Best Stratocaster Pickups for Blues and Rock Guitar

Do you own a Stratocaster model style guitar and are looking for the best Stratocaster pickups? Is your passion playing rock and blues guitar and you want to get closer to perfecting that sound? You have come to the right place.

The Stratocaster is the apple of your eye and one of the benefits of owning a Stratocaster among many is that they are great for customizing and upgrading and in particular the pickups. 

Now why go through all the trouble of upgrading the pickups on your guitar? Well there is something in guitarists that will continue to push and strive for perfection of tonality. 

You want that tone that just satisfies your blues and rock cravings and that is why we go through to the process of updating the pickups to achieve the sound we want.

Best Stratocaster Pickups

In this post we will go over the best Stratocaster pickups for blues and rock. We will take a look at all the details that you need to know along with the pros and cons so you can see the differences between each of them.

1. Fender Tex-Mex Strat Pickups

The Fender Tex-Mex Strat Pickups are first up on our list for best Stratocaster pickups. The Tex-Mex is what will give you a title grit and some super clean tones. This is why they are perfect for both blues and rock style guitar.

With installation hardware included these pickups will give you everything you need. These pickups are well balanced even with an increase of gain. 

You will also notice the noise that your stock pickups had will be no more with this set. This will give you that full range of “Strat Tone” which is highly sought after. 

The bridge pick up will get pretty heavy which makes it great for rock guitar and the enhancing of the natural sound of a Strat will be where you get that blues sound. 

At a great price, these pickups cannot be beat if you are looking for a great way to upgrade your sound. 

Pros

Pros: 

  • Affordable price.
  • Installation hardware included. 
  • Perfect for a blues and rock guitar.
  • Polysol-coated magnet wire.
  • Upgrade your Starts sound. 
  • Wide range of tones. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • May be too bright for your liking. 
  • Not ideal for lots of overdrive. 

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2. Wilkinson Vintage Voice Strat Single Coil Pickups

The Wilkinson Strat single coil pickups are another great option and at a great price. These offer a lot of depth. 

These pickups aren’t overly bright and not necessarily warm which is why they give you that versatility for both blues and rock style guitar. 

These pickups will sound very clear even with some gain. The Alnico V magnets will give you that class “Strat” sound with great dynamics.

The middle pickup is reverse wound and that will deliver hum canceling feature.   

If you want single coils that will be quiet then you’d want to look at these as they will give you a truly wonderful Strat sound.     

Pros

Pros:

  • Alnico V magnets will give you the “Strat” sound. 
  • Hum cancelling feature. 
  • Affordable. 
  • Bright and clear tone. 
  • Easy to install. 
  • Removable pickup covers. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Screws that pickups come with may be too big. 

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3. Fender Pure Vintage ’65 Stratocaster Pickups

The Fender Pure Vintage ‘65 Strat Pickups are another great option if you are not only looking for an upgrade but also that blues and rock sound for your Strat. 

With these pickups, you will get that warm tone with a perfect balance. The enamel-coated magnet wire and Alnico 5 magnets will add a great overall sound. 

If you like those Jimi Hendrix tones these could be the right pickups for you. If you research, you’ll find out that most Hendrix’s music was recorded with a 65’ Strat. 

These pickups will enhance your sound over the stock pickups. These handle distortion very well to where it does not sound overwhelming to your ears. 

With moderate gain on an amp, the bridge pickups will more than likely be your sweet spot for that blues and rock sound that you’ve been wanting. 

If you wanted to play some different genres these are also great for funk, jazz, and country guitar styles of music. 

With the enhancement of your Strat tone with great mid sounds and perfect tone on the low end, these are without a doubt pickups that you want to seriously look at. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Enamel-coated magnet wire. 
  • Provides a brighter and more dynamic tone. 
  • Vintage sounding.
  • Ideal for a variety of styles of music. 
  • Wax-potted to reduce hum. 
  • Great for upgrading your Squire or Mexican Stratocaster. 

Cons

Cons:

  • No reverse-wound middle
  • 2nd and 4th positions do not combine with middle to make it noise-free.   

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4. Seymour Duncan California ’50s Stratocaster Pickup Set

If you’re like me and just love all things guitar then I’m sure when you have researched guitar pickups, the name Seymour Duncan has come up. 

Here we have a set of California ‘50s Strat pickups. That will give your Strat a very full sound. They are super clear and sound great when playing clean or with a hint of reverb.

You get the clear and crisp sounding goodness that gives you all you need to play blues. Adding some distortion will give you the power for your rock cravings. 

The tone is very versatile with nice brights and solid warm tones. It’s an expressive, responsive, clean and neat tone. 

This set has a nice warm pickup with nice treble focus, a great sounding middle pickup, and a bridge with a tight bass response. 

If you like the rock and blues sounds from the 50’s and early 60’s then this is where it’s at. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Beautiful full tones.
  • Perfect for blues and rock guitar. 
  • Well-rounded tone
  • Sounds great playing clean and with a hint of reverb. 
  • Versatile tone. 
  • Brings the 50’s and early 60’s Strat sound to life. 

Cons

Cons: 

  • Not as much bottom end warmth. 
  • Does not come with pickup covers.

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5. Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster Pickups

The Fender Eric Johnson makes our list for best Stratocaster pickups. So who is Eric Johnson? He’s a word renowned guitarist and tone connoisseur that Fender’s engineers worked closely with. 

These pickups sound great in the bridge position with great balance of sound. Created with reverse-wound middle pickups to eliminate the tone and make your Strat sound incredible. 

The neck pickup is designed after a ‘54 Strat pickup that gives it that great top end sparkle. These will change your guitar sound in such a good way. 

No more tinny and thin sound coming from your Start. Instead they will be very bold and thick. With an amazing range, you can really get some great sounds out of these pickups. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Thick and rich in tone.
  • Features Alnico 3 and Alnico 5 magnets. 
  • Reverse-wound middle pickup to eliminate him. 
  • Blends classic Fender Sound with Eric Johnson’s modern tones.  
  • Great upgrade for Squire and Mexican Strat owners. 
  • Perfect balance in sound. 

Cons

Cons:

  • On the expensive side for pickups. 

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6. Tonerider TRS3 Classic Blues Stratocaster Pickup Set

Want that classic blues tone on your Strat? Toneriders TRS3 makes our list for best Stratocaster pickups. 

Calibrated with a hot bridge pickup the TRS3 pickups are USA made with a push black cloth wire for easy installation. 

They are wax potted to reduce feedback and humming. These will give you the warm and bluesy chime.  

The clarity on these will also give your Start new life. The calibrated wind will give you more even volume balance across all five positions. The cloth installation will make the whole process easier so you can experience these quicker.

If playing blues or classic rock is your passion then these are worth checking out. 

Pros

Pros:

  • Perfect for that classic 60’s Strat sound. 
  • Push-back cloth for easy installation. 
  • USA Made. 
  • Wax Potted to reduce feedback.
  • Perfect for blues and rock. 
  • Balanced tone.  

Cons

Cons:  

  • Bridge pickup may be too bright based on preference. 

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Best Stratocaster Pickups Buyers Guide

So we reviewed some really awesome pickups for your Strat that will not only upgrade your guitar but will give you the tone that you are looking for. 

Now let’s look at some common and general questions that you may have with regards to guitar pickups for your Strat.

Are pickups easy to install?

This will totally depend on the individual. Some pickup installations can be easy while others could be more challenging. 

If soldering is involved then that’s where it can become a little more of a challenge. Luckily the either come with installation kits or are easy to install. 

However, if you feel like you are having some difficulties or don’t have the time, then taking it to your local guitar shop may be easier.    

Do you guitarists really use the middle pickup on a Stratocaster?

I hear this question quite often. When I play my Strat, I usually use the bridge pickup because I like the brightness and sharpness that it brings. 

The middle pickup though is what makes a Strat a Strat. The greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Hendrix used that middle pickup tone.

That distinctive sound that you hear from the Strat is where you combine the middle with the neck or bridge pickup. 

It’s great for rhythm but can hold its own for leads as well. 

Why is the bridge pickup on a Stratocaster angled?  

This is something to crave your curiosity if you ever wondered why the bridge pickup is angled. The reason for this is to optimize the reproduction of the vibrating of each string. 

Since the pickup is only transmitting the string vibrations of the strings directly above it, it’s placed closed to the bridge on the higher pitched strings and therefore further on the lower pitched strings. 

In order to maintain the balance of tone between the low and high strings, that is why the bridge is angled.  

Do guitar pickups really matter?

Yes they do especially if you are wanting a certain sound. Along with amp and speaker combination, the pickups on your guitar are the most important part of your guitar and provide the sound for what you and listeners will hear. 

They make the world of a difference and that is why they are so important. Their job is to create the sound and what’s more vital than that on a guitar. 

Can you put a humbucker in a Strat?

So we haven’t talked about humbuckers as the Strat’s are synonymous with single coil pickups and that’s the type we reviewed. 

Humbuckers are two coils rather than one. They provide a heavier and thicker sound which makes sense because it’s two as opposed to one.

There are many blues and rock guitarists that use humbuckers and you can install a humbucker style pickup in a Strat. You will however have to modify the body and/or pickguard. 

If that is something you’d be interested in doing but not sure how to, then I would suggest checking in at your local guitar shop for details and price etc. 

Keep in mind though that the pure Strat sound and the sound that it is been known for is based on the single coil pickups.    

Best Stratocaster Pickups Conclusion 

As always we hope you have enjoyed this post on the best Stratocaster pickups. I will leave you with this. The pickups without a doubt make the sound of your guitar. However, your playing is also responsible for the sound of your guitar. 

Your inner desire and yearning to express yourself via this instrument is what is going to give the guitar a personality…your personality!! You want to take what influences you sonically and mold it to your own. 

Once the pickups and your desire to play blues and/or rock guitar come together, it creates something very special and magical. Harness the style of your idols and put that forth into what you do to be creative.  

Hopefully we have given you enough information to make a wise decision when looking at upgrading your Strat pickups to get closer to the blues and rock sound. 

Arm yourself with the knowledge needed and as always HAVE FUN! 

 

 

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