A Closer Look At The Seymour Duncan California '50s Stratocaster Pickup Set

What better way to completely revamp the sound of your guitar than by swapping out the pickups for a fresh set? And if you happen to be a modern Stratocaster player with a particular affinity for guitar tone of the classics, Seymour Duncan’s California ‘50s might just be a perfect match! Beyond spending thousands for a vintage model, these babies are the best way to get that classic rich, warm and true classic Strat sound of pop, country, rockabilly and classic rock. These pickups stay true to the sound of real ‘50s era single-coil pickups but better yet, this set comes with a reverse wound/reverse polarity middle Pup, meaning you’ll get an enhanced range of the classic Strat singe-coil  tone. Sound good so far? Let’s check out what more these California ‘50s have to offer!


First off, if you’re looking for the perfect tone for rockabilly, classic rock, country blues and so much more, the California ‘50s will surely deliver. It’s a classic tone that professional guitarists swear by, made even better by the reverse middle pickup’s added tonal flexibility.


Classic Tone

Most of the classic musical styles that are centered around the sound of the electric guitar were pretty much built around the sound of the single-coil pickup and that’s exactly the tone these Duncan’s aim to replicate, which is why the company made sure to design the California ‘50s around the same core principles. For example, 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 bobbins. You end up with just the right amount of grit that’s perfect for rhythm-style strumming!


Added Flexibility

Those out there in the know can attest to just how much added flexibility and broader range of tones a reverse wound middle pickup can offer, and that’s exactly why Seymour Duncan decided to this route with the California ‘50s. What this essentially means is while positions 1, 3 and 5 will still yield those classic single coil Strat 3-position tones, in positions 2 or 4, the reversed polarity of the middle pickup will combine and cancel the phase of the bridge or neck pickup, pretty much acting as a humbucker – not many vintage single coils can claim that!


Rock Star Approved

The Seymour Duncan California ‘50s offer a classic tone that professional players swear by. Simply taking a look at some of the big names using these babies should attest to their quality. Some of these players include Alanis Morissette’s guitar player, Doug Pettibone, Reba McEntire's guitarist, Dan Schafer, Shania Twain's guitarist, David Levitt along with Scott Henderson from Lucinda Williams's band. While these are just a few names, the players mentioned are easily some of the hardest working guitarists in the business and know a thing or two when it comes to vintage tone.


Check out some of the highlights from the Seymour Duncan California ‘50s Stratocaster pickups:

  • These vintage-style single-coil pickups let you capture the classic sound of the '50s and '60s
  • Perfect pickups for playing country, pop, surf, rockabilly, blues, ska, and classic rock
  • Made with authentic hand ground, sand cast, Alnico-5 magnets arranged in a vintage, right-handed, stagger pattern
  • Hand-fabricated and lacquered forbon bobbins plus heavy Formvar magnet wire provide vintage sweetness, sparkle, and shine
  • Reverse wound, reverse polarity middle pickup provides hum-cancelation in positions 2 and 4
  • Ideal for warmer toned ash, alder, or basswood body instruments
  • Works especially well with rosewood fingerboards

    All in all, if you’re looking for the classic sound of a vintage Fender Stratocaster with a few modern amenities, look no further than the Seymour Duncan California ‘50s!


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