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The Best Humbucker for a Strat HSS (2023 Edition)

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If you’re looking for the best humbucker for a Strat HSS, you’ve come to the right post!

These are my unbiased opinions

Seymour Duncan JB SH-4

Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB

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It’s impossible to avoid mentioning Seymour Duncan stuff here, especially their SH-4 JB humbucker.

This is one of the most popular humbuckers on the market.

It’s not as specific in terms of its use, but it does an incredible job for a wide variety of styles.

In fact, I’ve seen this pickup in guitars of various musicians, going from jazz to modern metal.

Although relatively balanced, there’s still some power in the pickup.

I really love how it works with different levels of distortion, always managing to cut nicely through the mix.

At the same time, you can get that warm and smooth sound with some rich harmonic content.

From my experience, they’re especially useful with tube amps, giving you some dynamic response.

Just make sure to use the volume knob when required since it’s a high-output pickup.

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion

DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion Pickup

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An absolute classic, DiMarzio’s Super Distortion is your go-to high-output pickup.

Now, one thing that I need to point out is that this one can potentially “eat up” single-coils in the mix.

But it’s nothing that a simple pickup height setup couldn’t solve.

Overall, I’d recommend DiMarzio Super Distortion in combination with some hotter single-coils.

What I love about this one is that it’s bass-heavy.

The high-ends aren’t as pronounced which, in my experience, gives a nice balance.

Your guitar gets enough versatility to do chugging heavy riffs, as well as jangly “in-between” tones.

I particularly loved how it adds some bass in combination with the middle pickup on a Strat.

But, most importantly, it’s one of the most famous pickups for distorting a clean tube-driven amp.

Just plug in your Strat, crank the amp, select this humbucker, and you’ll get that sweet tone and dynamic response.

Seymour Duncan Dimebucker SH-13

Seymour Duncan SH13 Dimebucker

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But what if you want something more compressed and that works incredibly well with high-gain settings?

Then I’d suggest Seymour Duncan’s SH-13 or the so-called Dimebucker.

Here we have a super-high-output humbucker with a double-blade design.

But aside from its high output, this pickup also delivers a razor-sharp tone.

It’s also slightly scooped, but it really works well for high-gain settings.

From my experience, pairing it with something like Marshall’s DSL amps yields some pretty great results.

Or, if you want serious Dimebag Darrell vibes, then it works well with a solid-state or a hybrid amp.

I’d just suggest adding in some mids in the mix to help it sound fuller.

What might be an issue to some is that it might be too hot for some single-coils in HSS Strats.

Nonetheless, it’s still a passive pickup and you can balance things out with a hotter set of single-coils.

Seymour Duncan Little ’59 SL59-1

Seymour Duncan SL59-1 Little 59 Bridge Humbucker Strat Pickup

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In case you want a humbucker but aren’t up for modifying your Strat to fit one, there are plenty of single-sized dual-coils pickups.

One that I’d suggest is the Little ’59, or SL59-1, by Seymour Duncan.

This small-sized humbucker can pack quite a punch in the style of Gibson’s classic P.A.F. concept.

It comes with a medium-high output that can work well with single-coil pickups.

It’s also treble-heavy but just about enough to give it some sparkle.

In my opinion, it’s a more vintage-oriented pickup, although it can handle a variety of styles.

But this makes it one of the perfect choices to pair it with single-coils on your Strat.

EVH Frankenstein

EVH Frankenstein Humbucker Pickup

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While most will focus on Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio when buying pickups, Eddie Van Halen’s old brand has a lot to offer as well.

Although EVH Frankenstein isn’t the cheapest one on the market, it’s more than worth it.

Of course, it’s marketed as a pickup that will give you that “Eddie Van Halen tone.”

But it’s more than just that.

Firstly, the tone is rich and full yet allows you to cut through the mix when needed.

Secondly, it helps you achieve dynamic versatility, especially if you’re utilizing the volume knob and playing through a tube amp.

And finally, notes sound pretty clear even on high-gain settings.

You can even play a 3 or 4-note chord without it sounding messy.

I have a hard time entirely describing this pickup’s tone.

It’s as if you have thickness and punch, all while being able to sizzle in the mix.

This makes it a great choice for both lead and rhythm sections.

Overall, EVH Frankenstein is one of the best options for HSS guitars of any kind.

Gibson Dirty Fingers

A Gibson humbucker in a Fender or a Squier HSS Stratocaster?

Why not?

Something like their Dirty Fingers will bring your classic Les Paul vibes into your Strat.

Gibson describes them as the perfect combo of “power and dirt.”

This is a great way to describe them since they have that raw vibe.

Nonetheless, you won’t make things sound too messy.

Although we’re looking at a super-hot humbucker, it can be set up to work with single-coils as well.

I’d recommend this one if you need something for chugging heavy power chords while your single-coils would handle most of the lead work.

The most notable user of these pickups is Tom DeLonge, formerly of Blink-182.

Gibson ’57 Classic

Another Gibson humbucker that I’d like to mention, the ’57 Classic also comes in handy.

This is one of my personal favorites.

It delivers a fairly warm tone with medium output.

It’s just about right and it can easily fit in with your single coils.

At the same time, you can still retain all of the much-appreciated humbucker sonic traits.

While it’s, overall, a more bluesy or old-school hard rock pickup, it can handle a lot of stuff.

There’s still some “jangle” to its tone, which can really work well for those “in-between” pickup combinations.

But, most importantly, you’ll get that Gibson-ish thickness and warmth.

This complements single-coils incredibly well.

If you’re looking for some of those jazzy and bluesy vibes, while also keeping the dirt and ruggedness of a humbucker, then ’57 Classic is for you.  

The Best Humbucker for a Strat HSS: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through which humbucker is best for your Strat HSS!

And if you want to read more about pickups on this blog, then check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have more questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

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