Question Mark In an effort to assist other guitarists (beginners and advanced alike) I would like to ask you to send me information concerning the type of pickups you are presently using on your guitar(s). What I plan on doing with this information is to compile a list of pickups associated with the various music styles that are played on the pickups. This will assist our members and guests by pointing them in the right direction in the selection of pickups to try out on their own guitars so that they may get the tone and/or sound that they want. If you could send me the information via a “Private Message” through my axecentral profile or in the “Comment Section” below, it would be greatly appreciated. The information will be added to my listing to be posted in a future axecentral blog post. I wish to thank you in advance for you input.

1. Type of music you play? Examples; Jazz, Blues, Metal, Death Metal, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Country, Blue Grass, Pop, etc....

2. Type of pickups you are currently using on your guitar(s)? Examples; Seymour Duncan Blackouts, EMG-81, EMG-85, Gibson Burstbuckers, Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless, etc....

3. Position where the pickups are installed? Examples; Bridge, Mid, or Neck....

Extra Credit Questions:

4. Pickup height? Distance from the strings to each pickup in “inches or millimeters”. I will convert whatever measurement is provided and include both units of length in my list, that’s so no math will be involved for anyone out there....

5. The position of the 3 or 5-Way Selector Switch? Examples; Bridge, Bridge/Neck, Bridge/Mid, Mid/Neck, Neck....

6. Tone settings for the pickups (most commonly used position, not for every song)? This should be presented in a scale from 1 to 10 for each pickup position, i.e; Bridge, Mid, and Neck....

Again, I wish to thank you in advance for your input in assisting me in presenting this information for our fellow guitarist. There is no such thing as to much information when it comes to selecting pickups for your guitar and I’m just trying to simplify it as much as possible and to put it in an easy reference list to make the whole process a little easier for all. NOTE: If anyone is aware of such a list out there some where on the inter-net, please send me the link so that I may obtain it and blog it to axecentral giving due credit to the author of the work.

My Very Best Regards,


So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Jamie: Kcbuck - great Idea for a post. Thanks for doing it. I am sure it will be very useful to a lot of people.
  • kcbuck: That’s if I can get some responses from the peanut gallery....
  • jade: A good initiative. I hope there will be many responses tho I guess it will take time to compile the list.
  • kcbuck: Depends upon how fast members and guests responses are and the information they provide....?
  • Alex: Well let me post my info:
    (Don’t know if you need the info, but I play a 2001 American Fat Strat)
    Type of music I play: Blues, classic rock, rock
    Type of pickups I use: Fender Texas Specials in neck & middle, Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker in bridge position.
    Pickup height (in millimeter, I’m from Europe :)
    Neck: 4 mm
    Middle: 4,5 mm
    Bridge: 5 mm
    Position of the switch: I mostly play in neck and neck/middle position. Sometimes bridge.
    Hope this helps!
  • kcbuck: Thanks Alex, I’ll add to the list... What type of tone/sound do you achieve with this configuration?
  • psp742: i always browse this pickup blog post by kcbuck. It gives you some idea what pickups are good for that certain sound you want.
    i have 2 Fender (Players) Strats:
    A 2006 Fender Fat Strat 3-tone brown Sunburst Alder body with 2008 Fender Special Edition Rosewood fingerboard Maple Neck.
    -Seymour Duncan JB TB-4 tremucker in BRIDGE
    -Seymour Duncan Strat Stack Plus STK-S5 HOT single-coil in MIDDLE and NECK
    A 2007 Blackie Alder body with 2002 Maple neck
    -Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless SCN set for BRIDGE, MIDDLE and NECK
    kcbuck sold me on getting the Fender SCN pickups
    i prefer warm, bluesy sound, but i still have option to do rock if i want to.
  • kcbuck: If you like a nice warm tone you’ll be very happy with the Fender Mod Shop SCN pickups. Just put them in the positions indicated on the bottom of the pickups....
    Good Luck,
  • Stephen: Everything I use is stock OEM. 1979 Gibson LP GK-55 with dirty finger pups. 1983 Aria Pro II RS Series.Not sure of pups, maybe matsumoku. They sound a little like a strat but sometimes to me they sound a little like a p90. It’s different.
  • RichMayo: Music: Rock, Metal, Grungy stuff
    Pickups: EMG81 & EMG85 (Zakk Wylde set - cheapest way to get these new) ( in my ESP-LTD MH250 )
    Position: 81@bridge, 85@neck
    Height: as close as i could get without bird chirp noises from picking
    Selector: depends what i’m doing - my tastes are bridge only for crunch, otherwise i switch depending on what i think works - rarely use in middle position though - thats just my tastes
    Tone: Same in both positions really, easiest is to say Bass5, Mid7-8, Treb5, Pres5 on my ENGL fireball
    Also wanted to mention my Vintage Reaper - its an inexpensive guitar, pretty bulky and heavy and of course in black - bought it after id been playing a couple of years. And still have it nearly ten years later. I played a later version of the guitar which was cheaper and the pickups had changed from the version i have. The reason ive got it still is i really love the pickups in there - passive humbuckers at bridge and neck, unmarked and havent been able to find the brand - but i use them with similar settings as above and i really love them... as much as the EMG’s guess my point is its amazing how relatively unknown pickups really can do the job - worth checking out some of those cheaper guitars - who knows they might be a diamond in the rough. In fact they are the reason i replaced original ESP-EMG ( passive EMG-HZ i believe ) in the ESP LTD guitar with the active EMG’s... a guitar worth a 5th of the price was sound waaay better.
  • Opethian11: I usually go OEM too, but I’m more a collector now and less a player, and we collectors like stock setups over mods 99% of the time, it’s felt that mods hybrid and dilute the beast, at least for me, anyway. But as a player I love the EMG 81/85 setup in any mahogony body. I did pull the stock Gibson 490R and 498T’s out of my Gibson Gothic V99 and replaced them with a Black Magic 496R/500T red/black Double-Slug set a guy had pulled out of his Voodoo V to replace with EMGs and it’s the best move I ever made. My V99 literally screams. Some say the 500T gets muddy in the lighter mahogony body (as opposed to the Voodoo V’s swamp ash) but I just don’t hear it. I think your amp is just as important, if not more so, than your pickups are in final evaluations and outcomes of your pickup setups....
  • musicguy: For Telecaster I settled on my favorite upgrade pickups. GFS Fatbody set. Oversized pole pieces. No chrome cover on neck pickup. Lots of clarity, volume and bite. Without sounding like humbuckers.......
  • musicguy: I play mostly Rock. Rarely heavy but I like to be versatile so what I use I like to be able to cover all the basses. For a Telecaster I found that by upgrading on a budget I like the GFS Fatbody, especially for the neck. Huge difference. I am about to try the 50s vintage bridge they offer. So far all GFS have been great. For Stratocasters I like to upgrade the neck and bridge pickups with Seymour Duncan hotrails and use a push / pull coil split on both so I can get clean to heavy sounds in quality. Full size humbuckers that split well include Seymour D. Pearly Gates and Dimarzio distortion.
  • kcbuck: I also like the Pearly Gates humbuckers and stuck them into my Epi Les Paul and never regretted the purchase or the installation which was really simple.
  • Sparky2: I go with whatever pickups come in the guitar I buy.
    If it doesn’t sound good when I am checking it out, I won’t buy it.
  • kcbuck: Well, that certainly makes sense too. Hence, "try it before you buy it". My Epi Les Paul that has the Pearly Gates in it was a B-Day present from my loving wife. Who could **** and/or take it back? The option was replace the pickups...
  • Sparky2: Oh, I’m not criticizing those who replace their pickups.
    I’m just lazy I guess.
    If it sounds good, I buy it.
    If it doesn’t sound good, I don’t buy it.
    Right now, I am two months into a year-long (self-imposed) restriction from buying any guitars.
    An addict has to put his foot down some time!!
  • kcbuck: We know that Mr. Sparky...
  • musicguy: I say when you discover the difference in what you know between "good pickups" and "much better" I say upgrade them to get the best out of a guitar you can. We only sound as good as our gear unless you are a genius prodigy then sound good on anything! I heard Dave Grohl play a toy set of drums and just tore it up! LOL As hi9ghly rated as the Classic Vibe custom Telecaster is, I can tell with my ears that for $75 I can much improve the tone so I am doing that.

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