The 4 Best Single Coil Pickups For Metal – Reviews 2021

single coil pickups for metal, best single coil pickups for metal

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So why get single-coil pickups for metal? If you ask any guitar player which pickups are best for a rough tone, especially related to metal music, their answer will always be humbuckers. With that said, we have seen single coils being used successfully in this role. Just take a look at Iron Maiden for actual proof, and if you want to add some more girth to the tone, you are in the right place.

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.

Paul Gilbert Demos His New DiMarzio® Injector™ Pickups

Fender Tex-Mex Strat Single Coil Pickup

Fender equipment is used by guitarists of every genre, so it’s no surprise they make good pickups for metal. The Tex-Mex Strat single-coil pickups are ideal for metal players because of their increased output. And they’re loud throughout the range, too. You’ll have no problem being heard, even when you’re not screaming into your upper range.

The Fender Tex-Mex pickup isn’t just about volume, either. Its tone is modeled after the famous Strat, and it brings some of that warmth to the equation. Maybe the best thing about these pickups is how articulate they are. You won’t lose your attacks even when you crank the gain—a key feature for a metal player.

There’s another thing you’ll love about the Fender Tex-Mex pickups: the price. You can get a whole set for less than you’d spend on a single boutique pickup. That’s a big bonus for metal guitarists on a budget. You can save your money for other pieces of gear without sacrificing the sound quality of your pickups.

Lace Alumitone Single-Coil Guitar Pickup

The Lace Deathbucker is a beloved dual-coil metal pickup, but many players don’t know they also make a single-coil version. It gives you that same cutting tone you’d expect from a Deathbucker but with a brighter edge and tighter high end.

The look of Lace pickups is obviously distinctive, and that beauty isn’t just skin deep. The coils use an aluminum design to cut down on noise without needing two coils. You’ll still get all the power but with almost no hum.

Maybe the best feature of the Alumitone for a metal player is the low- and mid-range presence. They give you a wider frequency range than copper-based pickups, giving you extra depth. You almost won’t believe the Alumitone is a single-coil when you hear it, one of the reasons it stands out as a great choice for metal.

EMG SA Active Single Coil Pickup

Another surprisingly quiet single-coil pickup, the EMG SA is shielded and uses an active preamp. These work together to eliminate extraneous noise. The EMG SA draws its sonic inspiration from the Stratocaster. While most popular among blues players, that mix of airy highs with rich lows translates surprisingly well to metal.

One reason blues players love the EMG SA is that it responds well to bends. If you like to use these kinds of effects in your playing, these pickups can handle it beautifully at any gain level. It can also produce a very tight, articulate sound when called for. This versatility lets you really access your ideal tone.

The output on the EMG SA isn’t quite as high as other options on the list. This is our only negative feedback, however. In terms of both sound and feel, it’s an expressive and powerful pickup for metal players of all styles.

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 to find the right ones. The 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. The extra noise from the hum is always a concern for single-coil players. There are ways to get around this besides getting a small humbucker, though, as you can see from the methods employed in the Lace Alumitone (see full specs) and EMG SA (see full specs).

The output level is important for metal, too, although in our mind volume is still less important than tone. Your amp and cabinet will do a lot of heavy lifting as far as power is concerned. Even so, we’ve chosen four of the hottest single-coil pickups on the market. Whichever of these pups you buy, you’ll never have to worry about getting enough power.

Another big complaint against single-coil pickups for metal is that the tone can become one-dimensional. Many of them get too loud or screeching in the high end, or else you lose the low end, making you sound thin. This is a result of how the pickups are constructed and wound, though, not an inherent flaw of single-coil pickups. A quick listen to any of the four pickups above will prove that they’re just as capable of warmth and depth as humbuckers.

If you’re still not sure which one is right for you, our last piece of advice is to stick with the brands you know. Don’t get us wrong—there are a lot of smaller manufacturers out there that make excellent products. But you’ll have a head start on getting a feel for your new pickup if it’s from a familiar brand. Big names also give you more confidence in their consistency and reliability so you should go with those when you’re searching for the best single coil pickups for metal. The last thing you want is your new pickup cutting out in the middle of a gig.

Swapping pickups might sound like a tough and risky job at first. However, if you’re putting a new single-coil pickup into a single-coil guitar, it really is easy and non-invasive. 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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