No matter the tone, there’s a humbucker replacement pickup set that will get you close. There are thousands of them. But a lot of the most popular pickups sell individually, without a matched set. Often, they might not even have a designated bridge or neck counterpart. So if you’ve found the perfect bridge humbucker, how do you find its perfect neck-position complement? How do you know which is the best pickup configuration? How do you mix and match different types of pickups?
We’ll show you!
The Control: Jason Becker Perpetual Burn Humbucker
Let’s use our Perpetual Burn, Jason Becker’s signature bridge humbucker, as an example. It is a hotter pickup designed to push your amp. We’ll pair it with three different neck-position humbuckers, illustrating how each gives your guitar a specific character. While this focuses on the Perpetual Burn, this construction process can be used by anyone looking to find the best pickup combination, humbuckers or otherwise.
Best Humbucker Pickup Configurations
- High-gain Clarity: Perpetual Burn / Jazz
- Vintage Warmth: Perpetual Burn / ’59
- Modern Precision: Perpetual Burn / Sentient
High-gain Clarity: Perpetual Burn / Jazz
So you’re loving the higher output Jason Becker humbucker. But every time you switch the neck pickup, your gain-y tone turns to mush. What you need is a humbucker with a slight bass roll-off and more presence in the top end. You’re the perfect candidate for a Seymour Duncan Jazz Model neck humbucker.
Similar in output to a PAF-style humbucker, the Jazz exudes a voice all its own. By tightening up the low frequencies and retaining vintage-humbucker clarity, the Jazz cuts through high-gain tones with ease. And thanks to how well its liquid-sounding distorted tones still translate picking nuance, it’s easy to see why we included it on this list.
Vintage Warmth: Perpetual Burn / 59
For the best of two classic-sounding eras, combine the ’80s-approved Perpetual Burn bridge pickup with a Seymour Duncan 59 model neck. Tonally, the 59 blooms with the clear top end, pillow warmth, and slightly scooped mids characteristic of the best vintage humbuckers. When paired with the Perpetual Burn, it lets you go from clear and warm neck tones to an amp shredding bridge pickup with the flick of your toggle switch.
And while other PAF-style humbuckers go after extreme vintage-detail, the 59 brings the best vintage attributes together with modern design. This includes wax potting and 4-conductor wiring options for vast switching configurations. So if you’re looking for a classic rock sound, the best pickup configuration probably includes a Seymour Duncan 59.
Modern Precision: Perpetual Burn / Sentient
Metal guitarists are particularly die-hard about their pickups. But even in metal, styles change over time. At one point, it was all about high-output, active pickups. And many of these pickups still reign. But, with the advent of modern, progressive metal, players needed something different. They turned to lower-output designs that accentuate very particular frequencies. This gives their tone punishing power while offering a new level of high-gain clarity.
Players like Ola Englund have even created great-sounding metal pickup shootout videos for Seymour Duncan.
The Seymour Duncan Sentient neck humbucker is a perfect example of these future-forward humbuckers. Its voice is tailor-made to deliver low-output clarity and full-throated attack. It also boasts an extremely wide frequency range. So if you’re putting your Perpetual Burn through down-tuned shredding à la Jeff Loomis, we highly recommend you check out the Sentient.
Let’s talk tone!
If you have any other questions about how to find the best humbucker set or the pickup configuration, check out our Knowledge Base here. You can also email us here. And don’t forget to dig deeper into the Seymour Duncan blog! There’s a ton of in-depth info, how-tos, tone demonstrations, and a lot more.