You are currently viewing 95 Stratocasters with Humbuckers: Who Said You Can’t Have the Best of Both Worlds?

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Justin Thomas

Author: Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover.

Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music.

Whenever Santiago is not pouring all that experience and love for the instrument into articles, you can find him playing live shows supporting his music and poetry books as “Sandel”. If he’s not doing either of those, you can also find him gigging with his band, “San Juan”, writing, reading, or enjoying the Sun.

displays Edward Bond and Gibson Guitar

Editor: Edward Bond

Edward has been playing the guitar since 2002. So Edward has over 20 years of experience as a guitarist, has authored 15 guitar books, has written for renowned music blogs, and spent a decade teaching music. He began merging his passion for writing and music in 2020 and has written for big guitar websites such as Guitar Head Publishing and KillerGuitarRigs.com.

Originally from Seattle, Edward moved to Norway in 2021 for a master’s in music. He’s studied at the Jazz Institute Berlin and Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and currently resides in Trondheim. His education includes a European Jazz Master’s, a diploma in Film and Game Scoring from Sofia, and a Bachelor’s in Jazz from University of Oregon.

Edward has played in numerous bands and currently, Edward works on his own project Starship Infinity


Let me say that Stratocasters with humbuckers take the cool level to a new high. HSS guitars (Humbucker – Single – Single) pack all the punch you need near the bridge and all the nuances, dynamics, and spanking midrange of single coils close to the neck.

The best part is that you can use and abuse one of the most comfortable electric guitar shapes on this planet to become the next guitar hero of your generation.

Yes, Stratocasters with humbuckers are lit. I’m about to tell you all about them so you can pick the one that will catapult you to stardom.

After all, I’ve been playing them all my life, and the time to pass that knowledge on to you has arrived. So, beware because this is an information avalanche coming your way.

Read on!


37 Stratocasters with Humbuckers: HSS Configuration

The best way to get into this fantastic world of Stratocasters with humbuckers is to get an HSS Stratocaster. This configuration features one humbucker in the bridge position and two single coils in the middle and bridge. Compare this to a standard Strat with three single coils, one in the bridge, the middle, and the neck.

This HSS configuration is excellent for those who pivot between rock and soul, funk, hip-hop, and blues.

BrandModelDesignPickup Config.Price Range
FenderJuanes StratocasterStratHSS$$$$$
FenderMichael Landau Coma StratocasterStratHSS$$$$$
FenderAerodyne Special StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
FenderLimited Edition Player Plus StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
FenderAmerican Performer StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
FenderAmerican Ultra StratocasterStratHSS$$$$$
FenderAmerican Ultra Luxe Stratocaster Floyd RoseSuper StratHSS$$$$$
FenderPlayer Plus StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
FenderAmerican Professional II StratocasterStratHSS$$$$$
FenderJV Modified ’50s StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
FenderPlayer Stratocaster HSS Plus TopStratHSS$$$$
FenderPlayer Stratocaster HSSStratHSS$$$
FenderTash Sultana StratocasterStratHSS$$$$
IbanezAZ2204 PrestigeStratHSS$$$$$
IbanezAZES40StratHSS$$
IbanezGRX40StratHSS$$
IbanezSEW761FMSuper StratHSS$$$
JacksonPro Plus Series Soloist SLA3QSuper StratHSS$$$$
JacksonX Series Dinky DK3XRSuper StratHSS$$$
JacksonX Series San Dimas SDXMSuper StratHSS$$$
JacksonPro Plus Series Soloist SLA3Super StratHSS$$$$
SchecterCalifornia ClassicSuper StratHSS$$$$$
SchecterNick Johnston TraditionalStratHSS$$$
CharvelUSA Select DK24 HSS 2PT CM QMSuper StratHSS$$$$$
CharvelUSA Select San Dimas Style 1Super StratHSS$$$$$
CharvelPro-Mod San Dimas Style 1Super StratHSS$$$$
CharvelPro-Mod DK24Super StratHSS$$$$
ESP/LTDESP Snapper CTMStratHSS$$$$$
KramerSM-1 – Maximum SteelSuper StratHSS$$$$
KramerFocus VT-211SStratHSS$
KramerStrikerSuper StratHSS$$
Music ManCutlass RSStratHSS$$$$$
YamahaPAC612VIIFMStratHSS$$$$
YamahaPAC112VStratHSS$$
YamahaPAC212VQMStratHSS$$$
G&LTribute LegacyStratHSS$$$
G&LFullerton Deluxe LegacyStratHSS$$$$$

*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

YouTube video

Fender USA Professional Standard Stratocaster HSS Demo

32 Stratocasters with Humbuckers: HH Configuration

After the HSS experience, next in line is an HH Stratocaster. These guitars pack two humbuckers and are the choice of players like Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Slipknot’s Jim Root (on his Strat, Tele, and Jazzmaster), and many others.

If you’re used to playing a Les Paul or SG-style guitar, this is a great transitional configuration.

BrandModelDesignPickup Config.Price Range
SquierContemporary Stratocaster FRSuper StratHH$$$
FenderJim Root StratocasterSuper StratHH$$$$$
IbanezAZ2402 PrestigeSuper StratHH$$$$$
IbanezAZ42P1 PremiumSuper StratHH$$$$
IbanezRG5121ETSuper StratHH$$$$$
IbanezRGT1220PB PremiumSuper StratHH$$$$
IbanezRGRTB621Super StratHH$$$$
IbanezGRG220PA1Super StratHH$$$
IbanezRGD61ALETSuper StratHH$$$$
IbanezSML721Super StratHH$$$$
JacksonAmerican Series VirtuosoSuper StratHH$$$$$
JacksonJS Series Dinky Arch Top JS22Super StratHH$$
JacksonX Series Soloist SLX DX CamoSuper StratHH$$$
JacksonPro Series Dinky DK Modern EvertuneSuper StratHH$$$$$
JacksonJS Series Dinky JS11Super StratHH$
SchecterBanshee GT FRSuper StratHH$$$$
SchecterBanshee Mach-6 EvertuneSuper StratHH$$$$$
SchecterC-6 DeluxeSuper StratHH$$
SchecterDamien-6Super StratHH$$$
CharvelPro-Mod So-Cal Style 1Super StratHH$$$$
ESP/LTDESP Horizon – ISuper StratHH$$$$$
ESP/LTDM-1000Super StratHH$$$$
ESP/LTDM-1000 Multi-ScaleSuper StratHH$$$$
ESP/LTDMH-1000 EvertuneSuper StratHH$$$$
ESP/LTDH-1001Super StratHH$$$$
KramerPacer ClassicSuper StratHH$$
KramerNightSwanSuper StratHH$$$$
Music ManSabreSuper StratHH$$$$$
EVH5150 Series StandardSuper StratHH$$$$
CaparisonDellinger II ProminenceSuper StratHH$$$$$
CaparisonHorus-M3Super StratHH$$$$$
CaparisonTAT Special FMSuper StratHH$$$$$

YouTube video

American Standard Stratocaster HH Demo

10 Stratocasters with Humbuckers: HSH Configuration

The HSH Stratocaster is the ax we associate with virtuoso players.

It’s the configuration of choice for legends like Steve Vai, and it’s all over the ’80s and the ’90s. Why is this pickup configuration so popular among metal players and virtuosos? Well, you have the best of all words.

Humbuckers in bridge and neck positions, as well as a middle single coil, allow you an expansive sound palette with only a five-way selector.

BrandModelDesignPickup Config.Price Range
FenderPlayer StratocasterStratHSH$$$
IbanezAZ2407F PrestigeSuper StratHSH$$$$$
IbanezAZ47P1QM PremiumSuper StratHSH$$$$
IbanezRG8870Super StratHSH$$$$$
IbanezRG5170G PrestigeSuper StratHSH$$$$$
IbanezRG550 Genesis CollectionSuper StratHSH$$$$
IbanezSteve Via Signature PIA3761Super StratHSH$$$
IbanezS6570SK PrestigeSuper StratHSH$$$$$
JacksonPhil Collen PC1Super StratHSH$$$$$
CharvelMJ DK24Super StratHSH$$$$$

YouTube video

Fender Modern Player Stratocaster HSH Demo

16 Stratocasters with Humbuckers: Other Configurations

Some Stratocasters worth noting don’t obey the classic combinations we named above. This shorter chart is devoted to these weird and often unique guitars.

For example, if you haven’t played a Sustainer system, Ed O’Brien’s (Radiohead) Stratocaster offers a humbucker, a single coil, and the Sustainer. That’s what I mean by endless sonic possibilities! Well, Radiohead’s success can be explained as a decades-long sonic experiment.

YouTube video

The Ed O’Brien Sustainer Stratocaster
BrandModelDesignPickup Config.Price Range
SquierLimited Edition Squier Sonic Stratocaster HTStratH$
FenderTom DeLonge StratocasterStratH$$$$
FenderFender EOB Sustainer StratocasterStratHS + Sustainer$$$$
FenderDave Murray StratocasterSuper StratHHH$$$$
JacksonConcept Series Soloist SL WalnutSuper StratHS$$$$$
JacksonX Series Soloist SL3X DXSuper StratHHH$$$
SchecterDamien Platinum 6 FRSuper StratH + Sustainer$$$
CharvelHenrik Danhage SignatureSuper StratHS$$$$$
ESP/LTDM-1 Custom ‘87Super StratH$$$$
ESP/LTDE-II M-I Thru NTSuper StratH$$$$$
KramerBarettaSuper StratH$$$
KramerBaretta SpecialSuper StratH$$
KramerThe 84Super StratH$$$
YamahaPAC311HStratH + P90$$$
EVHEVH Frankenstein RelicSuper StratHS$$$$$
EVHStriped Series ‘78 EruptionSuper StratH$$$$$

5 Best Stratocasters with Humbuckers – My Favorites

Best Budget – Ibanez AZES40

image shows Ibanez AZES40 Electric Guitar finished in Tungsten
Ibanez AZES40 Electric Guitar – Tungsten

What Do I like?

  • The 25” scale makes it an excellent bending guitar with firm tension for chords and riffs.
  • The matte finish on the maple neck feels smooth and comfortable.
  • HSS pickup configuration with the Alter switch gives you ten usable pickup combinations.
  • Ibanez reliability and build quality.

What Don’t I Like?

  • Ceramic pickups are a little too hot for Stratocaster sounds.
  • I missed Ibanez’s tall frets.

Who Is It For?

Beginners will have fun playing this guitar and finding many usable tones. Also, session players and seasoned musicians looking for a budget-friendly second or third guitar. Finally, all those players who love a versatile do-it-all guitar will consider this guitar a hidden gem in the Ibanez catalog.

YouTube video

Ibanez AZES31 and 40 (Ultimate Beginner Guitars?)

Best Value for The Money – Charvel PRO-MOD SAN DIMAS STYLE 1

image shows Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 HSS FR M Electric Guitar finished in Aqua Flake
Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 HSS FR M Electric Guitar – Aqua Flake

What Do I like?

  • Original Floyd Rose 1000 tremolo system.
  • Original Seymour Duncan Distortion high-gain, great-sounding pickups.
  • 12 to 16” compound radius makes this a great riffing and lead-playing guitar.
  • No-load tone control and push/pull volume control for more tonal options.
  • The truss rod adjustment wheel is conveniently located at the heel mount for easy access.

What Don’t I Like?

  • It does not come with a gig bag or hardshell case.

Who Is It For?

If you’re searching for a great guitar that plays and feels like a more expensive guitar at a price you can afford, you have to try this Charvel out. Plus, with the push/pull capabilities and super-hot pickups, you get a wide variety of tones in a high-performance guitar.


Most Versatile – Fender EOB

image shows Fender EOB Ed O'Brien Stratocaster finished in Olympic White
Fender EOB Ed O’Brien Stratocaster – Olympic White

What do I like?

  • Factory-installed Sustainer pickup system.
  • Three different pickups with distinct sounds in a single guitar.
  • Seymour Duncan JB Jr. couples great with the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special middle pickup.
  • Easy-to-access Sustainer switches are conveniently installed.
  • Classic Fender Stratocaster looks with a much broader tonal variety to choose from.

What Don’t I Like?

  • The combination of Texas Special pickup + maple neck can be too bright at times.
  • The master tone knob doesn’t allow fine-tuning to tame the treble of the bridge pickup.

Who Is It For?

This guitar is incredible for those who play ambient guitar and love stacking reverb, delay, and modulation effects. The different tones and the endless sustain of the Sustainer pickup open up many more options. 

For example, you can create lush, continuous melodies effortlessly.

Also, it can make a great secret weapon for a home studio.

YouTube video

The Ed O’Brien Sustainer Stratocaster

Best For Modern Metal Tones – ESP MH-1000 EVERTUNE

image shows ESP LTD MH-1000ET EverTune Electric Guitar finished in Charcoal Burst
ESP LTD MH-1000ET EverTune Electric Guitar – Charcoal Burst

What Do I like?

  • The Evertune bridge is virtually impossible to bring out of tune.
  • The Fishman Fluence Modern active pickups offer a variety of fierce, modern tones.
  • It has a very thin, U-shaped neck with extra jumbo stainless steel frets for years of playing life.
  • 3-piece maple neck with ebony fingerboard for added snap and high-end.
  • Mahogany body for the low-end those heavy chugging palm-muting sounds need.

What Don’t I Like?

  • Doesn’t come with a gig bag or case.

Who Is It For?

Metal tones just come to your fingers the moment you pick this mean machine up. I mean, the Fishman pickups are menacing, and when paired with a pushed tube amp, you’re in heavy-chugging heaven. 

On top of that, the Macassar ebony fretboard over the maple neck gives you enough definition and treble to play fast solos. You can hear (and enjoy) every note.

So, modern metal players shouldn’t overlook this metal monster if it fits your budget.


Best Premium – Schecter California Classic

image shows Schecter California Classic Solidbody Electric Guitar finished in Trans Sky Burst
Schecter California Classic Solidbody Electric Guitar – Trans Sky Burst

What Do I like?

  • Outstanding looks and a high-end guitar feel.
  • Highly-resonant, lightweight swamp ash body
  • The USA Pasadena Plus humbucker in the bridge position and dual USA Monster Tone single-coil pickups give you a broad tonal palette.
  • Two-point modern tremolo packs classic looks and modern functionalities.

What Don’t I Like?

  • The mind-blowing quilted maple top is a veneer applied over plain maple.

Who Is It For?

This guitar is excellent for those who love old-school looks and modern features. Plus, this is a perfect instrument to add some power to a classic lineup or collection. This guitar is a perfect instrument for those who like having one main guitar to play 90% of the time.


Why Choose a Stratocaster with Humbuckers?

From some guitarists, the HSS vs SSS discussion is solved with a coil-split switch. That being said, I think there’s no way you can make the humbucker sound with single coils and vice versa.

But why do the humbucker mod, then? Well, Stratocasters with humbuckers give you all those fantastic humbucker benefits depending on the wiring. These benefits are:

  • No hum (hum-bucker, duh!).
  • Full, round sound.
  • Can drive a tube amp easily.
  • The possibility to split coils and use a single-coil-esque sound.

Humbuckers vs. Single-Coil Pickups on a Strat

If you’ve ever played a 50s Stratocaster, like the Classic Vibe 50s Strat by Squier (to me, their best effort in the Squier catalog), you’ll know about the shrillness and treble-oriented sound of the bridge pickup.

Some players swear by that glass-like sound, but for many of us, that’s not our cup of tea.

Therefore, having a humbucker in the bridge position can give you an extra oomph to bring your Stratocaster to modern, rocking tones, replacing a pickup you wouldn’t use anyway.


HSS vs. HH vs. HSH: What’s The Best Pickup Configuration for a Strat?

There’s no right or wrong when answering this question. That said, let me tell you what I think about each of these configurations:

  • HSS Configuration: This is, perhaps, the best transition configuration to enter the humbucker world. You still have a very Strat-like feel and sounds but with a secret weapon at the bridge position. This is one of my favorites, especially to spice up a blues solo, starting it on the neck and finishing on the bridge pickup.
  • HH Configuration: This configuration works great for players who want the comfort and looks of a Stratocaster and the tones and appointments of an instrument intended for heavier music. Also, this is a great configuration for those from the Gibson world trying to go for a faster neck and a lighter ax.
  • HSH Configuration: This virtuoso-friendly configuration is a do-it-all machine. On the one hand, you can do Gibson-like tones on bridge and neck positions, but you can also take it all to single-coil land with the flick of a switch. Positions 2, 3, and 4 on these guitars are Strat-esque, while positions 1 and 5 are full, round, and Les Paul-esque.

Active vs. Passive Pickups for a Strat

The active vs. passive pickup question likewise does not have a right or wrong answer. Let me tell you, I’ve had both installed on the same guitar.

It was a confusing time. I was a Zakk Wylde fan back then, but all I had was this cheap Stratocaster copy. So I removed all electronics and installed a new animal print pickguard with a single EMG-81 hooked up to two batteries. Thanks for that, Zakk.

That guitar had every pickup configuration you can think of throughout my years of playing it. I don’t even remember what it had when it got stolen.

Anyways, old stories aside, let me tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of active pickups.

The Good

  • Noise reduction.
  • Power, midrange, and gain.
  • Transparency.

The Bad

  • The learning curve to handle active pickups can be steep.
  • Transparency makes you hear every nuance of your playing and discover new mistakes.
  • Not every pedal or amp sounds good with active pickups.

The Ugly

  • You might have to re-route your guitar.
  • Running out of batteries in the middle of a show is the closest you get to a nightmare.
  • They don’t mix well with passive pickups because of the tone and gain difference.

Now that you know about all the Stratocaster humbucker models and the truth about active pickups, you’re ready for some Stratocaster customization that can offer you more than just classic Strat tones.


FAQs

What Does a Strat with Humbuckers Sound Like?

Most Stratocasters are made of alder, a very balanced tonewood. Thus, when you play an alder guitar with a powerful humbucker, you get a guitar that excels in the midrange and can also deliver some serious chugging.

Furthermore, all that glass-like treble-oriented tone you get from a regular Strat can be transformed into a soaring lead tone capable of cutting through the densest mix.

Can I Replace a Single-Coil Pickup with a Humbucker on A Strat?

Yes, beyond pickup controls (you might have to replace a pot), you can buy single-coil-sized humbuckers. These pickups are a direct replacement, and you don’t have to re-route your guitar.

Some examples are:

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

  • Seymour Duncan JB Jr.
  • DiMarzio Cruiser.
  • Wilkinson Low Gauss Hot Rail.

Does Fender Make a Strat with Humbuckers?

Yes, on the chart above, you can find many Fender Stratocasters with humbuckers. More importantly, you can buy a humbucker version of the most popular Fender series like Professional II, Ultra, and Player.

What Pickups Are Best for A Strat?

This is a question that needs to be answered, taking into consideration the tone you’re aiming for. If you want heavier tones, a Tone Zone S by DiMarzio or a Seymour Duncan JB Jr. will give you great results. These pickups mix well with single-coil pickups, too.

For more modern tones, you can go for a Super Strat with an active pickup system.

Finally, those who want the best of every world in a single guitar should try a Stratocaster with an HSH configuration.

Are There Any Left-Handed Strats with Humbuckers?

Yes, most brands have a left-handed version of their most popular Stratocasters with humbuckers.

What Makes a Super Strat?

The Super Strat fever started, arguably, of course, with Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar (hanging at the MET today). But while Eddie was rising to fame, the same feeling of “wanting more than what there’s in the market” took many people to overhaul their old Stratocaster.

Super Strats are Stratocaster-like guitars taken to the limit of performance by adding floating tremolos, pointy curves, thin, fast necks, and high-gain pickups. So, the anatomy of a Super Strat means taking a classic design to 11 (Spinal Tap style!).

YouTube video

Amp. goes to 11 (This is Spinal Tap)

What Famous Guitarists Use Stratocasters with Humbuckers?

  • Dave Murray.
  • Mark Lettieri.
  • Jim Root.
  • Kirk Hammett.
  • Steve Vai.
  • Joe Satriani.
  • Tash Sultana.

Conclusion: Stratocasters with Humbuckers

Adding a humbucker to a Stratocaster can take your playing to a new territory.

Moreover, pickup changes are among the cheapest and most drastic tone experiments. Therefore, before selling that Strat you fell out of love with, just put a humbucker (or two or three) on it and try it again.

After all, you know that Stratocasters are as comfortable as electric guitars get for most players.

Do you have a humbucker-equipped Strat in your collection? Have you ever modified a classic Strat to add power to the equation? In the comments below, I would love to read your story.

Finally, rest in power, Ed. Thank you for being the face of this humbucker-equipped musical revolution.

Happy (high gain) playing!

Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Pure Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover. Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music. You can connect with Santiago on LinkedIn or just email him.
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