10 Best Strat Pickups of 2023

Fender, DiMarzio, and Seymour Duncan guitar pickups have been the best on the market for decades, so we picked out some of our favorites for anyone looking to spice up their Strat.

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These Strat pickups will provide you with the classic rock tone, heavy metal tone, or Texas blues tone you’re looking for.

Fender’s ’57/’62 is going to be one of our favorites for vintage tone, and DiMarzio’s Tone Zone S will give you the perfect heavy and clean tone for heavy metal. We’re also fans of Fender’s Custom Shop Texas Special pickups for blues, rock, and jazz.

All of our picks have been easy ways of upgrading old and new Strats. They’re reliable and not too pricey, so see which one will give you the tone you’re looking for.

Quick Summary of the Best Strat Pickups

  1. Fender Original ’57/’62 Stratocaster (Best Overall for Vintage Tone)
  2. Seymour Duncan SSL-4 Quarter Pound Single Coil Pickup (Best Budget-Friendly Pickup)
  3. Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Pickup Set (Best Strat Pickups for Blues)
  4. DiMarzio The Tone Zone Single Coil Pickup (Best for Metal)
  5. Fender Hot Noiseless Strat Single Coil Pickup Set (Best Noiseless Strat Pickups)
  6. Fender Eric Johnson Signature Strat Pickup Set (Runner Up for Blues Fans)
  7. Seymour Duncan SHR-1 Single-Coil Humbucker Pickup (For Humbucker Enthusiasts)
  8. Mojotone “59 Clone” Strat Pickup Set (Runner Up for Vintage Sound)
  9. Fender Fat ’50s Strat Pickup Set (Great Pick for Vintage Sound)
  10. Fender CuNiFe Stratocaster Single-coil Pickup Set (Hottest New Strat Pickup)

Best Stratocaster Pickups Reviewed

1. Best Overall for Vintage Tone – Fender Original ’57/’62 Stratocaster 3-piece Pickup Set – Standard

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: Neck/Middle: 5.6k; Bridge: 6k
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Style: Single-Coil

The Fender Original ’57/62 pickup set earns best overall, producing that classic vintage Fender tone we all know and love. Whether you’re playing jazz or rock music, you’ll get that warm, full-bodied tone.

The set of vintage-style pickups includes 3—a bridge pickup, a middle pickup, and a neck pickup. The bridge produces a bright tone with lots of attack. The middle is more balanced for rhythm and lead playing and the neck pickup is warm, mellow, and has plenty of sustain.

The single-coil pickups use Alnico V magnets, which are popular for their high output, making them great picks for blues and rock music. All in all, one of the best Strat pickups for everyone and for anyone who thinks their current pickup is too harsh—these provide the perfect vintage Strat tones.

2. Best Budget-Friendly Pickup Seymour Duncan SSL-4 Quarter Pound Flat Pole Neck/Bridge Strat Single Coil Pickup – Black

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: 13.4K
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Style: Single-coil

If you’re shopping for a Strat pickup for under $80, you’ll still want to make sure it doesn’t lack quality. Seymour has a good rap for quality pickups and can be a little pricey, but they still have quality pickups under $100.

Their Seymour Duncan SSL-4 Quarter Pound pickup is a high-output and single-coil pickup. It features flat pole pieces to increase output and midrange presence. Use it in the neck or bridge area.

It has a fat punch tone and a 2-wire configuration. 2-wire may not be as versatile as 4-wire, but it still provides great tone and is a great pick if you enjoy simple configuration. It’ll come in handy for a variety of genres such as blues, classic rock, garage, heavy rock, and metal.

With an Alnico v magnet, you can expect a powerful and clear tone. They also help provide warmth and rich sustain. Customers love that this single-coil is beefy, and sounds similar to a P90. (Which is the vintage pickup used in early Gibsons.)

3. Best Strat Pickups for Blues – Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Stratocaster Pickups 3-piece Set

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: Bridge & Middle – 6.5k, Pickup 6.0k
  • Magnet: Alnico
  • Style: Single-coil

Get excited Texas Blues fans. You’ll soon sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, and Gary Clark Jr. This single-coil pickup is made for guitarists looking for a bluesy tone with a classic mid-range bite.

You’ll get a bridge (higher output for a crunchy tone), middle (lower output than the bridge for a clear, bell-like tone), and neck (lower output than the bridge for a warm tone) pickup.

It uses an Alnico magnet, a great magnet for producing a range of tones. The pickup set uses a 2-wire configuration for easy connection. Keep in mind that 2-wire is pretty common on single-coil pickups. Players agree that they are great for anyone who likes the sound of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

4. Best for Metal – DiMarzio The Tone Zone S Bridge/Neck Single Coil Sized Humbucker Pickup

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: 12.39 K
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Style: Strat style humbucker

Shopping for a metal pickup can be hard if you play a Strat, however, DiMarzio’s got you covered with what you need. The Tone Zone S is a humbucker pickup designed for a single-coil slot, meaning you can use it in the bridge of the neck position of a Strat.

Sweetwater says it’s a relief for Strat players, and they’re righ. You’ll still get the high-output and full-bodied tone as the original humbucker, just more compact. The Tone Zone S uses ceramic magnets and has 4-conductor wiring, which gives you the ability to split the coils.

You’ll have a variety of configuration for heavy and clean tones. Overall, this is exactly what you need for heavy rock and metal. Players are so impressed with this pickup and replaced all of their pickups with this one.

5. Best Noiseless Strat Pickups – Fender Hot Noiseless Strat Single Coil 3-piece Pickup Set

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: 10.4k bridge pickup, 10.4k middle, and 10.9k neck
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Style: Single-coil

Whether you’re recording a playing a gig, sometimes a noiseless pickup is necessary. Eliminate the hum and buzz for interference once and for all. Fender’s noiseless single-coil pickup has an enhanced output and mid-range punch.

The 3-piece Stratocaster pickup set is perfect for various playing styles, including blocks, rock, and metal. It has a ceramic magnet for higher output and a brighter tone than standard Strat single coils. Customers say they’re perfect for Deep Purple, Sytx, and Grand Funk Railroad sounds.

6. Runner Up for Blues Fans –  Fender Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster 3-piece Pickup Set – Vintage White

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: 6.7-6.9K bridge, 6.3-6.5K middle, 5.8-6K neck
  • Magnets: Alnico III (neck & middle), Alnico V (bridge)
  • Style: Single-coil

Fender and Eric Johnson collaborated for this 3-piece Strat pickup set, creating a replicated vintage-style Strat pickup sound of Eric’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster. The pickup set was designed with clarity, warmth, and tonal balance in mind.

It comes with 3 pickups for a neck, middle, and bridge. The neck pickup is smooth, the middle is balanced, and the bridge is punchy. Each pickup is made with alnico V magnets for balanced output across all strings.

While these technically aren’t noiseless Strat pickups, the coil wounding is designed to minimize interference. Customers love that these pickups transformed their guitars.

7. For Humbucker Enthusiasts – Seymour Duncan SHR-1 Hot Rails Strat Single-Coil-Sized Humbucker Pickup White Bridge

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: 16.5k
  • Magnet: Ceramic
  • Style: Humbucker style Strat

Seymour’s Duncan SHR-1 Hot Rails pickup is a miniaturized version of their full-sized humbucker pickups. It has a high-output single coil designed to give a powerful and aggressive sound to heavy metal players.

Guitar Center says it responds to the subtlest finger movements. You’ll get great sustain and full sound for playing rock or heavy metal music.

It uses a ceramic magnet that’s strong and built to last and even has 2 rows of adjustable pole pieces for fine-tuning. It’s super easy to install too. Use this pickup if you want face-melting solos!

8. For Vintage Sound – Mojotone “59 Clone” Strat Pickup Set

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: Neck: 5.78k, Middle: 6.12k, Bridge: 5.94k
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Style: Single-coil

Mojotone’s 59 Clone set is a replicate of the classic Strat tone of the ’50s. It comes with a neck (warm and woody), middle (balanced and versatile), and bridge pickup (bright and punchy).

Each pickup has an Alnico magnet, which is great for a warm vintage tone. Overall, each pickup has a warm and clear tone.

The pickups also feature staggered pole pieces for balanced output across the strings. These vintage-style Strat pickups are great for classic rock, blues, indie rock, and pop genres. Customers love the dynamic range.

9. Another Great Pick for Vintage Sound – Fender Fat ’50s Strat Pickup Set

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: Neck: 5.78k, Middle: 6.12k, Bridge: 5.94k
  • Magnet: Alnico V
  • Style: Single-coil

Looking for a vintage rock tone with more output? The Fender Fat ’50s Strat pickup set will do just that. The set of pickups includes a neck, middle, and bridge pickup. The neck pickup is smooth, the middle is balanced and versatile, and the bridge is pretty punchy.

All pickups feature Alnico 5 magnets and produce a warm and rich sound. They are wound with enameled-coated magnet wire for an authentic vintage tone. Perfect for rock, country, blues, and jazz genres. They are smooth, round, and full tones, but the neck is a favorite amongst customers.

 10. A Hot New Pickup – Fender CuNiFe Stratocaster Single-coil Pickup Set

best strat pickup


  • Resistance: Neck: 9.6k, Middle: 10.0k, and Bridge:10.5k
  • Magnets: Chrome, Nickel, Iron
  • Style: Single-coil

Fender’s CuNiFe (copper, nickel, and iron) Strat pickup set is a great pick for achieving the sound of the ’60s and ’70s. The unique copper, nickel, and iron alloy used in the ’50s and ’60s are also used in these pickups.

Seth Lover’s design lives on. They are quite the splurge, but the high output is worth it. Lots of drive and distortion is what you’ll get.

The passive pickup has a 3-wire configuration. A major perk is that the pickup has a heavy chrome cover to help reduce 60-cycle hum.

This also makes it a great pick for recording! These three single-coil pickups are pretty new, so try ’em out and see if they’ll become part of your rig.

Strat Pickups Buyer’s Guide

Our strat pickups buyer’s guide covers the different types of pickups available for Stratocaster guitars, including single-coil and humbucker pickups, as well as the different magnet types and output levels. We also dig into the important qualities we considered (and recommend you do as well) to pick the best strat pickups on the market

Whether you’re looking for classic or modern tone, this guide will help you find the right pickup to achieve the sound you want.

Different Types of Pickups

Active or Passive Pickups

Passive pickups are going to be the majority of pickups you’ll see. They are quiet, however, they can be susceptible to lights or computer monitors.

Noiseless pickups are designed to completely eliminate noise and interference. Instead of using a passive pickup design with one coil wrapped around the magnet, passive pickups have 2 coils of wire that are wrapped in 2 different directions.

The result is a cleaner and clearer tone. A good classic pickup likely won’t be noiseless, but you can still find a good noiseless pickup for classic sound.

Also, note that passive pickups depend on the magnetic field to induce an electrical signal, but active pickups need a battery to operate. They have an internal preamp circuit to boost the signal from the pickup before it is sent to the amp.

Humbucker Pickups

Humbuckers have 2 coils of wire wrapped up in 2 directions (single-coil has one). With 2 coils, you get a thicker tone for more midrange and bass. There’s also less interference from other devices. Humbuckers are often used for Telecasters. Be sure you don’t buy a Tele pickup for your Strat unless you’re willing to put in the work for mods.

Single-Coil Pickup Sets

They’re pretty straightforward, they’re a single piece of coil wrapped around a magnetic pole. These pickups are known for their bright and clear sound. Single-coil pickups are often used for Strats.

A con is that many guitarists note that they’re more susceptible to interference, so to prevent humming they opt for noiseless pickups.

Magnet Types in Strat Pickups

Alnico magnets are made of aluminum, nickel, cobalt, and iron. They are the most common type of magnet used in passive pickups. They produce a warm vintage tone that guitarists love. So, how do these magnets work?

When a string vibrates over the pickup, an electric signal is generated in the pickup’s coils. In layman’s terms, the pickup magnet uses a magnetic field to pick up the vibrations of the strings and convert them into an electrical signal.

Another common magnet type in most pickups is ceramic. Ceramic magnets offer more output and a brighter tone. They’re known for being more resistant than other magnets, making them pretty strong, even though many would say they’re cheaper than Alnico magnets.

They work the same way Alnico magnets do but typically have more aggressive tone than Alnico magnets. So, if you’re shopping for heavy rock or metal Stratocaster pickups, you may want to make sure it has a ceramic magnet. (An alnico magnet will still do the trick though.)

There are also other types of magnets like neodymium and samarium cobalt that offer different tonal characteristics, but you won’t see these as often.

Output Level for Strat Pickups

The higher the output, the louder and more powerful the sound will be. Output level is ultimately factored by the amount of windings in the pickup coil, magnet type, and placement (bridge or neck). More windings equal a higher output.

Also, consider the genre you’ll be playing. If you’ll be playing rock and metal, you’d want a higher output. But if you’ll play jazz and blues, a lower output that’s subtle will sound great.

Consider the Brand Reputation

Lastly, brand and price will play a huge role. Some brands have better raps for quality. You are getting the best of the best when you shop Fender, DiMarzio, and Seymour.

Many of these brands are often imitated, and sometimes you just have to go with the original and pay more for the quality and sound you want to achieve, especially for vintage tone.

Although there are other affordable Fender, Seymour, and DiMarzio pickups, there are other brands that make quality budget-friendly pickups too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Kind of Pickups Does Eric Clapton Use in His Strat?

Eric Clapton, AKA, Slowhand, has used lots of pickups over his career, including the Fender’s Vintage Noiseless pickups and Texas Special pickups.

The noiseless pickups were for a clean, clear tone and the Texas Special pickups were great picks for his Strat for getting a thick tone with increased midrange.

You can find Fender guitars and Fender Custom Shop Texas pickups at Sweetwater.

What Kind of Pickups Does John Mayer Use?

John Mayer has used Big Dipper pickups and his signature pickups. Big Dipper’s single-coil pickups were designed for his signature Fender Strat. They have a clear and bell-like tone.

His signature pickup is a collab with PRS guitars. They’re a combo of single-coil and humbucker designs.

What Kind of Pickups Did Jimi Hendrix Use?

Jimi Hendrix used various Fender Strat pickups. Bright and clear tone pickups were part of his signature sound.

He also used various single-coils and humbuckers, along with custom pickups from Seymour Duncan during the peak of his career.

Can You Change Pickup Covers?

Changing the pickup covers is pretty straightforward for most. Guitarists choose to change the covers for aesthetic (chrome is pretty popular) or completely remove them to see if it sounds different, however, it’s important to note that they are there to keep the magnet safe.

Check out this YouTube video for a quick tutorial. Learn how to change your Strat pickup cover in 5 minutes.

What’s the Difference Between Bass vs Guitar Pickups?

They perform the same functions, but bass pickups are typically larger. It’s recommended to not put a bass pickup on your guitar. Some say it’s not worth it because you’ll have to make modifications. You should leave the bass pickups to your bass and the guitar pickups to your electric guitar.

If you have the time and are looking for a DIY project, it could be a fun discovery, otherwise, it may not be worth adding other pickups meant for bass.

Pickups are a great investment. Something all musicians will struggle with the more seasoned they become is boredom. That means it’s time to experiment with more advanced lessons, songwriting tools, and effects.

Once you experiment with new pickups you’ll become addicted to all the different sounds you can create with your Strat. You can begin learning what you like for a variety of genres, especially if you play blues rock, indie rock, heavy metal, jazz, and country. The opportunities are endless with the right Strat pickups.


There’s a lot to consider when shopping for your new pickup, but to make things simple, make sure the pickup is compatible with your Strat. Single-coil pickups and humbucker-style pickups for Strats will be your best bet.

Make sure it’s noiseless if humming has been an issue at live gigs or recording sessions, and make sure you buy a 3-piece pickup set if you’ll want a pickup for the bridge, neck, and middle.

You’ll also want to consider budget and magnet type. You’ll likely spend between $90-$230 or so on a pickup, however, some vintage pickups can be closer to $300. As for magnets, remember that ceramic magnets are great for heavy metal.

If you’re set on a single-coil pickup with vintage tone, we recommend Fender’s Pure Vintage ’57/’62 Stratocaster Pickup Set, and if you’re set on a pickup for metal, consider Seymour Duncan SSL-4 Quarter Pound single coil pickup. For blues, Fender’s Custom Shop Texas Special pickups are perfect.

Photo Courtesy Guitar Center

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