Single Coil Pickups in Metal – For or Against?

Pointy, black, and dual-humbuckered guitars rule the roost when it comes to metal. But has the metal world underestimated the mighty…. Telecaster?


It’s commonly accepted that humbucking pickups are a better sound for metal than their thinner sounding single-coil counterparts, mostly because of the annoying 60 hz hum, which is conveniently located halfway BETWEEN the notes A# and B, and gets louder as you add gain. But some metal bands have seen fit to look past these limitations and into the unique sound possibilities of the twangy cousin of the beefy humbucker.

Here are some noteworthy examples:

Wintersun’s Jari Mäenpää used his Tokai telecaster with single coils to record much of their debut album (in standard tuning, no less) as well as most of the Ensiferum material, which didn’t seem to suffer much for it judging by those albums’ popularity. Although certainly not considered metal by modern standards, the very first person to have the term “heavy metal” applied to him in the media was Jimi Hendrix, who almost exclusively played Fender Stratocasters.

What do you think of telecasters and other single coiled guitars in metal?

Written by

As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.