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Back when punk was still in its infancy, there wasn't any right combination of guitar, amp or pickups that you had to have in order to play -- all you needed was a few friends and plenty of attitude. Since then, the genre that was birthed on the back going against the grain has matured and evolved into a versatile style with a wide range of sounds that are very different from one another. From the classic, single-coil tones of The Clash to the humbucker heaviness of The Misfits, if you have a certain style in mind you're going to need the right setup. While you still need plenty of attitude, these various pickups will help you get one step closer in your quest for that perfect punk tone in your head.
Starting off with one of the most popular line of aftermarket pickups in the world, Seymour Duncan's JB humbuckers are used by some of the biggest names in punk rock today. From Green Day to Bad Religion, the JB pickup is a very popular choice known for its high output and ability to easily cut through the mix with a rough edge that works really well for fast paced punk rock. While the JB provides a nice heavy tone, it still retains a good degree of natural quality. Among the JB line, the SH-4 Bridge and SH-1 59 Neck is a popular combination that's perfect for playing both big, rich chords and fat sounding leads.
Palm-muted power chords are a big part of the punk sound and the Duncan Custom is the perfect pickup for the job 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.
As one of the first pickups specifically designed to kick a tube amp into total overdrive, the Super Distortion is the perfect pickup for dirty, distorted punk tones. This classic humbucker features a great blend of power and tone, with thick, boosted mids, big lows and fat highs that provide plenty of punch and character to both single notes and chords, making it highly versatile humbucker. If you're looking for a humbucker that can easily fill the room and kick your amp into high-gear, the DiMarzio is a classic choice that will deliver with plenty of grit and attitude.
You don't have to stick with humbuckers in order to have a high-octane punk rock sound. If you're a fan of early classic punk, Fender's Custom Shop Fat ’50s Strat pickups deliver the signature single-coil 1950s Strat sound but hot-rodded for an enhanced bass response and an extra shot of attitude. While their tone might not be as thick as what you'll get with humbuckers, these pickups offer great articulation and a classic sound that goes great distorted or clean.
What's your ideal punk rock pickup?