Here’s everything you need to know about the Fender Player Stratocaster pickups, including its different configurations (SSS and HSS)
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The Fender Player Stratocaster is one of the best selling guitars on the market right now.
Picking up where Fender’s now-defunct Standard series left off, the Player series brings more features, improved playability and everything a modern player could possible want.
And the best part? Because Fender’s Player series guitars are MIM – Made In Mexico – you’ll pay WAY less than you would for a Made In America (MIA) Fender Strat.
And another cool thing? As noted in our Fender Player Stratocaster review, the differences between Fender’s MIM and MIA is basically non-existent these days.
And this, alongside the sheer playability of these models, is why Fender is selling its Player series guitars by the boat-load.
If you’re looking to buy a Fender Player Stratocaster, you might be wondering about what pickup configurations it comes with.
- Is it decent for metal and rock?
- Or is it limited by its single coil pickups?
- Does it come with humbuckers?
In this guide, we’ll cover all the current pickup configurations for the Fender Player Stratocaster and outline which is best for certain types of guitarists.
Fender Player Stratocaster Pickups
- Classic SSS Configuration: 3x Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups
- HSS Configuration: 2x Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups 1x Player Series humbucker pickup
When it comes to pickups, the vast majority – or the most popular models – in Fender’s Player Stratocaster series come with the classic SSS configuration which is made up of Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups and CTS pots for the volume and tone controls.
However, for those that want or need humbucker versions, there are variants that come with Fender’s HSS pickup configuration, so two Fender Player Series Alnico V pickups and a single Player Series humbucker pickup.
Again, for that classic Strat sound, you’ll want to go with the classic SSS configuration. But if you do plan on doing anything close to metal or stoner rock and you want to create heavier, lower tones, one of Fender’s HSS Player Strats will definitely get the job done.
What are HSS and SSS Pickups?
Before we get into the differences between HSS and SSS pickups, let’s first define what they are.
Single-coil pickups are made up of a single coil of wire wrapped around a magnet. They produce a bright, clear tone that is ideal for clean playing styles like blues and country.
Humbucker pickups, on the other hand, use two coils wired together in series to cancel out unwanted noise (like hum) while boosting output levels.
They produce a thicker, warmer tone that is well-suited to heavier genres like rock and metal.
The Fender Player Stratocaster comes with either three single-coil pickups (SSS) or two single-coils and one humbucker (HSS).
Comparing HSS and SSS Pickups on the Fender Player Stratocaster
When it comes to sound characteristics, there are some key differences between HSS and SSS configurations.
The main advantage of an SSS setup is its tonal versatility. With three single-coil pickups, you have access to a wide range of sounds from bright and twangy to warm and mellow.
An HSS configuration offers more output levels than an SSS setup thanks to the addition of a humbucker pickup. This makes it ideal for players who want to play heavier genres like hard rock or metal without sacrificing clarity or sustain.
Ultimately, choosing between an HSS or SSS configuration will depend on your personal preference as well as your playing style.
If you’re primarily playing clean tones or lighter genres like blues or jazz, an SSS configuration may be best suited for you.
However, if you prefer heavier genres like hard rock or metal but still want access to cleaner tones when needed, an HSS configuration may be the way to go.
HSS vs SSS Pickups: PROS & CONS
Here’s a breakdown of some pros and cons associated with each type:
Pros of an SSS Configuration
- Brighter tone
- More tonal versatility
- Less expensive
Cons of an SSS Configuration
- Prone to noise/hum interference
- Not ideal for high-gain distortion
Pros of an HHS Configuration
- Higher output levels
- Better noise reduction thanks to humbucker pickup
- Ideal for harder genres like heavy rock/metal
Cons of an HHS Configuration
- Less tonal versatility compared to an SSS setup
- More expensive due to added humbucker pickup
Which is Best – SSS or HSS?
In conclusion, choosing between an HHS or SSB configuration ultimately depends on your personal preference as well as your playing style.
If you’re looking for tonal versatility with brighter tones then choose an SSS pick-up configuration but if you’re looking for higher output levels with better noise reduction then opt for the HSS variant.
Basically, if you want to play rock and/or metal, go for the Fender Player Stratocaster HSS.
RichardRichard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.
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