Alongside humbuckers, single coil pickups are one of the two most popular pickups in the market today. As any guitarist will tell you the name on the guitar rarely has anything to do with the tunes that will be belted out of your guitar. Hardware such as pickups is what determines whether you will be belting out great tunes or absolute garbage. When trying to figure out which tone and sound work best for you, you will have to experiment quite a bit so that you can customize your headstock, or you could hire a pro to help you out.
Single coil pickups first came to our attention in the mid-1920s and were then referred to as Gibson’s P-90 single coil. However, their popularity exploded even further in 1954 thanks to Leo Fender, and the then Fender Stratocaster.
1. Fender Tex-Mex Single Coil Pickups
If the blues are your cup of tea, then the Fender Tex-Mex pickup is the perfect type of pickup that will have you feeling less blue. This pickup is quite nifty for any player especially but more particularly for players who are in the blues, metal, classic or hard rock genres of music. The bass tone on this is warm and, and it balances out the intense tone of the Stratocaster. At just under one hundred dollars, this fender features an Alnico V magnet that has been overwound to minimize the humming sound that plagues most single coil pickups. The magnets also give the pickup great dynamism and focus.
- Because of the Alnico V magnet, musicians can play different genres with ease.
- The output on the Fender Tex-Mex is not your typical pickup output. The Tex-Mex gives a powerful and balanced production unlike any other.
- While $75 is not too much to ask for it does fall on the higher cost spectrum for a fender.
2. Lace Alumitone Deathbar
This is a pick up that I would not hesitate to recommend. The high definition pickup is fantastic for genres such as Jazz, metal and rock music mainly if it is a live stage concert/ presentation. The Alumitone Deathbar is ideal for extended guitars and can produce a forceful mid-range with an unparalleled output. It features an inductance of 50 Henries, 1320 peak frequency, chrome plates, and 5.0K resistance.
- It is possible to extend the Alumitone Deathbar up to 4.5 inches so that it can function on 9-10 string guitars.
- It is versatile, and users can get any sound type they wish. From high gain, palm-muted, low pitch or distorted sound it is achievable you have to keep testing the limits.
- Heavier genres of music like hard rock and metal can be played effortlessly on this hardware.
- The design favors mostly high output guitar playing, soft genres such as blues may suffer immensely if played using the Deathbar.
- It costs a pretty penny.
3. Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR
The Seymour Duncan is a different pickup in that it can function with both the single coil or humbucker device. The duality of this pickup facilities the musician’s ability to combine the fullness of a humbucker and the soulfulness of the single coil. The Seymour Duncan is one of the most unconventional pickups, but it is an excellent hardware to showcase a musician’s style of playing.
Featuring a unique winding of the coil and two thin blades, the Seymour Duncan 11205 is so aptly referred to by users as the best of both worlds.
- The Seymour Duncan is delicate in the sense that if you make even the slightest change in your strumming or fretting style, it will be picked up by this hardware.
- It does not produce any humming sound
- The controls of both the volume and the tone are equally just as sensitive.
- The pairing of the bass guitars on this pick up is completely off. As a bass player, you would have to look into acquiring other options more suited for your guitar.
- The corners of this pickup are somewhat more prominent than those of your standard Stratocaster.
4. Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Pickup
As the name suggests, this is pick up was designed as a collaboration between Eric Johnson and Fender. For most guitarist, this collaboration is are a dream come true considering how revered Eric is at his skill.
The Fender Eric Johnson features three single coils in the package that are ideally meant to help you achieve the sweet melodic tone that is synonymous with Eric. Each pick up is uniquely crafted by the master himself to reproduce different and exclusive sounds. Constructed with Alnico III magnets the neck is utterly different from the middle which is reverse wound and reminiscent of the 1963 Stratocaster. You may not turn into an Eric overnight, but you sure will be belting out some great tunes.
- They are ideal for the clean and jazzy type of sounds.
- You can pinch your harmonics with these as they are hot enough to do so.
- None we could find
5. DiMarzio ISCV2 Evolution
Designed to be used in a unique four conductor wiring configuration alongside the DiMarzio Evolution Neck and bridge pickups, this pickup is exceptionally versatile with broad tones and an even wider range of sounds. The DiMarzio ISCV2 Evolution is great on guitars with a similar nature as the Ibanez which consists of a Humbucker- Single- Single system.
- The package includes a schematic of the wiring configuration as it tends to be confusing.
- For $50, the pickup is priced within reason.
- The sound quality and variety of this pickup are some of the things that most users have applauded
- As a middle coil, the DiMarzio ISCV2 is not hum canceling
6. Lace Sensor-Red Pickup
There is nothing red about the Lace Sensor Red pickup which is somewhat ironic given its name. The Lace Sensor was initially one of the single coil pickups used by Leo Fender in the mid-nineties. The Lace Sensor Red features a patented lace micro comb and an innovative filed barrier system that work in unison to achieve the vast tonal range synonymous with strong low ends and pristine trebles. It is one of the few single pick coils that has attained the ability to ensure that the background noise is silent. The Red as it is popularly known is perfect for the metal and rock genres of music. This pickup beautifully and effortlessly replicates earlier fender tones.
- There is a mini data CD and schematic included in the package of the pickup to assist you with configuring this single coil pickup. It includes colored versions of the wiring diagrams.
- It can produce Stratocaster chimes.
- The Lace Sensor Red has dynamic and versatile tones.
- It is expensive
- You may require professional help to install the pickup.
7. Seymour Duncan SL591 Little 59 White Bridge Strat Pickup
The little 59 is a powerful and responsive pickup that has been designed to function correctly as a bridge pickup. This is because as a bridge pickup, it accentuates the upper to mid-range frequencies to provide you with smooth, warm tones reminiscent of a humbucker pickup.
- Even though it is a single coil pickup it has the characteristics of an excellent humbucker pickup
- The pole plates are movable and can be adjusted to your liking. You can do this to tweak the string balance and overall clout of your sound.
- The installation process is effortless.
- The construction of the Little 59 is excellent, and the components used are of great quality.
- It has been designed for playing lead guitars
- It falls on the pricier end for a single coil pickup.
The construction of single coil pickup consists of magnets that have a really thin wire wrapped around them, and it is then placed between a top and bottom plate and finally placed inside a vinyl, plastic or metal bracket. It is the simple anatomy of the single coil pickup that gives it the crispy clear tone associated with it. There are quite a good number of musicians such as Jerry Donahue, Keith Richards, and Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan who have been known to use the single coil pickups.
However, you should be aware that it is not just the pickups that made these musicians. There are a few other elements such as their technique, their guitar of choice, amps, pedals, EQ controls and not forgetting the years of practice that went into making the mentioned musicians to be the household names that they are today. The most common designs of single coil pickups include; Telecaster design, Stratocaster design, and the Gibson P-90. When purchasing a single coil pickup, you should read reviews (such as this one), attend performances or exhibitions where you know you can hear the pickups in action, and even watch videos that will give you insights into the functionality of the pickup. What we are saying is do your research before making your purchase.
Finally, be sure to remember that single coil pickups develop hums overtime. It helps if this is something you are willing to accept and work with.