The 4 Best Single Coil Pickups For Metal – Reviews 2019

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

Photo by Keary O. / CC BY

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 Injector Neck Single Coil Pickup - White
  • Price: $81.51
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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

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. The DiMarzio Chopper DP184 has an impressively wide range, which is exactly what gives you that fat tone. It’s hot compared to our previous pick, coming in at 260 mV, and it also uses ceramic magnets instead of Alnico, giving it a brasher tone. A set of these on a Stratocaster will completely change the way that guitar sounds. Best of all, since they’re single-coils, you don’t have to make serious adjustments to your instrument.

Testing DiMarzio Chopper DP184 – Squier Stratocaster USA

Seymour Duncan SL591 Little 59 Pickup

  • Seymour Duncan SL591B Little 59 Strat Bridge Pickup
  • Price: $85.00
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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 single-coils, so you don’t have to worry about hacking your Strat to pieces in order to install a set.

Seymour Duncan Little 59 Sample

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.

Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Bridge Pickup – USA Fender Strat – Demo with Gain

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.

You might wonder why there are no traditional single-coil pickups on the list. While both Fender and DiMarzio offer single-coils that can get hotter than the ones reviewed here, you don’t want to risk your tone turning one-dimensional. These single-coil humbuckers have an added warmth that makes your tone more dynamic, and this only gets better the more you turn up your gain.

The last piece of advice we’d give you is to stick with the brands you know. Yes, there are a lot of smaller manufacturers out there that make good products, and some of them sell for an impressive price, but when a pickup has a proven track record you know what to expect. The last thing you want is for your new pup to die in the middle of a gig. Big names will give you the 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’re putting a new single-coil pickup in a single-coil guitar, it really is easy and non-invasive. Good luck!

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