Best Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock: Reviews, Buying Guide, and FAQs 2022

by Jay Sandwich

If you're a fan of blues or classic rock, then you know that a great guitar pickup is essential for getting that authentic sound. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the best strat pickups for blues and classic rock, and help you figure out which one is right for you. So whether you're just starting out, or you're a seasoned pro, read on to find out more!

Editor's Recommendation: Top Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

Top 4 Best Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

Looking to add some blues and classic rock flair to your sound? Check out the best strat pickups for those genres! Whether you're looking for mellower tones or more drive, we've got you covered. Read on to find out which pickups are right for you.

Top 4 Best Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock
Top 4 Best Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

Seymour Duncan California '50s Strat Pickup Set - Link

Seymour Duncan California '50s Strat Pickup Set
Seymour Duncan California '50s Strat Pickup Set

It's likely that, unless you're ready to spend thousands of dollars on a vintage guitar, these pickups will be the closest you'll come to the surf rock tone of the 1950s. Because of the reverse-wound middle pickup, they may even be regarded a little enhancement (if you are willing to sacrifice on authenticity). This Strat's mids have that original bell shape and brilliant highs, giving you the assault you'd expect from an old-school Strat from the 1950s.

It may be used as a humbucker since the center pickup is reverse-wound, which makes this possible. While positions 1, 3, and 5 provide the conventional single-coil tone of the Stratocaster, positions 2 and 4 produce a more aggressive tone. Many sets have a reverse-wound middle pickup, but just a few can match the authenticity and versatility that these Seymour Duncans deliver. When trying to branch out beyond blues and classic rock, these pickups are a terrific option to consider.

The California '50s - SSL-1 Stratocaster pickup from Seymour Duncan is the ultimate strat pickup for anybody who enjoys playing the guitar tones of old rock and roll while utilizing a current Stratocaster. With its authentic classic, classic rich or warm Strat Sound of Rockabilly, Classic Rock, Country, or Sound Music - the SSL-1 Seymour Duncan's California is the ideal instrument for enjoying '50s music in all its forms.

When compared to the single-coil pickups used in the 1950s, the sound of this strat pickup is much superior in terms of quality sound. Its reverse polarity or reverse wrapped middle pup, which is one of its best features, makes it a wonderful choice for strat players. Not only will you be able to experience a more refined and concentrated spectrum of classic rock tones but you will also be able to manage the level of noise.

For skilled musicians, the versatility of the guitar's tones is by far the most appealing aspect of this strat pickup, which is also the most expensive. It is made up of Alnico 5 magnets that have been hand-ground and sand cast. Furthermore, Duncan's has made use of the finest historical materials, such as hand-fabricated forborne bobbins and formvar magnet wire, to create their products.

With this strat, you'd have exactly the appropriate amount of grits to produce the ideal rhythm-style strumming composition you've always wanted. Since it produces a wide spectrum of classic and rock tones, this SSL-1 Seymour Duncan's California 50s strat is more adaptable than the other coiled strats on the market.

Product description

This Strat's mids have that original bell shape and brilliant highs, giving you the assault you'd expect from an old-school Strat from the 1950s. The SSL-1 Seymour Duncan's California is the ideal instrument for enjoying '50s music in all its forms. The SSL-1 Seymour Duncan's California 50s strat is more adaptable than the other coiled strats on the market. It is made up of Alnico 5 magnets that have been hand-ground and sand cast. The versatility of this guitar's tones is by far the most appealing aspect.

Features

  • Classic '50s surf rock tone
  • Great versatility and flexibility
  • Middle pickup acts as hambucker

Fender Pure Vintage '65 Strat Pickups - Link

Fender Pure Vintage '65 Strat Pickups
Fender Pure Vintage '65 Strat Pickups

Despite the fact that the Stratocaster2 is a flexible instrument that can be utilized in a variety of genres, there is still a certain level of expectation about its tone. The original Strat tone is cherished all around the globe, and these Fender Custom pickups provide it perfectly. These handmade Texas Specials provide a lot of volume and brightness without sacrificing tightness. Most switch settings are capable of producing the iconic rock twang from the 1950s and 1960s, and they can even be overdriven without sounding muddy.

It's simple to generate tones that sound like those of Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton; these pickups are excellent for producing a clean distorted sound (if that is possible). These are not intended for use with heavy material, however they may sometimes be used to produce more forceful noises on occasion.

You should use the Fender Pure Vintage '65 pickup if you are a vintage enthusiast who wishes to create warm vintage-style tones on your Stratocaster. The utilization of five Alnico magnets, as well as an enamel-coated magnet wire, results in more improved and concentrated dynamics than before.

The nicest part about this strat pickup is that it delivers a more evenly distributed loudness and output across all of the strings on the instrument. It is due to the inclusion of staggered pole sections that this is the case. As for the materials used in its manufacture, this strat pickup makes use of premium grade period-correct cloth wire in conjunction with a sturdy and strong fiber bobbin structure.

The thorough manufacture of this instrument ensures that it meets the exact requirements necessary to provide the typical and most genuine Fender tone enabling for true performance. This American Vintage '65 Stratocaster guitar is an excellent option for anybody who wishes to emulate the tones of mid-'60s Stratocasters. When it comes to blues and classic rock, the neck position is the most appropriate posture.

The finest thing about this strat pickup is the strong, crisp, and clean surf rock tones it produces - which will transport you back to the mid-'60s and beyond. Fender's pure vintage strat pickup is an excellent sounding pickup for the middle position when compared to other strat pickups available.

Product description

These handmade Texas Specials provide a lot of volume and brightness without sacrificing tightness. Most switch settings are capable of producing the iconic rock twang from the 1950s and 1960s. These pickups are not intended for use with heavy material, however they may sometimes be used to produce more forceful noises.

Features

  • Bright sound
  • Classic Stratocaster tone

Seymour Duncan Custom Staggered SSL-5 - Link

Seymour Duncan Custom Staggered SSL-5 Pickup for Strat - 11202-05
Seymour Duncan Custom Staggered SSL-5 Pickup for Strat - 11202-05

The Seymour Duncan SSL-5 is a vintage guitar that may be found in blues, classic rock, and hard rock. It's popular among musicians for a good reason: it has a classic sound that we all recognize and like.

The SSL-5 also has a longer sustain and enough punch to let it stand out in any mixing environment. However, this is not an aggressive pickup: although it is capable of producing loud, distorted tones, the SSL-5 is also capable of producing gentle, clear tones as well.

When used in conjunction with two SSL-1s, this pickup performs well. Placing the SSL-5 in the middle position allows you to experience the iconic Stratocaster vintage tone while still having the option of more tonal flexibility.

Even while the price of a Seymour Duncan pickup is sufficient justification for purchasing one, it is recommended that you get one for the warm, vintage tone it generates.

The Seymour Duncan SSL-5 pickup is a real single-coil electric guitar pickup with a high output that is best suited for warm instruments. For Texas blues rock, classic rock, and hard rock, this is the greatest guitar for the job.

The SSL-5 strat pickup has the same appearance as the Seymour Duncan SSL-1 and the same beautiful vintage tone, but the over-wound coil of the SSL-5 pickup generates more power, greater harmonics, and longer sustain and the combination of all of these characteristics results in a pickup that rocks hard and cuts through the mix, yet cleans up well when the volume is turned down.

Product description

The Seymour Duncan SSL-5 is a real single-coil electric guitar pickup with a high output that is best suited for warm instruments. Over-wound coil generates more power, greater harmonics, and longer sustain. For Texas blues rock, classic rock, and hard rock, this is the greatest guitar for the job.

Features

  • Warm vintage sound
  • Sounds amazing both distortion and clean

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat - Link

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 Pickup for Strat
Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 Pickup for Strat

The California Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 from Seymour Duncan is a wonderful strat pickup for creating vintage and rock guitar tones on the fly. With the aid of this strat, you can perform all of the classics, including authentic classics, rich classics, and warm classics - pop, country, rockabilly, and sound music - on your guitar.

The great variety of guitar tones produced by this Seymour Duncan's California Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 strat pick makes it the ideal complement for guitars.

The sound quality & power of this strat pickup are double that of a standard single coiled strat pickup from the 1950s. Known for producing a thick, punchy sound comparable to that of the p-90, this Duncan's SSL-4 strat is a popular choice among players. However, even at lower volume settings, the sound of the tones is crystal clear and undistorted. In order to create it, 14" magnets are used.

This strat is an excellent choice for anybody seeking flawlessly balanced acoustics, as it provides a more improved and concentrated performance than the usual strat instruments. This strat does not need the use of a cover. Using strong coil winding in conjunction with the magnets increases the long-term durability of the strat. It is one of the characteristics that distinguishes this strat as one of the best choices.

Tonal versatility and noise control characterize Duncan's strat pickups, which are available in many configurations. In terms of durability and quality, there are no doubts about this strat pickup.

Product description

The California Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 from Seymour Duncan is a wonderful strat pickup. With the aid of this strat, you can perform all of the classics, including authentic classics, rich classics, and warm classics as well as pop, country, rockabilly, and sound music on your guitar.

Features

  • Powerful windings
  • Oversized magnets


Benefits of Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

So, why Strat pickups? The following list of reasons might help you make up your mind.

The Most Versatile Guitar

The most versatile guitar ever made needs the most versatile type of pickup, and that's what a single-coil is all about. While humbuckers are great for rock (and metal), they're too dark and "muddy" for a lot of classic rock and blues. If your priority is to be able to play all kinds of music without changing guitars, a strat with three single-coils is the way to go. Nothing else comes close when it comes down to being able to cover all kinds of musical styles.

Well Suited for Experimentation

The Stratocaster is a guitar well suited for experimentation and one of the many reasons why it's so popular is that it's very easy to drastically change its tone by swapping pickups. The standard pickup configuration (one neck, two middle, one bridge) gives you a pretty good starting point but you can just as well put all single-coils or even all humbuckers on your guitar. You can even mix and match from one guitar to the next - which is a great advantage if you have more than one Strat.

If Mostly Going to Play Blues or Classic Rock, a Single-Coil Won't Color Your Sound Too Much

If you're mostly going to play blues or classic rock, a single-coil won't color your sound too much. If you use a clean amp setting (no distortion) and play with your guitar's volume knob you'll get close to the pure, unaltered sound of your guitar. Of course, you can still achieve a crunchy blues or classic rock tone by turning up the amp and using some mild overdrive but if you want to stick with a clean tone this is where we're at.

Fender Stratocasters Sound Great Through Fender Amps

As a general rule, Fender Stratocasters sound great through Fender amps and not so great through Marshall amps (this naturally depends on the amp model). For blues and classic rock this can be an advantage since you'll almost certainly use a Fender amp for playing these styles. All your pickups will sound similar and you won't have to worry about balancing your pickups.

Buying Guide for Choosing Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

If you're a blues, classic rock or vintage Stratocaster player, chances are you've spent some time thinking about how to improve your guitar's tone and output. While there are so many variables when it comes to getting the perfect sound from any one instrument - including musicians' technique, amplifier settings and use of effects pedals, pickup selection is a big one.

Depending on Your Tastes and Needs as Well as What Type

There is a wide range of pickups available that all provide something different for blues and classic rock players to choose from. Some will suit you more than others, depending on your tastes and needs as well as what type of guitar (or guitars) you play. But it's also helpful to know how these devices work before you make a final decision.

Understanding the role of each pickup in your guitar's construction is key to picking the right one, or combination of pickups, that will turn it into a tone machine.

The first thing you need to know about pickups is what they do. They essentially convert the sound vibrations from your strings into an electrical signal, which can then be amplified. This signal can also be manipulated through an amplifier's equalizer controls. The tone knob, for instance, will change the color of your sound by boosting or cutting certain frequencies.

Pickups are split into two main categories: single-coil and humbucking (also referred to as double-coil).

Single-coils

Single-coils are the ones that look like little cylindrical magnets under your strings. They have one coil of wire wrapped around magnets, hence the name, which will generate a single signal when plucked. Humbuckers work in two ways to reduce or eliminate noise from other electrical components by creating opposing magnetic fields. This is why they are larger than single-coils.

Both have their pros and cons when it comes to tone, output level and susceptibility to hums, crackles and other electronic interference. Single-coil pickups are typically brighter with more transient response - that is, they tend to react faster to the plucking of the strings compared to humbuckers. But they can also produce a bit more background noise and don't usually have as much output

Humbuckers

Humbuckers tend to be darker and warmer sounding than single-coils, will provide more output and less background noise, but may not always respond well when distorted because of their structure. This is why many guitarists use them in combination with single-coils.

The most common Stratocaster pickup configuration is a set of three single-coil pickups

The most common Stratocaster pickup configuration is a set of three single-coil pickups. This design provides musicians with a wide tonal range that can cover many genres and playing styles, from smooth jazz to screaming blues solos and everything in between. It also allows guitarists the option of choosing between bright, cutting single-coil sounds and mellow, warm humbucker tones.

Stratocasters with five single-coils are also available for players who like the idea of mixing their signals, but don't want to give up all the great tonal options provided by more traditional three-pickup models. Fender's Eric Johnson Signature Strat is an example of this type of guitar.

Of course, there are also plenty of choices for Stratocaster players who prefer to switch off all three pickups at once or even just two at a time. These guitars may not be as versatile as those featuring four or five individual single-coils, but many tend to have a thick, powerful sound that delivers the goods when it comes to blues and classic rock.

If you are looking for replacement or additional pickups for your Strat, this guide will help you narrow them down according to specific requirements. Of course, no one can say which is the best for you, so the decision is ultimately yours. But hopefully this information helps.

Your Budget

And your final decision may also be influenced by your budget - there are plenty of affordable pickups out there that still provide excellent value and sound great in their own right. So don't feel like you need to spend a fortune to take your tone up another level.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of counterfeit pickups on the market. If you're not careful, it's easy to spend a bunch of money for a product that doesn't even work as advertised. So choose your supplier wisely and read up as much as possible before making a purchase.

The Custom Shop

And if you want an array of options from a single manufacturer, consider the Custom Shop. Fender's website lists many different Stratocaster models available in its Custom Shop with unique pickup configurations not found on the standard production lines. In addition to traditional three-pickup guitars, you can also get your hands on some unique one-of-a-kind custom creations that play and sound great.

Summary of How to Choose the Best Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

  1. Single-coil pickups are the best choice for blues and classic rock
  2. Humbuckers offer a warmer, fuller sound than single-coils
  3. Stratocaster pickups should be rated at 5k ohms or higher for optimal tone
  4. Choose a pickup that's right for your style of music and playing
  5. Experiment with different pickups to find the perfect sound for you

Buy them at Etsy, eBay, Walmart (quality guaranteed)

Seymour Duncan California '50s Strat Pickup Set - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay

Lindy Fralin Strat Vintage Hot Pickup Set Yellow - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Seymour Duncan Custom Staggered SSL-5 Pickup for Strat - 11202-05 - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Seymour Duncan SSL1 Vintage Staggered Single Coil Pickup - (New) - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Lace 21073-01 Sensor Gold Electric Guitar Electronics, 3-Pack - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay

DiMarzio DP419 Area '67 Hum Canceling Strat Pickup White - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special Pickup Set - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Conclusion for Reviewed Strat Pickups for Blues and Classic Rock

Which guitar pickup is best for you? The tone of the music will change depending on which one you choose, so it's important to take some time and research what your needs are before making a purchase. Choose between two or three pickups that meet your requirements, then experiment with each one until you find the perfect fit!

About Jay Sandwich

Jay is an ex-shred guitar player and current modular synth noodler from a small town somewhere. Quote: “I’m a salty old sandwich with a perspective as fresh as bread.” No bull.

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