Differentiating Electric Guitar Pickups – A Stratocaster Pickup Guide

The electric guitar is an instrumental mainstay that has defined popular music for generations. Players of today’s modern electric guitar must be intimately familiar with its components, from the neck and body to the bridge, frets and pickups. As an important part of the guitar’s sound, pickups are often the first thing that many guitarists look to change when modifying their instrument. 

In this blog post, we’ll examine the different pickups available for the Stratocaster and how each affects the guitar’s sound, helping guitarists understand their guitar’s setup and make more informed decisions when changing pickups. With this guide, you’ll be able to differentiate between the many types of Stratocaster pickup and find one that best fits the sound you’re looking to achieve.

Single-coil and Humbucker

There are two main types of Stratocaster pickups: single-coil and humbucker. Single-coil pickups are known for having bright treble sounds with little bass response, typically referred to as a “tinny” sound. These pickups tend to pick up electromagnetic interference more easily than other types, so they may have undesirable “hum” in certain environments. 

Humbucker pickups feature two coils stacked on top of each other, creating a warmer sound compared to single-coil pickups. They also cancel out any external noise or hum due to their design.

How To Differentiate

The best way to differentiate between these two pickup types is by listening closely and looking at the specifications listed by the manufacturer on the product page or in the accompanying literature. Generally speaking, single-coil pickups are great for genres like country music, funk, jazz, and smaller ensemble settings where there isn’t as much volume but still need clarity and articulation of individual notes. 

On the other hand, humbucker pickups are often used in genres like blues and rock because they offer thicker sound with more bass response and a rounded tone that cuts through larger groups better than single-coils do.

Variables To Consider

When it comes to choosing specific models of Stratocaster pickup within these two categories, there are many variables that come into play including output level (measured in millivolts), impedance (measured in ohms), coil size (measured in winds) and construction material (typically either Alnico or Ceramic magnets). 

Again, it’s important to look at each product’s specifications before making your decision. Additionally, it’s helpful to listen to audio clips or videos featuring different picks up models so you can get an idea of what they actually sound like when played through an amp or plugged into an interface directly into your computer/device.


All in all, understanding different types of guitar pickups is an important part of every guitarist’s journey – whether you’re just starting out or have been playing for years! Making sure you match the right type of pickup with your desired genre/style is key if you want to maximize tone and performance without compromising quality or sound character overall. 

Differentiating between single-coil and humbucker varieties takes some research but knowing which one works best for you will make a huge difference in terms of both sound quality as well as overall enjoyment from your instrument!

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