We review products independently and our recommendations are genuine. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More
Pickups on electric guitars can make or break your sound, especially if you’re playing a complex, delicate style like jazz. A pickup will shape your tone and clarify every note you play. If you’re a jazz player, you’ll want to fix the electric guitar with the best kinds of pickups for jazz playing.
Some of the best jazz pickups for electric guitar include the Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz Model Neck Humbucker Pickup and DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Bridge/Neck Humbucker Pickup. These are heavily favored by many for their versatility among playing styles and sound quality produced.
In the rest of the article we’ll take a closer look at each of them, and I’ll also share more information on what to look for when buying jazz pickups for electric guitar.
What are the Best Jazz Pickups for Electric Guitar?
Electric Guitar Jazz Pickups Reviews
Seymour Duncan specializes in quality guitar pickups and pedals. If you need a reliable jazz pickup, this brand will have several options for you, so you might want to start here.
Like all the other pickups listed, the SH-2 is a humbucker pickup. The difference between single-coil pickups and humbuckers to note here is that they tend to “darken” the tone of your guitar and thus are ideal for jazz players. (Learn more about the differences in the Buyer’s Guide below.)
Even though this is a jazz pickup, it’s great for other genres, particularly heavy metal and rock styles. If you like playing quick runs up and down the neck, this is a great option for you.
Most often, the SH-2 is placed in the neck position on your guitar. The SH-2 jazz guitar pickup comes in Black, Zebra, and Reverse Zebra styles to match any guitar style you have.
- One of the most reliable pickup manufacturers.
- Multiple different styles and colors, unlike many other pickups.
- Works for multiple kinds of playing styles, not just jazz.
- Some players may prefer the sound of a covered pickup.
This Seymour Duncan Nickel SH-2 pickup is nearly identical to its Black & Zebra-colored siblings but is covered with a nickel plate. That gives this pickup an extremely distinctive look; instead of seeing the pickup and magnets exposed, this pickup will look sleek on your guitar.
Many humbuckers are uncovered, leaving the double-coil mechanism visible under your strings. On the other hand, covered humbuckers are shielded with a metal plate, often made of nickel, gold, or silver.
Some jazz players prefer covered pickups because it shields you from some interference that may make you sound fuzzy. However, other players don’t like the tonal qualities that come with the covering.
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual’s preference. If you find that you’re facing a buzzing sound frequently, look into a covered pickup. The SH-2 covered humbucker is a great option.
- Nickel covering helps eliminate radio interference.
- Reliable pickup from an excellent manufacturer.
- Not as costly as some of the other pickups listed.
- Moderately more expensive than the uncovered model.
- Nickel covering can take the brightness out of the sound.
From Paul Reed Smith Guitars, this vintage-style humbucker has all the best qualities of a classic pickup without being too buzzy or faulty.
This jazz guitar pickup is meant to imitate 1957-era humbuckers but was produced in 2008, which leads to the PRS 57/08’s name. They’re wound by hand with a wire that’s been manufactured from the same machine that was used in the 1950s. Many humbuckers are meant to mimic a vintage sound, but the 57/08 comes the closest to a vintage pickup.
The 57/08 is a little more expensive than some of the other pickups listed, so this is for people looking for a high-end pickup. It’s available in Bass and Treble styles, so you can use it on either the bridge or neck of your guitar.
- Looks unique from other double-coiled pickups.
- Powerful and responsive tone.
- Vintage sound is unique from other humbucker pickups.
- One of the costlier pickups on this list.
The Seymour Duncan SH-8b Invader is a powerful pickup that’s designed to carry deep, heavy tones. It’s ideal for players who tend to play on the bottom three strings of their guitar or linger on notes instead of playing quick runs.
With three ceramic magnets and tightly wound coils, this pickup has an exceptionally wide magnetic field, taking all the sound from your instrument and pushing it through to the amp.
This humbucker is great for jazz players, but it’s also ideal for hard rock guitarists. Punk, thrash, and metal players will love how the SH-8b Invader pumps up the gain and allows for aggressive playing.
- Handles deep, heavy melodies better than other pickups.
- Wide magnetic field will pick up even the most subtle tones you play.
- Also great for metal and hard rock style playing.
- Might be heavier than some jazz players would like.
The DiMarzio DP100 is one of the earliest pickup offerings from DiMarzio and is a favorite among jazz guitarists. It’s described as an ultra-high-output pickup, so you’ll get an especially punchy sound when playing out of a tube amp.
High-output pickups send more of your sound through to the amp, usually due to some extra windings in your coil. That makes the DP100 one of the best jazz guitar pickups out there.
Again, this is a humbucker-style pickup, so you’ll get solid, meaty sounds all over the neck, whether you’re playing a chord or a quick run. It’s generally placed in the bridge position but also offers an interesting sound on the neck.
- High-output humbucker means that you'll get a big fat sound.
- Versatile and will work with a wide variety of music genres.
- Works great with tube amps.
- May offer too heavy a sound for some delicate jazz players.
Jazz Pickups Buyer’s Guide
The best kind of pickup for jazz guitarists will be able to “pick up” on all the unique tones and subtleties present only in jazz music. If you play with a cheap or single-coil pickup, you may find that your augmented chords and pentatonic runs aren’t coming out through your amplifier as clear as you hoped.
Here are some tips on how you can find the best pickups for jazz playing.
What Features To Look For in a Jazz Pickup
- Humbuckers. If you’re a jazz player, you are probably going to want to invest in a humbucker. They’re a little more expensive than a single-coil pickup, but jazz music relies on clarity and hearing every note each musician plays. They keep the buzzy noises out of your tone and pull more sound out of your instrument.
- Wide magnetic field. Pickups with wider magnetic fields like the Seymour Duncan SH-8b will be able to soak up more of your sound, and in jazz music, you never want to miss a note.
How To Choose the Best Jazz Pickups For You
- Get a humbucker. If you’re serious about your jazz sounding, invest in a humbucker like the DiMarzio DP100 or the PRS 57/08 Bridge. The buzz and feedback that add to the ambiance of other genres of music, such as grunge and metal, will just make jazz sound muddy. Single-coil pickups will always have a little of that hum.
- Decide on covered or uncovered. Covered pickups like the Seymour Duncan SH-2 Nickel are meant to ward off some radio interference that can come through your amp. But some guitarists prefer uncovered ones like the Seymour Duncan SH-2 Black. Sweetwater notes that covers might actually cause problems with certain kinds of amps and may even dull the brightness of your tone. Try out both before taking the plunge.
- Figure out how much you’re willing to spend. Pickups can range from $50 to nearly $300, but you may not need the most expensive pickup on the market to get the best sound possible.
Jazz players want the pickups on their electric guitar to be clear, bright, and buzz-free. Getting the right humbucker fitted on your electric will make a big difference to your sound and make you much more enthusiastic about strapping your guitar on and playing. If you want to set your electric guitar up with a new jazz pickup, these five pickups are a great place to start looking!