A Guide to Single Coil-Sized Humbucker Guitar Pickups for Strat

Traditional Strat guitar pickups have their time and place. When you want that quintessential, glassy, bell-like chime—nothing does it like a classic Strat single coil. But sometimes we want more, more power, more output, more authority, more aggression out of our Strat. Often times, this is where traditional, vintage Strat guitar pickups don’t make the cut.

Enter the Single Coil-Sized Humbuckers: all the huge, warm, harmonically rich power of a full-sized humbucker in a drop-in replacement, single coil size for Strat. Now you can achieve vintage P.A.F. tones, bombastic high output shred tones, and everything in between with your classic SSS Strat setup.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What about positions 2 and 4? Won’t those positions sound odd with multiple humbuckers engaged? What if I still want that classic Strat-y quack in the notched positions?” No need to spiral into a tizzy! We’ve got you covered. All of our Single Coil-Sized Humbuckers come standard with 4-conductor lead wires, which easily allow you to wire them for auto-splitting in the notched positions, coil splitting on a push/pull pot, push/push pot, or mini toggle switches, or various series/parallel wiring options. Classic Strat when you want it, Humbucking punch when you don’t.

As with most pickup types, we offer a variety of Single Coil-Sized Humbuckers here at Seymour Duncan. So, here’s a guide to navigate our Single Coil-Sized Humbucker assortment as you embark on your quest for your dream Strat tone!

Learn the tonal differences between our Single Coil-Sized Humbucker Strat guitar pickups

 

Little 59 Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 9.8k // Bridge DCR: 11.7k

Lil 59 strat single coil humbucker guitar pickup with EQ graph

With the Little 59, you’re able to coax warm, smooth, and defined P.A.F. tones from any Strat. The neck model has a slightly stronger treble emphasis than a traditional P.A.F., with added articulation, and provides a nice, balanced P.A.F.-like response for big, full chords, and fat, punchy solos. The Little ‘59 bridge model will inject the sound of a Les Paul directly into your Strat. Its medium output and scooped midrange will add depth and dimension to your bridge position tones.

JB Jr. Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 10.1k // Bridge DCR: 15.2k

JB Jr. strat single coil humbucker guitar pickup with EQ graph

Discover the essence of our legendary JB Model Humbucker in a single-coil sized, humbucking guitar pickup for Strat. The JB Jr. delivers all the upper midrange harmonics and power to breathe new life into your Stratocaster.

In the bridge position, this high output single coil sized humbucker will give you nice crunchy chords and screaming lead tone with that classic upper midrange cut. There will be tons of bright harmonic sparkle, and a tight, focused low end.

In the neck position, it will deliver a big, bold sound – great for fat rhythm playing, and thick, searing solos.

Billy Gibbons’ Signature Red Devil Strat

Magnet Type: Alnico V

Neck DCR: 11.29k // Middle DCR: 11.7k // Bridge DCR: 13.95k

Billy gibbons' signature red devil single coil humbucker strat guitar pickup with EQ graph

All the fat, P.A.F. tone and Texas hot-sauce sizzle of Billy’s favorite 59 Les Paul, in a pickup that will fit in any Strat-sized single coil rout. The Red Devil set features three unique pickup winds, each using specially calibrated Alnico 5 magnets.

The bridge pickup is wound like an extra spicy P.A.F., with enough meat to beef up your Strat and provide the fat tone that Billy is known for.

The neck and middle pickups back off the heat a little and brush on sweet, smoky blues—making them perfect for ringing clean tones and chunky rhythms, but with all the horsepower Billy demands for lead playing.

 

Hot Rails Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 10.9k // Bridge DCR: 16.6k

hot rails strat single coil humbucker guitar pickup with EQ graph

With all the feel and tone of an aggressive high output humbucker, the Hot Rails Strat is our most powerful passive pickup for Stratocaster.

The neck model features a strong ceramic magnet and overwound coils to deliver big sounding, well balanced humbucker tones for rock and metal. Clean tones are fat and warm, and solos will have that thick, fluid feel.

The bridge model delivers a high output, loads of midrange harmonic content, and a saturated crunch that makes this a great bridge pickup for rock and metal. Chords are full and powerful, and single notes jump out with amazing sizzle. The dual blade construction also provides the ultimate string coverage and clarity, especially for notes that are bent on the highest frets.

Cool Rails Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 9.8k // Bridge DCR: 10.6k

cool rails strat single coil humbucker guitar pickup with EQ graph

The Cool Rails Strat features a nicely balanced, smooth and bluesy humbucker tone in a rail-style single-coil sized humbucker design. The high end is bright and dynamic while the midrange is slightly scooped.

The medium output bridge position wind gives chords that thick humbucker crunch and single notes just the right amount of sizzle without being harsh. The bridge position matches very well with traditional single coils in the neck and middle to add versatility to any guitar.

The Cool Rails neck position delivers an articulate and full sound, much like a full-sized humbucker. Its medium output makes it a great sonic match for a Hot Rails, JB Jr., or any standard-sized humbucker in the bridge position as well. Chords will be warm and articulate, with a subtle scoop in the mids, and solos will be fat and crisp. Like the Hot Rails Strat, the dual-blade design provides excellent sustain, especially for string bending on the higher frets.

Duckbucker Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 2.5k // Bridge DCR: 2.9k

duckbucker strat single coil humbucker guitar pickup with EQ graph

The Duckbucker Strat is a vintage output, single coil-sized humbucker that is specifically voiced for total Strat quack (hence the name). It’s designed to be wired in parallel to give you a vintage, sparkly, single coil tone without any hum, and its unique, split-pole pattern, with three pole pieces on each coil, also contributes to the single coil-like bounciness and snappy low end.

In the bridge position, the Duckbucker is bright and spanky. Chords have a crisp, shimmering quality with a chime-y high end.

In the neck position, the Duckbucker is great for all types of clean rhythm playing. Most commonly, the Duckbucker can be found in the middle position of a Strat, and is great in between two higher-output pickups for that iconic Strat-y “quack” in positions 2 and 4.

Vintage Rails Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 2.5k // Bridge DCR: 2.9k

vintage rails strat guitar pickup with EQ graph

The Vintage Rails Strat provide single coil-like sparkle and feature a vintage output and hum-canceling split-blade design to give you even sustain while bending notes. The Vintage Rails are meant to be wired in parallel to give you a sparkly, vintage style single coil tone without the Strat hum.

In the bridge position, this pickup will be tight and crisp, and will give you lots of vintage Strat snap.

In the neck position, it’s great for all types of articulate rhythm playing. The vintage output wind keeps even the most clustered chords expressive and spanky. Like the Duckbucker, the Vintage Rails are most commonly found in the middle position of a Strat, and sound great in between the Cool Rails or Hot Rails for that iconic Strat-y “quack” in positions 2 and 4.

Lil’ Screamin’ Demon Strat

Magnet Type: Ceramic

Neck/Middle DCR: 9.8k // Bridge DCR: 13.6k

lil screamin demon strat guitar pickup with EQ graph

The Lil’ Screamin’ Demon combines a big, open sound with just a subtle hint of glass, and will bring screamin’ rich harmonics and percussive power to any Stratocaster.

The bridge position is great for edgy, distorted rhythm playing where you really need to hear the pick attack on the low strings. Solos will have a bright, aggressive, articulate tonal character that will have no problem cutting through the mix.

In the neck position, The Lil’ Screamin’ Demon will deliver clear, pristine humbucker tone. It offers a well-balanced sound with a slightly enhanced treble emphasis to give it a little more edge. Great for cutting leads, or full sounding rhythms, this pickup will add sizzle to your neck position.

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32 Comments

  1. Nice gear. Idea: give these pickups even more the look of original strat pickups by NOT showing they have two coils. I guess you could easily change the plactic materials into someting WITHOUT het small v cut. Just make them round at the edges…

  2. I have a duckbucker in the middle position of my Nashville Tele – love it! – how do vintage rails compare to the duckbucker in a similar application ?

    1. Thanks for the great question! The Vintage Rails and Duckbuckers were designed to fulfill a similar tonal goal: to be wired in parallel to give you a vintage, sparkly, single-coil tone without any hum. These pickups have one very key difference, however. The Duckbuckers have individual pole pieces, and, thus, when bending notes (especially on the higher frets), you can expect the magnetic field of the Duckbucker to behave more like a traditional Strat pickup. In essence, as you bend, the volume may naturally dip out slightly and the tone may change as the string leaves the pickup’s magnetic field. On the other hand, the Vintage Rails’ blade design provides even sustain, tone, and volume while bending notes.

      So, if you’re looking for a Single Coil-Sized Humbucker that will provide all the vintage, sparkly, single-coil tone without any hum, but also behaves more like a traditional Strat pickup, then the Duckbucker is for you. If you’re looking for a similar tone, no 60-cycle hum, but don’t appreciate the loss of sustain while bending with a traditional Strat pickup, the Vintage Rails are for you.

      1. What Pickup would you recommend to replace my JB??I don’t care for the JB at all…too shrill,and the bass is too rubbery….Looking for something that has tight bass,super mids,and lower treble….I still want it to be hot like the JB…..

        1. Thanks for the great question! I would take a look at the Custom Custom as an alternative. It is still a hotter humbucker, like the JB, but features an Alnico II magnet, which is generally a bit smoother and sweeter in the treble, rather than the Alnico V magnet found in the JB. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for the great question! All of our Single Coil-Sized Humbuckers will drop into either a right or left-handed Strat, no problem. Thanks again!

  3. I have 3 Strats loaded w/ SD YJM Fury PUP’s. However I am curious to read SD byline, maybe vid demo too on these. I also have a set of Billy Gibbons in another strat, Hal

  4. These look and sound great. Do you make or would they fit at the neck position on a Tele without much modification? I would think they or it would make a nice addition. I happen to be a Tele fan if you couldn’t tell.

    1. Thanks for the great question! If you have a modern Telecaster with a bathtub rout or a humbucker rout in the neck position, installing a Single Coil-Sized Humbucker for Strat in the place of your traditional Tele neck pickup should be no problem. If your Telecaster has a rout to specifically accommodate a vintage neck pickup, you will likely have to modify and enlarge the routing cavity slightly. Regardless of the routing of your Telecaster, you will most likely have to modify your Tele’s pickguard in order to accommodate these slightly larger Strat pickups. Thanks again!

  5. Great article.

    I acquired a used strat with the following SD configuration:
    Neck —- Little ‘57
    Middle —- JB Jr.
    Bridge —- Pearly gates full size

    I would love to hear your thoughts about your overall configuration in general, and the JB Jr located in the middle in specific.

    Thank you for your response

    1. While this combination might not be the most common (particularly the higher output JB Jr. in the middle paired with the more moderate output Little 59 in the neck and a more moderate output Pearly Gates Trembucker in the bridge), this can be a great pickup blend, especially if you like playing lead lines on the middle pickup. The JB Jr. will be nice and punchy, and, because it’s 4-Conductor, will sound great when split with the Little 59 neck or Pearly Gates Trembucker in positions 2 and 4.

      Like most things related to tone, it will all boil down to your personal tastes and preferences. But, I certainly think this current pickup configuration in your Strat is worth exploring before you make a change. You may find that you really love it for your playing style!

      1. Kevin,

        Thank you for the response. Very interesting.

        I had built a fully loaded pickguard with vintage noiseless pups and a tbx tone control. Acquired the mim strat for using it.
        That was 2 years ago, and the original SD’s are still in place.
        Another mim strat contains the vintage noiseless pups.

        If I were to relace the middle JB jr, what would you recommend? I play blues, pop/rock. No heavy metal, etc.

        Thank you again, and thank you for the great products.

        1. Kevin,

          Thank you for the response. Very interesting.

          I had built a fully loaded pickguard with vintage noiseless pups and a tbx tone control. Acquired the mim strat for using it.
          That was 2 years ago, and the original SD’s are still in place.
          Another mim strat contains the vintage noiseless pups.

          If I were to relace the middle JB jr, what would you recommend? I play blues, pop/rock. No heavy metal, etc.

          Thank you again, and thank you for the great products.

    1. Thanks for the great question! These will drop into a PRS 305. We recommend putting foam underneath the pickups and using shorter mounting screws than those used for the original 305 pickups. It will make for a cleaner looking install. Other than that, it is totally doable. Thanks again!

  6. Great video demos. I just wish they wouldn’t double track, which adds a fullness/thickness to the sound, which is rather misleading. When one purchases the pickups, they inevitably sound weak and nothing like the videos advertising them.

  7. I’m considering a Little ’59 Neck in the neck and a JBJr Bridge in the bridge, which would be a better match for use in the middle: the Little ’59 Bridge or the JBJr Neck? I’m leaning more towards the Little ’59 Bridge for the middle. Your thoughts?

    Same question applies for the Rails: With the Cool Neck in neck and Hot Bridge in bridge, for the middle: Cool Bridge or Hot Neck? The DCR numbers would suggest to me the Hot Neck over the Cool Bridge, but what do ye think?

    1. Duckbucker is great middle pickup. We use that in our Everything Axe Set. It gives you that quack in 2 and 4. Second part of you question, we recommend getting the same output as your neck pickup. Technically you can go either way and make adjustments to pickup height. But if you tend to use position 4 over 2 then definitely get the same pickup as your neck, It will be more balanced and you can always compensate the Hot bridge with the correct pickup height. You can also think about what you use most (position wise) then work backwards. Thanks!

  8. I can really appreciate the no hum qualities of your stacked sc’s but would really like to hear demo’s of them played clean to see if they’re capable of achieving Hank Marvin like clean tones, as well as some surf guitar.
    Thanks.

  9. Hello…i have 2 Hot Rails in bridge and neck position….. I read your info … Best suggestions ? I use the 2&4 a lot ….. Cheers!

    1. If you’re looking for a good middle position pickup we recommend the Duckbucker. Great versatile pickup. If you’re looking for a versatile humbucker set the Everything Axe Loaded pickguard is a great choice. Thanks!

  10. I’ve been using Pearly Gates H in bridge and Duckbuckers S in middle and neck absolutely killer sound for the past 5 years in my 1996 American Standard Strat can cover all styles. Thank You Seymour Duncan for your attention to detail all these years

  11. You guys have so much awesome info all over the place! Bookmarking this page just until I can figure out how to wire my neck lil screamin demon, mid vintage rail and bridge hot rail with a Schaller 5 way switch. Their website gives me a headache and wastes solder. Ugh. Took my mid 80s matsumoku Strat and gave it some good electronics but I can’t make a freakin sound.

    1. HI Don,

      Check out our Little ’59 Tele Set or Hot Rails for Tele. Great choice if you want a humbucker tone in a tele. Thanks!

  12. I have come into possession of a Fender Bullet USA with two single coil pickups. I love the guitar, but don’t like the thinness and lack of sustain in the bridge. Was considering putting a single-coil-sized humbucker in the bridge but I am concerned about wiring difficulties. I have no skill in this area and would like to be able to do it myself. Would I be better off sticking with a straight up single coil? And do the Stack pickups (which look like a single coil) require any different wiring? Thanks!

    1. Hi Paul! A singe-coil-sized humbucker is easy to install. The only difference is you’ll need to tape/solder two wires together (red and white). Other than that it’s the same wiring setup as a single coil pickup. Check out our wiring diagrams for more info.

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