Can You Play Metal With Mini Humbuckers?

Metal has been around for more than 40 decades already. 

And although Pop and Rap are more massive genres, we can’t deny the popularity of metal. 

Nowadays, it is still common to find new bands choosing this music as their default inspiration

Therefore, I believe heavy metal and hard rock will probably be here for a bit longer. 

This is especially true when you listen to bands that experiment a bit. 

In other words, those bands who play metal but prefer adding brand new elements or techniques. 

But experimenting is not necessarily having a strange instrument. One can experiment even by selecting different guitar pickups. 

For instance, what would happen if you played metal with a mini-humbucker. Would that be possible? 

You can play metal with mini-humbuckers, but they are not the best option. These pickups have a clearer and smoother tone that would not fit well on traditional metal. However, they would be great for any ‘vintage’ sound. 

Let’s keep reading to find out more information on these pickups. 

Will they suit your style? Time to find it out!  

Are mini-humbuckers good for metal?

Mini-humbuckers sound more similar to a Single Coil than to a Humbucker. 

This means that, at first hand, mini-humbuckers seem not to fit perfectly with metal genres. 

After all, Humbuckers are preferred for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. 

On the contrary, a Single Coil pickup goes better for anyone looking for a crunchy and brighter sound. 

All in all, mini-humbuckers have a smoother, brighter, polished attack with a bit more sustain due to their slightly weaker magnetic pull. 

So, its clearer sound cannot exactly be considered ‘good’ for metal. At least, not for traditional metal. 

Of course, we are answering this doubt based solely on the facts. 

Are min-humbuckers good for metal? Not exactly. 

However, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t work at all. 

Actually, I can imagine their tone cutting greatly through the mix for riffs and solos. 

Remember, it all depends on what the band and/or player is looking for. 

What could make mini-humbuckers interesting for metal?

If despite all odds you are planning to use mini-humbuckers on your metal band, then consider the following. 

Mini-humbuckers can be compelling on metal. 

They have a brighter, less muddy sound that could work great on lead guitars. 

As a result, solos and riffs could be accentuated. 

The overall tone will sound fresh and may stand your sound out from other metal bands. 

What are the cons of mini-humbuckers for playing metal?

Sure enough, using mini-humbuckers for metal will present some drawbacks too. 

For example, a mini-humbucker will have a lower output than a regular humbucker. 

Also, these pickups will create a more vintage-like sound. 

While it could in fact be an advantage (if that’s the kind of sound you are looking for), a vintage style may clash with what a more modern metal genre stands for. 

Of course, mini-humbuckers will definitely be a drawback for extreme metal. 

On the contrary, mini-humbuckers on a more experimental or old-schooled-type band could work. 

Are there any famous metal players that use mini-humbuckers?

Time to set aside all this information and theory. Instead, let’s focus on vivid examples. 

Which musicians should you listen to find how mini-humbuckers sound on metal? 

Well, the first guitarist that comes to my mind is Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. 

As you see, Thin Lizzy is more of a vintage-like band, that is between hard rock and heavy metal. But not completely metal, so it makes sense that he played with mini-humbuckers. 

Other relevant names that we can mention are Johnny Winter, Pete Townshend of The Who, and Neil Young. 

In the end, it seems that there are not many popular metal guitarists that play with mini-humbuckers. 

Truth is, there are better alternatives. 

What are better pickup alternatives for metal?

The best alternative to playing metal genres is the Humbucker. 

Humbuckers have a deeper and thicker sound. Also, they prevent the annoying hum that other pickups such as the Single Coil create. 

The next option could be a P90

Although they are not the very best alternative, they could work on certain genres, such as doom metal. 

What’s great about P90s is that they are a kind of combination between the middle punch of a Humbucker and the brightness of the Single Coils. 

This is helpful for musicians who want to create clearer sounds with their guitars. 

For more information on P90 pickups for metal genres, I encourage you to read this article. 


Rules are meant to be broken. 

Even if mini-humbuckers are not the very best option for metal, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment a bit. 

Maybe these pickups suit your band. Maybe not. 

The doubts should be dissipated by yourself. 

If you want to give mini-humbuckers a try, then go for it. 

Who knows? Maybe you end up creating something meaningful and special.