May 6

8 Best Single Coil Pickups

Did you know that the right single coil pickups can really shape the sound of your guitar? If you’re a guitarist, finding the best single coil pickups is key to nailing that perfect tone. Let me break down why they matter so much.

Single coil pickups are crucial for electric guitars. They pick up the vibrations of the strings and turn them into the sound that makes each guitar unique. We’re here to help you find the best single coil pickups to enhance your music, no matter what you play.

Choosing the right pickups can make a big difference in how your guitar sounds, whether you’re updating old ones or fitting out a new guitar. With so many brands and types out there, it’s important to know what makes some stand out.

Stick with us, and we’ll dive into detailed reviews, insightful buyer’s guides, and FAQs covering everything you need to make an informed decision on your next set of single coil pickups. We’ll cover a range of options suited for various styles, whether you’re into jazz, rock, blues, and more.

Best Single Coil Pickups

We’ve gathered the top single coil pickups for your guitar. Check them out below!

Fender Strat Hot Noiseless Pickups

These pickups are perfect for those seeking a warm, punchy, and noise-free tone.

Pros

  • Warm and punchy tone
  • Reduced noise
  • Suitable for blues and high gain styles

Cons

  • Not a perfect fit for every guitar
  • Mounting hardware not included with individual pickups
  • Confusing wiring instructions

We gotta tell you, the Fender Strat Hot Noiseless Pickups deliver a fantastic sound with a bluesy touch. These pickups are a great upgrade for any Fender Stratocaster, providing that sought-after warm and punchy tone. The neck pickup gives off a rich, smooth sound while the bridge pickup offers a screaming high gain tone.

No one likes annoying noises, right? These pickups minimize pesky hums and buzzing sounds. Now, your guitar tone can be noise-free and crystal clear. It’s a fantastic solution if you’re tired of dealing with unwanted sounds, especially when playing with high gain settings.

Be aware that some users reported issues with fitting these pickups to their Stratocasters. It’s worth double-checking if they’ll fit your guitar. Also, note that when buying individual pickups, mounting hardware is not included. There’s also some confusion regarding the wiring instructions, so beginner guitarists may need assistance when installing these pickups.

Overall, we believe the Fender Strat Hot Noiseless Pickups are an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their Fender Strat sound. With their warm, punchy tone and noise-free performance, you won’t be disappointed with the upgrade.

Seymour Duncan SSL-5 Custom Staggered Pickup

Grab this pickup for a powerful performance with a versatile tone perfect for various music genres.

Pros

  • High-output single-coil
  • Excellent sustain and harmonics
  • Great for various music styles

Cons

  • Might be too powerful for some situations
  • Some users experienced missing accessories
  • Usual single-coil hum

We recently tried the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 Custom Staggered Pickup, and we were pretty impressed. Its high-output single-coil design delivers a genuine Strat tone with more output. This pickup is perfect for musicians who love playing Texas blues rock, classic rock, and heavy rock.

The SSL-5 works best with heavier, brighter-toned ash or alder guitars, and it sounds fantastic on both maple and rosewood fingerboards. If you’re seeking killer harmonics and singing sustain, this pickup delivers just that. Don’t worry about playing clean – the pickup does clean up beautifully when you dial back your volume knob.

Sure, it’s got that inherent single-coil hum, but nothing out of the ordinary. Some users mentioned missed accessories like cables or cleaning cloths, but that’s a minor setback for such a fantastic pickup. Trust us when we say that the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 will give your guitar that extra edge you’re looking for.

Fender Deluxe Drive Stratocaster Pickups

We highly recommend these pickups for a balanced, dynamic tone and enhanced sound quality.

Pros

  • Smooth, balanced tone across all strings
  • Enhanced dynamics with Alnico 3 magnets
  • Sturdy construction with plastic bobbin

Cons

  • Not ideal for high gain tones
  • Packaging might arrive damaged
  • Some may desire hotter output

We recently tried out the Fender Deluxe Drive Stratocaster Pickups and were impressed with their sound quality. Installation was a breeze, and we immediately noticed an improvement in our guitar’s clarity and dynamics. These pickups definitely live up to the Fender reputation.

The smooth, balanced tone achieved with the staggered pole pieces was a standout feature. Each string sounded great, making our playing more enjoyable and our tone more distinct. Additionally, the Alnico 3 magnets added focus and enhanced dynamics, giving our guitar a more expressive sound.

However, these pickups may not be the best fit for metalheads or those seeking very high gain tones. They perform incredibly well for classic Strat sounds and various other genres, but their output might be a bit mild for heavier music styles. That said, the Fender Deluxe Drive Stratocaster Pickups are a fantastic choice for anyone looking to upgrade their guitar’s sound and harness those iconic Strat tones.

EMG SA Active Single Coil Pickup Set

You should definitely consider this pickup set for its versatility, clarity, and noiseless performance.

Pros

  • Smooth midrange distortion with rich bottom end
  • Noise-free, true single coil tone
  • Easy installation and impressive build quality

Cons

  • May take longer to ship for some locations
  • Not budget-friendly for everyone
  • Limited color options (black only)

The EMG’s SA Active Single Coil Pickup delivers a unique blend of classic Strat sounds and modern versatility, with attributes of the early Strat and an added midrange response. The higher output results in “bell-like” harmonics and increased sustain, making it perfect for various music genres.

The Alnico V bar magnets give this pickup set a bright and airy sound. Internal shielding and a low impedance preamp eliminate noise while preserving the true single coil tone. We found that this set has a creamy mid-range warmth, which is excellent for producing clear, strong, and expressive blues tones.

Artists like Steve Lukather and David Gilmour are fans of EMG’s SA Set, and it’s easy to see why. Installing this pickup set is a breeze – it comes with volume and tone controls and a five-position switch that’s ready to be mounted on your pickguard. Just keep in mind that shipping might take longer if you live in a remote area.

Overall, we believe the EMG SA Active Single Coil Pickup Set is worth every penny for both its sound quality and features. With its noiseless performance and versatile tone, it’s sure to be a favorite among aspiring musicians and professionals alike.

Fender Tex-Mex Strat Pickups

These pickups are perfect for versatile players seeking increased output and warm vintage-style tones.

Pros

  • Vintage-style Strat sounds
  • Increased output
  • Alnico V magnets

Cons

  • May not suit all music styles
  • Pricier than some alternatives
  • Not a dramatic upgrade for high-end Strats

We recently tried out the Fender Tex-Mex Strat pickups and immediately noticed their increased output and sparkling highs. The warm tones grabbed our attention and had all the characteristics of our favorite vintage-style Stratocasters.

From Texas grit to soaring clean tones, these pickups didn’t disappoint. They’re ideal for versatile players seeking a wider range of sounds from their Strat. Constructed with Alnico V magnets and Polysol-coated magnet wire, these pickups are a testament to Fender’s quality and craftsmanship.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the Fender Tex-Mex Strat pickups might not be the best choice for every musician. If your playing style leans more towards heavier genres, you could explore other pickup options. Additionally, while the Tex-Mex pickups offer a noticeable improvement for beginner and mid-level guitars, high-end Strat owners might not find them a huge upgrade.

In conclusion, Fender Tex-Mex Strat pickups are a solid investment for any Stratocaster player looking to expand their tonal possibilities. Consider adding these pickups to your guitar and experience the versatility they offer.

Seymour Duncan SPH90-1b Phat Cat Pickup – Bridge

We highly recommend this pickup for an authentic P-90 sound that’s perfect for various music genres.

Pros

  • Authentic P-90 sound
  • Great for various music styles
  • Fits humbucker-equipped guitars

Cons

  • Might not suit all guitar materials
  • Reverse polarity to Fender stock pickups
  • Sold individually, not in a set

Seymour Duncan’s Phat Cat pickup is perfect for those who want a P-90 sound in their humbucker-equipped guitars. It works well with ebony, maple, and rosewood fingerboards, enhancing the tone of your instrument. Plus, you’ll appreciate how it fits under a humbucker cover, making installation a breeze.

The sound this pickup produces is warm and versatile, making it suitable for country, jazz, blues, rockabilly, and even heavy rock. It’s all thanks to its two Alnico 2 magnets, which provide more sustain and a softer attack. Besides, the metal covers offer better shielding and noise reduction compared to standard soapbar covers.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. First, although it fits most humbucker-equipped guitars, be aware that it might not match every guitar material perfectly. Second, these pickups are wired with reverse polarity to Fender stock pickups, potentially causing some phase issues. Lastly, the Phat Cat pickups are sold individually instead of in a set, which can be inconvenient for some.

Overall, the Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickup is an excellent addition to your guitar setup, providing an authentic P-90 sound and great versatility. Just be prepared to deal with some minor drawbacks, and you’ll have a fantastic playing experience with this pickup.

Fishman Fluence Single Coil Pickups – White Set of 3

You’ll love this product if you want historical Strat tones without any hum.

Pros

  • Vintage and punchy tones
  • No hum or noise issues
  • Two voice options

Cons

  • Aged white cover may clash
  • Some volume differences
  • Not very budget-friendly

Fishman Fluence Single Coil Pickups give us that authentic Strat sound. Plus, they leave out the frustrating hum issues that many wire-wound pickups suffer from.

We love the Fishman Fluence’s two distinct voices. One offers a sweet, vintage single-coil sound. The other provides a beefy, overwound Texas-style hot single-coil. These options let you customize your sound to fit any genre or playing style.

One downside is the provided aged white cover clashes with some guitars. Luckily, Fishman offers pure white covers via a quick email request to their support team. We noticed a volume difference between some strings. This can be an issue for some guitarists but may not impact everyone’s playing experience.

Overall, the Fishman Fluence Single Coil Pickups offer pure, powerful tones without any hum. Though they might not be ideal for tight budgets, we believe their exceptional sound and versatility excel. Upgrade your guitar with confidence using these amazing pickups.

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele Pickups

Upgrade your Tele with these hot, versatile pickups for an authentic Texas tone.

Pros

  • Increased output, presence, and midrange
  • Clear, warm tone with nickel/silver neck cover
  • Mounting hardware included

Cons

  • Some users report faulty pickups
  • May be too hot for some tastes
  • Slightly expensive

The Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups are designed to give your Tele that signature Texas sound with added output, presence, and midrange.

The nickel/silver cover on the neck pickup provides a clear, warm tone that only a custom shop pickup can deliver. And don’t worry about installation; the set comes with all necessary mounting hardware. It’s a great option for those looking to give their Tele a new lease on life.

That being said, a few users have reported receiving faulty pickups. Additionally, the increased output may be too hot for some preferences, so make sure it aligns with your desired sound. And while the price may seem slightly steep, many players find the quality and sound worth the investment.

All in all, if you’re on the hunt for an upgraded sound and authentic Texas tone for your Tele, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups make a great choice, with quite a few benefits. Just be sure you’re prepared for the hotter output and slightly higher price tag.

Best Single Coil Guitar Pickups Buyer’s Guide

Genre Considerations

When choosing single coil pickups, think about your favorite music genres. For blues and classic rock, vintage-style pickups are perfect. On the other hand, modern rock and metal players may prefer hotter, higher-output pickups.

Tonal Characteristics

Let’s talk about the tonal characteristics that single coil pickups provide. Bright and chimey sounds are common, but some models offer thicker, warmer tones. So, consider what kind of sound you’re after before buying pickups.

  • Bright and chimey: Vintage-style pickups, Fender Stratocaster
  • Thick and warm: P-90 style pickups, Seymour Duncan SSL-1

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Output Levels

Output levels matter too. Higher output means a stronger signal, resulting in more gain and volume when amplified. It’s essential to decide if you need low, medium, or high-output pickups.

  1. Low output: Sweet, clean tones (Fender Custom Shop 69 pickups)
  2. Medium output: Versatile, ranging from clean to overdriven (Fender Tex-Mex pickups)
  3. High output: More aggressive, great for distortion (Seymour Duncan SSL-3)

Noise Reduction

Single coil pickups can be noisy, especially when high levels of gain are applied. Many musicians are fine with that, but if you prefer less hum, consider choosing noiseless pickups like the Fender Noiseless Series or the DiMarzio Area pickups.

Build Quality and Durability

Finally, focus on the build quality and durability of the pickups. Good-quality pickups will last longer and provide better sound. Trusted brands like Fender, Seymour Duncan, and DiMarzio are wise choices. It’s also helpful to read customer reviews before making a decision.

Overall, considering genre, tone, output levels, noise reduction, and build quality will help you find the best single coil pickups for your guitar.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best single coil pickups can really make a difference. It can boost your guitar’s sound and playability. The perfect single coil pickup can truly transform your tone and overall musical expression.

If you can, try out different single coil pickups. Playing around with various kinds can help you discover the best fit for your playing style and guitar setup.

As we wrap things up, keep in mind how much a great single coil pickup can affect your sound. Make a smart choice, and you’ll be surprised at the impact it has on your music.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do single-coil pickups differ from humbucker pickups?

We know single-coil pickups provide bright and clear sound. Humbucker pickups, on the other hand, offer warm and thick tones. They’re designed to cancel hum, unlike single-coil pickups.

Why do single coil pickups hum?

Single coil pickups pick up interference from various sources. These can cause a humming noise in the background. Humbuckers don’t have this issue due to their design.

Can single coil pickups handle high gain?

Yes, they can! But keep in mind, single-coil pickups produce more noise when cranked up. If noise is a concern, you might want to try using humbuckers.

What is the “quacky” sound associated with single coil pickups?

The “quacky” sound is caused by the phase cancellation between two single-coil pickups. It’s a distinct and funky tone, often heard in classic rock, blues, and funk.

How do vintage single coil pickups differ from modern single coil pickups?

Vintage single coil pickups tend to have weaker magnets and thinner wire. This results in a warm, smooth sound. Modern ones usually offer a brighter and more aggressive tone.


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