Every person that has owned a Stratocaster has had to deal with some level of noise. Usually, this noise is created due to interference from surrounding electrical equipment and made worse when a single-coil pickup is selected. The coil inside of the pickup basically works like an antenna in this case, picking up interfering signals from the air.
In this article, we aim to present the best noiseless pickups for a Stratocaster currently on the market. All the options are good choices, but they all have their own sound with different instruments or different strings. As a player, you must know what type of sound you are looking for before purchasing new pickups, unless you want to try something new, of course.
Noiseless pickups are a big helper for live performance and recording, especially with a Stratocaster due to the high level of noise output. The Stratocaster sounds beautiful in itself, and that noise can take away from the beauty fast. For more technical information on the pickups and how noise reduction works, please visit the buyers’ guide at the bottom of this listing.
It is safe to assume that any Fender product would work well with a Fender Stratocaster; this set of noiseless pickups is no exception. It gives the guitar a clean, warm and full sound. It removes all the noise that is so common for a Stratocaster and still keeps the guitar’s tone intact. It is a set of three, so it would be perfect for anyone looking for a total makeover of their Stratocaster tone.
Different tools for different genres
This set of pickups will preserve the Stratocaster exactly as it was meant to be used. But some people may not want to use the guitar as intended. Classic genres such as Soft Rock, Blues and RnB is what the Stratocaster does best when it is untouched by effects or modifications. For more massive sounds or just anything different in general, maybe a different set of pickups would work better. The signature Stratocaster sound is quite sharp and attack-heavy. Someone might want to have noiseless pickups for their Stratocaster but use the instrument for smooth jazz or heavy metal. A different set of pickups would work because they could offer that person a sound that is more accurate to their genre.
EMG SA Active Single Coil Guitar Pickup - A Crowd Favorite
- Simple Design
Next up is a pickup, which can be bought in individual units. It could be useful when you want to try something new to see if it works better than your other pickups. The EMG SA can be put into any position and comes at a pretty affordable price. It will output a sound that has some extra mids with bell-like overtones and a hefty amount of sustain. It is also a perfect pickup to emulate the classic vintage Strat single-coil. The EMG Active Single Coil will fit without having to solder. The solder-less installation system is included with the purchase and is extremely easy to install. The EMG has a very sturdy build with quality components, so it is made to last.
The SA can fit into most genres as it can handle high gain output pretty well. It handles the high gains but still remains true to the classic Strat sound. Anything from soft blues to hard rock is good to go. However, the EMG is more popularly used for clean and light distorted sounds, but so is the Stratocaster. The EMG SA pickups will improve the factory fitted single-coil pickups on most Stratocasters in the medium price range.
Seymour Duncan STK-S2 Hot Single Coil Pickup Black Neck - Trust in quality
- Too Powerful
Seymour Duncan is synonymous with quality when it comes to pickups. This pickup is modeled to be able to send a lot of current into the amplifier. Compared to the two previous pickups, this one produces a little bit of a different sound. The tone the STK-S2 produces can be very similar to the tone that is associated with Stevie Ray Vaughns heavy Texas-style blues playing. This pickup adds more power to your playing and gives the guitar an overall “meatier” sound.
The STK-S2 pickup has a ceramic bar magnet that is surrounded by two stack coils. It is what gives the pickup its power, long sustain and string sensitivity. In comparison to the previous listings, these pickups are made for the stage player that wants their amp to be heard. It is a pickup that is ready to go as far as the player requires it to go.
DiMarzio DP419 Area '67 Hum Canceling Strat Pickup White - The Looker
- Muddy Sounding
These pickups are slicker than anything else. First on this list to try to emulate a typical humbucker sound, the DP419 single-coil pickup from DiMarzio is a strong contender. For those not familiar, a humbucker tends to sound thicker and fuller than your typical single-coil, which tends to be described as sharp and bright. It is what the DP419s will do, just a little more thickness than the previously mentioned pickups. The humbucker pickup is excellent to use for lead playing with soaring melodies where you want the guitar to have a smoother sound. As with all of the other pickups, the DP419s are excellent at removing noise.
It is one of the main things you have to decide on when you want to know if a specific pickup is going to be right for you or not:
Do I want my Stratocaster to sound thick or thin? More highs, lows or mids? When it comes to tailoring a unique sound with pickups, these factors are essential to start thinking about before you make a purchase. As this article will show, however, other things also are important. When constructing a guitar so that it produces the sound you want, it is important to know that you will have to make many small changes that all add up to your desired sound. Changing strings, pickups, playing techniques, and picks – all make a huge difference together, but individually all these choices might seem small.
Lace Alumitone Single-Coil Guitar Pickup Black Anodized - The Black Sheep
- Might Lack In Sound Quality
Last on this list is a unique pickup. The Lace Alumitone is tailored to fit into any position on the guitar. It has a powerful and aggressive tone and suits any genre or setting that requires this type of sound. The bottom end is tight, with even mids and smooth highs. Rather than the traditional way to use copper, the Alumitone uses aluminum, which makes it one of the best options on this list for completely removing any noise.
This noiseless single-coil is undoubtedly the most unique on this list, not only for its looks but also for the materials used to produce it. Some might dismiss that uniqueness as a novelty, and some might take it as an exciting change to be a part of something new. There are demos, videos, and heaps of information online about why the Lace Alumitone is unique. Still, the only fair judgment you will ever make is if you actually try these yourself, on your own rig.
Noiseless Pickups – Buyers’ guide
Now we have come to the buyers’ guide. It is the part where we dive deeper into some of the technical terms and explanations behind the subject at hand. First off, we will look at how a noiseless pickup functions. Secondly, looking at some of the terms and specifications you can use to make a better choice when purchasing your pickups.
How does noiseless pickup work?
First off, let’s look at how a standard pickup works. An electric guitar pickup converts the vibration of the strings into an electrical signal via magnets. The electric guitar pickup consists of a coil wrapped around a magnetic pole piece. The pickup can be seen as a sensor, which picks up vibrations from the guitar or bass strings made out of magnetic metal. A standard humbucker pickup consists of two single-coils wound side by side. The noiseless single-coil pickups tend to sound similar to humbuckers because of how they are constructed. Noiseless pickups are two single-coil pickups stacked on top of each other. Through the magic of phase cancellation and a bunch of technical details we can’t get into here, the noise phase cancels, and you are left with more of the pure sound from the guitar strings.
Every pickup has a magnet. But there are several different materials from which to construct magnets. Here we will dive deeper into how differently magnets affect the final sound that the pickup outputs. While the magnet is important for a great sounding pickup, we also need to be aware of the coil’s gauge and how many times that coil has been turned around the magnetic pole piece.
Alnico magnets are primarily made from Aluminum (al), Nickel (ni), Copper/Cobalt (co) and Iron! There are different versions of the Alnico magnets and altogether, they have been used for every single type of music and sound.
The Alnico II magnet is typically associated with a sweeter, vintage tone. These might be an excellent complement to the noiseless humbucker pickups featured in this listing. A good position to use a pickup with Alnico II magnets would be the middle position.
This magnet contains no cobalt and is, therefore, the weakest of all three Alnico magnets. Consequently, it would be a good idea to put it in the neck position, where the strings’ vibration is the strongest. This type of magnet was used first for the Stratocaster some 60 years ago, but it is still a viable choice for any Stratocaster that does not need just as much power.
One of the most commonly used magnets for Rock pickups. These sound edgy and hard. It has a comparatively strong output and is an excellent choice for the bridge position — the most powerful magnet in terms of response and punchiness.
Ceramic magnets are usually cheaper and have a tight low end and higher output than Alnico magnets. These are sometimes seen as not being the real deal, but they work perfectly for certain jobs such as heavy shredding and high gain situations.
At the end of the day, it is all about following what your ear thinks sounds good. If you prefer the thick and lush sounding tones of a humbucker pickup, go for it! If you want the clear and trebly tone of a more typical single-coil, you know where to find it! There is no way to determine if one pickup is better than another objectively. We can look at a pickup and say: this one is more durable, this one is cheaper, or this one will sound sharper. But there is no way we can combine all of those factors and rule that one pickup is better than another, don’t waste your time on those battles. This listing has been about clearing the air around a lot of what makes a pickup different from another so that the reader can go and make a more informed decision when purchasing one. But as previously stated, there is no other way to honestly tell if a pickup will work for you than by buying it and actually listening to yourself play it because that will be a totally different experience.