Today we are going to show you what we think are the right single coil pickups for metal. We chose these based on their sound, ability to minimize noise, and overall range. Lets get started.
Below are our reviews of the 4 best single coil pickups for metal on the market:
DiMarzio Injector Single Coil Pickup
DiMarzio is one of the few brands which have a dedicated single coil lineup. Not only that but DiMarzio is not afraid to experiment in order to achieve the tone profile they want. Injector pickups bring a lot of that ideology to the table. This pickup features Alnico 2 magnets, four conductors, and an output that reaches 185 mV. In other words, a set of these is going to be much, much hotter than your regular vintage singles.
But wait, there’s more. One of the main issues with single coils and heavy distortion is always that coil buzz that is typical for this pickup design. DiMarzio has managed to completely eliminate that issue, allowing you to experience noise-free, hot sound. Injectors come in both neck and bridge versions, allowing you to choose your setup just how you want it. In terms of price, these are right in that sweet spot—this is one of the best single coil pickups for metal period.
DiMarzio DP184 The Chopper Pickup
Next pickup we are about to show you is bending the rules a little, just like the rest of our top picks. No matter how hot of a single coil you make, the fact of the matter is that it will always lack that humbucker range. Bridging the gap between humbucker’s performance and single coil footprint came down to a very simple solution. Instead of trying to beef up a standard single coil, DiMarzio and other brands have decide to scale down a humbucker.
The result is a pickup that sounds amazing but takes very little real estate. DiMarzio Chopper DP184 has an impressively wide range, which is exactly what gives you that fat tone. It is very hot compared to our previous pick, coming in at 260 mV, while it also uses ceramic magnets instead of Alnico. A set of these on a Stratocaster will completely change the way that guitar sounds. Best of all, since they are passive, you don’t have to make serious adjustments to your instrument.
Seymour Duncan SL591 Little 59 Pickup
Ever since original P.A.F humbuckers first appeared on Gibson’s Les Pauls, their tone has been the go to choice for many. With Seymour Duncan SL591 Little 59, you can have that exact same tone in your Stratocaster. Just like DiMarzio we have just talked about, Seymour Duncan took a humbucker and scaled it down to size (see full specs). They have packed a lot of wire around a set of ceramic magnets, giving you a thick tone that has plenty of girth.
In terms of output, you could say that these are a bit tamed. Since we are talking about a bridge model here, it comes with those slightly scooped mids that are basically in the Metal 101 book of tone shaping. Once again, these are passive so you don’t have to worry about hacking your Strat to pieces in order to install a set.
Seymour Duncan Hot Rails
Last but not least, we have a real treat for you. It is another Seymour Duncan model, but this time we are talking serious heat. Seymour Duncan’s Hot Rails are the hottest single coil package this brand has to offer, but also one of the hottest singles out there, period.
It is a dual rail humbucker design (see full specs) with a thick coil of wire surrounding its ceramic magnets. Compared to your standard single, this thing is a monster. It is no wonder Dave Murray from Iron Maiden has chosen a set of these for his Strat. To be completely honest, that extra punch comes with a slightly higher price tag. However, the added invest is nothing compared to tone you are getting access to.
The Best Single Coil Pickups for Metal
With everything we have shown you so far, it is absolutely clear that metal can in fact be played on a set of single coil pickups. All it takes is some planning and finding the right ones. Models we have listed above are by far some of the best. While this is our opinion, it just so happens that many world class guitar players also agree.
Most importantly, all of these meet our criteria for a proper metal single coil pickup. They are all incredibly silent, which is probably the number one requirement you’d want to get out of the way. Their output is around levels we feel are necessary for a good metal tone, and they require no additional modifications during installation.
One of the more common questions people have is why not just go with active pickups? While you definitely could, you would most likely find them to be hot but lacking substance. Passive pickups will always have a more dynamic tone, which only gets better when you find yourself a high output set.
Last piece of advice we would like to share is to stick with known brands. Yes, there are numerous smaller manufacturers out there with great product, but if you are looking for something with a proven track record, big names will be of best service and they’re the ones you should go for when buying the best single coil pickups for metal.
Swapping pickups might sound like a tough and risky job at first. However, if you are doing a passive transplant on a passive guitar, it is really easy and non invasive. Good luck!