4 Best Cheap Guitar Pickups For A Budget Upgrade

The pickup that your guitar uses is one of the most important elements of your guitar and the sound that you’ll be producing. The pickup defines the tone of your sounds, the depth, your ability to control them and how the vibrations are turned into signals and therefore how your audience will receive them. Some might say it’s the most important aspect of your instrument.

However, while professional pickups can cost an extortionate amount of money, sometimes as much as a brand-new guitar, what happens when you’re looking to upgrade or replace your current pickups, but you’re spending on a budget?

While your traditional, high-end pickups will use Alnico magnets, it’s not impossible to find them for a lower price that everybody can afford. What’s more, inexpensive pickups that use ceramic magnets are still powerful when it comes to picking up and converting your sounds, just not as pristine or clear as Alnico ones.

Nevertheless, it’s typically only musicians that know the difference that will be able to hear the difference. With all this in mind, we’ve set out to do the hard work for you, narrowing down every brand that’s on offer to our top four choices. These are the best of the best when it comes to cheap and affordable guitar pickups, helping you find the set that’s best for you.
Kmise Zebra Faced Humbucker Double Coil Pickups For Electric Guitar Pickup (Cream&Black)

#1 – Kmise Zebra-Faced Humbucker Double-Coil Pickups for Electric Guitars

To start off our list of best cheap guitar pickups, we’ve started with this super affordable pickup kit that will cost you next to nothing, while still remaining stylish and capable of producing some beautiful sounds.

As the title suggests, these pickups are typically designed for replacing humbucker-loaded pickups and are excellent value for money. Each batch is quality-tested by the manufacturer, included loaded tests to make sure they produce the best sounds, regardless of whether you’re using them on the neck or bridge of your guitar.

What’s more, each pickup is wax potted and sealed with airtight precision once they have been installed and have an outstanding DC resistance. For those in the know, that’s 8K on the neck and 15K on the bridge. When installing these pickups, you’ll also be able to enjoy the benefits that come with pickup pole placements that fall between the region of 50mm and 52mm, ensuring they’re a perfect fit, no matter what guitar you may own.

Each pickup contains double coils for that stunning sound quality and is sure to exactly what you’re looking for, without having to dish out for an expensive alternative.

PROS
  • Superior DC resistance
  • Optimal pole placement holes
  • Black and white colors
  • Outstanding sound quality for value
CONS
  • Individual pickups aren’t labeled

Fender Vintage Reissue '62 Telecaster Neck Pickup

#2 – Fender Vintage Reissue ’62 Telecaster Neck Pickup

While these Fender pickups are slightly more expensive than the other pickups on this list, this package is the perfect balance between affordable pickups and ones that will see you through with the quality and durability you’d expect from a premium set.

These reissue pickups are designed to perfectly match the ’62 Telecaster models, one of Fender’s most popular models, and still is to this day, but with a little time and modification, these could be ideal for any type of guitar that you have.

With this pickup set, you’ll find two beautiful pickup units that are designed to recreate that atmospheric yet jazzy feel that the Fenders are famous for. In short; that vintage Telecaster sound many musicians and fans have grown to love.

In terms of quality and value for money, it doesn’t get much better than this. Inside each pickup, you’ll find three Alnico magnets, the same Alnico that’s used on premium and leading pickup models, much like the P90s.

These magnets are encapsulated with enamel-coated magnet wire which turns out to be the exact same materials as the early original ‘50s Telecaster models. With threaded mounting screws for easy installation, this set is everything you need and more.

PROS
  • Premium-quality Alnico pickup magnets
  • Sounds like original ‘50s Telecaster, regardless of your guitar
  • Perfect fit for Fender Telecaster guitars
  • Enamel-coated magnet wire for beautiful tones and sounds
CONS
  • Slightly more expensive than other budget pickups

DiMarzio DP110 FS-1 Guitar Pickup Black

#3 – DiMarzio DP110 FS-1 Guitar Pickup Black

Heading back into the mid-range price bracket towards the upper limit of what you’d be planning to spend, DiMarzio has created these fantastic guitar pickup devices that are simply outstanding when it comes to quality, ease of use and universal compatibility.

With these pickups, you can effortlessly fix them into any position on your guitar, whether that’s in the middle, in the neck or bridge position, meaning this is truly a one-size-fits-all design. Each pickup is loaded with a standard single coil which is a sure-fire way to guarantee the pristine Strat-like sounds you’ve been looking for.

This is a warm, clear and somewhat sparkling sound that promises to captivate your listeners, regardless of where you’re performing. However, these pickups don’t just stop there. Thanks to the professional design here, you’ll find that these pickups are able to provide around 25% more power than your conventional single-coil pickups.

This means 25% more volume and clarity, all of which gives you more control and sensitivity options when you’re adjusting the settings on your guitar. These increase in power also helps to smoothen out your notes and chords while giving all the ranges a bit more punch with every strum.

However, there’s no need to worry about oversensitivity. These pickups are ideal if you’re using a five-position switch. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of this pickup is the fact that you only get one, meaning a full guitar upgrade where you replace all three pickups can become quite costly, but if you plan to make the upgrades over time, this will cost you no more than a typical upgrade and can help spread the cost.

What’s more, each time you install a new pickup, you’ll be adding to that 25% power increase, meaning even more control and more opportunities to create new sounds every time you upgrade. With precision highs, mid and bass notes, what more could you ask for in an affordable pickup?

PROS
  • Adds 25% more power (volume) to your guitar
  • Easy to install (universal compatibility)
  • Beautiful Strat-like sound you’re going to love
  • Suitable for any position on your guitar
CONS
  • Can be costly for a full guitar upgrade
  • Only one pickup per purchase

YMC Humbucker Pickup Chrome for Les Paul

#4 – YMC Humbucker Pickup Chrome for Les Paul

Finally, to conclude our list of best cheap guitar pickups, we’ve chosen this incredibly affordable dual-pickup set that’s ideal if you’re looking for a budget-friendly replacement for your Les Paul guitar. In fact, these pickups are fully compatible with all Les Paul models, or any model of guitar that takes a Les Paul styled unit.

Even if you don’t own a Les Paul, you can still use these inexpensive pickups in your guitar; you’ll just need to make some slight modifications to your model, which you can do yourself for free, or take to your local guitar shop, which shouldn’t be too expensive. Whatever method you decide to take, these humbucker-styled pickups come with everything you need to a full upgrade.

Most notably, you’ll find height adjustable mounting screws on each end, so you can easily find that perfect fit, as well as accompanying springs to make sure that the pickups sit comfortably in your guitar.

Furthermore, in terms of quality and aesthetics, each of the two pickups you’ll find in each set come are covered in chrome and bordered by a beautiful black frame, ensuring that your guitar maintains its visual appeal. Each pickup is additionally triple wax-dipped for a gorgeous glossy finish and then finally vacuum-sealed to guarantee the mesmerizing sound that these pickups produce.

This airtight seal means you’ll enjoy the benefits of completely eliminating any unwanted feedback and noise while you’re playing your guitar or while it sits on standby, perfect for jamming in the studio, recording high-quality albums or performing live on stage.

With a neck performance of 9K and an outstanding bridge pickup response of 16K, these pickups are simply outstanding and not even some of the more premium pickups will be able to achieve this kind of feedback level. All in all, if you’re looking for the best cheap guitar pickups to bring new life and punch to your guitar and your performances, these YMC pickups guarantee to tick all your boxes and more.

PROS
  • Perfectly compatible with all Gibson Les Paul models
  • Outstanding pickup response in both the neck and bridge
  • Superior high-quality finish with triple wax and airtight seal
  • No unwanted feedback or distortion
  • Two pickups per set
CONS
  • May need adjustments for other guitar models

Summary

It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician who’s shopping on a budget, there are plenty of inexpensive options out there where it comes to high-quality pickups that are sure to give you the quality and performance you’d expect from a leading, premium set.

All the pickups we’ve listed here today are simply outstanding and well worth every cent that you pay for you. Make sure you’re considering what you’re looking for in your pickups, so you can save money by
making the right decision the first time around!

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