What are the Best Loaded Strat Pickguards? (our top Pick)
Fishman Fluence Stratocaster Loaded Pickguard
For a loaded Stratocaster pickguard, I would always recommend the Fishman Fluence set. These pickups produce some of the sweetest clean tones I've ever heard, even with dual humbuckers. The single coil rails are just perfect for any kind of mod or Stratocaster build.
First, avoid buying a loaded pickguard on Amazon. Instead, stick with a retailer that specializes in musical instruments. We partner with Sweetwater, but Musician's Friend and Guitar Center are good options as well.
I say this because you have really cheap loaded pickguards from brands like Musiclily and Alnicov that cost as little as $30-$40. These have low-quality stock pickups in them and are usually a waste of money.
Instead, the best loaded Stratocaster pickguards will cost between $250 and $350.
The $30 versions are junk.
So, we're looking for pickguards with high-quality, single rail pickups from reputable pickup builders, such as:
- Seymour Duncan
So it's really just a matter of picking a solid brand. I'll go over my top four picks in the comparison table first, then one at a time with their own review sections.
Read more: Best guitar pickups
4 Best Loaded Strat Pickguards (comparison table)
Seymour Duncan Classic
Seymour Duncan Triple Rails
Mojotone '67 Quiet Coil
Compare More Pickups
You can browse our database for other pickups and add them to the comparison bar at the bottom of this page. We don't have everything, but we have a lot and are adding to it regularly.
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1. Fishman Fluence Set
The Fishman Fluence Strat pickups, and the Fluence series in general, are at the top of my recommendation list. I'm a bigger fan of the Fluence humbuckers, which can produce an incredibly intricate and pristine clean sound, along with the heavier active humbucker tones. But the Fluence single coils are even better suited to more subtle styles and sound fantastic on a Stratocaster. I have zero hesitation here, assuming you don't mind the price tag.
IDEAL FOR: Clean tones, blues, active/passive blends, distortion, low to high gain levels, crisp lead tones, recording and performing.
- Stacked coil technology has changed the game of active pickup design
- Dead quiet
- Cleans sound absolutely pristine
- Lots of versatility with a lot of passive appeal in an active pickup
2. Seymour Duncan Classic Set
This pickguard comes loaded with the Seymour Duncan Classic pickup set, which is a more conventional, passive pickup design, but still very quiet. Seymour Duncan uses an Alnico V magnet in three separate single coil pickups: Custom Stack Plus, Classic Stack Plus, and Vintage Hot Stack Plus. The strength of this pickup set is clean tones with lighter distortion levels. Another major perk with this set is the Liberator pickup swapping system, which lets you change pickups without any kind of soldering. All you need is a screwdriver.
IDEAL FOR: Cleans, blues, lower distortion levels, recording, and performing.
- Liberator system is awesome
- Clean tones are just incredibly good
- Rich, passive tone
- Picks up pick scrapes really nicely
- More expensive than the Fluence set
3. Seymour Duncan Triple Rails
Again we have the Liberator system for easy installation. I'm a big fan of ceramic magnets in general, because I've always found them to be smoother and a little warmer. In single coil form, they help balance out the brightness and edge of your Stratocaster with a more full, aggressive tone. As such, the Seymour Duncan Triple Rails, all with ceramic magnets, are a good choice if you want to make your Strat heavier.
IDEAL FOR: Smoother and heavier tone with a hard rock lean
- Ceramic magnets
- Liberator system
- Smooth response on high gain levels
- Nice balance between bright and warm
- None for the price
4. Mojotone '67 Quiet Coil Loaded Pickguard
These pickups sound absolutely fantastic. They're very sweet and smooth, with some really nice cuts, even on the neck pickup. To my ear, it's very similar to a Stevie Ray Vaughan tone sound with or without overdrive kicked in. The middle and bridge positions do a good job of cutting through more while maintaining the warm, bluesy vibe of the set. No complaints here.
IDEAL FOR: Blues, southern rock, lead, SRV fans.
- Great for SRV and John Mayer fans
- Neck pickup side sounds absolutely fantastic
- Snaps and cuts are addictive
- No noise or hum
- The Liberator system is just a Seymour Duncan thing
Best with Lace Sensor
There are a ton of Lace Sensor loaded Strat pickguards. However, I don't typically see them on third-party retailer sites. They'll pop up on Amazon once in a while, and of course used on Reverb. But I'd recommend buying direct from Lace Music Products. Picking a best option is tough, because it's mostly a matter of the configuration you want. Personally, I would go with the Ultimate Triple.
Best with Seymour Duncan
Your best Seymour Duncan set will depend on the sound you're going for. If you want something a little more subtle, I'd go with the Classic set. For a more aggressive tone, the Rails are your better option.
Best HSS loaded pickguard
These are actually a little harder to find, and seem to be more of a boutique product. The two places I found the best options were Lace Sensor (once again) and Lindy Fralin pickups. Fralin is actually close to where I live in Virginia, and some of my friends have been to his shop. His stuff is a little more expensive, but the HSS loaded pickguards he sells look pretty awesome.
These are some of the best loaded Stratocaster pickguards I know to recommend. As always, this is just my opinion and your experience could vary, or include variables that I can't predict. Always do your research and use these guides as a loosely held roadmap.
If you have questions about any of these pickguards or pickups, drop them in the comments section below and I'll help out.
Perhaps I'll see you there.