Great Pickups For Punk Rock

Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day's iconic Fernandes Strat is loaded up with a Seymour Duncan JB.
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day’s iconic Fernandes Strat is loaded up with a Seymour Duncan JB.

When it comes to playing punk there are a lot of people who would say that the only important thing is attitude. You don’t often hear about the guitar, its pickups or the amplifier being played through should matter, and to worry about this things is not punk. This may have been the case back in punk’s formative years but with the range of punk styles and sounds how do you help yourself achieve the sound you have in your head? Pickups play a major factor in this, and different models will achieve different results. Seymour Duncan has a number of pickups that are capable of generating punk perfection. I’m a huge fan of humbuckers for my punk rock sounds, so here are a few of my personal favourites.
The JB
JB SH-4The JB is the most sought-after aftermarket pickup in the world, and it goes without saying that it’s reached a number of punk rock guitar players. For example, Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz is a big fan of the JB. With it’s high output and ability to cut through a mix, the JB provides a nasty, rude edge that works really well for fast paced punk rock. Whilst the JB provides a nice heavy tone it still retains a good degree of organic quality.

Some of Green Day’s most iconic guitar riffs are played through a Seymour Duncan JB. For more info on the JB, check out The JB and 59 – A Classic Combination
The Duncan Custom
The Duncan CustomPalm-muted power chords are a big part of the punk sound. Many people are after big, tight low end that hits like a hammer to the chest. The Duncan Custom is the perfect pickup for this sort of sound thanks to it’s tight low end, fast attack and percussive qualities.
Its ceramic magnet and particular coil design provides the perfect amount of compression, and its midrange attack and distinctive highs keep things from getting. The Custom tracks tremolo-picked rhythm parts exceptionally well, and harmony lines played in the higher registers never sound too shrill. If you want tight, raw and organic crunch, the Custom will offer you a beefed up PAF tone that will be the perfect addition to your punk rock guitar attack.

Eric Melvin is a big user of the Duncan Custom. For more on this pickup check out The Duncan Custom – Pumped Up and Pushed to 11
The Full Shred
Full Shred SH-10If you’re looking for an insanely tight modern pickup that will make your punk rock guitar parts cut like a surgeon’s scalpel then don’t look past the Full Shred. The super-tight low end allows the fast tremolo-picked rhythm-work slice through a song, and it helps dish out chunk and grind for your palm-muted power chords.
Rhythm players that like to mix up straight power chords with more expressive or complex chords will love the articulate nature of the Full Shred. It’s the perfect pickup to showcase clever phrasing in amongst the punk rock mayhem. The Full Shred sits nicely in between the Custom and JB tonally, so if you’re looking for elements that both of these pickups offer wrapped up in one pickup then check out the Full Shred.

For more, check out Shredding It Full Shred Bridge Style
The Invader
InvaderWhat if the Duncan Custom just doesn’t hit hard enough for your liking? If you want an even bigger hammer to smash faces in with your music then check out the Invader. This insanely high output humbucker is loaded with three ceramic magnets and giant cap screw pole-pieces. These specs create a pickup that generates a huge wall of sound that will never get thin or shrill.
However the Invader is also capable of tracking fast parts really nicely, as long as the mids are not scooped too much. The Invader won’t really give you any truly clean tones, but that’s not a huge requirement for most punk rockers; its clean tones are more about character and boldness than sparkly clarity. If you’re looking for a brutal pickup that will level buildings with its wall of sound and huge chunky attack then you don’t want to go past the Invader.

For more, check out The Metal Hammer That Is The Synester Gates Invader
The Custom Shop IM1
IM1The Custom Shop IM1 was designed for one of the most iconic instrument reproductions of all time, and even though the atomic punk that inspired this pickup design isn’t a punk rocker it still works brilliantly for the genre.
Its nicely balanced EQ curve and percussive edge work great for punk rock rhythm work. The IM1 cuts through brilliantly for leads without being shrill or overbearing. When I ordered my Custom Shop IM1 I asked for slightly more output and compression and an even tighter low end. The results of these customizations gave me the perfect pickup for my style of punk rock. If you’re looking for a tighter PAF-like pickup for your brand of punk rock and don’t mind spending a little extra coin for a Custom Shop pickup, then the IM1 may be right up your alley. For more, check out My Extra-Customized Custom Shop IM1

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  1. Lol, tell that to 75,000 people who turned up to Milton Keys to see Green Day exclusively.

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