7 Best Humbucker Pickups (Perfect For Jazz & Blues)

Last updated:
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not influence our reviews or ratings. We endeavor to keep our opinions fair and balanced to help you make informed buying choices.

Humbucker pickups have long been associated with the sound of jazz & blues guitars. They were originally developed to solve the hum issue that single coil pickups often present. By putting two single coil pickups in series and inverting the poles, the noise was canceled, the humbucker was born, and guitar players rejoiced.

The double coil mechanism also produced a darker sound. As a result, many jazz and blues guitar players that sought clarity for extended chords and chromatic and bluesy lines gravitated towards humbuckers.

Today, there are endless choices for humbuckers. And like most things guitar-related, it all comes down to your needs and preferences. Do you want to play modern blues ala Joe Bonamassa? Or are you a bebop player like Wes Montgomery? Perhaps you want a humbucker set that offers versatility for various styles?

You’ll find all these things and more in our roundup of the seven best humbuckers for jazz and blues. Let’s get started!

What Are The Best Humbuckers For Jazz & Blues?

Personally, I recommend the Lollar Imperials as the best all-round humbuckers for jazz and blues. The articulation is tight and defined, with a full bridge tone that cuts through the mix. For those on a budget, the DiMarzio Bluesbucker is a great option. If price isn’t an issue, the Lindy Fralins are a dream to play with.

Here are our top picks for the best humbuckers for jazz and blues:

  1. Lollar Imperial (Best All-Round)
  2. DiMarzio Bluesbucker (Best Budget)
  3. Lindy Fralin Pure P.A.F. (Best Premium)
  4. Seymour Duncan ’59 Model
  5. Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates
  6. Gibson ’57 Classic Plus
  7. Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro

1. Lollar Imperial

OUR PICK
Lollar Imperial Humbucker

The Imperial® Humbucker captures the airy top end, balanced mid-range, tight lows, and complex overtones of the classic original PAF pickups.

View Product Check Price On

Capture the airy top end, balanced mid-range, tight low end, and beautiful overtones of the classic PAF pickups with the Lollar Imperial humbucker. These pickups are based on the lower output PAFs found on vintage Gibson 335 guitars but with improved frequency response.

These pickups are one of the best options available for humbuckers as they offer great sound, are versatile, and will let your true sound shine through when you play.

Features

  • Great chord voicing definition
  • Cuts through the mix
  • Neck 7.6 K, Bridge 8.5 K
  • Nickel silver covers
  • Fuller bridge tone

Review

The Lollar Imperial humbucker pickups are made with Alnico 2 magnets for the neck position and Alnico 5 magnets for the bridge position. They feature unbalanced coils that produce a tight bottom end that complements the pickup’s fullness and causes overtones to build up after each note is played.

Both jazz and blues players will feel right at home with these humbuckers, as they provide great chord voicing definition for better clarity in the mix. Leads will also benefit from the balanced mid-range. Whether you go completely clean or prefer a saturated sound, these pickups will do the job well.

The bridge pickup provides a fuller tone with a cleaner and brighter middle position. The neck pickup provides beautiful cleans but is hot enough to be played at the edge of amp distortion for a more aggressive and overdriven sound. Overall, this is a great choice for any guitarist, but jazz and blues players will be in vintage heaven with the Lollar Imperial.

2. DiMarzio Bluesbucker

BUDGET PICK
DiMarzio Bluesbucker Humbucker Pickup

The DiMarzio Bluesbucker pickup looks like a humbucker but delivers the unmistakable sound of a vintage P90!

Check Price On Sweetwater Check Price On

The Dimarzio Bluesbucker looks like a standard humbucker but provides a P-90 type sound while still canceling the 60-cycle hum effectively. The Bluesbreaker is a great budget option available for players looking for an edgy bluesy sound rooted in tradition but with a modern twist.

Features

  • Ceramic magnet
  • P-90 sound with canceled hum
  • Sensitive to playing dynamics
  • Fits standard-size humbucker spaces
  • Uses patented Virtual Vintage technology

Review

The Bluesbucker is a great option for players on a tight budget that are also looking to add some spark to their playing. It comes with the patented Virtual Vintage and Airbucker technology that makes the Bluesbucker very sensitive to playing dynamics while still providing a fat tone.

When used together in the bridge and neck position, they achieve an open and slightly hollow sound reminiscent of two single-coil pickups on a strat. They are a great option for players that want to replace their humbuckers with P-90 sounding pickups that fit perfectly in the same space. This alone makes it a great option if you are looking for that particular sound in a Gibson-style guitar body.

This is all without sacrificing the advantages that a humbucker offers, as the Bluesbucker cancels 60-cycle hum effectively. This really is the best of the P-90 sound with the best of a humbucker at an unbeatable price.

3. Lindy Fralin Pure PAF

PREMIUM PICK
Lindy Fralin Pure P.A.F. Nickel Humbucker

Experience what a humbucker should really sound like and get inspired by the Pure P.A.F’s beautiful tone.

View Product Check Price On

Lindy Fralin has been a pioneer and innovator in the guitar and bass pickup industry for 30 years, and is one of the most revered boutique pickup creators today. Fralin’s pickups are used by legends like Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, Neil Young, David Gilmour, and Carlos Santana, just to name a few. It’s a premium pickup set for players looking for something truly special.

Features

  • Clean and clear
  • Smooth grind a sharp attack
  • Compensated overwound bridge
  • Fralin’s Sectioning technique for dynamic tone
  • Hand-built for superior quality control

Review

The Pure PAF is a 50’s PAF clone and Lindy Fralin’s favorite humbucker pickup. It offers a beautiful clean tone with incredible versatility. It has a low output for a vintage tone, with a smooth grind and a sharp attack.

This pickup uses USA-made Alnico 2 magnets for vintage tonal balance and output as well as Lindy Fralin’s “Sectioning” technique for unique, dynamic playing and sound. It was built with the original Gibson PAF specifications that provide low volume but with modern clarity.

The Pure PAF delivers amazing results for blues and jazz players, even the ones that occasionally delve into rock. It comes with a 10-year warranty on manufacturing defects. This is a premium choice pickup with a very “musical” tone that jazz and blues players will adore.

4. Seymour Duncan ’59 Model

Seymour Duncan SH-1 '59 Model
$99.00

The SH-1 is built with the same kind of enameled wire, nickel-plated studs, and balanced coil windings that humbucker inventor Seth Lover used in his first P.A.F. pickups.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On Sweetwater
03/05/2021 09:42 pm GMT

This pickup was built to deliver classic PAF tone but with modern construction. It has been one of the most popular humbucker pickups for years and will work with smaller gauge strings for that vintage blues tone. It is quite versatile and bluesy indeed!

Features

  • Sweet, warm guitar sustain
  • PAF style with a present top end
  • Vintage tone
  • Versatile
  • Alnico 5 magnet

Review

The ’59 Model set of pickups has been a favorite among blues, jazz and classic rock players for years. It is built with vintage-inspired coils that give it an airy quality for that classic PAF sound that is so sought after.

It is built with Alnico 5 bar magnet and vacuum wax potting to make it compatible with lighter gauge guitar strings. The high end is slightly boosted for improved attack clarity with the pick, while the mids are a bit scooped to obtain an open and smooth sound from your guitar.

Guitar players of many traditional styles will feel right at home with this set. The ’59 Model takes a beloved sound from a great old model and manages to make it even better!

5. Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates

Seymour Duncan SHPG1 Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup
$105.00

Seymour Duncan's Pearly Gates sound sweet, but are slightly rude, with great sustain and a bright top that make harmonics jump out of the guitar.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On Sweetwater
03/05/2021 09:42 pm GMT

Transform any Les Paul style guitar into a blues machine with the Pearly Gates. This pickup captures the mojo of the original neck pickup of Billy Gibbons’ 1959 Les Paul, to add firepower for guitar players looking for that classic old sound but with modern traces. The Pearly Gates are easily one of the best available humbuckers for blues.

Features

  • Provides more midrange
  • Alnico 2 bar magnets
  • Great for rhythm and leads
  • Hand-built in California
  • Specifically for the neck position

Review

This pickup was designed as a PAF vintage output passive neck humbucker. It comes with unique tonal variations that provide more midrange than typical humbuckers from a Les Paul guitar from that era, as well as a warm and spongy low end. It is wound in Seymour’s original Leesona winding machine from the early Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for that undeniable vintage flavor!

Seymour discovered that Billy Gibbons’ bridge pickup had a bit more output than most PAF (Patent Applied For), which gave it an extra drive. Even though the mids are more accentuated, this neck pickup still provides that open air and treble attack of an Alnico 2 bar magnet.

Pearly Gates pickups are hand-built in Santa Barbara, California and you’ll find them in both standard humbucker and trembucker spacing. They have a long history that is still being written today. These pickups are a fantastic choice for blues, traditional rock, and even some overdriven jazz in the vein of Kurt Rosenwinkel or John Scofield.

6. Gibson ’57 Classic Plus

OUR PICK
Gibson Accessories '57 Classic Plus Pickup

The '57 Classic Plus allows users to overdrive tube preamps without becoming overly strident.

Check Price On Sweetwater Check Price On Guitar Center

Since their introduction in the 1950s, the 57′ Classic has been the ultimate humbucker PAF known for its smooth and velvety tone. The 57′ Classic Plus is a slightly overwound version of the ’57 Classic. This increases the output, making it ideal to use in the bridge position.

Features

  • Alnico II magnet
  • A slightly overwound 57′ Classic
  • Perfect for bridge position
  • Rich and full sound
  • Great clean and overdriven tone

Review

When it comes to humbuckers, few pickups have the pedigree, history, and tradition of the Gibson ’57 Classic. It is the original pickup found in many of the best-known jazz and blues guitars. The Gibson ’57 Classic Plus is a slightly overwound version that provides a bit more bite for the bridge position without losing the smoothness that made the original so popular among blues and jazz players.

The ’57 Classic Plus is the perfect companion for the ’57 Classic, and provides a beautiful PAF style fat tone with a vintage flavor for playing blues, jazz, and rock in the vein of the legendary Steve Howe of Yes.

Guitarists will have the perfect combination of creamy and smooth sound with some bite from the bridge position with this pickup. True to its name, the ’57 Classic Plus is a true classic that will shine in overdrive or clean on most Gibson type guitars.

7. Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro

Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Pickups
$169.00

The Alnico 2 Pro Humbucker neck uses the soft treble attack and low string pull of an alnico 2 bar magnet.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On Sweetwater
03/05/2021 09:42 pm GMT

A fantastic pickup from a legendary maker, the Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro does many things well, and is great for blues, jazz, blues rock and rock. So much so that Slash uses a variation of this pickup, the APH-2 Slash. This model is quickly becoming a modern classic, and for good reason.

Features

  • Softer mids
  • Weaker magnets for natural low end
  • Great with dynamics
  • Allows easy splitting
  • Slightly darker clean sound

Review

This beloved model is constructed with a weaker Alnico II bar pickup. The weaker magnet allows for a longer sustain and for the player’s dynamic playing to come through more purely. It also means that more complex chords (typically used in jazz and sometimes in blues) will not sound muddy when overdriven. In the neck position, this pickup produces a darker clean sound with a vintage touch and is also fantastic for buttery distortion.

This pickup is characterized by a warm sound and has a four-conductor cable to facilitate a variety of switching configurations. You can get a dark but present jazz tone, a sweet blues tone, and a round classic rock tone.

The Alnico II Pro works well with both brighter toned instruments and hollow and semi-hollow body guitars. Overall this is a very versatile option that will sound great in jazz, blues, and classic rock!

Wrapping Up

The sound of humbuckers has historically been associated with Gibson guitars, while the single coil tone originates from Fender.

Today, there are a plethora of options for both pickups and more. You can buy humbuckers and fit them in your Telecaster or in the bridge position of your Strat. There are even Strats with two humbuckers. It all depends on your personal tonal needs.

Conversely, you can also fit Gibson style guitars with humbuckers that sound like single coils, or even single coils. The possibilities are endless, and some guitarists and luthiers have shown us just how creative they can get with pickups and their configurations.

Despite the fact that certain pickups are better for certain types of music or guitar model, keep in mind that rock, jazz, funk, pop, and many other styles are deeply rooted in blues music. So no matter what style you play, you can’t escape the influence that blues has had on virtually every modern genre.

With so many gear choices for your guitar, it is easy to get lost in all of this. It’s worth it to remember that what’s important is making music, regardless of the style, how you play, what guitar you play, and all the other limitless variables.

(If you’re after the sound of a fully cranked amp in a pedal, check out our roundup of the 10 best amp-in-a-box pedals with awesome tone!)