A strat pickup plays a major role for any guitar player who wants to train their listening ear with the sound quality they are playing.
Strat pickups come in various forms and sizes, and it can be a little bit confusing for beginners, especially when the market has a lot of pickups to recommend.
Playing the instruments has taught me so much about ear playing sounds from instruments that I am now able to discern the differences of strat pickup quality, and how these gadgets are not created equally.
Of the Strat pickups that I have used and reviewed, the Fender Vintage Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup came out to be the best one by far.
Coming from a reputable name, this Stratocaster pickup does not tone it down with the sound and even gets the job done without the hum.
I understand how this may be the best strat pickup for me because it meets my needs, but this may not be everyone’s case.
That is why, I have included other strat pickups that are the best in their respective field, and it may be the one that might fulfill your needs.
Keep reading to find out what’s the best strat pickup in store for you.
Here are the best strat pickups
- Fender Vintage Noiseless Stratocaster Pickups – Best Overall
- Seymour Duncan SSL-5 – Best for Rock
- EMG SA Active Alnico Strat Single Coil – Best for Bell-Like Tones
- Fender Tex-Mex – Best for Warm Blues
- DiMarzio The Chopper – Best for Round and Thick Tones
- TV Jones Starwood – Best for Reduced Microphone Feedback
- Fender Custom Shop Texas Special – Best for Texas Blues
- Seymour Duncan SSL-1 Vintage – Best for Sound Versatility
- Fender Yosemite Stratocaster Pickup Set – Best Circuitry for Modern Tones
- Fender Custom ’69 Stratocaster Pickups – Best for Classic Vintage Sound
Fender’s dependable name in the music industry is a reason to trust its products, but the overall sound quality from the Fender Vintage Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup is something that might get you more excited about using it.
I always get a clear and crisp sound with the Fender Vintage Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup with its single-coil tone.
This guitar gadget has precise technology in picking up every sound without sacrificing the Fender-quality of sound production.
The fact that Fender has produced a noiseless Stratocaster pickup is already a leap of technology and the vintage aesthetic tone with a clear performance.
Vintage-style strat pickups are perfect when you want to have a cool sound, and Fender’s modern circuitry is the perfect complement for this strat pickup’s perfect harmonic attributes.
The Alnico II magnets have a beveled edge, and together with its enamel-coated magnet wire, they both make a brilliantly clear sound and definition in a noise-free platform.
This strat pickup is passive with 6 strings and it is fully covered for bridge, middle, and neck positions.
- Uses Alnico II magnets and enamel-coated magnet wires
- Noiseless strat pickup
- Vintage-style and clear sound performance
- Tricky installation process
If you are on the hunt for a strat pickup perfect for rock music, the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 is the buddy that you can rely on because this beast of a strat pickup will give you killer harmonics and sustain.
Seymour Duncan SSL-5 is a staggered pickup with high output in a single-coil package, allowing musicians to have clear sound transmission.
This strat pickup works best with guitars with heavy and bright tones like those with alder or ash bodies.
Tone delivery is never subpar with the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 as it has an overwound coil that pushes the amp better.
As this strat pickup complements heavy and bright-toned guitars, it is also tailored for rock music of any kind –blues, classic, and even heavy rock.
Because of its marvelous sustain, Seymour Duncan SSL-5 is one of the best bridge strat pickups.
- Great for any kind of rock music
- Works well with heavy and bright-toned guitars
- High output with clear tones
- Can sound noisy and harsh on higher volumes
Strat pickups have that signature sound, but the EMG SA Active Alnich Strat Single Coil will spice up your performances because it is specifically designed to boost up midrange response.
This active strat pickup provides a higher output that will surely give you longer sustain and a bell-like tone for all your musical adventures.
While other strat pickups are great for delivering high output, the bell-like tone from the EMG SA Alnico Strat Single Coil ensures that it keeps a familiar high-end sound.
Personalities like Steve Lukather and David Gilmour do lean towards the EMG SA Active Alnico Strat Single Coil for its versatility, especially with how this set has three active Alnico bar pickups.
Active pickup provides less feedback, and it shows how the EMG SA Active Alnico Strat Single Coil can produce a clean and undistorted sound.
Installation is also easy, and you get your money’s worth with its pre-wired control set, cables, screws, and springs.
- Great bell-like tones are produced
- Provides high output
- Easy installation
- Can be a bit noisy
High output strat pickups can produce harsh sounds, but fortunately, the Fender Tex-Mex has the perfect balance to produce highs and lows.
A unique feature of the Fender Tex-Mex is its use of the Alnico V magnets that make it a cutting-edge vintage pickup with a modern touch as it produces great sound dynamics and focus.
Modernity is far beyond the usual strat pickups with Fender Tex-Mex, especially in that it also uses polysol-coated wires and vinyl-coated lead wires, plus staggered pole pieces that contribute to balanced sound output.
Fender Tex-Mex effortlessly provides users with warm blues, perfect for that Texas grit, and even clean tones at high output.
The simple installation process also draws me significantly, together with an easy-to-read diagram and all the installation hardware needed to put up this strat pickup.
- Simple installation process
- Great sounding warm blues
- Produces a wide range of high and low tones
- Bridge tones can be too bright
The humbucking single-coil design of the DiMarzio The Chopper makes it the excellent pickup for round and loud sounds that will make it seem like your electric guitar is on fire.
Users may hold back from loud and thick sounds, but Dimarzio The Chopper has a balanced sound output with a clean tone.
DiMarzio The Chopper works best for Strat-style guitars and its configurations complement these instruments well.
This pickup has a dual blade design, making it work to the perfect crisp in all positions, but the dual rails make it boost its powerful humbucking feature ideal in the bridge and neck positions.
Another feature that I love about this pickup is how it provides noiseless sound even though it takes pride in providing loud and round sounds.
One thing that is noticeable with the DiMarzio is how amps will feel slightly triggered because of this pickup’s high output and how it increases the low-end and midrange heft.
- Provides noiseless sound
- Great for round and thick tones
- Provides high output with big low-end and midrange heft.
- Mid tones may need some boost
The finest parts of a strat pickup are put together for the TV Jones Starwood strat pick.
TV Jones Starwood is a hand-built strat pickup made with vintage pieces like Alnico magnets and metal pole screws that are voice-tailored.
As this pickup has vintage specs, it produces a distinct mid-last century tone, with a hotter and rounder sound due to its added steel.
Unlike other pickups that have strong and dominating sounds, the TV Jones Starwood has modern weight so it has a balanced output.
What makes TV Jones Starwood stand out from other pickups is how it is waxed which results in reduced microphone feedback on performance.
- Handmade strat pickup with finest parts
- Great vintage-sounding output
- Reduced microphone feedback
- Delicate assembly
Fender is reputable for its instruments and gadgets, and thankfully, it covers the Texas blues with its Fender Custom Shop Texas Special strat pickup.
This strat pickup is designed to keep with the sound of Texas blues, and it is equipped to deliver sparkling highs and tight bass harmoniously.
The Fender Custom Shop Texas Special uses Alnico 5 magnets so it has high output, and it works together with enamel-coated magnet wires that boost this output even more.
Because of its high output, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special is perfect for playing various rock music including classic, metal, and alternative rock, on top of playing Texas blues.
As it plays various music genres, its versatility remains unmatched as it can also play high and glassy tones.
The Fender Custom Shop Texas Special functions perfectly in mid, neck, and bridge positions.
- Perfect for Texas blues
- Versatile and flexible as it can play rock and glassy tones
- Produces high output with Alnico 5 magnets
- Can produce some noise
Don’t limit your music to a certain genre when you know that your strat pickup can accommodate various sounds and tones smoothly.
The Seymour Duncan SSL-1 Vintage is a great strat pickup when you want versatile sounds from your amp because it provides a clean and minimally distorted sound of pop, blues, rock, ska, surf, and country music.
This strat pickup works best with warm-toned guitars like basswood, ash, and alder.
The use of Alnico 5 magnets with moderate windings give out some vintage output from this versatile strat pickup.
Because of its versatility, it can produce punchy sound and some warm tones from its true single-coil strat tone.
- Versatile strat pickup for blues, pop, rock, etc.
- Great for warm-toned guitars
- Delivers vintage output
- Can sound too bright in mid position
Typical strat pickups will deliver their output blandly, but that won’t be the case with Fender Yosemite Stratocaster Pickup Set because it is designed to provide a dynamic well-defined sound.
Fender Yosemite Stratocaster Pickup Set has great circuitry that will provide users with modern tones, from glassy cleans to chimney and even to chunky sounds.
This strat pickup uses Alnico 2 and 4 magnets, with plain enamel-coated wires that work together for an expressive and dynamic output.
Feedback is at bay with its shellac coating, and humming is not a big deal because it has a reverse wound / reverse polarity middle pickup feature.
- Arranged circuitry for modern tones
- Minimal feedback
- Less hum
- Output not too great for loud and banging sounds
Nothing can go wrong when you choose a classic strat pickup from a dependable name, and that is the Fender Custom ’69 Stratocaster Pickups.
As this strat pickup has reliable parts from Fender, it produces a classic and sweet vintage sound using Alnico 5 that is staggered.
Fender Custom ’69 Stratocaster Pickup also uses a special grey bobbin, which is responsible for its crisp and clear highs and thumping low sounds.
Sounds from the 60s and 70s are relieved smoothly with this strat pickup because it is the classic setup that every vintage-loving musician must-have.
- Produces classic vintage sounds
- Crisp highs and fat lows
- Unique staggered Alnico 5s
- Tones lack spark and are not that bright
Strat pickups change the course of a musician’s career by making a strong impact on the sound produced from the guitar.
Searching for the strat pickup that will suit your music taste and playing style can take a while if you don’t have a clue on what to look for in a strat pickup.
Read on this buying guide to gain insight on what strat pickup will match your guitar.
Also Read: HSS vs SSS – What’s the Difference?
One thing that you should consider in buying a strat pickup is the financial aspect, because these guitar gadgets can cost a lot.
There are also affordable and quality strat pickups available in the market today.
You get the most of the strat pickup when it suits your playing style and if it meets the budget.
Active or Passive Pickup
There are two basic types of strat pickups in the market today, the active and passive strat pickups.
Active pickups rely on a power source and thus provide a higher sound output.
Passive pickups rely on the amplifier, where sound is boosted, because it generally creates a weaker signal.
Each kind of pickup has its own advantages and disadvantages so it is hard which one is better, especially that it can be a case to case basis with the music you are playing.
There are strat pickups that have higher output than others, but noise can also be included in the output.
Noiseless pickups are gaining popularity because they have a cleaner output with significantly reduced noise, interference, and hum.
The noiseless feature is not a requirement to have a great sounding pickup, but it can certainly affect the kind of sound played.
Strat pickups vary depending on the highs and low tones that it can translate.
Music genre varies with some kinds of strat pickups, especially that there are brands that specialize in hitting bass, glassy tones, and other unique sounds.
Check out the strat pickup’s features and decide if it coincides with the kind of music you will mostly play.
Some strat pickups are very easy to install as they have diagrams that will aid in the assembly process.
Oftentimes, some strat pickup sets include the installation hardware needed to make sure it sits tightly and in place.
A few may be delicate to install, so installation should be a consideration if that strat pickup is a great one for your performances.
How do strat pickups work?
Strat pickups are connected to electric guitars and no matter the type, they work the same way.
These gadgets primarily gather the string’s vibrations and translate it into a signal used by the amp.
The signal from the pickup is then flowed to the amp and is then passed on to the speaker so sound is produced.
How long do strat pickups last?
Strat pickups have variable life spans and its functionality depends on various factors.
However, no matter the usage, strat pickups deteriorate over time.
They have an average lifespan of 5 years before they start to deteriorate and have issues.
How does an old or low-quality pickup sound?
As strat pickups become older, sound quality also decays.
Old strat pickups sound full and flat over time, and they tend to have weaker tones because sound output has decreased.
Can you use different strat pickups in a single instrument?
Strat pickups are essential for what kind of music you want to play.
These gadgets have a high impact on the sound produced, and sticking to a single kind or brand of strat pickup can limit yourself from the limitless possibilities of music.
Using different strat pickups is fine, but it takes some time to ultimately have the right blend of sounds when you are using different types of strat pickups in a single instrument.
What does a hot pickup mean?
Strat pickups get and translate the string vibrations to the amp, and it sends high output depending on what it played.
Stronger signals that are sent to the amp means that the pickup has higher output, and there is a tendency for the sound to distort through the speaker.
As the strat pickup has the propensity to distort sound, it becomes hot.
How much do they cost?
As strat pickups are integral in performing and practicing, they can come at a wide price range.
Strat pickups start at around $100 as the base price and it can go as high as over $300 for high end and more intricate strat pickup sets.
Strat pickups make or break a performance with the sound quality that it produces.
Not all strat pickups will sound the same, because some have the propensity to lean to a specific type of music, giving artists the full potential to develop their passion on that genre.
Playing the guitar with a dependable strat pickup will harness talent and this can pave the way for new music.
Strat pickups vary in sound output, ability to produce or negate hum, and even microphone feedback and noise.
In this roundup, the Fender Vintage Noiseless Stratocaster stands out for its solid features and performance that every musician will appreciate.