13 Best Noiseless Strat Pickups for Hum-free Sound
Posted in Gear | Last Updated on June 10, 2019
Since the invention of the electric guitar, the most common type of pickup is a single coil. Its clear and bright tone had become a symbol of blues and early rock music. But single-coils have one significant disadvantage. They produce a hum. There are several ways to get a hum-free sound. The first of them is the noise gate. This device just mutes the sound if it is lower than the selected level. The second way is using more than one coil in one pickup. This way splits into humbucking pickups and noiseless single-coils. Technically noiseless single-coils aren’t single-coils because they have two opposite phase stacked coils.
Fender - Generation 4
The most common and the first of its kind, the Fender Noiseless Single Coil has become a standard in this type of pickup. Available as a stock pickup in many Fender guitars this is a common start point of many players who like their single-coil sound but tired of the noise. This model is the fourth generation of the Fender Noiseless and gives you a much clearer tone than its predecessors.
In comparison with true single-coils, the Noiseless is slightly smoother and not so bright, but if you prefer overdriven or hi-gain sound this difference in tone disappears.
Seymour Duncan - AS-1n
Can we combine extremely high output with the crystal clear single-coil tone? Definitely yes. The Seymour Duncan Blackouts AS-1 gives you the sound that will get through every mix. Also if you want to play in different styles or change the output of your pickup on the fly you can wire additional contacts on the underside of pickup to the push/pull or mini switch to get an instant tone boost when you need it.
With the engaged boost, the AS-1 gives you the power of full humbucker-sized Blackouts with a single-coil tone. But if you’re switching to Blackouts (or any other active pickup) from passive ones you have to decide where to place the battery compartment. Sometimes it is necessary to cut the cavity for it and it is highly recommended to be done by an experienced specialist.
Seymour Duncan STK-S2
If you don’t like the tone of active pickups but still want the hot output, take a look at the Seymour Duncan Hot Stack STK-S2. This is a rail pickup with an AlNiCo rail magnet surrounded by two stacked coils. The rail construction gives you the possibility to make insane bends without any tonal loses.
Pole pieces construction, on the other hand, provides a more concentrated magnetic field under the string. So if you prefer a modern tone combined with high output and don’t want to change batteries, this is your choice.
EMG S Ceramic Single Coil Active Pickup
What would you hear when you ask somebody about active pickups? Of course, they would talk about the EMG. People either like them or hate them. Both sides have their reasons. Notes have great clarity, and when you buy the EMG, you definitely know how your guitar would sound. But many people find their tone “sterile”. The EMG S is ceramic based active single-coil. Though not as bright as its AlNiCo-based counterparts it provides you that signature EMG tone.
EMG - SA
The most popular EMG single coil is definitely the SA. It shares advantages and disadvantages with the S and the SV. The overall tone is slightly brighter than the tone of the S but less hot. The bar shape of the magnet allows you to make crazy bends without losing the depth of sound. New versions of the EMGs are getting closer to classic passive tone and getting less “sterile” so even if you dislike active pickups produced in the 2000s, try new ones, they will sound different.
EMG - SV
And here’s another EMG in our list. The SV combines the AlNiCo-based active single coil with vintage style pole-pieces magnets. The sound is smoother than the sound of SA and the construction gives you the possibility to make that true blues bends when the string goes out of the field of its magnet straight to field of another. Another great advantage of all EMG pickups is the solderless connection system.
This system is helpful if you don’t have any experience with soldering guitar electronics and afraid of damaging it or just don’t want to spend much time soldering everything. Just install pickups and connect them with pots via included wires.
This is the most interesting pickup in our list. First of all, it doesn’t have coils at all. Its aluminum frame serves as a coil. As a result, the Lace Alumitone is extremely lightweight. Technically, the single-coil version of the Alumitone is downsized Alumitone Humbucker and may not be called true single-coil. But its tone is the brightest in our list and it shares this tone with his big brother. And the output noise is quieter than the noise of some humbuckers.
The coil-splitting is also possible. Also, it is recommended to change the volume pot to 250k. In the end, the Alumitone doesn’t look like a typical pickup, so it can be used as a stylish component with a great sound.
Fishman - Fluence SS / PRF-SSS-BA1
If you want to combine vintage passive and modern active tone but don’t want to install two different sets of pickups, take a look at Fishman Fluence. Two different voicings can be easily switched with a push/pull based on different setups of the equalizer of the preamp section. Built-in buffer can solve the problem with cable length.
Sounds good, right? But their main feature is hidden in the coil itself. Basically, it’s not a typical coil. The heart of the Fluence is two 48-layers boards with printed planar coils. So using these PCB-like coils grants the similarity between two pickups. All these features make the Fishman Fluence the ideal active pickup of the current generation.
DiMarzio - Injector Neck Single Coil Pickup
The DiMarzio Injector is Paul Gilbert signature pickup. This fact alone makes sense for many guitar players. Also, it is the fattest sounding passive pickup in our list. A perfect choice if you play hard rock. It may not be suitable for soft genres but who said that experiments are bad? Despite its fat tone, the Injector has great single-note articulation even in very fast licks, so your melody wouldn’t become an indistinct sonic storm.
If you’re tired of the lack of mids on your Strat, take a look at DiMarzio Virtual Solo. The overall tone is suitable for every genre of music but fits perfectly in aggressive styles. Extended bass range in combination with bold mids creates a focused lead tone. And despite the hotter output than the Injector, the Virtual Solo sits perfectly in Strat tonal range.
Seymour Duncan Duckbucker Pickup Bridge
Can a conventional humbucker sound like a true single-coil? The answer is yes. Welcome the Seymour Duncan Duckbucker. More than just recreating the sound of the vintage Fender Strat single-coil, it gives even brighter sound. But yes, it’s not just a humbucker like his counterpart, the Vintage Rails. In short, the Duckbucker is the Vintage Rails with half of each rail replaced with screw pieces. Their magnetic field is close to AlNiCo 3. The rails are AlNiCo 5.
Does it sound better and more vintage than classical stacked hum-canceling construction? Yes, both coils generate the same amount of electricity. Does it look more vintage than classical construction? Well, no. So if you prefer vintage sound, take a look at the Duckbucker. If you prefer the vintage look of your guitar, this may be not the best choice.
Lace - Sensor 44468-02
The Sensor series pickups are the most popular products by Lace Electronics. They come in many different sets and types, coded with color. Their tonal range extends from 50s vintage tone to extremely hot modern style sound. What makes the Sensor unique is its construction. Conventional hum-canceller has two stacked coils around rail magnet or pole pieces. The magnetic field is relatively strong and affects the string vibration, resulting in slightly decreased sustain. Also, the field covers other sides of the coil. As a result, the coil gets noise from these sides.
The Lace Sensor has radiant field barriers on both sides of the coil. These barriers also serve as a magnetic circuit, concentrating the field and allowing the usage of weaker magnets. Weaker and more concentrated field less affects the vibrating string slightly increasing sustain in comparison with conventional pickups. The Sensor series pickups produce less noise than any other passive true hum-canceller, except the Alumitone.
Lindy Fralin Strat Set - Split Blade Blues
The latest pickup on our list is a boutique rail set by Fralin. The Split Rail has two rail magnets in the center of the coil stack. But when it comes to its sound, the Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails is no longer a competitor. The VR is a true humbucker with carefully gotten inner properties for single-style voicing.
The Split Rail is a stacked hum-canceller. Slightly less effective construction that provides a brighter tone. Its output is not that hot as the output of many other rail pickups, but it gets closer to that vintage Fender tone. And the Split Rail looks amazing. Not as vintage as the Fender Noiseless and not as futuristic as the Lace Alumitone.