range tones
  • Hot output with great drive and sustain
  • Versatile and ideal for all forms of genres from soft to dirty


  • Bridge positioning specific

What Recent Buyers Report

People who have experienced and invested in the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Humbucker were all adequately satisfied with the quality and performance. Everyone agreed that it is an ideal bridge pickup to fit your guitar, no matter what techniques you use or genre you prefer to play.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Are you still inexperienced or undecided about the genre you want to play or the signature you wish to produce? If so, we recommend a versatile pickup like this one. The wide range of tones that you will get from this unit makes it very popular.

Who Will Use This Most

Musicians looking to find their inner vision or sound would use this pickup a lot. It is also good for those who want to learn a broad spectrum of electric guitar music. If you offer lessons in a wide variety of genres, this pickup would be appealing to you, as well.

Bottom Line

If you are still deciding or need a versatile pickup, the Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB Humbucker Pickup would be our recommended choice. It produces a full range of clear and wonderful tones and offers the kind of quality that makes it a reliable investment.

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Guitar Pickup

There are several benefits to investing in a high-quality pickup device. The most basic benefit would be the quality and endurance of the components used in its creation.

Another benefit is the assurance of knowing that the pickup will produce the kind of tone and warmth that is expected of it.

Not only will it last longer and perform as needed, but most quality pickups will also be able to reduce interference from outside signals. Older models were once even sensitive to the hum of a house’s electrical wiring.

The innovation spent on reducing background noise is somewhat an essential benefit, especially for professional artists. To produce the best sounds and cleanest tones, it is vital to invest in the highest quality that you can afford to buy.


The pickup of any guitar is a vital component. When choosing the correct one, make sure of your preferences and needs. In the end, it will all depend on what you want from your guitar. The look and sound will also matter, so take your time before making that purchase.

People Also Ask

There are plenty of questions that bug people about pickups and guitars. Here, we have taken the time to answer a few of the questions you may have. We kept it brief but accurate enough for a conclusive result. We hope you will find all the answers to the questions you have here.

What is the Difference Between Guitar Pickups?

The greatest difference between pickups is the quality of the materials used in their creation and their practical design. Everything will change the tone and sound of the pickup. This includes everything from the means of detecting the vibrations with different magnets to the kind of circuitry and wiring methods. 

Can a Guitar Pickup Go Bad?

Like all things, a guitar pickup is prone to wear. Yes, a pickup can go bad and lose its sound quality. The occurrence of experiencing a pickup going bad is very seldom, though. Since most magnets that are used have a long decaying process, it tends to last for years.

Are Neck and Bridge Pickups Different?

Neck and bridge pickups are very different from each other in tone and sound creation. The general rule is that bridge-positioned pickups produce crisp and sharp sounds. Neck pickups tend to produce darker and warmer tones. How these sound qualities are used in genres differs, as well.

How Do You Test a Guitar Pickup?

Testing a pickup with a multimeter is essential to determine if it is working properly. Simply set the meter to test for resistance. Place the red test lead on the hot lead of the guitar, and the black test lead on the ground wire. If resistance is found, the unit is faulty. 

What Makes a Guitar Pickup Hot?

A guitar pickup would be described as ‘hot’ if it is stronger than usual. It would have a higher output that can drive your amplifier to produce heavy grit or distortion. These types of pickups are adored in the metal genres. It may also refer to pickups that are louder.

Hi there, my name is Craig. I took over Gear Savvy in mid-2019 and have had a blast writing content about music ever since. My role here is to steer the ship and ensure readers have the best information available for learning a thing or two. When I’m not working on content, I’m a husband and a dad. I enjoy spending time with my family, playing guitar, or messing around in my woodshop.