Best Pickups for Squier Strat (2023 Edition)

Table of Contents

Are you on the hunt for the best pickups for Squier Strat?

Let me tell you, you’re in for quite an adventure!

Picking the right set is like finding the missing piece to your sonic puzzle.

But don’t fret. This guide is here to make your search a breeze.

Guitarists, whether seasoned pros or fresh-faced, know that the Squier Strat’s charm lies in its versatility.

From its sleek neck profile to the signature twang and growl, it’s a trusty companion for any musical journey.

The moment you start exploring the world of pickups, the real magic begins!

What Are The Best Pickups For A Squier Strat?

Fender Original ’57/’62

Original '57 / '62 Pickups | Fender

This set of single-coils is not cheap, but it’s not super expensive either.

If you ask me, it outperforms its price category.

The guys at Fender made a blueprint for this set from an old 1963 Strat.

The idea was to capture the same old tone from the early 1960s and the late 1950s.

This set has Alnico 5 pickups with a Formvar-coated wire and cloth-covered lead wires.

Hand-beveled staggered poles accompany this.

They’re designed to fit your standard 9.5-inch fretboard radius, giving a balanced tone to your every fret.

In addition, these pickups have aged covers, giving you a full vintage feel.

Check out Fender Original ’57/62′ on Guitar Center:

Fender Stratocaster Original 57/62 Pickup Set White | Guitar Center

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Fender Deluxe Drive

Fender Deluxe Drive Telecaster/ Deluxe Drive Stratocaster Pickups | Fender

Fender’s Deluxe Drive set is a bit cheaper.

However, it still delivers that true classic twang and jangle that the brand is famous for.

Here we have Alnico 3 magnets and a polyol-coated wire.

The classic plastic bobbin and a vinyl-coated wire are also at the output.

You’ll also find standard features like staggered pole pieces among its components.

What I love about them is the middle pickup with Alnico 3 magnets.

This sets them apart from most standard single-coil pickups on the market today.

If you’re interested in a Fender Deluxe Drive Strat pickup, get yours from Guitar Center:

Fender Deluxe Drive Stratocaster Pickup Set White | Guitar Center

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Fender Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex Pickups | Fender

Another Fender set worth mentioning is Tex-Mex. These are also more reasonably priced.

Although they come with regular Alnico 5 magnets, one thing makes them special.

These pickups have a slightly hotter output.

In my experience, they work well with those vintage or vintage-inspired Fender amps.

Crank up the volume and hit them hard.

You’ll get your amp’s tubes into organic overdrive immediately.

They are not super hot, but hot enough to make your amp shimmer with a dynamic output that can warm the middle position with warmth.

Wilkinson Vintage Voice Alnico V ST

Musiclily Wilkinson Vintage Tone Alnico 5 SSS Pickups Set Demo by Miguel Hernandez

If you’re looking for something cheaper, Wilkinson has some stuff you should check out.

A simple Alnico 5 set of single coils will get you covered.

Sure, these aren’t Fender pickups.

But they’re better than your average stock Squier stuff.

You can also get this set along with a pre-wired pickguard.

Bear in mind that this is a budget-friendly option.

These won’t serve you as well as other pickups on the list.

You can’t expect those full-on vintage Fender tones.

However, they’re more than a great deal for their price.

And they’re a decent upgrade for a Squier Strat.

Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special

Texas Special Pickups | Fender

If you want to go all the way, try out the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special set.

(Also, if you want a deep dive into the differences between Tex Mex and Texas Special, check out our post here.)

These are the ultimate Fender single-coil pickups.

You find these on some of their high-end guitars.

They not only have the signature twang, you also get a very nuanced dynamic response with these pickups.

And sure, it might seem weird to have a super-expensive pickup set in a cheap Squier Strat.

But I’ve tried such hot-rodded guitars, and they can work like a charm.

These are overwound pickups.

This feature gives them a louder output.

However, engineers at Fender still made them sound very controlled.

You still have that strong attack and crisp high-ends.

That said, these pickups manage to get tight bottom ends in there too.

Overall, these pickups have that classic Texas blues kind of tone.

It’s what you’d hear in Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s music.

Overall, these are the ultimate single-coil pickups.

Plug them into an old Fender amp, and you’ll immediately get that classic overdriven tone.

Try the Fender Custom Shop Strat Texas Special here:

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Strat Pickups | Guitar Center

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Seymour Duncan California ’50s

Seymour Duncan California '50s Set - Full Review

As far as Seymour Duncan pickups go, I really love their California ’50s set.

What’s interesting is that Seymour Duncan has been really good at replicating vintage tones.

Some would argue that they’re better than Fender and Gibson at making Fender and Gibson pickups.

These pickups may not be as expensive as Texas Specials.

However, they still gravitate towards high-ends.

Nonetheless, they’re one of the best Strat pickup options on the market.

They come with Alnico 5 magnets and hand-made forbon bobbins.

There’s also a formvar magnet wire which rounds out the whole vintage-inspired collection of ingredients.

These features bring out that classic 1950s and 1960s tone.

In my opinion, these work well for both old-school and modern stuff.

You can even play some modern prog rock in the style of Polyphia, and they’ll sound great. 

If you want to experience the Seymour Duncan California ’50s, Guitar Center can help you out:

Seymour Duncan California '50s Single-Coil Set SSL-1 | Guitar Center

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Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Strat Set

Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Bridge Pickup Demo | Fender Stratocaster (2019)

Now, here’s something a little different.

If you have a Squier Strat and prefer humbuckers, you can get a set of Seymour Duncan’s Hot Rails.

These are practically dual-coil pickups in a single-coil-size form.

What’s also great is that you don’t have to modify your pickguard to fit a humbucker in there.

Just install them as you’d do with any other single-coil set.

Essentially, you’ll get that tone of a triple-humbucker Les Paul within a Squier Strat.

These are relatively hot, and you can get those modern high-gain tones with the proper amp.

While narrower humbuckers aren’t the same as regular PAF-style stuff, they’re still pretty close.

These have become pretty popular among Strat players who need a humbucker bridge pickup.

But why not get the full set?

Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Strat Pickup Set Black | Guitar Center

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EMG SA Pickups Review/Demo/Comparison

We usually associate the EMG brand with those mean metal-oriented humbuckers.

However, they have some pretty awesome single coils.

And a classic EMG SA set can get you some incredible tones.

Now, what you need to bear in mind is that these are active pickups.

This may be a bit of a challenge to install.

But if you’re up for some hot rodding, these are more than worth it.

Active single coils are kind of specific.

You still get the jangle and twang of regular single coils.

However, they have increased output and a pronounced attack.

They also sparkle a lot, especially on clean channels of tube-driven amps.

David Gilmour has used these over the years.

So you’d be able to have those overdriven crunchy tones with these pickups.

Just make sure to use tone and volume knobs for extra tone control.  

If you want to try the EMG SA pickup, you can get yours here:

EMG SA/SA/81 Active SSH Set Black | Guitar Center

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Understanding Squier Strat

Classic Vibe: An Ode to the ’60s

Ah, the Classic Vibe series – a blast from the past!

This is your go-to choice if you’re craving that iconic 60s Strat sound.

The Classic Vibe is a nod to the era of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, offering a nostalgia-fueled musical journey.

With its vintage-style pickups and hardware, you’ll get a ton of value for the price.

However, choosing the best pickups for your Classic Vibe is about understanding your sonic goals.

From Texas blues to psychedelic rock, the right pickups can accentuate the tonal potential of this beast.

Riding the Affinity Wave: The Affinity Stratocaster

Unboxing The Squier Affinity HSS Stratocaster Pack | Fender

The Squier Affinity is a staple in the beginner guitar realm and beyond.

It’s not just about the wallet-friendly price point but also the build quality.

Often described as a ‘gateway guitar’ to the guitar world, the Affinity Stratocaster has a knack for delivering clear and bright tones with its three single-coil pickups.

When selecting pickups for your Affinity Stratocaster, focus on achieving balance – consider a set that can complement its default sound but with a personal touch.

Budget Beater: The Squier Bullet Strat

Squier Bullet HT Stratocaster Electric Guitar | Beginner Guitar Demos | Fender

Don’t let the price tag fool you!

The Squier Bullet Strat may be considered an entry-level model, but it’s more than capable of producing tones that can knock the socks off even more expensive models.

This guitar’s pickups are one of its key features, as they allow for a broad range of sounds.

This makes it a fantastic choice for beginners or those on a tight budget.

When picking new pickups, aim for versatility that can cater to the changing needs as your guitar skills evolve.

The Modern Maestro: The Contemporary Squier Strat

Squier Contemporary Stratocaster - Quick Review

As its name suggests, the Contemporary Squier Strat brings a modern flavor to the Strat line.

It comes with a two-point tremolo and a mix of chrome and black hardware, which sets it apart from the pack.

The tone of this guitar is more modern, with a high output that appeals to players with a heavier playing style.

Therefore, while choosing pickups, opt for those that can push your tone into the high-gain territory yet maintain clarity and definition.

Hot-Rodding Your Guitar: New Set of Pickups for Squier Strat

Sure, a Squier Stratocaster is a pretty cheap guitar, in most cases, at least.

But they are also decent instruments for the money.

Swapping a few parts can make a world of difference.

This goes both for hardware and electronics.

In my opinion, a new set of Squier pickups can give you some incredible results.

I remember my guitar teacher hot-rodded his Squier back in the day.

He put a set of new single coils into the cheapest Bullet Strat.

This guitar sounded as good as any Fender thanks to its hot-rodded additions, proper intonation, and setup.

Of course, for Squier guitars, pickups are not everything.

But they’re crucial if you want a good tone.

And, believe it or not, putting a new set of pickups on your guitar can make a world of difference.

Also, if you want to learn more about pickup upgrades, check out the hot-rodding post on this blog.

Ending on a High Note: Upgrading Your Pickups for Squier Strat

Navigating the world of pickups for Squier Strat can be quite a trip down the rabbit hole, but with this guide, you’re well on your way to striking the perfect note.

Whether you’re a novice cutting your teeth or a seasoned musician chasing that elusive vintage tone, there’s a pickup out there waiting to amplify your vibe.

Don’t get too hung up on brand names or price tags.

Sure, high-end pickups can offer a wealth of nuances, but even budget-friendly options can deliver tones that can knock your socks off!

It’s all about what speaks to you.

I hope this article has given you some ideas for alternate pickup setups for your Squier Strat!

Got questions or want to share your experiences about pickups for Squier Strat?

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

2 Responses

  1. That’s absolutely all the information that I was looking for!! Thanks man. Short and precise, with all the videos as the cherry on top(is that the right expression? I’m french speaking sorry😁)

    1. Hi Dan!

      I’m glad we could help! Feel free to message us here or on another blog post if you have any further comments or questions! And yes, that’s the right expression 🙂

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