Variety is one of the best things about music. With a little bit of creativity, there's nothing that's off-limits to an innovative musician. When it comes to the guitar specifically, some of the tools you can use to add variety are specialty pickups. Whether you play the Strat, Tele, Les Paul or even a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, there are specialty pickups designed to help you do more with the instrument than you can with standard pickups alone.
Of course, the job of any pickup is the same: to translate the mechanical vibration of the strings into the electrical language of amplifiers and sound systems. Traditional electric guitar pickups are a lot like a reverse speaker, using magnets to turn vibration into a signal. Some of these specialty pickups work the same way, from standard active or passive humbuckers for the rare 8-string guitar to the EVH Wolfgang pickups, which are like an ordinary pickup turned up to 11. There's also the Seymour Duncan lipstick tube pickup if you're looking for a cool ultra-vintage sound and style, or split coil pickups that pack humbucker-like noise cancelation into the single-coil mounting positions on a Stratocaster.
Other specialty pickups are made to bridge the gap between analog and digital. The Roland GK-3 and Fishman TriplePlay, for example, are controller pickups that allow you to turn your guitar into a sweet-sounding synth. For MIDI control and to get authentic acoustic sounds out of your electric guitar, check out saddle and bridge pickups like the Graph Tech GHOST series, LR Baggs T-Bridge or Fishman Powerbridge line. Any guitar can be an incredibly versatile instrument with these pickups to open the door to the full range of digital effects.
If you play acoustic, Kremona's piezo pickups are also worth a special mention. Because they work with nylon strings, piezo pickups are the go-to choice for an acoustic classical guitar. Installing one of these pickups allows you to amplify any nylon-stringed guitar, which is a lot more practical than going acoustic-electric shopping when you decide you want to plug in.
No matter what type of guitar you play, pickups have a big role to fill. When that role is a special one, a specialty pickup is ready to take it on. For any niche application, whether it be fitting a standard pickup in an 8-string guitar or an exotic one in a traditional 6-string, you can find the hardware you need here.