Gift Ideas: Top 5 Stratocaster Pickups

The Fender Stratocaster electric guitar is one of the most popular and influential guitars ever made. Not only is the design on of the most celebrated styles ever invented, it has a pretty darn good tone too! Still, not every player likes his Strat tone the same. If you're looking for something a little different from stock, below are five great Stratocaster pickup sets that we highly recommend!



Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot 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. The neck and middle pickups are average 50s specs, while the bridge is as hot as possible with this wire. 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 hand-wound pickups are definitely for tone connoisseurs!


Fender Custom Shop ‘54s

Fender Custom Shop 54 Strat PickupsThese babies are an amplified set of vintage-style Stratocaster electric guitar pickups that feature staggered, hand-beveled Alnico 5 magnets and Forvar magnet wires wound for classic bell tones and clear harmonic enhancement, but those aren’t the only reasons they made our list. The bridge pickup is calibrated for increased, balanced output. 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 make the CS ‘54s shine. Those looking for a more modern sound might find the tone a bit thin but if that vintage sparkle and glassy voice of a ’54 Strat is what you crave, you will find these pickups can certainly sing! Just make sure to remember one thing; these are NOT hum canceling – real Strat fans only


Van Zandt Rock Model set

Van Zandt Rock Model SetAlthough Van Zandt Pickups was started in the late ‘80s, founder W.L. Van Zandt had been repairing and rewinding pickups around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area since the early ‘60s in his garage. He began by rewinding the magnets on pickups for friends and other players and pretty soon he had a small business going as his reputation grew by word of mouth. Today, they are among the best hand-wound pickups around and the Rock Model set itself is one of the company’s most popular brands. Built for rock, heavy metal, and alternative rock, the Rock Model has a lot of top-end and growl to allow for overdrive of amp or distortion box. Boasting a stronger output than stock for better lead work while still allowing the Strat’s signature chime and quack to shine, these pickups might not be as well known as some of the others on this list but they definitely deserve much praise!


Fender Custom Shop ’69s

Fender Custom Shop 69 PickupsLong story short – this set is brimming with that classic ‘60s tone that made the Stratocaster a legend in the rock world! Fender’s Custom Shop ’69 Stratocaster pickups were designed to produce one of the most signature and sought-after sounds in popular music history – the thick, punchy late ‘60s blues rock tone that ruled the era and can still be heard in today’s modern records as well. Because of the transparency and clarity created by unique coil wind and magnet stricter, the Custom Shop ’69 pickup design works extremely well with pedals, allowing the high-end frequencies to stand out without degrading the high end one bit. Think Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix or even David Gilmour. These pickups have a typical scooped mid tone with very clear top along with a well-balanced lower end. The transparency of the tone in particular along with the fairly low output makes these pickups ideal for keeping your sound clean when called for. It’s no surprise that Fender remains firm in their support of the Strat’s classic sound as the search for the tones that defined an era are still as popular as ever!


Seymour Duncan SSL-1s

ssl-1_csetMatched and calibrated, these vintage staggered Strat pickups have that signature biting tone perfect for surf, country, blues and classic rock. 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 California ‘50s 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.


In conclusion ...

Well, there you have it, our picks for the top 5 replacement pickups for the Fender Stratocaster. Of course, there's a lot more where that came from so if you didn't like our picks, there's assuredly a set of pickups out there perfect for your style.



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