If you’re looking the best baritone guitar pickups for your instrument, you’ve come to the right post!
Here are my recommendations in no particular order!
1. DiMarzio Titan
Within DiMarzio’s arsenal, I’d single out the Titan set. You can find this one on some of Jake Bowen’s instruments, the guitarist from Periphery.
These humbuckers aren’t high-output pickups. Additionally, they’re pretty balanced. The bridge pickup has a slight boost of mids. But the neck one is almost flat.
This makes them a great choice for baritone guitars. You won’t have those muddy and boomy bottom-ends with them. And their moderate output gives some room for dynamic response.
2. Seymour Duncan Nazgûl and Sentient
As far as Seymour Duncan pickups go, Nazgûl and Sentient set is worth checking out. Although passive, they have a pretty hot output.
But despite that, they feel controlled. You won’t get any weird sounds with lower tunings. Even if you put on a high-gain setting on your amp, they’ll sound tight.
Bear in mind that the bridge pickup Nazgûl has a ceramic magnet. This adds a lot of crispy high-ends and high-mids. Meanwhile, neck pickup Sentient comes with an Alnico 5 magnet and has a slightly vintage-ish twist. These two make quite a versatile combo.
3. Seymour Duncan Black Winter
Another Seymour Duncan set that I like for baritones is Black Winter. These are also passive pickups. However, their output is incredibly strong. They’re designed especially for metal music.
These are, once again, humbuckers with ceramic magnets. However, they’re also designed in such a way to deal well with lower frequencies. This means that you can crank your amp and chug all day long.
4. Bare Knuckle Juggernaut
Bare Knuckle is one of the best pickup brands on the market. It’s especially popular among modern metal players who use lower tunings. Their Juggernaut pickups are the signature set of Periphery’s Misha Mansoor.
What’s exciting about the bridge humbucker is the combination of Alnico and ceramic magnets. Meanwhile, the neck is completely Alnico. They provide you with a lot of mids, while the high-ends are slightly lower. Nonetheless, they bring a very rich tone, especially with lower tunings. Combined with a tube amp, you’ll have a lot of dynamic response.
5. Bare Knuckle Black Dog
Another great set by Bare Knuckle is Black Dog. They’re a bit different compared to Juggernauts. The bottom-ends are not as strong. Meanwhile, you get that throaty twist with pronounced mids and high-ends.
These come with Alnico 5 magnets. Overall, they resemble classic P.A.F.-style humbuckers. This gives them a lot of versatility. In particular, I love how they work with crunchy overdriven settings. But they also handle high-gain settings well.
6. Chapman Sonorous Zero
Now, Chapman Sonorous Zero humbuckers aren’t sold separately. You can only find them used online, removed from Chapman ML1 guitars. But if you manage to get your hands on them, they’re worth it. Additionally, they shouldn’t be that expensive.
Chapman ML1 is a baritone guitar. So these pickups are designed especially for those low tunings, like B standard. They’re voiced in such a way to deal with lower frequencies. You won’t have that muddiness of conventional humbuckers. In fact, you can even go one whole octave below and sound great with them.
7. Fender Texas Special
This may be a controversial addition to the list. You don’t typically associate single-coils with baritone guitars. But Fender’s Texas Specials are really great in this role.
If you’re aiming for something bluesy, crispy, or surf-rock-oriented, they’re perfect. They’re incredibly punchy yet they don’t sound too piercing. And if you hit a low note, it just sounds perfect. The bottom-ends are super tight and non-invasive. Meanwhile, the high-ends complement them perfectly.
If you have a long-scale Strat or a Tele, these will work great. And if you have a vintage Fender amp, you’ll get that perfect old-school tone. Sure, they’re not traditionally baritone guitar pickups, but they can handle lower tunings pretty well.
8. Railhammer Chisel
Honestly, there aren’t any pickups like Railhammer’s Chisel humbuckers on the market. It takes no more than a glance to notice that they’re unique. The part covering the bottom three strings uses rails. Meanwhile, the top three strings are covered using polepieces.
They mostly focus on higher mids. This gives them a very aggressive twist and a pretty strong attack for humbuckers. In my experience, they work incredibly well for heavy riffs. You can tune low and the tone will still retain its crispiness.
The neck pickup has its use for lead parts. But you can even do those huge single-note high-gain riffs on it. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with them.
9. EMG 81 and 85 Set
By default, EMG 81 and 85 aren’t for baritone guitars. However, they’ve always worked well with lower tunings. After all, they’ve become kind of a standard in metal music over the past couple of decades. They’re your go-to pickups for almost all metal subgenres.
With your distortion on, you’ll get a somewhat compressed tone. But they’re also great for other settings. If you play through a tube-driven amp, they’ll immediately drive it over the edge. But by controlling the volume knob, you’ll also get really clean tones. And the sound is incredibly clear on solid-state amps.
10. Fishman Fluence Modern
Fishman is a brand that raised the bar for everyone in the world of guitar. Although smaller than some major brands, they’re seriously taking over the guitar pickup market. Their Fluence Modern humbuckers are a great example of that.
We’re looking at a set of active pickups. The bridge pickup features a ceramic magnet. Meanwhile, the neck one has an Alnico magnet. The combination brings an incredible versatility of tones.
If that wasn’t enough, they’re both capable of two different voicings. This adds more tone-shaping combinations. Needless to say, they’re super versatile and are great for an abundance of styles.
They might take some getting used to. However, in my honest opinion, this is the future of guitars. And despite being active humbuckers, you can get some serious dynamic response if you’re using all available controls.
Baritone Guitar Pickups: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through some good pickup options for your baritone guitar!
And if you want to read more about this unique instrument, check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!
Thanks for this article. I came across a Third Eye, Lust for Life bari a couple years ago. I play Blues / Funk / Motown stuff but wanted something new that lent itself toward surf or spaghetti western soundtrack tones. The factory pickups on the guitar are just too hot to get that feel and I have been hesitant to start experimenting with alternatives. It’sin pretty spotless original condition. That and my son loves it just as is. Anyway, any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated.
Honestly, I haven’t gotten the chance to play the Third Eye Lust for Life baritone so I’m not 100% sure what would work the best. However, I’d first try and check if the pickups aren’t too close to the strings. If you still haven’t checked that, it could make a world of difference (in my opinion). The other option is to do some modifications, maybe add a pickup cover or modify it to add the coil-tap/coil-split option.
As for swapping the pickups, things are a bit tricky with baritone humbuckers. They’re usually made to be pretty hot. Maybe something in the style of regular PAF-style humbuckers or even P90s. It may feel like a weird idea, but P90s would help you get that old-school surf-like tone. Putting in single-coil pickups, like any Telecaster set, would also work great, but it could be a bit tricky to put them in a humbucker slot.
If it were up to me, I’d get a Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita as an additional guitar and leave the Third Eye Lust for Life for some heavier stuff.