Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups Review: Vintage Tone, Minus the Buzz

Tired of your Stratocaster making that annoying hum whenever you take your hands off the strings? We've all been there — but, luckily for you, Fender has got you covered.

Cue in the Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups — a three-set of Strat pickups that are specifically designed to prevent any unwanted hum while also reducing the overall noise floor. And I know what you're thinking: but what about my tone?

Well, the best part of it all is that the Vintage Noiseless still retain that classic Strat sound while also improving dynamics and expressiveness.

If you're after a versatile set of single coils that can handle a decent amount of grit without breaking the bank too much, then these might just be the pickups of your dreams. But, of course, the market is filled with options, so there's a lot to consider before pulling the trigger!

Here is my honest Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups review — let's find out if they're the right choice for you.

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups: Our Take

Three Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups

We all know the deal: you buy a new, flawless-looking Stratocaster only to find that it makes an irritating hum whenever you take your hands off the guitar. Of course, that's the norm when it comes to single coils, including Fender's stock pickups — but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

And that's where the Fender Noiseless Pickups come in. Specifically designed to target this issue, these pickups cancel out the hum by stacking two coils in each pickup in the same way as humbuckers do. But, unlike humbuckers, the Noiseless Pickups still retain that classic Strat sound!

The Vintage Noiseless, in particular, are modeled after the first Fender noiseless single-coils to hit the market in 1998. They are made from Alnico II magnets, which provide a warmer attack with a noticeable sustain and a friendly midrange.

The magnets themselves and the wires attached to the pickups are coated with polysol and vinyl to protect them from outside interference. The end result is a single-coil modern sound that's perfect for (but not limited to) blues, rock, country, and pop music.

And I can assure you — these feel and sound amazing. There's just no beating that classic Fender Strat tone, and the hum-less factor will really take your playing experience to a whole new level. Forget about noise gates: you can't go wrong with the Vintage Noiseless Pickups.

The Fender Vintage Noiseless come in sets of three, as they are specifically designed for Strats. The box also comes with the necessary pots, resistors, and capacitors for optimum performance, as well as all the installation hardware you'll need.

But, of course, such quality doesn't come without its price. The Fender Noiseless Pickups cost almost $230 USD — which is pretty much the price of an entire budget guitar. These are still affordable when compared to other high-end pickups (such as DiMarzio ones), but they might not be the best choice for you if you're a bit tight on budget.

What we love:

  • Fantastic sound
  • Non-existent noise floor
  • Installation hardware included
  • Fits almost any Strat

What's not so good:

  • Not so budget-friendly

Features of the Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups

Now, the Fender Noiseless Pickups come packed with features and slight details that you might miss if you don't know that much about guitars. But don't worry! Here I compiled the four most important aspects you should consider about these amazing pickups:

Noise - 5.0

Well, this is pretty self-explanatory — the noise in the Fender Noiseless pickups is virtually non-existent thanks to the double-coil format. Unless you're using a bunch of distortion or a high-gain amp, then you probably won't notice any noise coming out of your Strat!

Of course, this applies to both when you have your hands on the guitar and when you don't. As you may know, even the best single-coil pickups are known for producing a noticeable hum whenever you aren't touching the strings. This is mainly due to grounding issues and is pretty common in Stratocasters.

You can forget about this when it comes to Fender Noiseless Pickups, as they're specifically designed to target this issue. And while they're at it, they also reduce the overall noise floor significantly as well!

Sound quality - 5.0

What can I say about sound quality? We're talking about Fender, after all — so the classic Strat sound is guaranteed. But that wasn't enough to satisfy the team behind the Vintage Noiseless, as they still made a few crucial improvements to adapt them to a more... modern playing style.

You'll notice that the Vintage Noiseless Pickups have a more "creamy" or warm tone that's perfect for versatile players. Similarly, it has a less aggressive midrange and a noticeably improved sustain than the classic Strat pickups.

All in all, the Vintage Noiseless pickups are pretty much perfect when it comes to delivering a versatile, yet noticeably-Strat-like tone.

Materials - 5.0

When it comes to materials, the Fender Noiseless Pickups don't fall behind. Made out of Alnico II magnets (which are considered to be some of the best in the class), these pickups are as reliable and resistant as they sound.

The wires are coated and protected by polysol and vinyl, and the pole pieces are staggered and hand-beveled. This ensures maximum sound quality and wonderfully expressive dynamics while also preventing external noise interference.

Of course, pickups are small devices — so there isn't much room to discuss here. But the Vintage Noiseless Strat pickups still manage to impress with premium-quality materials that translate to a better and more satisfying playing experience.

Price tag - 4.0

The only aspect I can critique when it comes to the Fender Noiseless Pickups is the price. I already mentioned that there are more expensive pickups on the market, but that doesn't make the Vintage Noiseless any more affordable!

The 3-set of pickups comes in at a hefty $229 — which, at first glance, may not seem too terrible for a guitar veteran who's used to expensive gear. But for more beginner players, this price range may seem like a bit... too much.

What Types of Fender Noiseless Pickups Are There?

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickup in a box

Now, Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups aren't the only noiseless pickups on the market — in fact, they aren't even the only ones in the Fender store! There are a few other models worth mentioning, so here's a quick rundown of the most important ones:

Vintage Noiseless Strat Pickups

These are the ones I reviewed above! This 3-set of single-coils is perfect (and designed) for Stratocaster guitars, which are known to be noisy in pretty much any scenario. The Vintage Noiseless solve this by adding an extra coil to each pickup in a similar fashion to humbuckers.

Now, if you don't have a Strat, then this may not be of much use to you. You could always try some workarounds to fit these into, say, a Telecaster — but that's exactly where the next few options come in.

Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups

Fender Vintage Noiseless Telecaster

Telecaster guitars can be as noisy as Stratocasters, so Fender released an alternative version of their Noiseless Pickups specifically tailored for Teles. Much like the Noiseless Strat Pickups, these are made from Alnico II magnets — although the rest of the materials are a bit different to emulate vintage Teles.

Everything else is pretty much identical to the Strat Noiseless Pickups, so it all comes down to which guitar you're looking to modify! You could try some luthier-level tricks to fit these pickups into a Stratocaster, but I can't really recommend it unless you really, really, really (I mean it) know what you're doing.

Ultra Noiseless Strat Pickups

Ultra Noiseless Strat Pickups

Now, if you're handling a very, very, very noisy guitar, then the Ultra Noiseless Pickups are exactly what you need. Fender advertises these as "the pinnacle in stacked single-coil design" — and they're absolutely not wrong.

These pickups also feature double coils, but they also lower the overall output to really bring down that noise floor. Similarly, they come with Alnico V magnets, which provide accurate dynamics and a more modern and transparent sound.

Ultra Noiseless Tele Pickups

Ultra Noiseless Tele Pickups

And... you guessed it. Fender has also released a version of its Ultra Noiseless series for Telecasters! These are pretty much the same as the ones mentioned above, with some slight differences in materials and in the pole pieces to accommodate the Tele's requirements.

Gen 4 Noiseless Strat Pickups

Gen 4 Noiseless Strat Pickups

The Gen 4 Noiseless Pickups are pretty similar to the Ultra Noiseless series but with a key few differences. Mainly, the Gen 4 pickups feature shielded wire for even more (yes, that's possible) noise reduction, made for the most distortion-loving players.

But the Gen 4 also change the tone a bit — but don't worry, they still sound good. They have a more clearly defined low-end and high-end, and the mid-range is a bit more punchy than the rest of the entries on this list.

What to Know Before Buying

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups

Getting a new set of pickups can be a tough experience. You have to consider dozens of factors, ranging from budget to tone preferences — so how do you know if the Fender Vintage Noiseless are right for you?

Well, the main thing to keep in mind is that Vintage Noiseless pickups are perfect for people looking for that classic Strat tone without any hum.If you're, for example, a metal guitarist looking for a heavier sound to use with a lot of gain, then these might not be the best for you!

But if you're already used to that Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Clapton sound, then the Vintage Noiseless will be right up your alley.

Here are a few key questions you should ask yourself before buying a set of Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups:

  • Am I looking to keep the classic Stratocaster tone?
  • Is noise and hum the main problem in my guitar right now?
  • Can I afford to spend a couple hundred dollars on pickups?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the Vintage Noiseless will be as good as it gets for you. After all, there's no beating that timeless Fender quality and sound!

Alternatives to the Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups

The market is filled to the brim with options when it comes to pickups, so Fender isn't the only way to go when it comes to noiseless mics. Here I picked the top five competitors to the Vintage Noiseless so you can have a frame of reference before buying anything:

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups vs Fender Original '57/'62

Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster

Now, if you're willing to skip over some of the noise and hums, then the Fender Original '57/'62 are nothing short of unbeatable. These vintage pickups are the result of reverse-engineering an actual 1963 Strat, so they deliver unparalleled old-school tones and expressiveness.

These are pretty much the best Strat pickups on the market right now, both in terms of bang for your buck and sound quality. If you're after that very classic Strat tone, then there's just no way you can go wrong with these!

But be warned — these are definitely not noise-free.

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups vs Fender Deluxe Drive

Fender Deluxe Drive

Not everyone is looking for a 200-dollar upgrade for their Strat — and Fender understands that. That's why Fender released the Fender Deluxe Drive pickups, which are an affordable, high-output alternative to the more expensive options in the market.

The three-set of pickups come in at a mind-blowing 100-dollar price tag, so they're perfect if you're a beginner guitarist. Of course, this also means that these will have the characteristic Strat noise — but we can certainly look over that considering the price.

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups vs Fralin Noiseless Pickups

Fralin is one of those brands that are only known by the most veteran of guitarists — and for a good reason. Its products are expensive, but deliver incredible tones through top-of-the-line materials and technology. And you guessed it: its noiseless pickup set is no exception.

Fralin offers several noiseless options, but my favorite is its Split Blade set of pickups. Made out of ceramic magnets and steel-blade pole pieces, these amazing mics keep that clean Fender tone while greatly improving dynamics and definition.

If you can spend a few extra dollars, then these are definitely worth it — especially when it comes to looks and expressiveness.

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups vs DiMarzio Area 61 Pickups

DiMarzio Area 61 Pickups

Good old DiMarzio never disappoints, and even less so when it comes to its hum-less Strat pickups. Its famous Area 61 mics work in all three positions (neck, middle, and bridge) and retain that vintage woody, transparent tone of 60s Strats.

Much like the Fender pickups, these are made out of Alnico II — which retains a classic tone without sacrificing sustain and dynamics. However, DiMarzio Area 61 pickups are a bit more heavy on the high end, making them more suitable for treble-focused tones.

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups vs Fishman Fluence

Fishman Fluence

The Fishman Fluence offers a very alternative experience compared to pretty much any other Strat pickup set. Unlike any other entry on this list, Fluence mics are active — meaning they require an external 9V battery to work properly.

This allows for a lot more versatility, as Fluence pickups have two voices (Vintage and Hot Texas) that are switchable at the press of a button. These are made out of Alnico IV, which is a rather... odd choice when it comes to emulating vintage tones.

Nevertheless, these are a fantastic choice if you're bored of the classic Strat workflow!

Final Verdict

Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickup

All in all, the Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups are the perfect choice for pretty much any Strat lover who's just tired of that classic idle hum. Thanks to its double-coil technology, these pickups can eliminate any unwanted noise without sacrificing any tone for it. In fact, these are modeled after the vintage pickups used in the 60s Fender guitars!

But that's not all — thanks to the premium materials and build quality, the Vintage Noiseless mics can also drastically improve your overall expressiveness and dynamics. There's just no going wrong with these ones as long as you're willing to pay a Fender price for them!

If you're looking for other options, then pickups like the Fralin Noiseless and the DiMarzio Area 61s are the perfect alternative to the Fender ones. These are a bit more expensive, but the extra build quality and tone versatility are much appreciated if you're an experienced player.

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