60 Guitars With Active Pickups: Top Brand List

Guitars with active pickups are becoming more popular with each new decade. As the technology around active pickups gets better, so do the tones! But how many brands make guitars with active pickups? And do they cover many genres of music, or are they more specific?

In this article, I’m going to lay out for you the vast array of guitars with active pickups! And we are going to categorize them by brand. You will find a few 7 and 8-string guitars in there as well. Let’s go!

Features of Active Pickups

The most important feature of an active pickup is the presence of an onboard preamp. It gives the signal a boost before heading out to the amplifier. This helps to overcome the inherent noise issue that all single-coil pickups suffer from. 

But it also drives humbuckers to be that much hotter! It’s also great for long cables and creates lower impedance for signal transfer. Additionally, this means the way they respond using the controls on the instrument is also different.

It’s important to also be aware of the fact that active pickups require a power source. This usually means the presence of a battery or rechargeable pack. This is normally mounted to the guitar. Either inside the body cavity or stuck to the back. 

You will also find that they have covers that contain the circuit. You won’t see the pole pieces like you might with a passive pickup. But this is strictly cosmetic and does add a nice look to a guitar.

Further reading: active vs passive pickups.

Active EMG Pickup

Guitars With Active Pickups

There are a number of great brands that make guitars with active pickups. Most are humbucker pickup guitars, but there are a few with single-coils. Here are a few of the more popular ones and the models they offer. Plus an estimation on the price. Use this key to get an idea of the cost:

  • $ – $1000 and under.
  • $$ – 1000 – $1800
  • $$$ – 1900 – $2900
  • $$$$ – Well over $3000

These price estimates were accurate at the time of this writing.

Charvel

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Satchel Signature Pro-Mod DK22 Fishman Fluence Classic PRF-CHB Humbucker$$
Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1EMG Jim Root Signature Daemonum Open-Coil Humbucker$$
Phil Sgrosso Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker$$

Cort

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
CR300 EMG Retro Active Fat 55 dual humbuckers$
KX 300 Etched EMG Retroactive Super77 humbuckers$
X700 Duality II Fishman Fluence Open Core Classic Humbuckers$

Comparison Guitars

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Dellinger-JSM Joel Stroetzel Signature Fishman Fluence Ceramic/Alnico Killswitch Engage Humbucker$$$$

Dean

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Exile Select F EMG 57/67tw Humbuckers$$
Kerry King V EMG 81/85 Humbuckers 1600$$

Epiphone

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
SG Prophecy Fishman Fluence Humbucker$
Flying V Prophecy Fishman Fluence Proprietary Humbuckers$
Les Paul Prophecy Fishman Fluence Epiphone Prophecy Humbuckers$
Extura ProphecyFishman Fluence Proprietary Humbuckers$
Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Fishman Fluence MKH Ceramic and Alnico Humbuckers$$

ESP

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
LTD Phoenix Black Metal Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker$
LTD F Black Metal EMG 81 Humbucker$$
LTD EC-1000 Baritone Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker$$
LTD Eclipse EC-1007 EverTune EMG 60/8 -7H Humbuckers$$
LTD Deluxe MH-1007 EverTune Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker$$
LTD TE-1000 EverTune EMG 81/60 Brushed Black Chrom Humbucker$$
LTD MH-1000FM EverTune EMG 81/85 Humbuckers$$
LTD EC-1000T CTM EverTune Fishman Fluence Classic Humbucker$$
LTD Deluxe H-1008 Baritone EverTuneEMG 81/85 -8H Humbuckers$$
LTD Buz McGrath Signature Buz-7 Fishman Fluence SRC Humbucker$$
LTD James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte EMG JH HET Humbucker$$$
E-II EX NT EMG 60/81 Humbuckers$$$
E-II FRX EMG 60TW-R/ 81 Humbucker$$$
Original Eclipse Custom Andromeda IIEMG HET Humbucker$$$$
ESP James Hetfield Signature Snakebyte EMG JH HET Humbucker$$$$+

Fender

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Jim Root Jazzmaster EMG Jim Root Signature Daemonum Open-coil Active Humbucker$$

Ibanez

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Iron Label RGIB21EMG 60/81 Humbuckers$
RGIB21 EMG 60 and 81 Humbucker$
JB Brubaker Signature JBBM30 EMG 81/85 Humbucker$
Axion Label RG631ALF Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker$
Axion Label RGD61ALET Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker$$
Prestige RG5120M Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers$$$
Prestige RGD3121 Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic Humbucker$$$

Jackson

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
X Series Soloist Arch Top SLAT7 Multi-Scale EMG 808 Treble/Bass Humbuckers$
X Series Rhoads RRX24-MG7 EMG 81/85-7H Humbucker$$
Pro Series King V KVTMG EMG 81/85 Humbuckers$$
Pro Series Signature Rob Cavestany EMG 81 and HA Humbuckers$$
USA Select Dinky DK1 EMG 81/85 Humbuckers$$$$
USA Signature Gus G. StarGus G. Proteus Humbucker$$$$+

Kramer

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Charlie Parra Vanguard Outfit EMG 57/66 Humbucker$

Music Man

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Sterling – Steve Lukather LK100 Sterling by Music Man Humbucker$
Sterling – Jason Richardson SignatureSterling by Music Man Designed Humbucker$
Sterling – John Petrucci Dimarzio JP157DQM (7-STRING)DiMarzio LiquiFire Humbucker$$
Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass HTMusic Man HT Single-coils$$$

Schecter

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Damien Platinum 8. (8-String)EMG 808 active Humbucker$
Hellraiser C-1 EMG 81/89 Humbuckers$
Hellraiser C-7 (7-String)EMG Active 707tw Humbuckers$$
Cesar Soto E-1 Signature EMG 85 Humbucker$$
Hellraiser Hybrid C-7 (7-String)EMG 57/66 -7 Active Humbuckers$$
Hellraiser Hybrid C-1 FR-S EMG 57 brushed black chrome Humbucker$$
Hellraiser C-7 FR-S (7-String)EMG 81 Active Humbucker$$
E-1 SLS Evil Twin Fishman Fluence Modern Ceramic/Alnico Humbuckers$$
C-1 HT S SLS Evil Twin Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker$$
Keith Merrow KM-6 MK-III Fishman Fluence KM Custom Humbucker$$

Squier

ModelPickupsPrice Estimate
Squier Contemporary Active Jazzmaster Squier SQR Active Ceramic Humbucker$
Squier Contemporary Active Starcaster Semi-hollowbodySquer SQR Active Ceramic Humbuckers$

Popular Active Pickup Manufacturers

You will see from the list of guitars above that there are two main manufacturers. They are Fishman and EMG. Any of the others are custom-made for the guitar brands and are also very good. But Fishman and EMG specialize in high-quality active pickups. As a result, they are recognized on the world stage in guitars.

Fishman

Fishman is a brand that makes pickups designed for use with guitars and basses. They are known for their high-quality sound and reliability. Their pickups are made with a variety of different materials and technologies.

They have pickups for acoustic guitars as well and made a big splash in this market. Additionally, they come in a variety of forms, including single coil and humbucker pickups. This allows a lot of players to use their stuff!

EMG

EMG pickups are another brand of pickups that are popular among musicians. Like Fishman, they are known for their high-quality sound and reliability. EMG pickups use active circuitry to obtain the signal from the strings.

It results in a louder, more powerful sound. It has caught the attention of many guitarists, particularly in the metal genres. They are the first company to introduce active pickups to the world of guitars and basses.

Which Guitars are the Best?

These guitars are all very good for what they have been designed for. But they all fit into different price points. Plus, some can accomplish different sounds. This makes a few of them better for some genres of music. Here are my thoughts on these guitars.

Best For Single Coil Sounds

Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass HT guitar

The guitar I feel is best for single coil tones with active pickups is the Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass HT. It’s an expensive guitar, but is well-made and very comfortable. It’s also got an amazing sound! The playability is probably one of the best in a guitar like this. The roasted maple neck feels incredible to play on. Plus, it’s loaded with high-quality parts.

There is also a boost function, but it’s not easy to access, which is one of the cons I have found. But it’s not a dealbreaker, as the guitar has much more to love about it!


Best Affordable Guitar For Metal

ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000VB

This is a very tough choice as there are a few great guitars that are affordable. But because I can only choose one, I went with the ESP LTD EC-1000. For metal, I found the tones to be very good. It’s a tight sound that is aggressive enough to drive an amplifier pretty hard. And it’s a great price!

The guitar is also very easy to play and is quite comfortable. The cutaway in the body makes accessing the upper frets pretty easy. There are a couple of cheap parts on it, like the plastic nut. But this can easily be upgraded and was expected at this price.


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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!