Most unique sounding pickups

Shadowy_Man

Synchromatic
May 18, 2020
579
Chicago
I was thinking about this the other day - Filtertrons are really unique sounding. They don't sound like Strat or Tele single coils, they don't sound like PAFs or P90s or anything else out there. The construction is very different from any other type of pickup. They're chimey and sweet with a high frequency resonant peak that makes them naturally mellow, but they open up and can get very aggressive with the right amp.

What other pickups are really unique sounding? I'd offer:

Jazzmaster pickups: very wide/flat bobbin - wide range tone, a hint of P90 but much more articulate due to the slug magnets. Very prominent higher amplitude resonant peak gives it a vocal-like sound.

What else?
 

hcsterg

Friend of Fred
Feb 13, 2012
6,567
France
Danelectro / ARTEC Lipstick pickups are for sure unique sounding ones... Moreover they work well with Gretsch HS FT :

hMpgLb-DIY-Guitar-Trio-31-01-2021.jpg


Gold Foil pickups (RI or not : same 50s construction) used on Supro and the like should be considered as unique tone as well :

oJEPIb-picksupro3.jpg


A+!
 

Randy99CL

Country Gent
Feb 17, 2020
2,110
Albuquerque
Leo Fender's MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups in G&L guitars are some of the best there are. Fairly high output, clean and clear with more highs and lows (which doesn't seem possible). May be my favorites but I also really love the D'Armond Dynasonics in my G5129T.
G&L ASAT Special with jumbo MFDs:
3 G&L ASAT Tribute.jpg
G&L Comanche with Z-Coil MFDs:
Comanche 3.jpg
The MFDs were Leo's best (and last) pickup design, after decades of experimenting.
 
Last edited:

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,853
Tucson
Leo Fender's MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups in G&L guitars are some of the best there are. Fairly high output, clean and clear with more highs and lows (which doesn't seem possible). May be my favorites but I also really love the D'Armond Dynasonics in my G5129T.
G&L ASAT Special with jumbo MFDs:
View attachment 183288
G&L Comanche with Z-Coil MFDs:
View attachment 183289
The MFDs were Leo's best (and last) pickup design, after decades of experimenting.
Great choice. I’ve heard some amazing versatility from those pickups. If I wanted a Strat, it would be hard to justify not just buying a Comanche, instead.
P-90s
DeArmond 2000s
Danelectro lipsticks
P-90s are definitely their own breed. It’s one of my favorite pickups, in spite of the fact that I haven’t owned any since 1979.
 

emgee254

Electromatic
Feb 24, 2020
23
California
I was thinking about this the other day - Filtertrons are really unique sounding. They don't sound like Strat or Tele single coils, they don't sound like PAFs or P90s or anything else out there. The construction is very different from any other type of pickup.
Well... Strat SCs don't sound like Tele SCs don't sound like PAFs (humbuckers) don't sound like P90s. All pretty unique -- why else would I have examples of each in so many guitars? LOL!

But, I put a GFS lipstick PU in the neck position of a Squier 51 and the sound of it is one of my favorites.
 

Shadowy_Man

Synchromatic
May 18, 2020
579
Chicago
Well... Strat SCs don't sound like Tele SCs don't sound like PAFs (humbuckers) don't sound like P90s. All pretty unique -- why else would I have examples of each in so many guitars? LOL!

But, I put a GFS lipstick PU in the neck position of a Squier 51 and the sound of it is one of my favorites.

Well that's a good point, every pickup style sounds unique, but some of them are so overused that they can sound generic.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Oct 18, 2015
12,344
Germany
Hilos are special.
The original handwound Gordon-Smith humbuckers with the splitting-function are incredible.
I love the Antiquity PAFs from Seymour Duncan.
Some (not all) Strat-pickups that I tried are ultra-nice (for example the 65 American set from Fender and the Real 62 from Kloppmann).
 

fretbuzzard

Gretschie
Apr 18, 2009
253
Not here.
Well... Strat SCs don't sound like Tele SCs don't sound like PAFs (humbuckers) don't sound like P90s. All pretty unique -- why else would I have examples of each in so many guitars? LOL!
+1 The fact that we can say that filtertrons “don't sound like Strat or Tele single coils, they don't sound like PAFs or P90s” means that all of those types are distinct. There are millions of tele bridge pickups out there, some quite different from one another, but all easily identified as a tele bridge pickup…. So I guess my answer is tele bridge pickup 😂
 

BohemianLikeMe

Synchromatic
Apr 18, 2020
680
Prague, CZ
Fender CuNiFe wide range hbs are pretty unique sounding. Haven’t tried the reissues yet but people think they capture the magic.

Dearmond/Rowe pickups are great. I’m also partial to the Kay pancake ones and Teisco goldfoils which sound totally unlike the US ones.

Meazzi pickups are also crazy sounding but rare.
 

BohemianLikeMe

Synchromatic
Apr 18, 2020
680
Prague, CZ
Piezos . . . a unique and irritating sound. Immediately causes many to think "fake acoustic" like no other.

I remember back in the late 80s - early 90s people recording acousting guitars in studio by plugging a piezo into the main board. :eek:
Life shattering. ;)
Yeah, definitely a unique sound. Not one I like very much (except in rare occasions) but it's certainly one of a kind.

I think the only time I actually heard a piezo acoustic guitar sound I liked was when the late Mark Linkus of Sparklehorse was playing in Chicago once. He took his piezo-equiped acoustic and ran it into a DS-1 and into a Fender Twin. It should have sounded terrible, but somehow it sounded... quite good in a lofi kind of way? It was absolutely bizarre.
 


Top