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The 6 Best Les Paul Pickups Reviews

Best Les Paul PickupsThere are many websites today that inform you about the best Les Paul pickups available in various online stores. The fact that you have plenty of options makes it a bit challenging to find the right one that suits your preference and discriminating taste for music.

It’s difficult to scan through all these websites  that try to inform you about the features, innovation and other specs of the best humbucking pickups  available right now.

Sometimes you end up purchasing a random pickup, hoping it’s the best decision you made, but it’s usually a decision you regret doing.

Doing research may not be a flawless way to find the best pickup set for you, but it’s definitely going to increase your chances of getting the right one.

To help you with that, we offer here a handy list of suitable contenders to choose from, along with some pointers on what to look for in a Les Paul Pickup.


Top 6 Les Paul Pickups: Comparison Chart

ImageNameMaterialDimensionWeightView on Amazon
Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucker Bridge PickupSeymour Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucker Bridge Pickupthree large ceramic magnets, hot coils and twelve black oxide cap screws7.09 x 3.54 x 1.57 inches0.952 ouncesCheck Price
Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Humbucker Pickup SetSeymour Duncan Vintage Blues Humbucker Pickup SetMade up of a pair of calibrated SH-1 ’59 Model pickups for the neck and bridge positions6.25 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches3.17 ouncesCheck Price
Seymour Duncan SH-1 Neck '59Seymour Duncan SH-1 Neck ’59Single-conductor wire4 x 1 x 2 inches3.2 ouncesCheck Price
Gibson '57 Classic Plus Humbucker PickupGibson ’57 Classic Plus Humbucker PickupSpecial Alnico II magnet
Vintage enamel-coated wire
Nickel-plated pole pieces
1 x 1 x 1 inches8.8 ouncesCheck Price
Seymour Duncan SH-PG1Seymour Duncan SH-PG1N/A7.09 x 3.54 x 1.57 inches3.17 ouncesCheck Price
Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1bSeymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1bThe two thin blades with powerful coil windings7.09 x 3.54 x 1.57 inches4 ouncesCheck Price

Best Picks of Les Paul Pickups

#1: Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucker Bridge Pickup

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There are many reasons why the Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucker Bridge Pickup is listed in multiple Les Paul pickups reviews today. For starters, this may be a favorite of many guitarists because it sounds as powerful as it looks.

The wide magnetic field it contains will pump power into your amp with unique brightness that you rarely can find in other brands. An electrifying force of energy is in this pickup because of its material components, which include three large ceramic magnets and hot coils.

With its hum-canceling features and a neck position that just fits right into your neck, you can make sure that comfort will be a priority. However, you may have to go clarify from this pickup’s seller if there’s a white cover included since some sellers usually don’t include one.

Another great feature of the pickup is that you can fit them perfectly well in your epiphone. It’s not recommended, though, since this pickup is well under the price range of expensive guitars, so you might be risking a lot by storing it like that.

If you’re looking for a pickup that can be installed in an “F-spaced bridge” guitar, then this is the pickup to consider. You could find yourself looking for a different set of mounting rings since sellers don’t usually pack them with this pickup.

What I Like
  • Heavy, clean and sweet sound to the ear
  • High output
  • Reviewer says it’s got a “heavy down tuned metal”
  • It has a cool aesthetic design
  • It is considered by a customer to be the best pickup for the price
  • It has a strong punch on full humbucker mode
  • Robust tones when split
What I Didn’t Like
  • The pickup doesn’t include mounting rings
  • You don’t get this with cover included
  • It’s not a direct mount

#2: Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Humbucker Pickup Set

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The most remarkable thing about the Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Humbucker Pickup Set seems to be the fact that it’s designed to be a pair of calibrated SH-1 ’59 Model pickups, giving you an old-school tonal character in a compressed sound.

Such feature also means you can take the guesswork out of matching retrofit sets of your pickups.

If it’s style you’re looking for, then the vintage style coils of this model could be the right one for your taste. The airy quality this pickup has gives you an advantage, too, of  getting louder and amplified sound, which was resonant in the early 50s.

You can also trust this pickup to have tons of old-school tonal effects and character, making sure that you can relive that old, classic rock star appeal that any artist wants to explore.

The materials used in this pickup include a set of Alnico 5 bar magnets and a vacuum wax potting.

These are added to compensate for the lighter guitar strings that you may be using and to also amplify the volume of the sound, giving you an even impactful sound quality.

The variety of traditional vintage treatments added in this pickup, such as the 42AWG plain enamel mag wire, will give you the kind of music range that not many can compare. This is the ideal go-to pickup if you want to experiment with different sounds and genres.

What I Like
  • It’s got a powerful volume fit for playing old-school 50s rock and roll beats
  • It comes with traditional vintage treatments for style variety
  • This comes vintage style coils for added aesthetics
What I Didn’t Like
  • This cannot be coil-tapped
  • May not fit some Les Paul custom models

#3: Seymour Duncan SH-1 Neck ’59

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The Seymour Duncan SH-1 Neck ’59 is made of a classic humbucker for maximum comfort at neck position. With its standard spacing, vintage-style sound and design, you are getting something that’s just beyond features and practicality.

The single-conductor wire is an added advantage because it can give you a vintage-correct sound that many people would like to get from their humbuckers.

If it’s warm and crystalline clean tones that you want, then you’re in for a treat as this one is made with that in mind.

It’s safe to say that this pickup is one of the best Les Paul Pickups for the money you can choose today, especially because this is also vacuum wax potted, giving you that squeal-free performance many musicians like.

The appointments you can get from this pickup include a long legged bottom plate, plain enamel wire, and a vintage single conductor cable with no logo shown. Not many musicians like seeing the brand logo, and if you’re one of them, then this is yours.

I would also like to emphasize that this pick up has a smooth sustain. Compared to the previous SH-55 Seth Lover, what you will get with this are a set of more scooped mids, honing your playing skills even better.

What I Like
  • This gives of warm, crystalline clean tones.
  • It’s got a robust plain enamel wire with a bottom plate that is long legged
  • No logo to avoid annoying branding
  • It comes with a vintage single conductor cable for portability
What I Didn’t Like
  • Not as ideal to play for heavy metal as an EMG pickup
  • It may be too compressed and too bassy sounding for some taste

#4: Gibson ’57 Classic Plus Humbucker Pickup

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You may appreciate the Gibson ’57 Classic Plus Humbucker Pickup mainly for its robust quality material, which includes a Special Alnico II magnet, a vintage enamel-coated wire and nickel-plated pole pieces.

As a result, you may be able to get the old-school late-50s humbucker sound that you’re wishing to relive.

The extra turns of wire added in this model gives it a treatment that elevates it to a slighter, higher output without losing its rich vintage tone customers love it for.

This is also the pickup to get when you’re looking for something that helps overdrive tube preamps to smoothen the saturation levels without overpowering it.

Style is another area of focus of this pickup, and if you appreciate a stylish, genuine set of gold-plated covers or the open coils that are similar to the ’57 Classic Plus, then knock yourself out with this model.

A great added bonus with this humbucker pickup is that it comes already with extra windings, hotter signal and an even hotter output than the previous release.

What this does is that it allows to even play killer guitar tubes that gets you to relieve the late 50s era of rock and roll music with even more accuracy.

What I Like
  • This has superior humbucker material
  • This gets you to relive the late 50s rock and roll music with much precision
  • Full-time professional musicians vouch for this
What I Didn’t Like
  • Some customer claims it has unevenly wound coils
  • This can be too expensive for others’ taste
  • It can be a bit complicated to use than simpler models
  • This might not be compatible with some guitars
  • It needs improvement to make its sound smoother

#5: Seymour Duncan SH-PG1

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Vintage lovers have a lot to appreciate from this Seymour Duncan SH-PG1 as its designed to mimic vintage rock and roll roots.

Added to that is the fact that this has a super hot output and a raw edge sustain, which is a truly great combo when you want maximum performance quality in your pickups.

If you’re a fan of the rebellious, rock and roll vibe from the late 50s, then this Les Paul Standard – compatible pickup will be your right pick. The Texas blue rock at the time is very vivid when you play this pickup no matter your skill level.

The added patent here makes it an authentic pick, too. Such patent allows your pickup to have harmonics that’s simply described to be a truly gratifying experience, making the harmony jump out smoothly out of the guitar.

The decent sound you get from this pickup is worth the price, but reviews suggest that it needs more drive, especially because it’s a single coil already.

You also get extra convenience by the fact that once you’ve installed them, adjustments are fairly easy to do.

Response from satisfied customers for this pickup are also encouraging. Some would even go so far as to say that you can feel that your Les Paul has an added $1,000 worth of sound just by installing the pickup.

What I Like
  • It comes with a staggeringly impressive, raw edge sound
  • You will remember the 50s rock and roll scene with this
  • This adds an extra value to any Les Paul guitar
  • Beautiful tone
What I Didn’t Like
  • The sound needs more drive
  • It can be beyond the price bracket of some
  • This may be a bit inferior to the SD 59 in terms of sound quality

#6: Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1b

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You may get more than what you are expecting from this Seymour Duncan 11205-02 SHR-1b. Some of its stunning features include the two thing blades with powerful coil windings that give you the advantage of an incredible sustain, as well as a solid fat.

If what you’re up to is to get a pickup that lets you a variety of heavy rock music, you’re up for a good deal with this because it’s made just for such varying rock themes.

You can appreciate, too, that this pickup can respond intuitively to the subtlest finger movement.

The variety of colors for this pickup are an added bonus. Available in either black or white, and with four conductor cables, with a solid bridge position, you are packed with valuable features with this purchase.

You must remember that this is considered as a humbucker, and that’s the whole point of it. This means that it can fit a humbucker but also fit in a single coil slot. As a result: the pickup sound you get is as great as nothing you’ve probably heard elsewhere.

Another great thing about this pickup, too, is that you are still able to use this pickup with two other standard pickups, and it still works well, even if it’s installed like that.

This means you get an added value because your previous pickups would still be useful.

What I Like
  • It allows for a beautiful, rich heavier rock and roll music
  • More value for money because it can be used alongside other pickup brands
  • It’s convenient because it can fit into a single coil slot
  • It comes with a variety of colors
What I Didn’t Like
  • It’s not as fat as other humbuckers
  • Not as versatile as other users expect

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Les Paul Pickups

The best pickups for Les Paul guitars come in a variety or prices, quality and features, and so you must consider the following bullet points before picking the right one for you:

Coils – Les Paul pickups come in either single coil or humbuckers (double coil).

Deciding for humbuckers means you want more sustain and stronger output, with less noise. If what you want is something brighter and crisper, then go for single-    coils.

Sound Quality – It also helps to know whether what you want from your sound is a dark or a clean quality. Single-coils work better with clean sounds, while distorted sounds may be more effective using the humbucker types.

Circuitry – There are two ways that your pickups generate voltage. The first method would be via passive, with the use of magnets. The second one is through active method.

Active pickups can give a greater tonal clarity and more tonal consistency at different volumes. If you want to get better reach, then you can pick an active pickup because they reach better than cables.

There is also a stronger amp overdrive for an active pickup, which are ideal for bass players that want a cleaner signal and a wider frequency range.

On the other hand, you may experience some negative issues with a passive pickup. For one, these passive pickups require stronger magnets for sufficient voltage, and can result to what is termed as a “string pull”.

This negatively pulls down both the tone and sustain of your guitar.

Truly, you can see from the comparison alone that it’s far better to go for active pickups when you want better value for your money.

Output – As a rule of thumb, just remember: higher outputs result to drive your amp to wild distortions. Lower outputs are for cleaner sound.

Why Replace Your Pickups?

repairing a guitarYou need to replace your pickups for many reasons. If you want a rock and roll feel and you want to experiment with heavy metal genre, it may make sense to replace your passive pickup for a passive type.

If you’re not planning on doing that and you just want to stick to a cleaner sound, you don’t need to pay extra for an active pickup.

How to Clean a Les Paul Pickups

The first thing to focus on when cleaning your Les Paul pickups would be the issue of rust. If you observe any rust or oxidation from your guitar pickups, it helps to clean it off with the use of a WD-4o or 3-36 with q-tips.

In cleaning, make sure you go to the nooks and crannies of the magnets or in areas that are hard to reach, wipe off or polish.

You might also want to leave your pickup in a case where there are small silica packets or in a dry room, so that you can avoid another oxidation attack that’s quite time-consuming to clean off.


What are the most popular pickups for a Les Paul?

There are tons of pickups for Les Paul guitars, but among the most popular are: the DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup and the Gibson ’57 Classic Plus Pickup.

How high should your Les Paul Pickups be?

Gibson recommends to make it as high as 1.6 mm.

How do I chose Les Paul pickups?

Choose the type according to purpose. Pick an active pickup when you want a distorted sound, while go for a passive when you want a sustained but clean sound.

Final Verdict

There are many compilations of best Les Paul pickups available online, but based on the six brands of pickups I have explored here, but my verdict is that the Seymour Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucker Bridge Pickup is my clear winner.

It is the best in this category because it has hit the right balance in terms of vintage aesthetics and sound functionality. These features are in many ways superior than the competition in the same price range and category.

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