This is a simple list of pickups that best emulate a Jimi Hendrix guitar tone. All five of these come in sets for Stratocasters, meaning they're an SSS or three single coil pickup configuration.
While there are other pickup configurations for Stratocasters (HSS, HH, etc.), Hendrix most often used three single coil pickups in a white Stratocaster, which he played upside down.
The three single coil pickups are also the most common Stratocaster pickup configuration overall.
Below, we've included a table of the five pickups we recommend for a good Hendrix tone for easy browsing.
Read more: Best guitar pickups
5 Best Pickups for a Jimi Hendrix Tone
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Fender Original '57/'62 SSS Pre-Wired White Pickguard
Seymour Duncan Jimi Hendrix Signature Stratocaster Set
All of these pickups are passive, meaning they do not need an external power source for the magnets to work properly. They are also mostly built with Alnico 5 magnets, which are going to give you that rich, bluesy tone that Hendrix was known for, plus the additional grit with heavier distortion.
If you want to browse for your own pickups, try and target the following features:
- Three single coil sets
- Passive pickups
- Alnico magnets
You should avoid most humbuckers and active pickups. Even the Fishman Fluence Strat pickups are probably not going to be ideal for a Hendrix tone.
Are humbuckers always a bad option for a Hendrix sound?
Humbuckers are typically smoother and heavier than what we'd be used to getting from a Hendrix Stratocaster.
Hendrix played heavy and often used a lot of gain, but Stratocasters are naturally brighter and more twangy, which isn't what humbuckers are typically known for. If you want to meld a pair of humbuckers into a decent Hendrix tone, aim for something with a vintage flavor and alnico magnets.
Again, stay away from passive pickups and ceramic magnets.
Pickup Brands We Trust Most for Stratocaster Pickups
For Stratocaster pickups in general, we'd recommend sticking to the following builders:
- Seymour Duncan
- Lindy Fralin
All three of these brands, Fender for obvious reasons, do a great job with single coil pickups and the vintage side of pickup production. For a Hendrix sound that relies heavily on a good single coil design, these are the brands we'd recommend focusing on.
Fishman (as we mentioned with the Fluence series) and Lace Sensor are other names you might recognize, though these are less ideal since they're usually active pickups.
Only go that route if you want to make your Stratocaster heavier.
Best Stratocaster pickups
Characteristics of the Hendrix Guitar Sound
I've always thought that if Hendrix were alive today, he'd probably use more aggressive pickups, perhaps going with humbuckers or some kind of active configuration.
He was known for using a lot of fuzz and distortion. In a sense, he pioneered that playing style, despite playing a Stratocaster that today we consider to be a less "heavy" guitar.
The result was intense guitar playing, yet with the nuance and articulation of a single coil pickup configuration.
Pickups that emulate this tone should be capable of the following:
- Aggressive highs
- Balanced low-end
- Loose distorted tones
- Bluesy lead
- Vintage rock tone profile
These are some of the qualities that truly defined the Hendrix sound, which is why we've recommended the five particular pickup sets in this list. They're going to give you the best chance at acheiving something close to a Jimi Hendrix tone.