The 8-string guitar is a powerful musical instrument that offers a unique range of tonal possibilities. However, to truly unlock the potential of an 8-string guitar, you need the right pickups, and some of the stock ones in cheaper models just don’t cut it!
This guide will show you some of the finest 8-string guitar pickups currently available on the market that can get you those crystal clear cleans and ultra-tight chugs and step up your tone game.
Table of Contents
- Why Upgrade Your 8-String Guitar Pickups?
- Key Characteristics of 8-String Guitar Pickups
- Passive or Active
- EQ Response
- Magnet Type
- The Best-Selling 8-String Pickups To Upgrade Your Guitar With
- Fishman Fluence Modern 8-String Pickups
- Seymour Duncan Black Winter 8
- DiMarzio DP809 Ionizer 8
- Fishman Fluence Tosin Abasi
- EMG 808 X
Why Upgrade Your 8-String Guitar Pickups?
The pickup is a crucial component of any electric guitar, including 8-stringers. It’s responsible for converting the string’s vibrations into an electrical signal, which is then amplified and transformed into sound.
Good 8-string guitar pickups are specially designed to handle the extended range of an 8-string guitar, ensuring that every note is captured with clarity and precision.
Whether you’re exploring the low-end rumble of the extra strings or soaring through the high notes, an excellent 8-string pickup will ensure your sound is always at its best.
Key Characteristics of 8-String Guitar Pickups
When shopping for any guitar pickup, there are a few aspects to remember. Here are things you should consider:
Passive or Active
Pickups can either be passive or active. Passive pickups are the most common type and have a traditional design. They offer a high-impedance signal with low current and high voltage.
Active pickups, on the other hand, use an active preamp to boost the output, often resulting in a more powerful and clear sound.
Different pickups emphasize different parts of the EQ spectrum. Some might have a strong midrange and treble response, while others focus more on the bass frequencies.
Your desired tone will largely determine the kind of EQ response you should look for in a pickup. Many manufacturers will list the EQ curve of their pickups on their sites.
The magnets used in a pickup can significantly affect its tone. Alnico and ceramic are the two most common types of magnets used in pickups. Alnico magnets tend to produce a warm, vintage tone, while ceramic magnets are known for their brighter, more modern sound.
The majority of the best-selling 8-string guitar pickups will use ceramic ones, but some, like the Fishman Fluence Moderns, can give you the option to pick from one or the other.
The Best-Selling 8-String Pickups To Upgrade Your Guitar With
Below, you’ll find some of the top 8-string guitar pickups you can have on your guitar, all from some of the most notable brands in the business.
Fishman Fluence Modern 8-String Pickups
The Fishman Fluence line of humbucking pickups is a revolutionary addition to the world of electric guitar, and their Modern ones for 8-string guitars are no exception. I even recommended these pickups for 7-string guitars, too!
These versatile, high-quality active pickups provide crisp, detailed highs and dynamic lows. It also offers a smooth midrange ideal for solos and features a modern ceramic humbucker in the bridge and alnico magnetics in the neck pickup for exceptional performance.
One of the standout features of the Fishman Fluence Modern pickups is their Multi-Voice technology. This innovative design allows players to switch between two distinct voices with the push-pull of a volume or tone knob, which can give you the qualities of both active and passive pickups on a whim.
Whether you want a tight, powerful, aggressive tone or something more organic and dynamic, these can do it all. With their advanced design, Fishman Fluences are also noise-free and can allow players to enjoy pristine-quality sounds, even when playing at extreme gain levels, making it amazing for genres like metalcore and djent.
Seymour Duncan Black Winter 8
I love Seymour Duncan pickups (I always shout them out no matter how many strings your guitar has), and those looking for a high-output ceramic passive pickup that delivers punishing mids and crushing distortion will surely love the Black Winters. They’re perfect for metal guitarists looking for a pickup that can handle aggressive saturation and excessive grime.
However, even though this is excellent for various extreme metal genres, these aren’t noisy or dirty sounding by any means and are meant to give you a lot of clarity in the low end by emphasizing the mids and treble frequencies.
Therefore, you won’t have to worry about muddy tones; instead, you can enjoy clear note definition while retaining the natural qualities of your instrument due to its passive design.
The Seymour Duncan Black Winters are indeed a force to be reckoned with because of their uncompromising power and precision, and they are a fantastic choice for any guitarist who wants to dominate the stage and studio.
DiMarzio DP809 Ionizer 8
The DiMarzio Ionizer pickups for 8-string guitars are a powerful choice for guitarists seeking versatility and high performance.
Designed for the great Tosin Abasi to handle the extended range and heavy tones of modern metal and progressive music, these passive pickups deliver exceptional sonic capabilities by providing a balanced, focused sound that easily cuts through the mix.
They offer a tight and percussive bass response, punchy midrange, and articulate highs, allowing every note to be heard with clarity and definition. So, no matter if you’re playing complex chord progressions or lightning-fast solos, these pickups ensure that every nuance of your guitar playing is faithfully reproduced.
Unlike the previous 8-string pickups, which come as a set, these come standalone as a single pickup. However, you can find these in both the bridge and neck position, as well as a middle pickup version, and they work well together, as you’d expect.
Fishman Fluence Tosin Abasi
If you’re a fan of Tosin Abasi, you’re in luck today because, in addition to the DiMarzio Ionizers, Fishman also has a set of Fluences that were made for him if you prefer active pickups instead.
Just like the Fluence Moderns, these pickups offer a wide range of tones, combining the clarity of single coils with the power of humbuckers. With multiple coil combinations, they can effortlessly switch between modern active, passive PAF, and single-coil tones, allowing for incredible versatility, dimension, and articulation, which is what Tosin is known for.
Some of the main differences between the Moderns and the Tosin Abasi signature pickups are that these have more emphasis on the bass and mids, whereas the Moderns are a bit more trebly. These pickups also have a split coil option, which can help deliver great single-toil sounds when needed.
The main downside to these pickups is that they’re more expensive than other options, and that’s to be expected from signature pickups, but these are definitely worth the money if you can take advantage of everything that this pickup brings to the table.
EMG 808 X
Speaking of active pickups, if you’re looking for a high-quality active pickup that provides some serious output and exceptional clarity, then the 808 X is a superb choice for your 8-string guitar. After all, active pickups are EMG’s specialty!
These pickups are specifically designed to handle the extended range and heavy tones of 8-string instruments, delivering a tight and focused sound that cuts through the mix with precision. With their high-output performance, the EMG 808 X pickups provide an intense and punchy low-end response, making them ideal for djent and modern metal, in general.
While they excel in high-gain situations, they also perform admirably in cleaner settings and will give you “glassy” cleans because of the more compressed sound that EMGs are known to have. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll lose all of your dynamics, but you might find this less versatile than other options, including other active pickups like the Fishman ones.
That said, if you want to put the pedal to the metal, EMGs like the 808 X are always a good option for pickup upgrades because these are incredibly responsive, noise-free, have extra headroom and can be used in both the bridge and neck positions.
Choosing the best pickup for your 8-string guitar is crucial in achieving your desired tone, and no matter if you play rock, metal, jazz, or a combination of genres, this guide should help you find a pickup that suits your style, fits your budget, and compliments the guitar itself.
For instance, if your guitar sounds too dark, consider a brighter-sounding pickup!
Whether you’re a fan of experimentation, or you simply want to upgrade the stock pickups in your budget 8-string guitar, or both, hopefully, a set of these pickups here will find their way into your 8-string and give you what you need to take your tone to the next level.
Also, be sure to check out my guide to the best noise gate guitar pedals, as these can help clean up your sound, too! A combination of a noise suppressor and great guitar pickups can make a massive difference in achieving the best possible tone, especially if you love playing metal!