5 Neck Humbuckers Compared

Posted on by Kat King

These new demos compare five versatile neck pickup options in rock, blues, metal and clean demonstrations. The Marshall is used for clean tones, Cornford for blues, Orange for rock and Peavey 5150 for metal.

The Jazz Model neck humbucker uses an alnico 5 bar magnet and a special coil wind for an articulate, glassy treble response that balances very well with its full, but tight low end.


The Pearly Gates bridge captures all the mojo of the original bridge pickup from Billy Gibbons 1959 Les Paul. Seymour discovered the pickup had slightly more output than most PAFs, which helped to give it the extra drive that make this pickup so special. 

The ‘59 Model neck pickup is a warm, versatile humbucker with a big PAF sound that is great for playing both big, rich chords and fat sounding leads.

The Alnico II Pro Humbucker uses the soft treble attack and low string pull of an alnico 2 bar magnet, combined with a special vintage output coil wind to create a warm, sweet tone that is smooth and full, with tons of natural sustain.

The Sentient neck pickups is voiced to capture a blend of vintage PAF and modern tones with enough output to deliver harmonically rich distorted lead tones but subtle enough to give you deep, detailed cleans. 

 

What’s your go to neck pickup?

Written on August 6, 2015, by Kat King

Other posts by

This entry was posted in: and . Bookmark the Permalink

Comments (59)

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Wow, they really all sound pretty much exactly the same! Great accomplishment.

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      Those more used to noise and volume over nuance will not appreciate the difference…

      • Kat King • 3 years ago

        Nor will the audience when you are playing in a band context.

        • Kat King • 3 years ago

          See my first
          post; depends on what you’re playing and who’s the audience…

          • Kat King • 3 years ago

            How very true, if you are playing loud distortion saturated passages you won;t hear any difference -but music with dynamic variation is going to reveal a lot of differences.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Wow, they really all sound pretty much exactly the same! Great accomplishment.

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      Those more used to noise and volume over nuance will not appreciate the difference…

      • Kat King • 3 years ago

        Nor will the audience when you are playing in a band context.

        • Kat King • 3 years ago

          See my first
          post; depends on what you’re playing and who’s the audience…

          • Kat King • 3 years ago

            How very true, if you are playing loud distortion saturated passages you won;t hear any difference -but music with dynamic variation is going to reveal a lot of differences.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Now I realize that I don’t have to switch my SH-2n for a Pearly Geates, since they sound like the same pickup. YouTube player always decreases the audio quality of the videos, maybe that’s why they sound so much alike…

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      In this video they do actually sound similar but no way the same,if you want to find the diff.remove your speakers and use high end headphones to see a bit more!

      My humble opinion is that your pickup is more balanced and steady still a bit more beefy sounding the pearly gates are brighter and they can be that rude texas tone on humbucking mode or in single coil. Please note that a pearly gates with slightly closed tone on your guitar will sound almost identical with your pickup but still you wont be able to get that clear rude top definition that pearly gates can give.

      Pearly gates is the holy grail of pickups when used in very good guitars,a good guitar needs a pickup like pearly gates but.. If youre in to blues,rock,harderock,clean sounds and funkjazz for metal the pearly gates bridge is horrible id use a pearly gates neck with a george lynch screaming demon to get more wild and metal sounds instead of texasBluz.

      • Kat King • 3 years ago

        I’ve listened it with a Sennheiser HD-280. I’ve seem more of a difference in a video where the player compared DiMarzio’s Super Distortion with Seymours’ JB, both at bridge. That is what I call a hell of a difference. Both are great pickups, but I ended up buying the JB for my guitar.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Now I realize that I don’t have to switch my SH-2n for a Pearly Geates, since they sound like the same pickup. YouTube player always decreases the audio quality of the videos, maybe that’s why they sound so much alike…

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      In this video they do actually sound similar but no way the same,if you want to find the diff.remove your speakers and use high end headphones to see a bit more!

      My humble opinion is that your pickup is more balanced and steady still a bit more beefy sounding the pearly gates are brighter and they can be that rude texas tone on humbucking mode or in single coil. Please note that a pearly gates with slightly closed tone on your guitar will sound almost identical with your pickup but still you wont be able to get that clear rude top definition that pearly gates can give.

      Pearly gates is the holy grail of pickups when used in very good guitars,a good guitar needs a pickup like pearly gates but.. If youre in to blues,rock,harderock,clean sounds and funkjazz for metal the pearly gates bridge is horrible id use a pearly gates neck with a george lynch screaming demon to get more wild and metal sounds instead of texasBluz.

      • Kat King • 3 years ago

        I’ve listened it with a Sennheiser HD-280. I’ve seem more of a difference in a video where the player compared DiMarzio’s Super Distortion with Seymours’ JB, both at bridge. That is what I call a hell of a difference. Both are great pickups, but I ended up buying the JB for my guitar.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    They don’t sound the same in the demo to me. I know sound details get lost in you tube but I can hear some differences specially for the Sentient and Jazz vs the rest, I thing the Jaz sounded kind of thin for the metal solos but cleans are the best, the sentient sounded like overall balanced and I liked the metal lead, the rest did sound closer to each other imho.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    They don’t sound the same in the demo to me. I know sound details get lost in you tube but I can hear some differences specially for the Sentient and Jazz vs the rest, I thing the Jaz sounded kind of thin for the metal solos but cleans are the best, the sentient sounded like overall balanced and I liked the metal lead, the rest did sound closer to each other imho.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    They do all sound similar but I’d need to hear them with better speakers or as was said, nice headphones. I do have all of these pickups albeit in different guitars and in person they do have more variety than this video demonstrates.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    They do all sound similar but I’d need to hear them with better speakers or as was said, nice headphones. I do have all of these pickups albeit in different guitars and in person they do have more variety than this video demonstrates.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Love the way you’ve done these demos! This gives me a much better idea what these pickups sound like played through variety of amps but with the same player/guitar. Superb!

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Love the way you’ve done these demos! This gives me a much better idea what these pickups sound like played through variety of amps but with the same player/guitar. Superb!

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    My neck pick-up is a Pearly Gates. I’ve leaned toward the HSH format, and play a maple necked Godin Freeway Classic with the Pearly Gates at the neck; a 59 Trembucker at the bridge, and a Lace Holy Grail in the middle.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I would rather have heard these pickups in a 22-fret guitar. I’ll bet there are quite a few more of those, and there sure is a difference in tone when the neck pickup is closer to the bridge pickup as in a 24-fret guitar.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    My neck pick-up is a Pearly Gates. I’ve leaned toward the HSH format, and play a maple necked Godin Freeway Classic with the Pearly Gates at the neck; a 59 Trembucker at the bridge, and a Lace Holy Grail in the middle.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I would rather have heard these pickups in a 22-fret guitar. I’ll bet there are quite a few more of those, and there sure is a difference in tone when the neck pickup is closer to the bridge pickup as in a 24-fret guitar.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I have a Pearly gates in the nek and a 59 in the bridge on my Paul.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I have a Pearly gates in the nek and a 59 in the bridge on my Paul.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Great comparison! But now I need to know which bridge pickup works well with these neck pickups. Your next video??

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Great comparison! But now I need to know which bridge pickup works well with these neck pickups. Your next video??

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    The AlnicoII had the most balanced tone to my ear – richer also

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    The AlnicoII had the most balanced tone to my ear – richer also

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Cant deny that all of these pick-ups sound great in their own right and in a studio/recording setting it probably would make an audible difference but used on a guitar in a “live” setting…probably not so much. Despite looking now and again for a bridge and/or neck pick-up to potentially replace the stock pups on my main guitar (a Dean 1980 Cadillac Reissue with USA made DMT Nostalgia pick-ups jn both neck and bridge positions)…I really havent discovered one that is heads and tails better, making the change desirable. Also, on my Elite telecaster styled guitar, the Z-Mule pups in both positions sound wonderful in a live or studio setting.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Cant deny that all of these pick-ups sound great in their own right and in a studio/recording setting it probably would make an audible difference but used on a guitar in a “live” setting…probably not so much. Despite looking now and again for a bridge and/or neck pick-up to potentially replace the stock pups on my main guitar (a Dean 1980 Cadillac Reissue with USA made DMT Nostalgia pick-ups jn both neck and bridge positions)…I really havent discovered one that is heads and tails better, making the change desirable. Also, on my Elite telecaster styled guitar, the Z-Mule pups in both positions sound wonderful in a live or studio setting.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    the jazz pickup sounds the best to my ears, love that bite!

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    the jazz pickup sounds the best to my ears, love that bite!

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I really like the SHN1 (have one) but there is something about the Sentient that seems more ‘under control’ somehow. I can’t quite express it. Even worse, I hear something more “stringy” about the Alnico II that I also can’t express well.

    But with distortion they were quite similar. I’ve been told that your tone doesn’t matter to the audience, that it affects you more than them. I think that’s probably so, but I’ve heard people comment on the differences between my three favorite guitars played live in a band context — there is a difference even through the same pedal/amp-sim/direct rig (ppl comment on my P-Rails a lot).

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      We believe the audience definitely does notice and appreciate your tone. Maybe not with a musician’s ears, and maybe not to the degree that they can tell how fresh the batteries are in your Tube Screamer, but they know well enough to tell good from bad.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I really like the SHN1 (have one) but there is something about the Sentient that seems more ‘under control’ somehow. I can’t quite express it. Even worse, I hear something more “stringy” about the Alnico II that I also can’t express well.

    But with distortion they were quite similar. I’ve been told that your tone doesn’t matter to the audience, that it affects you more than them. I think that’s probably so, but I’ve heard people comment on the differences between my three favorite guitars played live in a band context — there is a difference even through the same pedal/amp-sim/direct rig (ppl comment on my P-Rails a lot).

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      We believe the audience definitely does notice and appreciate your tone. Maybe not with a musician’s ears, and maybe not to the degree that they can tell how fresh the batteries are in your Tube Screamer, but they know well enough to tell good from bad.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I think I’m most struck by how cool it is to be alive/playing in an era where a company is this dedicated to picking up on the subtleties and we have this many options to choose from. 30 years ago, this didn’t exist and if I wanted a new sound it was new guitar vs. new effects. Now my biggest challenge is picking a starting point. Nice problem to have, and even cooler to have a demo like this to help. Awesome playing, *awesome* video/article. Thank you!

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      Thank you for the kind & thoughtful words

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    I think I’m most struck by how cool it is to be alive/playing in an era where a company is this dedicated to picking up on the subtleties and we have this many options to choose from. 30 years ago, this didn’t exist and if I wanted a new sound it was new guitar vs. new effects. Now my biggest challenge is picking a starting point. Nice problem to have, and even cooler to have a demo like this to help. Awesome playing, *awesome* video/article. Thank you!

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      Thank you for the kind & thoughtful words

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    i just bought the sentient,i love it, from now to forever my neck pickup in all my 3 guitars. It has the sound that i was looking for. It´s very dynamic, i can play every kind of rock music. And it match perfectly with a wide bridge pickup selection, no matter the brand. The best blend between clasic and modern tone. Thanks for the sentient.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    i just bought the sentient,i love it, from now to forever my neck pickup in all my 3 guitars. It has the sound that i was looking for. It´s very dynamic, i can play every kind of rock music. And it match perfectly with a wide bridge pickup selection, no matter the brand. The best blend between clasic and modern tone. Thanks for the sentient.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Anyone ever tried a JB in the neck position? I’m thinking that it would sound pretty wonky. I’ve often thought about sticking one in my resonator guitar and seeing what kind of holy mess I could unleash.

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      The JB is way too hot for most people in the neck position. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

      • Kat King • 3 years ago

        My 2005 Jackson KV-2 came with JB’s in the neck and bridge. This is one angry guitar. Cuts well with distortion. It is a bit brighter than the SH-2N Jazz.

        JB in the neck works well when you roll off the volume with distortion. It is brighter so rolling off the volume a bit tightens the bottom end with less compression giving you more of an 80’s metal grind or full up for modern metal. For me it’s best for metal (and I can see why Jackson used the JB in the bridge).

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Anyone ever tried a JB in the neck position? I’m thinking that it would sound pretty wonky. I’ve often thought about sticking one in my resonator guitar and seeing what kind of holy mess I could unleash.

    • Kat King • 3 years ago

      The JB is way too hot for most people in the neck position. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    We install SH2N Jazz model in our guitars and find them to be best suited for our brand. This article has supplied some awesome comparisons for other choices. Now we have a benchmark to compare other possibilities. Great demo videos with well balanced variety of tones. Great job SD.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    We install SH2N Jazz model in our guitars and find them to be best suited for our brand. This article has supplied some awesome comparisons for other choices. Now we have a benchmark to compare other possibilities. Great demo videos with well balanced variety of tones. Great job SD.

  • Kat King • 3 years ago

    Clean: Pearly Gates
    Rock: Alnico II Pro
    Metal: Jazz model

Leave a Reply