Seymour Duncan SSL-1 Vintage Staggered Pole Strat Pickup


90 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

Seymour Duncan SSL-1 Vintage Staggered Pole Strat Pickup

Meta Analysis Overview

Our rating of 90/100 is based on analysis of 200+ sources comprised of online reviews and discussions. Under the Pros and Cons headings below you'll find a condensed analysis of what those owners and users have been saying. Feel free to ask questions or add your thoughts in the comments section.

The SSL-1 is Seymour Duncan's period-correct recreation of a 50's style strat pickup.

It was designed with lots of high string chime and low string bell tones in mind.

It features hand-ground Alnico 5 magnets, period-correct Formvar wire.

The SSL-1 pickups are hand-built in Santa Barbara, California.

While it balances nicely with other SSL-1 pickups in the neck and bridge position, it is versatile enough to fill in a middle position on an HSS or HSH pickup configuration, giving split coil 2 and 4 positions lots of chime and quack that you'd expect.


  • Position: Any
  • Magnet Material: Ceramic
  • Dimensions: Not Stated
  • String Spacing: Not Applicable
  • Available Colors/Covers: 12 color variations

The Seymour Duncan SSL-1 is frequently discussed in various forums and reviews by users as their "first true upgrade". Many users purchased the pickup as a means to beef up cheap guitars and project partscasters. As a middle position pickup, users note that it plays nicely with other brands, preserving the much-desired quack and bottle tone on the 2 and 4 positions in the strat. As a middle pickup in a superstrat HSH configuration, the Alnico V magnet gives it enough push to sound balanced with humbucker split coils for a more convincing 2 and 4 position tone on shred guitars.

Reverse wound versions tend to be custom order only. If you get a standard SSL-1, you won't get the hum-canceling tone in the 2 and 4 positions. So make sure to select your winding preferences before ordering.

People call the SSL-1 a "vanilla" pickup. It's not because it's dull or bad; quite the opposite. It's a very good pickup for the price and sounds the way you expect a 50s pickup to sound like with nothing more and nothing less. It's the standard for many users and that says a lot about its status as a go-to aftermarket replacement. Like the ice cream flavor, sometimes vanilla is all you need after trying everything.

Although this was previously on our recommended list, there are now more highly rated options available which you can see in our guide to The Best Budget Guitar Pickups.

About the Author

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.