A Few Of Our Favorite '50s Rock Guitar Pickups For The Fender Stratocaster


While there the modern age of music gear has brought us a ton of innovations many of us can't live without, there's just something about that classic 1950s rock and roll that will live on forever. And while many guitars can stake a claim to carving out that signature tone, few take as much credit as the Fender Stratocaster. I mean, it was released the same year that the term "Rock and Roll" was first coined -- that has to be more than a coincidence! With that said, we'd like to take a look at a few of our favorite Strat pickups tailor-made for that classic '50s sound. Check out a few of our favorites below!



Seymour Duncan California '50s

duncan california 50sOne of my personal favorite vintage single-coil Strat pickups, the Seymour Duncan California 50s are made to deliver that rich, warm and classic sound of golden oldies pop, country, rockabilly and '50s rock and roll. this set features a staggered pattern of hand-ground and sand-cast Alnico V magnets just like the original Strat pickups – but it goes further than that. In order to get as close to those sweet bell mids, sparkling high-end bit and signature “quack’ of the original Strat, Duncan made sure to use the best vintage-correct materials such as Formvar magnet wire and hand-fabricated Forbon fiber bobbins. You end up with just the right amount of grit that’s perfect for rhythm-style strumming. Available in a Duncan Preloaded Pickguard!

Click here for more information on the Seymour Duncan California '50s.


Fender Custom Shop ‘54s

Fender Custom Shop 54 Strat PickupsFeaturing staggered, hand-beveled Alnico 5 magnets and Formvar magnet wires wound for classic bell tones and clear harmonic enhancement, you can think of this set as a refined version of the classic design. And while the bridge pickup is calibrated for an increased yet balanced output, the main character remains in the realm of '50s style guitar tone. Overall, there’s more emphasis on the lower-end compared to the standard plastic bobbin variety found in today’s Strats. There is enough bite on the treble without losing its mellow flavoring that really makes the Custom Shop ‘54s shine. If that vintage sparkle and glassy voice of a ’54 Strat is what you crave, you will find these pickups can certainly deliver the goods!

Click here for more information on the Fender Custom Shop 54s.


Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot Single-Coil Set

lindy fralin strat pickupsThe company’s best-selling set to date, these pickups are wound with 42 gauge Heavy Formvar wire and have beveled magnets and cloth leads. But just in case that sounds like they might be a bit too hot, the neck and middle pickups are made with 50s specs in mind. Instead, it's the bridge pickup that takes advantage of this wire, making this set able to give you the best of both worlds -- classic single coil sound or a nice kick when you need it. Slightly hotter than stock Fenders but not as aggressive as the Texas Specials, Fralin’s Vintage Hot pickups allow for more chimey harmonics that highlight the upper frequencies. When paired with a classic tube amp, these babies produce a very lovely growl and it’s pretty clear that the company didn’t mind sacrificing output for top-end and clarity. These pickups are perfect for '50s rock fans that love the thought of a slightly more aggressive sound.

Click here for more information on the Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot Set.


Seymour Duncan Strat SSL-1s

ssl-1_csetMatched and calibrated, these vintage staggered Strat pickups have that signature biting tone perfect for not just '50s styled rock and roll but surf, country, blues and classic rock as well. If you want incredible, full lows, smooth yet not overpowering mids, pristine highs and an overall sound that is not too harsh (much less than the Texas Specials for one), these make an excellent replacement for the stock set. They are also very responsive to pick attack and finger picking. If you’re looking for a set of hot pickups for increased signal strength, don’t buy these; buy SSL-1s for the love of that pure, vintage Strat bell tone.

Click here for more information on the Seymour Duncan Stratocaster SSL-1s.


Fender 57/62 Strat Set

For a relatively inexpensive set of pickups, the 57/62 set does a very impressive job of capturing the spirit and sound of the tone they aim to emulate. Reversed engineered from a 1963 Stratocaster, these pickups can be found on the company's American Vintage Strat model and stay true to that classic tone. But make no mistake – overall, these are bright pickups! This means sparkling highs and incredibly warm lows. Without any added effects or too much gain, this set has a very clean, very clear sound, giving a piano-like quality to the lower strings and with a high-end focus on the higher ones. Yes, they might have a tone pulled from a '63 Strat, but they can deliver a '50s rock tone with the best of them. If you're looking for that distinct, incredibly warm yet understated vintage Strat tone, the Fender 57/62 set is an easy choice at a great price.

Click here for more information on the Fender Strat 57/62 set.


Final Thoughts

If you're a Fender Strat owner that's searching for a set of pickups that boasts that classic '50s rock and roll sound -- with or without a few modern design choices to boot -- look no further than the five above. Whether it's the way they capture that signature classic single coil sound, accentuate the legendary vintage Strat bell tone, or are built as close to the original specs as possible, the five sets above are easily among my favorite '50s flavored Stratocaster guitar pickups around.

If you have any questions regarding the purchase of any of the pickups above or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!



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