The 5 Best Strat Pickups

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best strat pickups is, then I’d recommend the Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special Pickup Set as the best one. 

Leo Fender’s finest work is the Fender Stratocaster. The Stratocaster first arrived in 1954. And still, this guitar is one of the most iconic and best electric guitars. 

The Strat is the guitar that carried many musicians over the years. Some of the greatest guitarists to play the Stratocaster are Buddy Holly, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Ritchie Blackmore, and The Edge.

As amazing as the Strat is, it still needs amazing pickups. Strat pickups convey your guitar sounds. They help you play your guitar to the beat of all music genres. In essence, a strat pickup enhances guitar playability. It enables you to play music of all genres. From pop to country music to blues and more, changing your pickups is a worthy upgrade.

Strat pickups are great in tone shaping capacities. So if you’re on the hunt for pickups for your Strat, choose one that caters to your style and needs. Get the one that brings the wide range of tones you want to play. 

Here are the Best Strat Pickups we will be reviewing:

What are Strat Pickups?

Pickups such as the Strat pickups all function the same way. They convert the guitar strings’ vibration to electric signals using magnets. These signals flow through an amp. That makes the amplified guitar sounds.

The Strat guitar’s main characteristic is the three single-coil pickup configurations. It works with a 5-mode selector switch to offer versatile tone shaping. It consists of magnets wrapped in a thin wire. 

What is the best pickup for a strat?

When choosing strat pickups, you should choose something that brings about your sound. The best pickup for a strat is the one that caters to your guitar needs. Get the pickup that creates a great and memorable sound.

For most guitar players, the best strat pickups come in the classic setup: a trio of single-coil PAF pickups. Here the middle pickups are wound reverse, in a higher density. So they don’t impact the magnetic fields negatively. They also cancel out hums. This design is necessary to prevent the single-coil pickups from getting electrical signals in the background. 

What makes a Stratocaster pickup?

A Stratocaster pickup consists of magnetic poles wrapped in thin copper wires. It is not mounted onto a metal plate. Baseplate and top plates sandwich the pickup. And it usually has vinyl, chrome, or bass covers. They are shorter than Telecaster pickups. And have higher outputs.

What do they sound like?

Strat pickups offer a wide variety of sounds. Single-coil pickups provide bright, glassy sounds. They are lively and expressive. Humbuckers, on the other hand, offer full, aggressive tones. 

Strat pickups work well for a broad range of genres. You can use it for everything from pop to rock to blues music and beyond.

When to Use Strat Pickups for Your Guitar?

If you have a Strat-style guitar, you need to use strat pickups. Usually, stock pickups do not offer versatile sounds. So to upgrade your guitar, you should practice pickup swapping

A strat pickup is the best investment you can make for guitar tone shaping. They optimize a Strat guitar’s acoustic output. When a hum starts appearing in the tones of your guitar playing, it’s time to change your pickup.

Factors in Choosing Strat Pickups

When choosing strat pickups, there are several factors to consider. These include the setup of the pickup, electronics, configuration, magnets used, tonal versatility, noise level, location, and your budget.

Types of Pickups

Strat pickups differ in their design.

Single Coil

The original Stratocaster pickup is single-coil. Their bright, bell-like tones offer high-frequency responses. They are used in rock ‘n roll, R&B, and blues music. 

They consist of copper wires wound around a single coil with magnets spanning the guitar strings. This design leaves them vulnerable to picking up electrical interference and hums. 

Humbucker

Humbuckers are pickups with two coils merged. They eliminate hum and electrical interference. They offer deep, aggressive tones, compared to the lively sounds of single coils.

Electronics

Pickups also differ in the way they receive power to pick up guitar string vibrations. 

Active Circuit

Active pickups produce weak signals that are boosted with battery-run preamps before the amplifier receives the signals. They have very high output. Even though they have fewer copper windings and weaker magnets than their passive counterparts. They also offer a digital sound that suits modern music such as metal and hard rock.

Passive Circuit

Passive pickups work with countless copper windings around their coils. Strong magnets produce an electromagnetic field around the guitar strings. They offer expressive and organic tones with high reliability. 

Configuration

Stratocasters also vary in pickup configurations. They fit different guitar styles and playing habits. The most popular configurations are SSS (a trio of single-coils), SSH (dual single-coils with a humbucker), HSH (2 Humbuckers with a single-coil at the middle), HH (dual humbuckers), and HHH (a trio of humbuckers).

Magnets

Each pickup contains a magnet. There are different magnets for varying tonal needs. 

Alnico

The most popular magnets for strat pickups are Alnico magnets. Each of these magnets is made from a blend of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt. 

The most common magnets in guitar pickups are Alnico V. Their notes are rich and thick with a bit more midrange response. 

The most preferred magnet is Alnico II. It is placed in neck pickups and humbuckers. It offers clear, defined tones with less high-end. 

Alnico III has no cobalt and even weaker magnets than the Alnico II. Still, it offers a similar tonal profile as the aforementioned. 

Ceramic

If you get cheaper pickups, these pickups usually have ceramic magnets. They are also used prominently in active pickups and those in metal and heavy rock.

Tonal Versatility

When choosing your strat pickups, you need to consider how your pickup tones will fit in your rig. Consider the broader range of tones you want to create, not only on a specific sound. Play with your style. Don’t just copy your favorite musicians.

Noise Level

Noise while guitar playing is quite common. Single-coil guitars project some humming sounds. But most players and audio engineers find it easier to use noiseless guitars. Many pickups in the market can reduce or eliminate the buzzing.

Location

You can get pickups from different locations. These locations include neck, bridge, and middle. You can get pickup sets and individual pickups. It all depends on what you need for your guitar playing.

Budget

Always remember that you choose strat pickups to upgrade your guitar sound. Changing your pickups is not easy. It involves changing the electronics in your guitar. So you need to be careful in buying new pickups. 

So choose the pickup that fits within your budget. But also look at the way you want to play your guitar. Knowing which is the best one to invest in will help you save in the long term. Don’t waste your money getting pickups that you will feel dissatisfied with afterward.

Here are the best strat pickups for you.

Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special Pickup Set

Are you looking for strat pickups that offer improved playability? Then the Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special Pickup Set would be an excellent choice. This pickup set comes from the maker of the Stratocaster itself. So they can offer a wide range of pleasant tones for any guitarist.

One of my favorite features of this pickup set is its tonal versatility. It uses enamel-coated magnet wires and Alnico V magnets for more acoustic focus and dynamic range. It has a wide range of chirps, crystal highs, and tight bass. I used this in a G&L Strat Guitar, in which I got clearer guitar tones regardless of position. They sound sweet and clean through my amp.

They are also very easy to install in any Strat-style guitar. I also love its solid one-year warranty and fast shipping.

Pros:

  • Enamel-coated magnet wire for warm vintage tone
  • Alnico 5 magnets for more focus and enhanced dynamics
  • Reverse-wound middle pickup to eliminate hum
  • Overwound calibrated pickups for scorching output
  • Its a set of 3 with a 1-year warranty included

Cons:

  • Harsh buzzes
  • Some screw issues
  • Weak bridge pickup

Seymour Duncan California ’50s Strat Pickup Set

Looking to produce bright, vintage tones from modern guitars? Get Seymour Duncan’s California 50’s Strat Set. This pickup set offers great value for the money.

My favorite is excellent tonal quality. You get big, full tones with bell-like highs and a clear bottom end. It comes balanced out with mid and low tones. This effect is especially present out of the neck pickup and middle two pole pieces. The guitar with these pickups shines through all other instruments during live performances.

It is very easy to install. With excellent touch sensitivity. And this pickup is flexible with a consistent fantastic tone regardless of playing conditions.

Pros:

  • Clear, full, and balanced tones
  • Easy to install
  • Great touch sensitivity
  • Great value for the money

Cons:

  • Staggered poles
  • No pickup covers

EMG DG20 David Gilmour Active Pickguard Set

Want guitar sounds designed by world-class artists? David Gilmour’s DG-20 is a solid investment. It comes from David Gilmour’s revolutionary artistry in guitar playing. It offers fantastic sounds through active pickups. 

My favorite feature of this pickup set is its clean, versatile tonal range. You get increased treble and bass frequencies and enhanced earthiness and mid-range. These fine tones come from Alnico-loaded single-coil pickups, Guitar Expander, and presence control.

It is also very easy to install with white knobs and mother-of-pearl pickguards. You just need to change its pickguard. Otherwise, David Gilmour’s DG-20 will not suit most pickguards of guitars.

Pros:

  • Pro Series David Gilmour custom design
  • Custom 11-hole white pearl pickguard with white knobs
  • Increased treble and bass frequencies and enhanced earthiness and mid-range
  • Complete and ready to mount to your guitar
  • Long-lasting

Cons:

  • Crackling buzz
  • No traditional tone controls
  • Won’t fit most pickguards

Fender Generation 4 Noiseless Stratocaster Pickups

Want to eliminate noise in your guitar performance? Then Fender’s Gen 4 Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup Set would be a great buy. It offers vintage-style tones with noise reduction. 

Fender created this revolutionary pickup set with innovative technologies. It offers everything from crisp, clear, clean tones to big, overdriven rock tones. They offer the single-coil experience without the annoying 60 cycle hum.

For guitarists with the tools and know-how of guitar mechanics, Fender’s Gen 4 Strat Pickups are superb. Worth every penny and effort.

Pros:

  • Noise-free and comfortable with no annoying 60-cycle hum
  • It comes with a set of three single-coil Stratocaster pickups
  • It has a vintage-style tone
  • Shielded wire for even more noise reduction
  • Installation hardware included
  • DC Resistance: 10.3k

Cons:

  • Requires some expert tools for installation
  • Don’t fit all strat guitar models

Lace 21063-01 Sensor Value Pack Guitar Electronics

Looking for a multi-output pickup set? You might like the Lace Sensor Ultimate Single-Coil Pickup Set. All its pickups offer tonal versatility for all music genres. 

The Red Sensor provides the hottest output which makes it ideal for the bridge position. The Silver Sensor is in the middle position. It can produce fat, clear tones with more output and midrange. Then the Blue Sensor is in the neck position. It offers warm humbucking sounds in a single-coil setup. 

This set would make a great purchase if you have a wide range of tones to play.

Pros:

  • Lace Sensor Red perfect for the bridge position when fat
  • Lace Sensor Silver for increased output and more midrange
  • Lace Sensor Blue with the warmer 50’s humbucking sound in a single coil configuration
  • Delivers great tone with no hum and versatile musicality (from punk to jazz)
  • Affordable with clear, dynamic playability

Cons:

  • You change the covers unlike traditional single-coil pickups
  • The too-loud bridge pickup

Conclusion

The Stratocaster is an iconic electric guitar. It has served many legendary musicians the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Buddy Holly. To complement this impressive guitar, you use strat pickups. Strat pickups use magnets to pick up guitar strings’ vibration. Then they convert the vibrations to electronic signals. Flowed through an amp, they turn into amplified guitar sounds.

The best strat pickup I recommend is the Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special Pickup Set. These pickups enhanced the playability of any Stratocaster guitar. Coming from Fender, the maker of the Stratocaster, you get a lot of top-notch tonal range here. You get clear guitar tones, regardless of the position you put them in. These pickups are also very easy to install. Fender also offers fast shipping and a strong one-year warranty.

Alex Shute
AUTHOR
Alex Shute
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow. In his free time, he enjoys perfecting pour-over coffee, smoking meats, and discovering new cycling routes around Southern California.