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Best Bass Guitar Pickups You Must Try

best bass guitar pickups

Hello, bass heads. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your current bass pickups, or maybe you’re looking at buying one of the best bass guitars as a little treat?

Either way, you’ve come here to find out about the best bass pickups.

Pickups are an important part of an electric bass guitar and have a large effect on the way they sound. There are tonnes of bass pickup manufacturers around, each with their own, often extensive, range of bass pickups. 

We’ve been hunting through the market to bring you our favorite choices of pickups for bass guitars. 

This article also explains some of the different types of pickups and related terms.

If you want to hear some great bass-based music, check out our post about the best Heavy Bass songs!

I tested 7 products and found the EMG PJ Active Set to be the best bass pickups.

EMG PJ Active Set

This modern pick may surprise some of you. I am a huge fan of vintage pickups for bass guitars, but in this roundup, the EMG PJ Set came out on top. The amount of versatility these pickups provide is enormous. 

EMG pickups have been a staple for bass pickups for years, and these sets are no different. Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate player, as the best bass pickups, these are sure to please. These active pickups deliver the famous EMG sound and feel. The bridge pickup captures the powerful growl of the jazz bass, while the neck pickup provides a punchy response with a hint of P-style warmth.

They excel in most genres of music and playing styles, from soft to hard. Having the combination of P and J pickups opens up a lot of options for bassists. This PJ Bass pickup set has more of a contemporary sound than other pickups on this list, which might not suit everyone. Although they still do vintage tones pretty well. 

If you’re looking for a pair of more vintage-sounding pickups, I’d recommend something like the Fender Custom Shop ‘62 sets. These come in both J and P variations, try using one of each for the broadest tonal range. These pickups also come as a p bass pickup or Jazz bass pickup set

I’ve played bass guitars for over 10 years now. These fantastic instruments are a lot of fun to play. If you’re a bassist you might be looking to refine your signature tone. Finding a unique bass sound is a key part of finding your voice. 

I’ve tried out lots of bass guitars and different bass pickups throughout the years.  Bass pickups can be hard to choose between, I’ve learned this first hand, and didn’t have much information to go on other than experimentation. 

It can take a while to learn the nuances of each style, and find out which sound you prefer. I’d recommend trying out as many styles of bass as you can. Hopefully, this guide explains the types of bass pickup well enough for you to start looking in the right area.

These EMG PJ Active Bass pickups are a great choice for any bass player.

We love their punchy, full-range tone and distortable sound.

The quality of these components is surprisingly excellent considering how affordable they are. 

These will make a great upgrade to any electric bass guitar. All you need to do is take the old ones out, wire the new ones in, and you’re good to go!

There are many styles of bass guitar pickup. We chose an active style as our favorite, although some players may prefer the simplicity of passive pickups

From P to J, single coils to humbuckers, there are a huge amount of bass pickup styles and configurations. Before choosing a pickup, get acquainted with the different types and think about what would work best for your bass setup.

Each style is explained at the bottom of this page to clear up any questions you might have.

Keep reading for our full lineup of the best bass pickups for bass guitars around today!
If you’re interested in acoustic bass guitars, check out our post looking at the best Acoustic Bass Guitars for under $500!

Best bass guitar pickups in our tests

7 bass guitar pickups reviewed in Detail

1. Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage J Bass V Pickups

Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage J Bass V Pickups

Product info

These Jazz Bass pickups are the pinnacle of single-coil Fender designs. This is a fantastic pickup set coming in a dual J pickup configuration. 

Upgrade your bass with the Fender J Pickups Bass. This is a fantastic pickup set coming in a dual J pickup configuration. These pickups are made for players who want that unmistakable round, vintage tone. They are crafted to the highest standards and each one is carefully inspected and tested before it leaves the factory.

They have next to no noise interference, so you can guarantee the cleanest bass tone around. 

The noiseless feature is an advantage for distorted or overdriven bass tones as the extra amplification usually makes interference noise more prominent. Even when distorted to insane levels, the level of hum or noise on these pickups was at a bare minimum. There is still a hint of noise or hum, but this can be canceled with further shielding.

These Jazz Bass pickups use a stacked coil design, it’s similar to a humbucker but instead of using two single coils side-by-side, one is placed on top of the other. This means the polarity is reversed which helps break the noise cycle.

Using a new winding technique, these pickups deliver an open, clear sound with full resonance. These have all the growl and bite that you need from a J-pickup. They sound full and punchy when clean, and sound thick and dirty in high gain settings. Their clear and open sound will work for a broad variety of genres and styles, from jazz and blues to heavy metal.

These deliver additional brightness which really sings with notes higher up the fretboard. Some players may find them too bright, but the top end can easily be rolled off with a tone knob. These have a high level of craftsmanship and are excellent for producing a vintage tone.

They use Alnico 5 magnets to increase dynamic range and articulation. The articulation abilities of these pickups are impressive. They sound great no matter how loud or soft you play them. Whether you are playing soft muted notes, or full power slap bass, these Fender Ultra-Noiseless vintage pickups provide all the tone and response you could ask for.


This bundle includes two pickups, one for the neck and one for the bridge, so you won’t have to hunt around for a matching pair. The bridge pickup is slightly longer than the neck pickup. You can find these pickups in single packs too if you do need them individually. 


All the installation hardware is included too, so you won’t have to search around for a random screw. Detailed installation instructions are included inside the pack, which show you how to upgrade your bass pickups step by step. This Jazz Bass pickup set will be easy to install on any bass guitar that was already fitted with J pickups. These Fender Ultra-Noiseless vintage J pickups work with both active and passive circuitry.

These are fantastic vintage-style J pickups that will give any bass guitar a classy Fender J-Bass tone. If you’re looking for an affordable way to upgrade a bass guitar with a vintage Fender bass sound, these are an ideal choice. They’ll give you a classic Fender sound at an even more classic price!

Pros and Cons

  • Noiseless, clean sound which is great for distorting.
  • Full, bright yet warm vintage Fender tone.
  • Easy to install – detailed instructions.
  • Great for distortion and overdrive. 
  • There is some hum without shielding.

– – –

2. Fender - Original Vintage Design P Bass Pickups

Fender - Original Vintage Design P Bass Pickups

Product info

Next up we have the Fender Vintage P design, these are modern pickups built to replicate the iconic 1962 Precision bass pickups. Not everyone has the money to buy a Fender P bass. But with this P bass pickup set, you can achieve the classic sound without breaking the bank. 

This P bass pickup set is a great choice for bass players looking for a classic P sound. With this pickup set, you’ll be able to create the sound of Fender Precision basses without having to fork out for their massive price tag. Their humbucking, split-coil design creates impressive bass tones with a defined high end. 

Looking for the vintage Fender P-bass sound? This pickup set is perfect for you! With a full, deep tone that’s also articulate and punchy, these pickups are just what you need to get that classic sound. For players who want a pickup that’s versatile and great for all styles of music, these vintage-style pickups will be a perfect choice.

This passive bass guitar pickup set has more of a vintage sound than other P bass pickup sets, with warmer lows and a more prominent mid-range. They certainly provide a faithful fender precision bass tone.

These use an enamel-coated magnet for a delicious vintage tone, increasing their warmth and richness. These also use Alnico 5 pickups to maximize their dynamic response. These pickups are incredibly warm and articulate. They sound just like a vintage P bass, which any good bassist would desire. These pickups respond well across the entire bass guitar range, from the lowest to the highest notes. The sound quality of these pickups is fantastic!

Original Vintage Design P Bass Pickups

They are very faithful to the original sound, and the tone is instantly recognizable and familiar. These just sound so classic they are hard to put down. They work amazing for both the low notes and high notes. With a nice amount of bite and brightness. You will be able to create a huge range of quality bass tones with this versatile pickup set. 

This good P bass pickup model is very clean and doesn’t have any mud which is often found in cheaper P style pickups. The enamel-coated magnet wire has a more thick sound than plain enamel wire models. In full, these are excellent for both active and passive tones.

The level of detail in these P-bass pickups is excellent, they are very true to the original vintage designs. Even the internal wiring uses the same cloth binding as the early models. 

These also come with a 1-year warranty so you can get them replaced for free if you have any issues or defects. 

Overall these pickups are a great choice for players looking for a vintage P-bass sound. When you need to get that authentic Fender P-bass sound, the best way is to go with original Fender parts. 

These sound just like the real thing! Easy to install, with a classic fender sound, what more can you ask for?

These come highly recommended for anyone searching for vintage p bass tones.

For a similar style pickup try the Fender Custom Shop 62 P Bass Pickups. The Fender custom shop 62 set is great for players looking for an even classier sound.

Pros and Cons

  • Iconic Fender P Bass sound with a vintage twist
  • Very clean response, low noise
  • Warm, full low end, with thick mids and punchy attack.

– – –

3. Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound J Pickup Set

Seymour Duncan SJB3 Quarter Pound J Pickup Set

Product info

The Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Jazz Bass set is a brilliant mid-range set of J-pickups. If you’re looking for some affordable but high-quality Jazz style bass pickups, then this Seymour Duncan pickup set is a great choice for you. 

These pickups have a chunky attack with great sustain and a huge attitude. They have a rich, resonant tone that sounds nice and heavy when overdriven or distorted. Whilst they are on the warmer, sub-heavy end of the spectrum, these pickups still have a decent amount of twang and brightness to them. They have an almost vocal articulation, with very present low and high mids. 

This magnetic pickup set responded well to both fast and slow playing. I think overall they lack a little brightness compared to other jazz pickups, but the Seymour Duncan Quarter pound range contains some excellent bass pickups.

These J-style pickups use large diameter poles with a thick winding for an even, full tone with a warm sound. These will fit into most standard J-style basses. The size of these magnets is noticeably larger, which expands the frequency range and produces a full range, punchy sound. It has a proper, in-your-face tone. It retains articulation and punch.

This pack includes pickups for both the neck and bridge position, although they are available as individual pickups too. These are definitely pro range pickups, and outshine many cheaper products.

pickups

These J Style pickups are often regarded as heavy-hitting, metal, and rock pickups. Although it’s just for these styles, they are incredibly versatile and sound at home in many genres, from death metal to worship music and Motown. This jazz bass pickup set makes sweet bass tones for all kinds of players and music. If you’re looking for a great jazz bass tone, you’ll find one here for sure. 

They are comparable to some Fender J series, maybe lacking some of the fullness and brightness in comparison. Although for the price difference these are definitely worth it. If you can afford the Fenders, then I would recommend choosing them over these. But these will definitely be an upgrade for most basses.

Overall if you’re looking for some great quality affordable pickups with decent versatility, the Seymor Duncan Quarter Pound J Sets are fantastic. Seymour Duncan is a renowned bass pickup manufacturer, and this set fully lives up to their reputation!

Pros and Cons

  • Versatile sound
  • Huge magnets, full response
  • Punchy, low-end bite, great sustain.

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4. Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound P-Bass Pickup

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound P-Bass Pickup

Product info

Up next we have the Seymor Duncan Quarter Pound P-Bass pickups. Seymour Duncan’s P set of Precision bass pickups are a brilliant, affordable set of pickups. They sound excellent and have a thick, warm sound to them. With these, you’ll be able to play bass like the best of them!

The P-bass is one of the most popular bass styles in most genres. With these pickups, you can see how. These Seymour Duncan Pickups will fit in any mix. Seymour Duncan’s P-pickups are known for their punchy, fat tone that makes your basslines stronger than ever before. They’re perfect for both live and studio applications, as well as most genres of music. 

Typically these Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound P bass pickups are a split single-coil design, they have nearly no hum thanks to the alignment of the poles.

What makes these Seymour Duncan p pickups special is their oversized Alinco 5 metallic rods serving as their magnetic poles. These are high output but still retain a broad dynamic range. It fits in the mix if you flat pick or fingerpick, and excels both clean and distorted. These simple pickups push up the mid-range and the low end. The mid-range really helps these pickups cut through the mix. 

These Seymour Duncan precision bass pickups can work from death metal to opera! This is the most popular bass pickup on the Seymour Duncan range. If you only want one pickup, this can create more than one sound, it can do almost everything you need. They have a huge, chunky sound when overdriven, which is perfect for rock and punk. This P bass pickup set is capable of producing some seriously heavy tones.

These magnetic pickups have a thick, warm sound, with a clean and tight low-end thanks to their ceramic bar magnet. They have a punchy midrange too, which isn’t always present in some precision bass pickup models. They have a decent dynamic range and solid articulation. This Seymour Duncan quarter-pound P-bass set makes a great choice for heavy playing, but is just as at home in softer situations.

There isn’t much more to say about these precision bass pickups, they just sound great. If you’re looking to upgrade your p bass stock pickups with more output, weight, and cut, these pickups come highly recommended. 

These are available as a Seymour Duncan P-J set including both styles of pickups at a fantastic price. The Seymour Duncan P-J Set is great if you want that extra bit of versatility. You can also find a J style if the precision bass models aren’t to your tastes.

These could be some of the best bass pickups for rock and funk players.

Pros and Cons

  • Heavy, Fat tone.
  • Simple circuit.
  • Great attack and sustain.
  • Distorts very well. 

– – –

5. DiMarzio DP149 Ultra Jazz Bass Pickup Set

DiMarzio DP149 Ultra Jazz Bass Pickup Set

Product info

Looking to find your signature sound? DiMarzio’s Ultra Jazz bass pickup will bring your Jazz bass to the next level with the smooth tone you need for those gigs. 

DiMarzio Ultra Jazz is a range of fantastic j bass pickups for electric bass guitars. This dual single coil pickup configuration takes the traditional Fender Jazz sound and brings it to the 21st century

With bright highs and mids, and a clear, plucky attack, the Ultra Jazz Bass pickup will make an instant upgrade to your jazz bass tone. It’s time to rip those nasty stock pickups out and replace them with these sweet ultra jazz pickups. 

These split coil pickups are great for clean tones and smooth lead sounds. They had a decent response to distortion, although were outperformed by other J models. 

These ultra jazz pickups have deeper lows, more attack in the high end than most J pickup models. Their round, yet clear mid range is complimented by a bright plucky attack. 

Some players may find these too bright when played with a pick, but this is easily solved by rolling down the tone knob. Fingerpicking seemed to sound the best with the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz Pickups, producing a satisfying, resonant pluck.

This passive pickup set includes both neck and bridge position. The versatility of these pickups is pretty decent, their sound quality lends itself particularly well for slap bass thanks to its punchy midrange. 

This J pickup set has a very musical sound and makes a great upgrade to most Jazz Bass pickups. For a set of professional grade J bass pickups, these are some of the best out there. Bring your J bass into the modern age with these DiMarzio UltraJazz pickups. Give your classic Jazz Bass a new voice, or install them in any bass guitar that uses standard sized Jazz Bass pickups and you’ll be rewarded with a deeper, richer bass tone.

These could be some of the best bass pickups for Jazz players.

Pros and Cons

  • Rich, Musical tone.
  • Low Noise
  • Sweet harmonics
  • Professional sound

– – –

6. EMG Geezer Butler Signature P Set

EMG Geezer Butler Signature P Set

Product info

If you haven’t heard his name before, Geezer Butler is probably best known for his work as the bassist and lyricist for classic British Heavy Metal band, Black Sabbath.

His long, star studded bass career has seen him playing alongside legends such as Ozzy Osborne, Heaven and Hell, and Deadland Ritual. Geezer has teamed up with internationally renowned pickup manufacturer EMG to bring you these classic heavy metal bass pickups.

These pickups were created to revive the famous Black Sabbath bass tones from their early days. These could be the best P Bass Pickup design for heavy metal and rock players who prefer the sound of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. 

It goes without saying, these are seriously heavy pickups. These aren’t for the lighthearted. These Precision bass style pickups are designed to give you the fattest P tone possible. They have hench, earthy subs, with a defined punchy mid range. The lows on these beauties is truly monstrous.

This Passive pickup set provides a heavy, vintage tone. They have a thick, chunky attack when flat picked, and a warm, plucky transient when finger picked. These pickups use 4 alnico V pole pieces per pickup, each with custom hand wound coils for the perfect balance of bite and punch.

For a gritty, growling rock or metal bass tone, you can’t really ask for anything more from these pickups. Both the neck and bridge pickups sound fantastic on their own, with the bridge pickup having more of a bright twang, with more prominence in the mid range. The neck pickup has a rounder, lower tone. Combining the signal of both pickups had a great full range tone.

Do any bands have more classic heavy bass lines than Black Sabbath? Are any band more worthy of having a pair of signature bass pickups? I don’t think so! 

If you are looking to reproduce the classic Black Sabbath bass tones, from hit tunes such as “Paranoid”, “War Pigs”, “Sweet Leaf”, then these are the best P Bass Pickups for you.

These are also available as a P & J Set, capturing the best of both worlds! These are some of the best bass pickups for old-school rock and metal players.

Pros and Cons

  • Vintage Rock/Metal Sound.
  • The iconic Black Sabbath Bass tone.
  • Excellent in high gain, overdrive, and distortion settings.
  • Best bass pickups for vintage heavy tones.

– – –

7. EMG PJ Active Bass Guitar Pickup Set

EMG PJ Active Bass Guitar Pickup Set

Product info

Finally, we have an EMG Active pickup set. This includes both P and J pickups, for broader tone possibilities. This is a great entry point into the world of active pickups. 

These are the only pair of active pickups on the list. Active pickups work differently from passive versions in the way they transduce sound. They use a built-in preamp system which is usually powered by a 9V battery. Active pickups usually have a much lower noise floor than passives, meaning they can handle distortion and excessive amplification much better. They have a more controlled distorted sound compared to passive pickups. 

If you plan on using these active pickups, make sure you fully understand how they work, and the extra steps needed to install them. If you are installing them on a bass that isn’t already kitted out for active pickups, you may find yourself needing to route extra holes to accommodate the battery. 

Also, the battery can run out at any moment, without any warning. Make sure you change the battery before any important gigs or recording sessions. You don’t want the battery to run out mid-performance!

Now that’s covered, let’s talk about the sound of these pickups. The P and J have fairly contrasting tones, so being able to combine them adds a lot of creative tonal options.

The P pickups bring a punchy low end, which encompasses warmth. These are complemented by the J pickup, which offers a dynamic high-end, with a super tight mid-range. This PJ bass pickup set 

With the right tone circuit, these pickups can be used individually or blended together in any ratio. This gives an essentially infinite amount of tone choices. This EMG active pickup set sounds great for all genres, whether modern or traditional. From funky slap bass to gnarly punk rock and the filthiest death metal, these dependable pickups excel in any situation. They even perform well in softer genres like RnB, Motown, and Jazz.

These pickups are designed to be easy to install and come packaged with a pre-wired volume and tone control circuit, output jack, and battery clip. They come with EMG’s in-house Quik-Connect header and mating cable, which are easily installed on most bass guitars.

pickups

If you can handle the slight extra complexity of active pickups, this is an outstanding pickup set that will modernize the sound and response of your bass guitars. If you’re looking to expand your bass guitars’ tonal range, these are top-quality and near-instant fixes!

Pros and Cons

  • Includes P and J pickups – incredibly versatile tonal options.
  • Low noise active sound.
  • Brilliant response for distortion and high gain.
  • Needs a battery.

– – –

How to change bass pickups. 

When it comes to changing the bass pickups, you can either pay a professional luthier to do it, or you can do it yourself.

It might sound daunting at first, but in reality, it isn’t a hugely difficult process. 

All you need is a screwdriver, some pliers, tape, and a soldering iron.

It’s fairly easy, although you will need some basic soldering skills. 

You only need to know the bare minimum of how to solder wires together, there isn’t any component soldering involved.

If you feel comfortable enough to replace your bass pickup set, then you will be able to save a lot of money in service fees. I’d recommend practicing on a cheap, maybe second-hand instrument, before trying to upgrade any nice instruments. This way you can learn the pitfalls and processes before trying it on your prized instruments.

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The first step is removing the factory bass pickups. 

The bass guitar strings will need to be removed on most models to access the pickups. You might also need to unscrew the scratchplate.

This is usually fairly easy, just unscrew the pickup’s connector screws, then cut their wires at some point. You want to make sure you leave enough of the original wires to connect the new pickups to. So don’t cut too close to the base of the wire, cut the wires closer to the pickup end.  

Solder the new pickup wires to the wires coming from the bass body. 

Then screw the new pickups into the pickup cavity, and reattach all the removed parts.

It’s important to choose pickups that will fit in the routing holes. For instance, a P pickup won’t fit in a J pickup slot. If you want to change the type of pickup then you’re going to have to drill holes to make room. This style of conversion is more complicated than just replacing it with the same style. You will need to measure out the area of the new pickups and route a hole into the solid body of the bass. 

In some cases, the pre-existing holes from the original pickups may interfere with the placement holes of the new pickups, making it very hard to convert.

For this reason, I’d recommend choosing new pickups that match the shape and size of the original set. If you’re using a J-style bass, then go for J Pickups!

Types of Bass Pickup

There are many different styles of bass guitar pickup

Primarily, pickups are either single-coil or humbuckers. 

Humbuckers use two single-coil pickups together to reduce hum and noise and create a thicker sound. Single coil pickups tend to be more affordable, brighter, and thinner. Single coils are also more prone to noise interference and feedback.

Pickup Categories

There are 3 categories of pickups, which describe the process they use to convert the energy from a vibrating string to an electric signal. 


The two main categories are Magnetic and Piezoelectric pickups, with the additional Optical category being a modern rarity.

Magnetic and Piezoelectric pickups

Magnetic Pickups: 

are the most common kind, particularly for electric basses. They use magnetic poles aligned under the strings to catch the vibrations of the strings and convert them into a small electronic signal. These have defined lows and mids, often with some brightness in the top end. Magnetic Pickups come in either a single-coil or humbucker configuration.

Piezo Pickups: 

This interesting device is more commonly found on acoustic and upright basses. Piezoelectric bass pickups work by picking up transferred vibrational energy directly from a resonant piece of the instrument. Sometimes they are included on electric basses as an auxiliary pickup, for enhancing the sound of magnetics. Piezo pickups tend to have a much brighter, twangier sound. 

The placement of Piezo pickups also differs from magnetic pickups. Piezos are usually placed under the bridge or nut of the guitar, this is due to the way they conduct energy. 

Optical Pickups: 

This is a lesser-seen, modern pickup design that uses infra-red light to capture the energy of the bass. Optical pickups deliver a full range, even response with clear frequencies. These are very clean pickups with crystal clear tones. Unfortunately, an optical pickup will be both expensive and hard to find.

Pickup Styles

Within these categories, there are many different styles of pickups. The pickup styling affects the shape and size of the pickup, how many poles or pickups are used, and the kind of sound they achieve.

Below, some of the more popular styles are explained. These styles can be found in many manufactured ranges, they are not limited to one brand. It’s almost comparable to vehicle designs, is it a car, a van, or a motorbike? Often a vehicle manufacturer will make all of these machines, this is the same for bass pickups. Most quality pickup manufacturers offer versions of pickups in all these popular styles.

Pickup Styles

J Pickups:

also known as Jazz Pickups, fall under the magnetic pickup category. Jazz pickups have a brighter, more aggressive sound. These are great for jazz, rock, and metal thanks to their defined, mid-range attack. The name of these pickups comes from the early fender jazz bass models which popularised their design.

J pickups usually come in a double configuration, with a neck and a bridge pickup. Often the neck pickup is slightly wider to create a tighter, punchier tone. These two pickups can usually be blended between to create different tones. Generally, the J Pickups tend to use a long, thin shape.

J Pickups

P Pickups:

Or Precision pickups are another magnetic type of bass pickup. The Precision bass pickup designs differ from jazz bass by being shorter and using one pole per two strings. 

This creates a lower, sub-heavy tone, with more punch in the low end. These usually come in a staggered configuration, with two pickups very close together, between the neck and bridge positions. P Pickups usually come as one circuit, with a single volume and tone control knob.

It’s also common for P pickups to come in humbucker pickup variations. 

P pickups are known for their tight and meaty tone, lending themself well to funk, rock, hip hop, and dub music. Although they do the job for most genres.

P Pickups

What to Look for in Bass Guitar Pickups?

Upgrading your bass with a set of new pickups is a great way to improve its sound. In theory, you can make a cheap bass have a sound like a much higher quality one. 

Although before diving in and buying a new set of pickups, make sure that they are compatible with the model of your bass guitar. Generally, if a bass is kitted out for a particular pickup style, you should try to use the same models.

Features:

Pickup Types: 

This has already been partially explained, but the main choices are Humbucker vs Single Coil or Split coil. Using a humbucker pickup creates a fatter tone with less noise.

The other choice is magnetic vs piezo vs optical. Although in general magnetic pickups are the best to go for unless you have a specific need for another type. 

Active vs Passive.

This is another important distinction between pickup types.

Passive:

Passive is the most common style and doesn’t use a power source before the amplifier. These use magnetic coils to receive energy from the bass strings. These tiny electronic signals are then sent to the amplifier.

EMG

Active: 

Active pickups are a relatively new type that uses a battery to boost their signal before the amplifier. They use a different technique to detect energy from the bass strings. Active pickups have a completely different sound, tonal response, and dynamic range to passive pickups. 

Problems. 

Check out the dimensions of the pickup first. Compare this with the available spaces on your bass guitar. You probably don’t want to have to drill holes in your bass to make room for new pickups, so make sure you choose a set with dimensions that will fit!.

Conclusion

Overall, we think the best bass pickups are the EMG PJ Active Bass Guitar Pickup Set, Black

EMG PJ Active Set

We really love this pickup set that will work wonders on both Precision basses and Jazz basses. These come as the best bass pickups for a number of reasons.

It combines the best of both worlds with the Precision pickups that are widely loved, as well as J Bass pickups which offer a warmer tone and more presence. This versatile bass pickup set has been designed to give the player a smooth, nuanced tone with enough power to cut through on stage. 

The sound quality of this set is top-notch. Thanks to their versatility they can achieve a huge range of bass tones. Installing them will massively expand your bass guitar’s range. From modern to vintage, clean to dirty, this set of EMG active pickups is ready to rock your world. 

With an incredibly low noise floor, these are perfect for distortion too. These can take a huge amount of gain and saturation without becoming too dirty or unclear. They are capable of producing some of the purest metal bass sounds, so they come extra recommended for heavy players.

Each pickup in the set has a slightly different sound. The P bass pickup of this back is rounded, warm and tight. 

The J Bass pickup is more vocal with an aggressive attack and brightness. It has a classic jazz bass tone with a modern twist. 

We loved a lot of the pickups on this list, particularly the Fender Custom Shop vintage style ones. If you’re looking for a more traditional vintage sound then some of the fender custom shop modern is also a great choice. The fender custom shop Jazz Bass pickup set would be my favorite pickup for a purer vintage sound.
If you’re looking to upgrade with the best bass pickups, check out the EMG PJ Active Set online.