Favorite Strat Pickups

Favorite Fender Pups

  • Texas Special

    Votes: 10 25.6%
  • Custom Shop 69

    Votes: 14 35.9%
  • A true vintage set whatever year mention your favorite

    Votes: 11 28.2%
  • Hot Vintage Noiseless

    Votes: 5 12.8%

  • Total voters


Strat-Talk Member
May 11, 2018
Los Angeles
Can't vote...none of the above!
My favorite is the late '70s DiMarzio Fat Strat I installed in the bridge of my '65 Strat, which ironically, I'm thinking of removing to have the original '65 bobbin rewound to 65 specs during my ongoing re-restoration.
If I do, I'll certainly have to use in on something else because it really rips.
Fair enough!


Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2018
Guildford, England
I'll let you in on a secret... Van Zandt True Vintage Plus. Have a set of these in one of my strats and they are full, stratty and powerful. Lovely pickups!
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Nov 13, 2009
Keizer Oregon
So far I have enough empirical data to make qualified statements on:

Texas Special set
Custom Shop ‘69 AY set
Eric Johnson set
Hot Vintage Noiseless set

Seymour Duncan
SSL 1, 3, 5

Di Marzio
HS-3, HS-4, Virtual Vintage. The HS series is a really well made pickup, I like those a lot. HS-3 in bridge is always a great choice imo. The old out of production Virtual Vintage is my favorite out of that sorta pickups.
The one set that’s noiseless and as close as I have come to vintage tone is the Hot Vintage Noiseless set. Only that doesn’t sacrifice too much Strat for noiseless in my humble experience.

My number one vintage set tough. TX Special, CS 69, EJ? Probably I’d go:
1. TX Special
2. CS 69
3. EJ

Not very educated on Seymour Duncans, except the David Gilmour set, which I like but not sure if it’s in my overall top 3.

My favorite combination so far:
HS-4, Stock Strat (USA standard), Virtual Vintage

What’s your favorite pickup set or combination?

And - What would you suggest I should check out and why?

🎶 🎸
Play more guitar!
As a Blues player I love Fralin’s Blues Specials with the tone split wiring mod. The pups are slightly overwound for a fatter sound. I also use 0.047 orange drop capacitors. Still plenty of bite and shimmer.
Link attached for the TS mod.
Tone split mod wiring explained

Joe R

Nov 3, 2015
Texas Specials are very good, if sometimes harsh depending on your setup. I'd also like to put in a good word for Fat 60s and Fat 50s, and Fender Hot Noiseless. And Bare Knuckle Mother's Milk pickups.
Good choices Lost Plectrum,
Most players know that Fender pickups have AlNiCo magnets. Texas Specials, Fat 50s, and most others have AlNiCo 5 magnets. Fat 60s have AlNiCo 2 magnets. They sound very different as a result. There's fabulous low frequency response. Neck and Middle sound almost jazz like, and bridge or bridge and middle have great bite. The bridge is not as thin as some others. There's almost no hum on the set I installed. I've played on dozens of Fender and other Strat pickups. Along with Texas Specials, the Fat 60s are my favorites. They are very different from each other, and that's just fine. The beauty of a Strat is we can switch out a loaded pickguard in a half-hour, and get a totally different type of sound.

Joe R

Nov 3, 2015
I know folks that can almost always accurately tell me what wine they’re drinking. But guitar pick ups, no way. But if you’d like them or not is an easy assessment.
Hello Bongo,
Interesting comment. You know what WOULD be tough? Listening to a Strat pickup without any a = b, or a=b=c comparisons. Many of us could tell the difference between Texas Specials and say, Vintage Noiseless, but hearing them alone, any pickup would be much more difficult to identify. Amp and guitar settings also play a huge role. I guess it may be a safe comment to say that the similarities are far greater than the differences.


Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Nov 19, 2021
I picked my pickups on research and blind faith. Been really lucky. Next up the. PV59s. Desperate to get the build finished now to try them.
FWIW, I have had some time with the PV59s and they are awesome. I've got PV65s and they're awesome. My cv50 has stick pickups and, guess what? They're awesome.
It's all in the user's ears. They are all different and all great. If I had to only choose 2, it would be both the PVs, if I had to choose 1, I couldn't. If I had to have 3, I couldn't be happier.

Arrested Dev

Silver Member
Jan 18, 2022
Austin, TX
I enjoy and can work with virtually every mainstream Strat pickups I've encountered. Between the tone controls on the guitar and the amp (and pedal) controls, it's generally not hard to get most tones. The CS1960 pickups in my 1960 Strat (not "60s') are the type I prefer: medium output, very clear, no unusual voice or output (moderate). They're as good as it gets for my purposes. Touch-sensitive and responsive beyond belief with that great clarity and detail that a HB will never possess.
Yes! I have a CS 1960 Strat (what it says on the reproduced floor traveler for Fender custom er service). That form lists the pickups as "60 Strat Rel". Same for all 3 positions, no rwrp.

All I know is I always love every position, and with all combinations of vol / tone settings. Not sure if these pickups or this particular guitar model had any real press, but I feel super lucky.

I have ab Xotic XSC-2 with Raw Vintage sinhpe coils in M an N - they are vert good and pleasing, but not quite as enjoyable at all times like the 1960.

I will likely get a '69 Strat reissue some day and not sure if ill go with the complete set of '69 pups or a mixed set of CS ones like 69 neck, Fat 50 mid, TS Bridge.

Another one of those, you don't know until you know type things.


Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
London, UK
It's a pointless poll since you haven't even mentioned two of the most obvious vintage Strat types, very popular on here. Duncan SSL-1s have been the industry standard since the 80s? The 70s? Still being made today because they're still good.

The other obvious choice that should be in any list is the good old Fender 57/62. Of course you then need to specify pre 1998 type or post 1998. I'd go for the older type.


Strat-Talk Member
Dec 24, 2021
Honorable mention to Ryan,
at BootStrap Pickups!
You can get about anything you’re looking for there, and if you dont see it, talk to him for whatever you want, custom wound.
Quality is second to none, and his Prices can’t be beat.

EC Strat

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 16, 2018
Louisville Kentucky
I really like most of Fenders offerings except the V mods I or II and Texas specials

But for me it’s all about SD 1/1/5. Super cleans, glassy highs, warm and mellow with a punch.

Klein Epic 57 and 65’s


Strat-Talk Member
Jan 16, 2022
Ive got a 2013 us pro w mojotone 58's, an 2005 am deluxe w cs 69's (and a voodoo69 in the bridge) and a 2017 mim deluxe w the new fender noiseless hots.
My fav of those is the cs 69s, and i actually do like the samarium cobalts that came in the am deluxe but put them in an an ibanez roadstar...but funny thing is the pups i really like the best are the cheap old no name ceramics in my buddies cheap old 2002 mim strat.