Active Humbuckers Tone Profiles

Learn the tonal differences between a few of our most popular active humbuckers


The Basics of Active Humbuckers

  • Like their passive counterparts, active pickups still utilize magnets and wire-wrapped coils to capture string vibrations and read them as a current.
  • Active pickups employ an active preamp (usually powered by a 9V battery) that, along with the magnets and coils, defines the tonality of the pickups.
  • With the addition of the preamp, active pickups allow for added control over EQ, filtering, feedback, etc.
  • Active pickups are generally less susceptible to electrical interference and hum compared to passive pickups.
  • Active pickups typically provide a more detailed sound, a higher output compared to passives, and a more naturally compressed tone.



Neck/Bridge Magnet Type: Alnico II

Duality active Humbucker with eq graph

Active Humbucker with unique architecture that combines the best of active and passive tonalities–a strong midrange, punchy and articulate lows with a three-dimensional high end. The feel is responsive, providing an organic experience that plays as good as it sounds. Available for 6 and 7-string guitar in passive mount designs.



Neck Magnet Type: Alnico V // Bridge Magnet Type: Ceramic

blackouts active Humbucker with eq graph

Perfect choice for metal players looking for warm chording and singing leads. The treble and bass response goes beyond the range of traditional active pickups, and has been balanced with a slightly scooped midrange for the perfect crunch and feel that allows your guitar tone to shine through. This pickup excels at screaming pinched harmonics and hyper-speed riffage with responsive dynamics across the entire fretboard. Available for 6, 7, and 8-string guitars in passive and active mount designs.


Mick Thomson’s Blackouts®

Neck Magnet Type: Alnico V // Bridge Magnet Type: Ceramic

Mick Thompson's blackouts active Humbucker with eq graph

The bridge pickup has the output of the original Blackouts but with Mick’s custom voicing, which emphasizes percussive palm-muted notes. The neck model is designed for clean tones, but when you crank up the gain you’ll hear more aggressive mids and increased sustain; great for fast solos and melodic interludes. Mick’s Blackouts have a tighter low-end and added upper midrange definition for more cut without being harsh or scratchy. Available for 6 and 7-string guitars in passive and active mount designs.


Jeff Loomis’ Blackouts®

Neck/Bridge Magnet Type: Alnico V

Jeff Loomis' Blackouts active Humbucker with eq graph

Custom-voiced by Jeff Loomis and inspired by high-output passive humbuckers, this pickup set is all about clarity, attack, and body. Jeff’s Blackouts remain clear under heavy distortion and offer a strong attack to maintain detail when playing fast, with enough sustain and dynamics to keep up with Jeff’s advanced legato and picking techniques. Available for 6 and 7-string guitars in passive and active mount designs.


Blackouts® Metal

Bridge Magnet Type: Alnico V

Blackouts metal active Humbucker with eq graph

This pickup is thick and crunchy and will provide a massively saturated distortion tone with tons of string sensitivity. With its infamous brain-melting output level and headroom, this pickup is so hot that we added a feature that gives you access to a second, moderate output level. The Blackouts Metal comes from the factory with a slide-on shunt connecting the two pins. Simply remove the shunt and the pickup will be in moderate output mode. You can also run the two pins to a push/pull or mini-toggle switch so you can switch between the two output levels for a built-in boost switch.


Dave Mustaine LiveWire™

Neck/Bridge Magnet Type: Alnico V

David Mustaine Livewire active Humbucker with eq graph

Active humbuckers that deliver the distinct tonal character of the JB/Jazz combo but with extra ferocity and gain. The smooth upper midrange crunch of the JB and the articulate warmth and clarity of the Jazz neck remain intact while the custom-tuned active preamp delivers the increased output and touch sensitivity only an active pickup can provide.


Dino Cazares’ Retribution™

Neck Magnet Type: Alnico V // Bridge Magnet Type: Ceramic

Dino Cazares' Retribution active Humbucker with eq graph

Dino Cazares’ Signature Retribution Active Humbuckers were designed to provide essential attack, clarity, and increased headroom for extended-range players. They feature a specially tuned preamp with just the right amount of gain, enhanced attack definition, and maximum string clarity. They maintain an organic open sound that isn’t sterile but instead is huge and powerful with a lower noise floor and an increased dynamic response compared to other active pickups.

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