Fender Original ’57/’62 Stratocaster Pickup Set Review: Get the Vintage Strat Sound

Are you tired of sacrificing that vintage, iconic sound in your Stratocaster for the sake of modern convenience? Or maybe you want to upgrade your basic Squire Strat pickups with something a bit nicer that gives you a vintage sound.

Well, I've been there myself, searching for the perfect pickup set to capture the timeless tone of the '50s and '60s without compromising on performance. Enter the Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set, a solution meticulously crafted to revive the golden era of Strat tones while meeting the demands of contemporary players.

But you need to consider this upgrade carefully before making the purchase. Buying and fitting the wrong pickups in your guitar can be a huge pain – you might end up hating the sound, and having to replace them again. So make sure that you decide if this set of Fender Original pickups is right for you.

You should think about whether this classic Strat tone is really what you want – while I love the vintage Strat sound, it certainly isn't for everyone. So I'll also be sharing some of my favorite alternatives later in this guide.

That said, I'm a huge fan of these Fender pickups – they're very well made, they have an authentic traditional strat tone, and they're a large improvement over most stock pickups fit in mid-level guitars. Pair these with a good tube amp and you're ready to rock.

Keep reading this review to get my full verdict on the '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup set, and a list of important things to think about when buying new Stratocaster pickups!

If you're interested, you should buy these through the Sweetwater website – they come at a lower price compared to the Fender website! You can thank me later...

Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set: Overview

Fender Original '57/'62

The Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set is a bundle of three Fender pickups, which have been reverse-engineered from pickups in an authentic 1963 Stratocaster. In this bundle, you'll receive the neck pickup, middle pickup, and bridge pickup, and all the wiring you need to install them in your Stratocaster.

These stand out compared to other Strat pickups for their old-school sound. These aren't designed to have the aggressive range of modern strat pickups and instead offer a clear sound with warm lows and resonant mids. The hand-beveled pole pieces and Formvar-coated magnet wire are some of the fine details that have been used in the manufacturing of these pickups to add to the authenticity, in terms of tone and looks.

These make a great upgrade over the standard pickups found in factory Stratocasters – for example, I used them in my MIM Stratocaster from 2015, and I couldn't be happier with the improvement.

Why I Like It

  • They deliver an authentic vintage tone, with the classic '60s and '50s sound.
  • They're versatile and work well for a range of playing styles and amp setups.
  • The build quality is exceptional, with high attention to detail, reliability, and durability.

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • Being vintage-styled, these do have a slightly higher noise floor than more modern pickups, particularly with higher gain settings.
  • Because these require soldering, the installation process might be a bit daunting for inexperienced guitar tinkerers – I would recommend getting a pro to install them if you're not sure what to do.

Average Rating: 4.5/5

Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set Review: The Details

As a guitarist who's always been drawn to the classic tones of the '50s and '60s, trying out the Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set was a dream come true. Let me break down my experience across the various factors.

Vintage Tone Reproduction & Sound Quality: 5/5

Fender Original '57/'62

From the moment I plugged in my guitar, I was blown away by the authenticity of the vintage tones produced by these pickups. The neck pickup delivered lush, warm tones perfect for smooth bluesy leads, while the bridge pickup had that iconic twang and bite reminiscent of early rock 'n' roll recordings. The middle pickup had a good balance between the two.

I was using it with new strings and on a Strat with a maple neck, so it might have added a bit of extra brightness, but you can instantly tell that these are good pickups from the moment you hear them.

As far as vintage authenticity goes, I really couldn't fault these. It was easy to dial in a guitar tone that sounded exactly like it was from a '60s record – even when I was using a more modern amplifier.

Despite being vintage, these aren't muddy or unclear. There was a lot of clarity and precision in the tone, I felt they had a great dynamic range in their articulation and the expression of my performance.

I will say, that they are a little bit noisier than modern Strat pickups, but I think this is to be expected, and is even part of the charm. This makes them even more authentic, as this is exactly how the pickups were turned back in the day. When you really crank them through distortion and overdrive, the noise is pretty high at times, but that's not really what these pickups are intended for, so I can't criticize this as much of a downside. If you mind the higher noise floor (which is authentic to the originals), you might consider some of the Fender vintage noiseless pickups instead.

Versatility: 4/5

While these pickups particularly excel at recreating vintage tones, I was pleasantly surprised by their versatility. Whether I was playing clean arpeggios, crunchy power chords, or fast solos, this pickup set delivered my playing like a champ.

What truly impressed me was their adaptability across a range of genres. While they may not be tailored for the extreme gain of metal music, I found their tone to be well-suited for everything from blues and rock to funk and indie. The beauty lies in the ability to blend these pickups using the strat pickup switch, offering a myriad of tonal possibilities. It's this versatility that makes them stand out in a crowded market.

Despite what you may think, they're far from one-trick ponies – and I was happy with their performance for most playing styles and genres. These are very versatile compared to a lot of pickups on the market, which can be a bit more limited.

Build Quality: 5/5

Close up of the Fender Original '57/'62

The build quality of these pickups is top-notch. From the sturdy construction to the attention to detail, it's clear that Fender spared no expense in ensuring reliability and longevity.

These have the quality to last for years of gigging, and they've got the reliability and steadfastness to be perfect for studio work, where consistency is key. They're known to deliver consistent performance every time, and I really don't see them wearing out or breaking for decades, or even if you take care of them.

I experienced no unexpected noise issues or scratching, which you can get with cheaper, more inferior products. Overall I can't find anything to fault with these pickups in terms of their build quality.

Installation: 4/5

Three Fender Originals

Installing these pickups required a bit of soldering skill, but with the help of some online tutorials, I was able to get the job done without too much trouble. However, for those less experienced with guitar electronics, professional installation may be worth considering to ensure optimal results.

You will need to unscrew your pickguard, remove the pickups, and disconnect the wires, then solder the new pickups to the correct terminal. The wires that come with this set were long enough and didn't add any extra difficulty.

These offered a pretty standard experience for installing new pickups. There isn't much to fault, I mean installing pickups is generally a pain – but these didn't take any complex modifications unlike putting in a set of active pickups, which is a nightmare.

If you're confident, you could easily do it yourself, but you might want to get help if you haven't done it before.

Things to Consider Before Buying Stratocaster Pickups

Before diving into the world of Stratocaster pickups, it's essential to understand the problems they solve and why they're sought after.

Stratocaster pickups play a pivotal role in shaping the tone of your guitar, offering a wide range of sonic possibilities. Whether you're chasing the vintage warmth of the '50s and '60s or aiming for a more modern, high-output sound delivered by the Fender Deluxe Drive pickups, the right pickups can elevate your playing experience.

The ideal customer for Stratocaster pickups is someone who values versatility and tone quality in their playing. They may be seeking to upgrade their stock pickups to achieve a specific sound or looking to customize their instrument to suit their playing style better. Conversely, those who prioritize simplicity and are content with their guitar's current tone may not find as much value in purchasing new pickups.

These might not be the right type of pickups for you, so make sure you consider the following factors before buying them.

Tone Style

One of the first things to think about when choosing new pickups for a Strat is the type of tone you're looking for. There is a huge amount of variation in the market, from vintage and traditional to aggressive and modern.

Ultimately the best choice depends on what type of music you like to play and what sort of amp and tone settings you're into.

Personally, I'm more of a fan of the vintage Strat sound, preferring light overdrive rather than aggressive distortion. I found this '57 set is definitely more on the vintage end, and isn't ideal for higher gain scenarios, but it still has a fair level of tonal versatility.

Single Coil or Humbuckers

Single Coil and Humbuckers

Another big choice to make is whether you want single coil or humbucking pickups.

By default, Strats come fitted with some of the best single coil pickups, which are known for their bright, thinner, and cutting sound, which is ideal for crystal lead tones and jangly chords.

Alternatively, humbuckers are thicker, warmer, and more punchy, and have reduced noise, but aren't as defined as single coils. These typically respond better to distortion and high gain and don't have as much harshness.

While many humbuckers are too large to naturally fit in a strat (and would require some complex modification) you can now find a lot of humbucker pickups that have been shrunk down into the smaller, single coil footprint size. For example, the Seymour Duncan Billy Gibbons Red Devil.

Again, this is a personal preference based on how you like your guitar to sound, and respond to your playing.

Active or Passive

Active or Passive Fender Original

You can find Strat pickups in both active and passive variants. Passive pickups are the original form, which is more common. Active pickups are a newer style, which features a built-in, powered preamp (that requires a 9v battery or similar.)

Active pickups offer higher gain and a louder signal. These are designed to respond better to distortion and are preferred by harder genre guitarists, like metal and punk rock.


Fender Original in a box

One essential consideration is whether the pickups you're looking at are naturally compatible with your Strat. Some pickups have different shapes, sizes, and footprints, and they're not all going to fit naturally into your guitar.

You probably don't want to have to drill out extra holes in your precious Stratocaster, so make sure you do some research into the pickups and your guitar. These 57s use the standard Strat shape, so they should be perfectly fine with any official Squier and Fender Stratocasters.

Price and Budget

One of the final things to consider is your budget, the price of the pickups, and the value of your guitar. You want to spend a decent amount of money to make an upgrade, but at the same time, you don't want your pickups to be in price and quality leagues above your guitar.

For example, using a really nice and expensive set of pictures on a cheap, mediocre guitar is a bit of a waste of money. The lower quality of the guitar will bring the overall quality down – so make sure that you choose something that is appropriate – sometimes it's worth buying a better guitar rather than trying to improve a bad one.

Best Alternatives to Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set

While I'm a huge fan of these '57/'62 Fender Original pickups, they might not be for everyone. There are a lot of decent alternatives on the market, that provide a slightly different approach to this style of pickup.

You can find a full list of alternatives in our best Strat pickups guide, but here are some of my top picks:

Billy Gibbons Red Devil vs Fender Original '57/'62

Billy Gibbons Red Devil

These are a very interesting set of Stratocaster pickups that take an exciting new approach. Despite looking like single-coil pickups (and being the same size) these are actually a full set of humbuckers. This helps you to take advantage of the punchy, low-noise, hum-free sound of humbucker pickups in your Stratocaster, without the need for any complex bodywork.

They have a thick, fat tone that responds nicely to distortion. While they are a bit niche, they were one of my favorites from the full review.

Fender Vintage Noiseless vs Fender Original '57/'62

Fender Vintage Noiseless

As I already mentioned, the main Fender Originals in this review are pretty noisy, which might be a bit offputting for certain players. That's where these Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups might be more attractive to you.

These are a bit more expensive, but they deliver the same authentic vintage Strat sound, but with a reduced noise floor – in fact, these are basically noiseless. These are some of the cleanest sounding single-coil strat pickups I've played, and I recommend looking into them if you want a cleaner tone.

EMG SA/SA/81 Active vs Fender Original '57/'62

EMG SA/SA/81 Active

This set of active pickups takes a completely different approach to the vintage style of the '57s. EMG are pioneers of active pickups, and this triple set is incredibly innovative in its design, tone, and versatility.

This bundle comes with two single-coil pickups, and a bridge humbucker, giving you a huge range of sounds. Ok, these do require a fair amount of modification to fit in a Strat, as they won't go in directly by default. You'll need to make room for the larger humbucker bar, as well as cut out a cavity to install the battery and additional electronics. But if you want a powerful active tone, it's well worth the effort.

Final Verdict

Fender Original '57/'62 set

Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of the Fender Original '57/'62 set all around. They really are what they say they are – a vintage-styled, authentic set of Stratocaster pickups that match the sound of the original guitars from back in the day.

Sure, this vintage style might not be for everyone, but then you wouldn't be looking at vintage pickups. As far as this style of Strat pickup goes, I think these are some of the best in the business. They're reverse engineered, by Fender, from an original set, so you know they're about as close to the real deal as you can find.

At a fraction of the cost it would be to buy an original set, these really can't be faulted for what they are.

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