The 4 Best Bridge Pickups – Reviews 2018

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Upgrading your bridge pickup is the easiest way to give your guitar tone a serious upgrade. The pickup market is so saturated, though, that it can be downright overwhelming trying to sift through them for the perfect one. Like everything that goes into your guitar’s tone, the right pickup is a matter of personal preference, and it will always depend on both your style and the kind of guitar you’re using. There are a few things you can look for, though, that can help you on your way to finding the perfect bridge pickup.

Whatever your sound preference, you want a pickup that’s reliable, consistent, and durable, so you don’t find yourself back on the pickup search a few months down the line. The models below are our favorites for the bridge position. We’ve included both single-coil pickups for guitars like Telecasters and Stratocasters and humbuckers for Les Pauls, Jazzmasters, and other similar designs, so there’s something here for every guitar style.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best bridge pickups on the market:

Seymour Duncan SH-PG1b Pearly Gates Bridge Pickup

There has to be at least one entry from Seymour Duncan on any list talking about the best pickups. They have a reputation for a reason. Not only are their pickups consistent and well-made, they’re designed to give you an ideal tone no matter what kind of instrument you’re playing.

The Pearly Gates (see full specs) is our favorite Seymour Duncan humbucker for the bridge position because of its balance and versatility. It’s a multi-purpose pickup that’s both bright and sweet. The sound is based on the ’59 Les Paul, and it has a bluesy edge that makes it the ideal bridge pickup for a modern Les Paul, too. When pushed to overdrive you’ll get a raw, brash tone—lots of edge without sacrificing any sustain. It’s a hot pickup, too, with a lot of output. This is an especially great choice for rock and blues players, though as we said it sounds great in pretty much any style, depending on what you pair it with in the neck position.

Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Pickup Set Demo

Tonerider Generator TRH2 Modern Bridge Humbucker Pickup

If you’re looking for a new bridge pickup on a budget, consider the Generator TRH2 from Tonerider. It will definitely give you the most sound for your money, and is one of the most affordable high-output pickups you’ll find. The sound’s not just loud, either. It’s also rich, with a lot of harmonics—this baby can really scream when you want it to. The clean tones are bright and articulate, so while it does crunch well it’s certainly not only for lead players.

The quality of the materials is key in getting that much power. It uses an Alnico 5 bar magnet, the most powerful magnet material that’s currently in use, which is what makes it capable of such saturated overdrive tones. With a nickel silver baseplate and gold cover, it’s an attractive and durable option that will fit any standard humbucking guitar. This is one of the best bridge pickups for the money period.

Tonerider Generator TRH2 – Dirty Sounds

DiMarzio DP384 Special Chopper Tele Bridge Pickup

If you’re playing on a single-coil guitar, check out the Special Chopper from DiMarzio. It’s designed with Telecasters in mind, but can make a viable upgrade for any guitar that uses single-coil pickups. It has less twang than you’d expect from most pickups designed for a Tele, giving you a more modern, straightforward rock or blues tone. It’s the best Telecaster bridge pickup for those who want to take that instrument’s classic sound to the next level.

The Special Choppers use a similar twin blade construction to the DiMarzio Fast Track. Because the coils are side by side, you’ll have fewer problems with the pickup interfering with the natural alignment and intonation of your strings. There’s also less magnetic pull, giving you a more open, singing sound that’s truer to the natural tone of your guitar. While it’s not as silent as a humbucker, this interior design also reduces the amount of pickup noise, giving you a clear and versatile sound.

DiMarzio Twang King Neck & The Chopper T Bridge Pickups for Richie Kotzen

Seymour Duncan STHR-1b Hot Rails Tele Bridge Pickup

Here’s another great option from Seymour Duncan, this time on the single-coil side of the spectrum. Like the DiMarzio above, this is designed to be a direct drop-in replacement for a Telecaster-style pickup wiring. They also make a version of it for Stratocaster-style guitars (see full specs). that gives you the same great sound and is one of the best Strat bridge pickups available, making this an excellent choice for any single-coil guitar.

The best thing about the Hot Rails is the boost it gives to your signal. No matter what kind of guitar you play, it will sound bigger and fatter with this pickup in the bridge position. It’s also one of the best pickups for beefing up your mid-range, giving your sound a bigger presence with better projection. The combination of over-wound coils and a ceramic magnet make it ideal for use with heavy distortion. If you’re upgrading your pickups to get more power and crunch, the Hot Rails should definitely be on your list.

Telecaster with Seymour Duncan Hotrails

Choosing the Best Bridge Pickups

Generally speaking, you want to choose pickups that bring out the best qualities of your guitar’s sound. This doesn’t have to mean pairing bright pickups with a bright guitar; you could alternatively choose a darker pickup that will warm up your tone and give it more balance. Think about the tonal qualities you’re lacking in your tone, as well as the things you like about how you sound now, and use those as parameters to help you narrow down your search.

If you’re only upgrading the bridge pickup, you should also think about what kind of pickup you have installed in the neck position (and middle position, in a three-pickup instrument). Even if your guitar has a selector switch and you want to use the two pickups to give you different tonal options, you should think about how the two sound together so you’re not limited to an either/or situation.

Your other choice is to upgrade all of the pickups on your instrument. If you’re thinking about going that route, consider getting them as a set. All of the options above either come in a neck version also, or have been designed to pair with another neck pickup in the product line.

Buying a set of pickups is not only a good way to make sure they’ll sound good together, but will also usually save you some money—you’ll often pay less per pickup when you buy them as a set. Whichever way you decide to upgrade your instrument, we wish you luck, and hope that one of the above options will provide the best bridge pickup for your sound. Good luck!

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