While stock Stratocaster pickups can sound fantastic right out of the gate, blues guitarists often seek out something that can better capture the soulful, expressive tones associated with the genre.
Whether you’re into anything from the traditional sound to heavy blues, this article will share with you some awesome pickups for your strat that get you the tone that you’re after and make your guitar sing!
Table of Contents
Fender Custom Shop Texas Special
As mentioned in the introduction, stock Strat pickups can create awesome versatile tones, but sometimes, they might lack certain qualities that might make them ideal for blues, such as a higher output. This is often the case with inexpensive Fender guitars, Squires, and Strat copies, like Warmoths or Yamaha Pacificas.
The Texas Specials are authentic Fender single-coil pickups specifically designed to deliver that classic Texas blues tone, as they have a slightly hotter output and offer enhanced midrange, giving your playing that signature blues bite and growl.
- Enamel-coated magnet wire for warm vintage tone
- Staggered pole pieces for balanced output
- Alnico 5 magnets for more focus and enhanced dynamics
- Reverse-wound middle pickup to eliminate hum
- Overwound calibrated pickups for scorching output
Van Zandt Blues Model
Van Zandt pickups might not be as big of a brand as a lot of the other pickup makers talked about here, but when it comes to blues, they definitely do it right!
These pickups sound bright and snappy and are very responsive to every pick stroke, helping to capture your expressiveness every time, no matter if you’re playing sweet blues licks or jamming some chords. See for yourself with this video!
DiMarzio DP409 Heavy Vintage Blues 2
DiMarzio is a super popular guitar pickup manufacturer known for creating some of the best stuff for any style of music, and when it comes to the blues, the Heavy Vintage Blues 2 really holds up to its name.
As you can expect, this is a vintage-style Strat pickup, like most of them out there; however, this one will definitely give you more oomph and definition while also canceling out any noise with its stacked single-coils, which is perfect for those who love a lot of overdrive and dirt in their tone but want to keep it tidy at the same time!
- A hot bridge pickup with a strong attack in the bridge position
- The Virtual Vintage Heavy Blues 2 replaces the Virtual Vintage Heavy Blues and the Virtual 2 bridge model
- Its Alnico 2 magnets allow the DiMarzio DP409 pickup to work very well in the neck position as well, for Strat players who want a very warm, round sound
- The DP409 pickup is recommended for bridge but can also be used in neck and middle
- Tech Talk: The same technology that allowed us to create the pure vintage Stratocaster sound of the Area ’58 can also be used to design a much heavier guitar pickup
Lollar Special S
Like Van Zandt, Lollar is another boutique pickup manufacturer known for producing amazing stuff, and their single-coil Stratocaster pickups are some of the best around.
It’s hard to choose, but their Special S’s are quite possibly my favorites from them due to their higher output and well-balanced tone that maintains its integrity while pushing your amp into overdriven territory. Whether it’s clean or heavy blues tones, these sound pristine – check ‘em out!
Seymour Duncan Little ‘59
Speaking of heavy blues, if you’re looking for a tone from your Strat that’s geared towards that, then you’ll definitely love the Little ‘59 by Seymour Duncan, which is a single-coil-sized humbucker based on their original ‘59 humbucking pickup.
The ‘59s were designed to capture the thick, punchy sound of the iconic PAF pickup that’s been responsible for many great blues, rock, and metal tones over the years. While the PAF is nearly synonymous with Les Pauls, you can get a piece of it in your Strat with the Little ‘59, one of the most versatile pickups on this list. If you have an HSS configuration on your Strat, you can also go for the real deal – that humbucker is killer!
- Neck/Middle position models will have the same output, wind direction and magnetic polarity.
Fralin Blues Special
Last up, we have the Blues Specials by Fralin Pickups, an amazing Strat pickup that will give your guitar the boost it needs to take your blues sound to the next level.
From crystal-clear cleans to some vintage grit, these have your back if you prefer a classic blues tone with much-needed extra output and a slight emphasis on the mids. If this sounds like you, do yourself a favor and get yourself a set of them, or at least give them a listen first here:
If you’re a proud Strat owner who’s been trying to chase the perfect blues tone, but you feel like you’re not quite there, upgrading your pickups can be the missing ingredient, especially if you’re already happy with your amp and pedals.
Luckily, there are plenty of options out there, and hopefully, this guide will help you narrow down your search for the best guitar pickup for blues for your Strat or even lead you to a whole set of shiny new pickups.
So, step up your blues game by giving yourself an upgrade – as you can see, there are plenty of fantastic options out there from a lot of brands that can suit your style the most!