If you want to mellow out the tone a little bit, a mini humbucker might be what you’re looking for. It has a sound that’s somewhere in between the brightness of a single-coil and the warmth of a full humbucker, in many ways the perfect compromise to get the basic Strat sound with a little less edge. Here are some mini humbucker options that we think sound especially good for your guitar.
These are our recommendations for the 4 best mini humbuckers for Strats on the market:
Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Mini Humbucker
- Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Adjustable Mini-Humbucker Bridge Position
- Price: $145.00
Price as of 02/20/2020 13:35 PST
Seymour Duncan is a name you’ll see a lot if you’re shopping for mini humbuckers. The Antiquity II is one of our favorites because it really captures the spirit of the mini humbucker sound. They’re hand-crafted for consistent tone across models, with adjustable pole pieces so you can balance your tonal output string by string.
Sonically, the Antiquity II is closest to a P90 kind of sound. It’ll give you clear, punchy articulations and a tone that’s mostly bright and vibrant with a bit of vintage warmth and shimmer. It plays especially well with tube amps and can give you an impressive crunch when you push the gain.
These pickups also don’t sacrifice on power—something that’s sometimes lost with humbucking pickups. You’ll get the volume of a single-coil without the annoying hum, and without losing the tonal depth and warmth imparted by the vintage styling.
If you’re looking for a mini humbucker that will still give you power and punch, the Antiquity II is definitely worth a listen. Hands down, it’s one of the best mini humbuckers for Strats.
Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little ’59 Mini Humbucker
- Seymour Duncan SL591B Little 59 Strat Bridge Pickup
- Price: $85.00
Price as of 02/20/2020 13:35 PST
Here’s another great option from Seymour Duncan that comes in at a more mid-range price point. The Little ’59 is basically a PAF-style humbucker in a single-coil sized package that should drop right into any Strat or Tele without any modification. The tone is exactly what you want from a mini humbucker: warm and balanced with a slightly scooped midrange and just a bit of twang.
This pickup (see full specs) uses a ceramic magnet and 4-conductor lead wiring, a combination that gives your sound a lot of power. The poles are wax potted to avoid feedback and you get a variety of wiring options so it will work for pretty much any instrument or configuration.
The only minor caveat on the Little ’59 is that it’s available just for the bridge position, so it’s not the best option if you want to replace all the pickups on your instrument. If you want the option of a bit more warmth, though, it pairs nicely with more traditional single-coil pickups for a tone that’s richer without losing that Stratocaster edge.
DiMarzio DP240 Vintage Mini Humbucker Pickup
- DiMarzio DP240 Vintage Minibucker Mini Humbucker Neck Pickup Nickel Cover
- Price: $79.99
Price as of 02/20/2020 08:43 PST
Seymour Duncan isn’t the only name in mini humbuckers. DiMarzio is another name you’re likely familiar with if you’ve shopped for pickups before. Their DP240 mini humbucker is another excellent contender in the mid-range price point, with the vintage-inspired tone you’ll often find in pickups of this style.
DiMarzio is often thought of as a pickup brand for harder styles, so we were a bit surprised that we like the sound of this pickup better when it’s played clean. It has a combination of dynamic range and crystal clear articulations with just a hint of twang that makes it perfect for country players. While it’s not our favorite pickup for distortion, it does maintain the clarity even at high gain levels and won’t get muddy no matter how much overdrive you use.
Overall, the DiMarzio DP240 gives you a balanced tone with a Strat-like chime. You won’t get quite as much volume as with other pickups on the list but it’s still a very powerful and responsive pickup that will serve you well in the neck position.
Snake Oil Chrome Mini Humbuckers
- Snake Oil Chrome Mini Humbuckers - Neck and Bridge Matched Pair
Price as of 02/20/2020 13:35 PST
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean mini humbuckers are out of your reach. With this matched pair you’ll get two mini humbuckers for a song—less than what you’d expect to pay for a single pickup from other brands.
We have to admit these aren’t our favorite pickups in terms of the sound. The sound does blend the smooth bluesy warmth of a humbucker with a single-coil bright edge, though it’s a bit muddy for our tastes, especially in the low end. It works best at the neck and paired with a more standard single-coil at the bridge for clarity. You’ll notice the tone is fuller and deeper than with single-coil pickups alone.
If you’re looking for pure power, these aren’t going to give you what you’re looking for. As an affordable way to add some humbucker-like tones to a Strat, though, it’s an effective choice—and you can’t beat the price. For the money, these are among the best mini humbuckers for Strats period.
Mini Humbuckers for Strats: Fit and Wiring
Guitars are typically built for either a single-coil pickup or a humbucker. When it comes to the more in-between sizes of pickup, though, like a P90 or a mini humbucker, whether or not it will fit into your guitar is harder to tell until you have it in front of you.
The Seymour Duncan Little ’59 (see full specs) is designed to be a direct drop-in for a single-coil slot. It’s designed for a Tele, but it will fit just as well into a Strat. With the others, you may need to make some slight adjustments to your guitar before you can use them. These modifications won’t be as extensive as for a full-sized humbucker. At most, you may need to do a bit of shaving around the edges to widen the pickup slot.
Modifying a single-coil guitar to fit a mini humbucker won’t be nearly as expensive as modifying it for a full humbucker, and it also won’t be as likely to cause lasting damage to the instrument. Having said that, though, you want to be sure of what you want for your instrument long-term before you do anything that can’t be reversed. If you just want to try out a mini humbucker, you’ll probably be best-served with something like the Little ’59 that lets you quickly and easily switch back to a single-coil pickup if ends up not being what you’re looking for.
Like all parts of your sound, the right pickup is a very personal choice, and there’s no one right answer. Experimenting with different sounds is the best way to know what you want out of your instrument. Good luck in your continuing quest to find the best mini humbuckers for Strats and the perfect tone—and we hope our advice will help you get there! Good luck!