Are you looking to buck them hum on your Fender Stratocaster? Humbuckers are dynamic pickups that do just that and more. These impressive guitar accessories are known to smooth, mellow, and even darken a Stratocaster’s otherwise bright output.
Fender Stratocaster Humbucker pickups
We’ve gathered and reviewed five of the top humbuckers. Read along to learn more about how they interact with the world’s top-selling electric guitar.
1. Seymour Duncan Little ‘59 – Winner of the Rounding
Topping off our list of the best humbuckers is Seymour Duncan’s Little ‘59. This single-coil-sized pickup is designed to look and sound like one of Seth Lover’s original PAFs. According to most ‘59 users, the pickup offers clarity and depth. It does so without overriding the influence of a guitar’s tonewoods.
According to the manufacturer, this pickup works best when it is positioned in the middle of the fretboard or neck. Since the item is Strat-sized, you can drop it in without having to chisel away at your existing pickguard.
This unit also happens to feature a four-conductor cable. The extra wires give users the ability to tap into both single- and double-coil sound. This is something that would never be possible with an original two-cable humbucker. Seymour Duncan has an excellent write-up on the subject, should you be interested.
Check out this video to give it a listen.
- Enables you to experiment with different wire configurations in order to get different sounds
- This is a double-coil pickup that fits an unmodified Strat pickguard.
- Available in black and white
- Adds plenty of character and depth to a Strat’s output
- Don’t expect it to live up to a double-coil’s full capacity
2. DiMarzio Tone Zone S – Premium Pickup for Strat
Next up, we have DiMarzio’s Tone Zone S. This Strat-sized humbucker will brighten your Fender’s bass and midrange outputs. The unit has a DC resistance rating of 12.39 Kohms. We’d consider a super hot selection.
Since this Tone Zone boasts a four-wire harness, you can easily configure it to work as both a single- and double pickup. You can set it up at either the bridge or the neck.
You don’t have to take our word for it! Click here to listen to the Tone Zone S in action. While you’re at it, get a glimpse of that vintage-inspired cream aesthetic.
- High DC resistance rating
- Lovely vintage aesthetic
- Does not require any installation mods
- Improves a Strat’s tone and volume
- Really sounds like a double-coil humbucker
- Pricey (but worth every penny)
3. Seymour Duncan SHR-1 Hot Rails – Hottest Humbuckers
Seymour Duncan’s Hot Rails is a Strat-approved humbucker that’s capable of producing a sizable output. The unit is comprised of a ceramic magnet and overwound coils. It’s designed to slip into the neck or middle position on any Strat. Like our previous picks, the SHR-1 features four wires. This means the humbucker can function as both a single- and double-coil pickup.
This pickup will boost your Strat’s crunch and sustain while eliminating unpleasant background buzz. The resulting output consists of super crisp low- and high-end tones.
- Single-coil-sized pickup with double-coil output
- White with black details
- Easy installation
- Four-wire setup will boost your guitar’s versatility
- Popular with metal and rock musicians
- Only available in off-white
4. Seymour Duncan JB Jr. – Bridge humbucker for strat
Here we have another popular single-coil-sized Seymour Duncan humbucker. The JB Jr. is a premium pickup that can be used in the bridge, middle, and neck positions of a Fender Stratocaster. The off-white accessory will boost your Strat’s highs and mids. You should notice plenty of increased clarity alongside a little extra volume.
Musicians will be pleased with the tonal versatility of the JB Jr. humbuckers. The four-wire setup only adds to the unit’s unmatched flexibility.
Click here to hear it played in a metal style.
- Ideal in bridge
- Four-wire hookup offers ample versatility
- Single-coil-sized for easier installation
- Retained midrange
5. Alnicov’s 3-Piece Singe-Coil-Sized Humbucker Set – Stacked humbuckers for strat
Rounding off our list is Alnicov’s three-piece humbucker set. This trio of single-coil-sized Strat pickup replacements is a real steal at just under $50. The units give Strats plenty of volume and clarity. Most users said they noticed increased distortion but very little hum.
The petite humbuckers slide into a Strat’s existing pickup slots without the need for messy mods. While the wiring diagrams are included in the package, they can also be found online.
We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of warmth in the Alnicov’s midrange. If you’re looking to accessories an inexpensive Strat, these single-coil-sized humbuckers are the way to go.
- DC resistance ranges from 12 to 16 Kohms depending on its position
- Single-coil-sized humbuckers for easy cut-free installation
- Off-white exterior
- Cancels all hum
- You could potentially score a few backup pickups for less than the price of one premium humbucker.
- You may need to play around with your pots in order to get the most out of their output.
Selecting the Fender Strat humbucker pickups
Is your Strat’s tone starting to wane? It might be time for you to swap out that stock pickup for something a bit more interesting. Humbuckers are known for their round, warm sound and hum-muffling qualities.
Pay Attention to the Magnets
All pickups consist of magnets and coils. There are two primary types of magnets used, and these can impact the tone of your instrument. Alnico magnets are known to produce a warm, almost vintage sound. Ceramic magnets produce more defined feedback.
Importance of DC Resistance
Oftentimes, musicians will describe humbuckers as hot. When they do this, they are saying that the humbucker has a high resistance. In most cases, high resistance is synonymous with distortion and volume
Many manufacturers will list a pickup’s DC resistance ratings in the product’s description. These ratings typically fall between 6 and 20 Kohms (K). Some musicians go so far as to keep multimeters on hand. This enables them to double-check their new pickup’s resistance.
Mating Your Humbucker with Your Tonewoods
The wood in the body, neck, and fretboard of a guitar has a profound impact on its output and tone. You can amend your tonewoods’ natural sound by choosing a complimentary pickup.
Manufacturers of humbucker pickups for guitar include Gibson, Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, and Fender. Each brand has not a wide range of models to choose from. Pickup placement will affect the sound produced by your instrument. For example, if you place them near the neck area of your Stratocaster-style electric guitar, they’ll produce warm tones with low noise levels. However, placing them toward the bridge end can give you more brightness in tone while also reducing overall noise output. Experimenting with different pickup placements is one way that helps maximize tonal control when using these types of pickups on Stratocaster. The best location depends entirely on what type of music you’re playing at any given time and your idea.
To Mod or Not to Mod
Replacing a single-coil pickup with a full-sized humbucker requires some tricky but doable retrofitting. If you don’t like the idea of a modified Strat, restrict your humbucker choices to the single-coil-sized variety. These petite double-coil pickups can be dropped into a Strat’s fretboard. They offer similar powerful sound and tonal improvements that are almost identical to that of their full-sized cousins.
Noise is a big problem for all musicians, but particularly guitar players. A humbucker in your sound can be caused by many things, including the wrong type of pickup on your instrument. Humbucker pickups are specifically designed to eliminate this problem. They do so by using two coils that are out of phase with each other, meaning they cancel out any noise that might be created when one coil is picking up electricity from an outside source and then passing it onto the other coil. With these pickups installed in your Strat guitar, you’ll never have to worry about unwanted hum again!
Active vs. Passive
Keep an eye out for active or passive labels within a humbucker’s specs. Active circuits require batteries and, consequently, more maintenance. Check out this Sweetwater article to learn more about the difference between active and passive pickups.
Avoid overdriving your amplifier. Overdrive will cause the hum to be larger and sound more noticeable. If you do play a high-gain amp, turn down the gain if possible, or use an EQ pedal before going into your amp’s drive channel. You can also reduce noise by using less tone control on the guitar itself as well as avoid using equipment with any line interference such as fluorescent lights, dimmers switches, etc. Seymour Duncan humbucker for Stratocaster pickups
One of the most daunting aspects of guitar talk is the lingo. When musicians talk about their guitar’s tone, they tend to use bold and often abstract terminology. Humbuckers may be described as articulate, meaning the notes are easy to distinguish from one another. They can also be hot, growly, fat, and/or warm. Check out this brief breakdown of common guitar terminology to better understand each humbucker’s description.
Humbucker for Fender Stratocaster. If you have a start guitar, these are the pickups you need to get rid of hum. Two coils cancel out any noise from outside sources, resulting in a clear sound during performance. Upgrade your Stratocaster guitar with this pickup. Your sound will be more Saturated and less resonant.
If you’re looking to give your Strat a thicker, warmer tone, replacing one or more of your single-coil pickups with a humbucker is an excellent way to do it. These pickups muffle outside noise while boosting the tone of your instrument. While there are plenty of impressive humbuckers on the market, our top recommendation goes to the Seymour Duncan Little ‘59 Strat Humbucker. This single-coil-sized drop-in offers full-sized power without the need for messy mods.