Best Pickups for Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, etc.?

walter01

Strat-Talker
Jan 28, 2022
201
United Kingdom
I have a Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics and Strats and Teles with single coil, vintage pick ups, but no guitar for hard-core metal. I’ve never had interest in Schecter, Jackson, or Ibanez guitars, and I want to get a new SG Standard with 490T and 490R pickups. Are those fine pickups for that sort of thing, or what pickups would you recommend?
Yep. Great pickups for any SG. I got a neck one in mine. 490 R I think. Sweet sound! I put a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge just for a different look really. . (Red Rockin’ DNKY boots from Bloomingdale’s L.A!)
 

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velvet_man

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 7, 2016
1,251
Vancouver
I have a Gibson 490R/498T set in my Tele, and it covers all the bases from blues rock to metal. By metal, I mostly play stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, or Pantera.
 

DaMasta

Strat-Talker
Feb 9, 2019
117
California, USA
I have a Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics and Strats and Teles with single coil, vintage pick ups, but no guitar for hard-core metal. I’ve never had interest in Schecter, Jackson, or Ibanez guitars, and I want to get a new SG Standard with 490T and 490R pickups. Are those fine pickups for that sort of thing, or what pickups would you recommend?
Get yourself a set of Seymour Duncan Invaders. You'll scare the neighbors and run all the cats in the neighborhood off pretty quickly with those. :cool:
 

joebtone

Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Jan 26, 2022
2,103
Northwest US
I have a Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics and Strats and Teles with single coil, vintage pick ups, but no guitar for hard-core metal. I’ve never had interest in Schecter, Jackson, or Ibanez guitars, and I want to get a new SG Standard with 490T and 490R pickups. Are those fine pickups for that sort of thing, or what pickups would you recommend?
My son plays bass in a black metal band and the guitarist uses SD Black Winters.
I tried them in a humbucker strat and found them very dark indeed.
I thought they had a decent Jazz sound cleaned up….not very stratty…more tight compressed….meh gave em to my sons guitarist and he put them in another custom V guitar…

His sound is really more about his own tone and attack going into a modeler. He uses one of these.

 

Pinfold

New Member!
Oct 29, 2017
8
Washington
I have a Gibson Les Paul with 57 Classics and Strats and Teles with single coil, vintage pick ups, but no guitar for hard-core metal. I’ve never had interest in Schecter, Jackson, or Ibanez guitars, and I want to get a new SG Standard with 490T and 490R pickups. Are those fine pickups for that sort of thing, or what pickups would you recommend?
Just got a Ibanez PIA 3761 and am in love with the Dimarzio Utopia pickups for metal.

Check them out
 

billy1187

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 1, 2014
96
Earth
Honestly there are tons of pickups ranging from medium output to super high gain that will work very well, some need a little more help if you are going for more extremes but I came up playing Anthrax and Metallica through Napalm and Carcass with nothing but a JB and EMG 81. Either will do.

I think the safest bet is the good ol' EMG 81. It's about as good at its intended purpose as any pickup has ever been. And it's a little bit insidious too, just when you're thinking it's a tired, boring, "sterile" sound as it's usually described, you put it through a good amp and it reminds you to shove tired and sterile up your ass. I always keep at least one guitar with an 81 in the bridge.

The JB is a little different but it's among a very small number of pickups I would consider must try for anyone playing any kind of rock or metal. Les Pauls, Strat types, I've used and seen it used so many times with good results I can't remember. It's a little rough in isolation but finds its place in a mix very well.

The Seymour Custom is another pickup I agree with well, and the Fishman classics. Super Distortion.

Of course it's far more about the amp and cab and working with your chain, but above are some easy choices that should be workable for anyone who can play. You may find better but if you can't at least get by with these something is wrong.
 
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Phat-O-Caster

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 16, 2008
1,161
Colorado
I have a Tony Iommi SG with his signature pick ups on it that are absolutely the best metal sounding ones in my toolbox & the main reason I fell for this guitar-I don't know if they make 'em anymore & crazy prices for used ones so they must be desirable. If I was starting from scratch I'd agree with EMG suggestions & looking at the Hetfield ones.
 

Ace38

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 8, 2016
1,297
Tulsa, OK.
Not a real big fan of the JB, but for Duncan I'd recommend the Invader, Distortion or the Screamin' Demon (currently one of my favs). As far as Dimarzio goes, you can't go wrong with the classic Super Distortion, the Super 3 or my current favorite, the Pandemonium.
 

Guithartic

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
1,805
Jacksonville, FL
I have a Tony Iommi SG with his signature pick ups on it that are absolutely the best metal sounding ones in my toolbox & the main reason I fell for this guitar-I don't know if they make 'em anymore & crazy prices for used ones so they must be desirable. If I was starting from scratch I'd agree with EMG suggestions & looking at the Hetfield ones.
Does the Tony Iommi SG have P90s? I’m pretty sure it does. Does it seem surprising that P90s can do metal, or would that be expected?
 

Phat-O-Caster

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 16, 2008
1,161
Colorado
The Iommi SG has has his signature humbuckers not P90's (at least the one I have). They are different, from what I understand they have blade magnets under the cover (PAF style) that Tony preferred as the magnet was always under the strings when bending & eliminated the gaps between poles. It's fully potted with epoxy to eliminate feedback at high volume. P90 7.47K vs Iommi 15.2k. I have minimal experience with P90 but I know my SG can nail Black Sabbath tone, death/thrash metal isn't my bag but I would imagine they could be covered with these too.
 

RevDoomBaritone99

Strat-Talk Member
Sep 13, 2019
78
Chicago, IL. USA
I've used an SG for thrash/death quite a bit in the past, and the best results I've gotten pickup-wise for that music in that particular guitar was a set of Duncan Distortions SH-6. They seemed to really hit the nail on the head perfectly in that particular guitar for getting full aggressive tones while not being too nasal or fizzy on the top end. I tried a set of EMG 81/85 in there for a while and it worked in some respects but for me in that SG it just wound up being a bit too one-dimensional. At one point I also swapped out the bridge pickup for a Duncan Custom SH-5 and that also worked really well. Not quite as aggressive as the SH-6 was but very tight and full sounding for fast gallops and palm muting etc. Years back I played an older SG with a Super Distortion in the bridge and that worked really well for some classic speed/thrash metal tones too. But yeah, I haven't found a set that topped the SH-6 Distortions for this particular scenario.
 


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