While the tone and final sounds that you’re producing are personal to you and there’s a seemingly infinite number of possibilities you can explore. Today, we’re going to share with you the final results of our extensive search into the world of Start thumbsucker pickups.
This company has been leading the game when it comes to pickups for over 30 years, and this experience shows in this model. As this is a Trails design, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits that come with two thin blades that provide the magnetic pull.
This pickup is also incredibly sensitive, with the ability to respond to even the tiniest movements of your fingers, resulting in an optimal response time. While you’ll only receive one pickup per purchase, this model is only designed for the neck of your Start, ensuring this is the ideal replacement or upgrade you’ve been looking for; all for an affordable price tag.
As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy an incredibly warm and ‘smoky’ sound that could be described as velocity sensitive. This is also complemented by the fact that the pickup contains a special variation of the Alice 2 magnets which are designed to reduce your string pull, helping to boost the lifespan of your guitar.
Perfectly emulates the original ’54 Start sound Ideal for all pickup locations; bridge, neck, and middle Silent operation for the best performance Specially designed Alice 2 magnets Another entry from DiMaggio, this Super S thumbsucker pickup has been designed specifically for your Start, ensuring that you’ll be able to drop it straight in without any problems.
This pickup comes in just at the lower end of the premium price range, ensuring that it’s suitable for all musicians, even those on a budget. If you haven’t heard of the Super Distortion range by now, this is the perfect introduction to this product line.
During the installation process, which can be anywhere in your Start guitar, you can adjust the pole pieces to wherever you need them, allowing you to customize the magnetic field of your pickup. You can simply drop it in, wire it up, solder the connections together, and you’ll be ready to play till your heart’s content.
With a deep and fulfilling low-end, enhanced mid and a beautiful high end, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular hum bucking Start pickups on the market. It features a classic double-cutaway body design, paired with a very comfortable maple neck and a “6-in-line” headstock.
You’ll find the Stratocaster guitar model used in an abundance of genres, anything from jazz to blues, heavy metal subgenres, and even pop music. Although the Stratocaster is produced in many spec variations, one of this instrument’s most popular traditional characteristics is the three single-coil pickup configuration.
Along with the use of a simple 5-way selector switch, this Start configuration has a reputation for packing some pretty versatile tone-shaping options. This triple-single formation allows for some very “twangy” and “jangly” tones, which still makes Stratocaster guitars quite popular among blues, country, as well as surf rock players.
If you preferred to dig a little deeper into the fundamentals of Start pickups check out our buying guide at the bottom of the page here. In fact, these are probably the most popular single-coil pickups for all Start players as they’ve defined that classic Texas Blues tone.
The secret behind this unique sound is in extra wounds that adds a little boost in the bottom ends and mid. What’s pretty interesting is that these pickups manage to cover a lot of different musical styles.
Overall, I would say the Fender Texas Specials are the bootstrap pickups for blues, and they work well for many other musical styles as well. However, the classic “twang” and the sharp attack remain on almost any of the examples that you can find on the market these days.
My Review: Going through Fender’s long history, they had a lot of different types of pickups to offer. If you’re looking for something vintage-oriented that can still deliver an awesome modern-oriented tone, we’d recommend you check out Fender’s Original 57/62 pickup set.
These pickups have actually been reverse-engineered from an old 1963 Stratocaster model, which means that they deliver an authentic tone as if they were made back in the old days. Aside from Alice V magnets, we also have a Formvar-coated wire which impacts the tone and makes it pretty unique.
The pole pieces are also staggered, making the overall sonic output very controlled and balanced all over the audible spectrum. This is one of the most effective and versatile pickup configurations for Stratocaster guitars out there, and it’s certainly worth looking into if you’re a fan of vintage-oriented stuff.
At the same time, they still retain some much-appreciated qualities of Fender’s single-coil pickups, including the sparkling bright tone and the overall clarity in there. Utilizing these traits and your instrument’s controls, you get a lot of options to shape your sonic output.
Anything from those bluesy old school vibes and even up to heavy metal leads, you’ll be able to cover a lot of territories with them. Bottom Line: Bearing standard Alice V magnets, staggered pole pieces, and relatively lower output, they’re great for blues and jazz music.
However, more wounds on the bridge pickup add some boost for this position, making it useful for hard rock music as well. My Review: We’ve already discussed some EGG pickups in this list, which comes as a bit of a surprise as they’re mostly known for their high output active thumbsuckers.
For instance, they also have specially designed David Glamour signature pickups that give some of the best qualities you’d expect from single-coils. However, EGG’s DG20 pickups will have a better dynamic response and will add those sparkling bright overtones to the mix, all while keeping things under control.
The whole thing is rounded up with an additional EX Expander control that lets you blend between a “scooped” and a mid-heavy tone. It’s also worth noting that this is a rewired pick guard combo, and it’s designed in such a way that it’s super easy to put it in your Stratocaster.
Bottom Line: Done in collaboration with Pink Floyd’s David Glamour, these pickups come with some great expressive qualities and have pronounced yet controlled high-ends. My Review: While we’re at Seymour Duncan pickups, it’s hard not to mention yet another one of their awesome products for this list.
We talked about how those dual-coil pickups packed in a smaller-sized single-coil format can be quite useful for Fender Stratocaster guitar players who like to have those thumbsucker tone qualities in there. Well, if this sounds like what you’re looking for, then you should definitely consider taking a closer look at Seymour Duncan’s Billy Gibbons signature pickup set called the Red Devil.
What’s more, they even work great in clean settings, allowing those sparkling tones in all three of the positions. Bottom Line: Three dual-coil pickups that are the size of regular single-coils are not that common and will make you sound unique.
My Review: Looking through all the big names in the world of guitar, there’s hardly any musician that could emulate what Eric Johnson does. And, just like many virtuoso players, Johnson is well-known for his use of Fender Stratocasters and even has his amazing line of signature Starts with the company.
However, these are super expensive, but you can always get a huge portion of their tone by getting your hands on his signature pickup set. Nonetheless, things are pretty balanced all over the spectrum, and you can get a lot of different tones going on, although you’ll always notice those vintage vibes in there.
And they work well in pretty much all settings, anything from those super squeaky cleans and up to heavily distorted fuzz-drenched tones. Bottom Line: Being active single-coils, this set of EGG SAVE adds a lot of expressive qualities and high-ends in there.
And, as we already mentioned, they’re mostly known for their metal oriented stuff, although we can find a lot of diverse types of pickups in their arsenal as well. And despite the reduction of that constant and annoying hum that comes with single-coil pickups, the EGG’s SO set will still deliver all the main qualities and characteristics that we love.
Bottom Line : Similar to the previous example by EGG, the SO is an active set of single-coil pickups. My Review: What other older guitar manufacturing companies developed over the years, Ruhr took to a whole new level with their innovative approach in instrument building.
Knowing how Ruhr is a company dedicated to making quality instruments and setting standards way up high, it’s only obvious that you’re going to get some pretty awesome pickups with them. The V60 set is specially voiced to replicate the sonic qualities of what we could hear on those legendary Fender Stratocasters from the 1960s.
Bottom Line: Ruhr pickups are pretty versatile, and they have a perfect blend of old school and modern sonic qualities. My Review: Of course, Ruhr has a lot of other great pickup models to offer, especially if you’re into Stratocaster stuff.
Although not pronounced, the midrange manages to keep things fresh as well, allowing for pretty balanced and controlled performance. The slightly boosted bottom end gives a lot of maneuverability in terms of playing some tighter-sounding stuff.
Interestingly enough, even some hard rock and heavy metal riffs can sound pretty great with these single-coils. Bottom Line: Made by Ruhr, these pickups are pretty versatile for different settings.
My Review: Going back to Fender and their products, we’d like to take a look at another one of their great single-coil Stratocaster pickup sets. Here we have the V-Mod pickups, with each of these three being specially voiced and tweaked to fit their respective positions on a standard average Stratocaster.
Although it seems a little “unconventional,” the results are definitely interesting and worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic single-coil “twangy” and “jangly” tones. Switching through all the 5 pickup positions and combinations, you’ll notice that things are evenly balanced and that nothing quiet sounds louder or much quieter in some places.
Bottom Line: These are classic Fender Stratocaster pickups that you find on a lot of the company’s guitars. With a combination of different types of magnets, they feature a pretty balanced tone, making them fairly versatile.
My Review: Looking through all the pickups on the market, most notably those intended for Fender Stratocaster guitars, you’d notice that things can get a bit price. Although not getting that close to some stuff that we already mentioned here, the Wilkinson LIC White ST pickups truly do a great job for their price.
In fact, these are ridiculously cheap and yet still manage to deliver more than just a decent average tone that you’d expect to hear on some cheaper guitars. What’s more, we even have the classic staggered pole pieces, giving them that slightly vintage feel.
But, of course, you can’t expect a pro-level tone with them knowing that the entire set here is half the price of an individual pickup in some of the other examples that we mentioned in this list. Bottom Line: Wilkinson LIC White ST pickups are one of the best budget options on the market these days.
And the Generation 4 of their Noiseless pickup series is no exception to this rule, bringing that classic twang and jangle, all while keeping things as quiet as possible. Needless to say, it’s impossible to completely get rid of that background noise with those individual single-coil pickup positions.
Bottom Line: These are pretty similar to classic stock pickups on Fender Start guitars. Despite a somewhat uninteresting dedicated name, this particular single-coil pickup combo truly delivers a wide palette of tones that you can make with them.
As far as sonic properties go, we have a pretty versatile combo here, with each pickup well adapted for its respective position. These are super useful for those extra twangy tones, like for funk or country music, although they also work well in other settings.
But if you’re into those HSS combos and want to have that tighter and heavier riffing tone with a bridge position pickup, then you can look into this fine example by Mi listen. Sure, it’s not as big or a brand compared to other stuff that we’re detailing here, but this rewired pick guard with a full set is well worth the price.
First off, we have only one tone (or treble roll-off) control for all three of the pickups, which is somewhat unusual for Starts, although it keeps things a little simple. We’d say that these pickups are worth it, especially due to the price which is slightly lower since Mi listen is not as famous compared to some other brands.
The addition of a thumbsucker in the bridge position makes it useful for anyone who likes tight riffing as well as classic bright single-coil tones. The RA-2 comes with a fully prepared rewired pick guard and features the standard triple single-coil formation that most of the Fender Start lovers prefer over other options.
Of course, just like other EGG examples that we mentioned here, these come with active electronics, making them very useful for lead players. It’s slightly “thinner” compared to some others here, and it can cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter.
Additionally, we also get a lot less noise with the RA-2 pickups, all while keeping the vintage tone qualities that we all love. Bottom Line: Another great set by EGG, these active pickups have quite an accent on the brighter side of the spectrum.
My Review: We’ve already mentioned a couple of different Lace Sensor Stratocaster pickup combinations here. But there’s another one that we thought would be interesting to all those who like Fender Stratocaster guitars and improved sonic options with them.
This is due to the fact that this is the one pickup with the strongest output signal in the entire series, allowing for some razor-sharp and even heavy tones. But things are nicely balanced with two other pickups, Emerald and Silver, making this particular combo very potent and versatile.
Bottom Line: Once again, Lace Music Products deliver quite a versatile combo of single-coil pickups. The bridge pickup has a stronger output, making it a great option for hard rock and metal guitar players.
And, as the name suggests, these are heavily gravitating towards those old 1950s Stratocaster and the kind of tone that they had back in the day. And the guys over at Fender truly did an amazing job at bringing the good old times back to life.
The magnets of these pickups are encircled with layers of Formvar-coated wire, which adds a very noticeable accent to higher ends. Bottom Line: With all the vintage features, these pickups bring out the qualities of this Fender Stratocaster guitars made back in the 1950s.
My Review: Fender’s Pure Vintage Series has some other great examples that are worth noting here. Fender Starts made back in the ’60s hold a special place in the hearts of some vintage-loving guitar players.
Since they’ve achieved classic status, it was only a matter of time until Fender would try to replicate their awesome tone and feel. But although we have this subtle accent on the mid and the bottom end, you’ll still get that classic punchy tone that Starts are known for.
Right on the verge of the new era in rock music, the pickups of these guitars were a bit smoother and “beefier” compared to those made in the 1950s. My Review: Despite the abundance of different options on the market, it’s not always that easy to find a nice Stratocaster combo that includes hum bucking pickups.
My Review: There’s a lot of exciting stuff in Seymour Duncan’s collection of pickups, so it’s pretty hard not to include yet another one of their Stratocaster sets. Funk, pop, ska, and even hard rock music can also sound great with Seymour Duncan’s SSL-1 pickups.
Bottom Line: This set is Seymour Duncan’s twist on Fender’s classic 1950s single-coil pickups. It’s a pretty great choice for the fans of this kind of tone, especially if you’re into old school blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
As far as Stratocaster combos go, we’d like to take a closer look at their Boot camp series and the Old Guard set of single-coils. These are capable of bringing that sparkle and jangle that Stratocaster players love, all while preserving some punch in the midsection as well as the “beefiness” in the bottom ends.
It’s also worth noting that these come with flat poles, which makes them more effective on guitars that have a flatter fretboard radius. Bottom Line: While Bare Knuckle is not as famous of a brand compared to some other mentioned in this list, this set is more than worth the price.
So here, we’re looking at their awesome Yosemite pickup set that’s made especially for those who prefer to have a wide variety of sonic options, all while keeping true to classic single-coil Start properties. Due to their design and features, these are useful for both modern and vintage-oriented stuff, making them a great choice for versatile and virtuosic players.
Using the standard Stratocaster controls, you’ll be able to create anything from sparkling funky tones and up to growling heavy leads. My Review: But speaking of any kind of pickups, it’s hard not to mention Seymour Duncan as they’re one of the most respected companies in this business.
These “hotter” single-coil pickups are rather interesting, since they manage to keep the clarity and brightness, and yet they can work well for some heavier-sounding settings. This means that you can put it in the bridge, middle, or neck position and achieve good results.
Triple-Single-Coil Three single-coil pickups all put into a standard pick guard and body cover is a typical formation for Fender Stratocaster guitars. Of course, it is also accompanied by one volume pot and two-tone controls, as well as a standard 5-way pickup selector switch.
Whether it’s a clean, overdrive, distorted, or extremely saturated fuzz setting, these pickups will always bring a lot of high ends to the equation. You just cannot imagine how much electric interference we’re experiencing at this time and age, and no shielding or special design features can protect single-coils from the hum.
The only way to get rid of it is to have a thumbsucker, although this kind of pickup completely changes the tone and lacks that much-appreciated Stratocaster “twang” and “jangle” that these guitars are so well-known for. First off, the addition of the thumbsucker in the bridge position gives you an option to have some of those “chugging” heavy distorted riffing parts sounding pretty tight.
Although not much of a big deal, it still requires some precise cutting in order to make things work. Additionally, they also don’t mess with the overall aesthetic features of these guitars that plenty of musicians and fans love.
Of course, this kind of pickup design may make it sound a little different compared to regular thumbsuckers that we’re used to. But nonetheless, the tone will still have those classic thumbsucker characteristics, including tightness and an accent to the mid part of the audible spectrum.
Even some famous guitar heroes prefer to go with Trails as it makes things much more practical and aesthetically pleasing. There is, however, a slight difference in tone compared to regular thumbsuckers, although this can make your Start sound unique.
Nonetheless, even the triple Trails combo comes with a standard 5-way pickup selector switch, giving you a lot of options to create different tones. Although you’d assume that the dual-humbucker pickup combo is reserved for Gibson's and Gibson-style guitars, they’re also found with some Fender Stratocasters.
As far as Fender’s arsenal of products goes, there are those Limited Edition Mahogany Blacktop Stratocaster guitars that feature this particular setup. So to put aside some of the instrument’s awesome and unusual traits (including a very aesthetically-pleasing design), we’re mostly interested in its triple-humbucker formation here.
You’ll be able to select any of the instrument’s five positions with its selector switch and get some pretty unconventional and almost unheard-of kind of tones. Of course, it’s a more expensive combination and requires special edits to the guitar’s electronics cavity cover in case you want to go with such a formation.
Aside from ergonomic and aesthetic features, which turned these instruments into real virtuoso machines, they came with some awesome pickup combinations. These are, however, the results of different kinds of custom-made adjustments and Fender doesn’t quite make guitars like these.
In fact, Fender is making Jazz Starts as a part of the company’s Parallel Universe series. These guitars feature two Pure Vintage ’65 Jazz master pickups, which are pretty similar to Gibson’s classic P90s.
But before we go more into these pickup sets, let us first explore the history of the Fender Stratocaster, as well as some interesting facts about it and what makes this particular guitar model so special. Sure, plenty of companies and Luther experimented with the concept in the 1930s and the 1940s, but none of these instruments made a breakthrough.
In this race, Leo Fender won when he finally launched his Esquire guitar model in 1950. For a brief period, we also had unmarked Broadcasters, also known as the “No-Casters.” However, the guitar finally got its famous name that you already probably know of, the Telecaster.
A major breakthrough, not only for Fender but for the entire world of music, came with the almighty Stratocaster. The guitar came with three single-coil pickups, allowing players to have five different combinations, providing them with quite a versatile palette of tones.
But probably the most groundbreaking thing that the world saw with the launch of Fender Stratocasters back in 1954 was its rather innovative and (for the times) unconventional bridge. However, aside from this system, the tremolo bridge has also changed drastically compared to what we saw on the Telecaster (as well as the Esquire and the Broadcaster).
On the treble side of the bridge, there was a nicely placed hole for the whammy bar handle. Despite so many innovative additions and bold decisions, the bridge was pretty reliable and the guitar stayed in tune, even after heavy tremolo arm use.
Even to this day, most Fender Starts bear the same traits as the original models produced back in the 1950s. And aside from maple fretboards, there are Fender Start models with rosewood, Pay Ferry, and ebony ones.
There are, of course even dual-humbucker Stratocasters, as well as those “Super Starts” that feature two thumbsuckers in the bridge and the neck position, as well as one single-coil in the middle. Additionally, the instrument provides a lot of versatility in terms of innovation and different adjustments.
You can just cut out a larger hole in the plastic pick guard or even buy a new one that fits your needs. Looking at all the guitar’s specifications, it’s pretty obvious why Fender Stratocaster, in all of its variants over the years, became so widespread and popular.
Amps, Pedals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Microphones, Studio, and recording gear, I love it all. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics.