The 4 Best Jazzmaster Pickups on the Market – Reviews 2023

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Photo by Xavier Watkins / CC BY

Introduced way, way back in 1958, the Fender Jazzmaster guitar was crafted as a high-end option for jazz guitar maestros, but ultimately ended up mostly in the hands of surf rock guitarist and fans of more gain-driven and fuzzier sound.

We’ll leave to music historians to determine exactly how that happened, but what we can say as gear aficionados is that the sound of this particular Fender is greatly influenced by a set of distinctive pickups. With that in mind, we decided to delve into today’s market and determine what are the best Jazzmaster pickups (and we go into what you should look in selecting the right products after our reviews).

We narrowed our choices down to two companies only, as we believe that Fender and Seymour Duncan truly deliver the best punch and top bang for the buck.

Fender Pure Vintage ’65 Jazzmaster Pickup Set

We’ll get this party started with a pair of trusty ’65 vintage pickups. These wax-potted pickups utilize Alnico 5 magnets, which secure a more focused, articulate and dynamic sound while retaining the signature fuzzy vibe. To produce an even higher string response, the manufacturer added a set of flush-mount pole pieces.

Also included in the mix (see full specs) is a period-correct cloth wire and a fiber bobbin construction, along with a standard one-year warranty. But most importantly, these pickups perfectly capture that edgy, snarly, vintage vibe of classic Jazzmaster guitars. They are bright, articulate, but never too harsh or too much bass-driven.

Apart from that, the pickups are light, come in a nice package from Fender (very few shipping complaints from many customers here, if we might add), and are quite easy to install. So even if you don’t have top-level soldering skills, you’ll find that placing these puppies in is a breeze.

Overall, we’re looking at a slightly lower type of groove than standard single-coils, but still much more expressive and organic than beefy humbuckers. Bar none, these are among the best Jazzmaster pickups period.

Fender Jazzmaster pickup swap - Before and After Comparisons - 7 - 30 - 2015

Seymour Duncan SJM-3 Quarter-Pound Jazzmaster Pickup

If you like your pickups to be more on the “hot” side, or a tad more out of control, fuzzy, roaring, gain-driven, you’ll probably be interested in checking out the SJM 3 quarter-ponders from Seymour Duncan.

These pickups (see full specs) utilize Alnico 5 rod magnets combined with a waxed cloth hookup cable and no cover, as well as oversized 1/4-inch pole pieces. This results with a full frequency response and a maximum output while regaining the organic tone and a vibe worthy of Jazzmaster. Additionally, the custom coil wind secures additional sustain, making the pickups appropriate for lead guitar work.

The sound of this thing can be described as a super hot single-coil pickup (a single-coil on steroids, you might say), hence if you’re wielding a heavily shielded six-sting, this fella will fit like a charm. Despite it not looking like a tall pickup in some promo photos, it actually very much is, causing the magnets to drop down in the casing a little bit.

Therefore, if you want a gritty rock distortion, you might want to lift it up with some foam while installing. But that’s details now, what remains a fact is that this is one killer pickup!

Seymour Duncan SJM-2 Neck Hot Jazzmaster Replacement Pickups

And here’s another valid option from the Seymour Duncan boys – the SJM-2. Crafted as a neck pickup, this product delivers a “hot” vibe with a strong and highly distinguishable mid-range punch and top-level clarity. If you’d like that gritty aspect of the Jazzmaster to become a tad more articulate but still pack a massive punch, this one is a great choice.

The item features an overwound single-coil construction, a set of Alnico 5 rod magnets, as well as a waxed cloth hookup cable and no cover. The tone is dynamic, expressive, but also crunchy and loaded with punch.

The SJM-2 was crafted with reverse wind and reverse polarity feature to secure complete hum cancellation when used in combination with the SM-2B Hot pickup in the bridge position. As you might have guessed, we’re looking at a high-output pickup here with a DC resistance of 11.6k. The product was made right in the US of A, featuring a total size of 4.5 x 3 x 1.5 inches. Needless to say, it’s among the best Jazzmaster pickups on the market.

Fender Jazzmaster JM66B Seymour Duncan SJM 2 & SJM 3 demo #1

Fender Neck Pickup for USA Jazzmaster

Finally, getting back to Fender, we bring you a definite premium neck pickup for a Jazzmaster. This fella was made to match the vintage reissue of the classic guitar – and with great success if we might add, as it combined the best of traditional values and added a pinch of modern goods to take it to the next level, but without putting that classic charm aside.

The pickups are wound to original specs and utilize authentic down to the cloth wire leads, as well as a set of aged white covers. The latter bit might be just an aesthetic segment, but it comes in extra handy if you’re replacing (or upgrading) import reissue models of the Jazzmaster. Please note that this is a neck pickup only.

You might notice that the plastic is routed quite closely, but that’s nothing a slight sanding or grounding of the pick-guard can’t fix. But that’s minor talk. What’s important is that the sound of these puppies is very authentic and packed with an irresistible classic charm. As for the price, we believe that it’s more than fair.

What to Look for When Buying the Best Jazzmaster Pickups

The Fender Jazzmaster is a very distinctive guitar with a very distinctive tone, so respecting that tradition and vibe is a must when finding a set of pickups to fit it with. You will want these puppies to always deliver that signature crunch, punch, grittiness and distinctive roar and not turn it into something different. That was one of our top criteria and you can rest assured that each of the listed fellas respects the instrument’s tradition to a great extent.

Apart from that, we wanted to cover a variety of tonal options, as well as find pickups that are easy to install, durable, strong and reliable. The choices listed here are very difficult to match in our opinion, feel free to treat yourself with one of the bad boys as early as today. Good luck!

Written and Reviewed By

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

  • Marko is the senior editor and writer on Ultimate Guitar, the No. 1 guitar spot on the web, since early 2013. His work was also featured on a variety of other notable gear spots such as Guitar Fella, Consordini, and, of course, Song Simian. His musical journey began at a very young age, and he finally opted to pick up an instrument in his early teenage years. A fan of King Crimson. A travel enthusiast.

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