What Pickups Are In A Mexican Stratocaster?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

Made in Mexico (MIM) Fender Stratocasters are globally renowned electric guitars due to their compact features and reasonable price. They enable low-budget guitarists to have an opportunity to experience playing an actual Fender electric guitar. In short, if you want to own a Fender Stratocaster but lack the budget, opting for a made-in-Mexico (MIM) model rather than made-in-America (MIA) is the best choice. 

However, made-in-Mexico Stratocasters come in a variety of models which differ in the pickups they feature,  including the SSS, HSS, HSH, and HSS with Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge. The acronym SSS means three single-coil pickups while HSS stands for “humbucker (bridge), single-coil (middle), single-coil (neck)”. Furthermore, HH is short for two humbuckers and HSH means “humbucker (bridge), single-coil (middle), humbucker (neck)”.  

In this article, we will discuss the pickups the Mexican-made Stratocasters, specifically Player series guitars, feature. I will also go into detail about the type and quality of sound they produce as well as the musical genre that suit these variants perfectly. Hopefully, this will help you decide which Fender Stratocaster (MIM) is ideal for your playing preference.

Fender Player Stratocaster

The Fender Player Stratocaster is indeed an affordable variation of the superior Fender guitars that are made in America (MIA). Due to them costing almost half of most American-made Stratocasters, they become an ideal option for your selection of electric guitars.

The company’s approach to lower the cost of its Stratocasters is to make a factory in Mexico that has cheaper labor and material costs. This strategy led to the creation of made-in-Mexico named Stratocaster models. 

Another reason that enabled Fender to price Mexican-made Stratocasters much cheaper is their utilization of cheaper alternative woods and components compared to American-made Stratocasters. However, this does not directly imply that they are low quality and generate poor sounds. In fact, in the category of electric guitars priced below $1000, Fender Stratocaster (MIM) is a top contender. 

Electric guitars from this series feature various pickups with its base model having a three single-coil pickup. The Stratocaster’s sleek design made them an iconic guitar for sixty years.

Three Single-Coil Pickups (SSS) Version

The three single-coil or SSS variation is the base model of the Fender Player Series. This electric guitar comes equipped with an alder body, maple neck, and an option of either maple or Pau Ferro for its fingerboard. The SSS model comes with a standard one-volume, two-tone layout with a 5-way pickup switch selector. A 2-point synchronized tremolo system is featured at its bridge which is an upgrade from its previous version. 

The SSS pickup perfectly suits rock, blues, country, and jazz music. This pickup, along with its 5-way pickup selector, enables you to access a variety of sounds. Regardless of Mexico-made Stratocasters being inferior compared to American-made Stratocasters, there is no doubt that it is highly capable of generating euphoric and amazing tones. 

However, if you intend to play musical genres with heavier and thicker tones, it is preferable to look for a made-in-Mexico Stratocaster with a different pickup design.

Pros And Cons

Three-coil pickups that can effortlessly produce warm and thin soundsThe three single-coil pickups in the bridge are unable to generate thick and heavy sounds
Perfect for musical genres including rock, blues, and countryUnideal in playing metal music
Reliable and used by successful guitarists namely Jimi Hedrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn

Humbucker (Bridge), Single-Coil (Middle), Single-Coil (Neck), Or HSS Version

The only difference between an HSS and SSS Stratocaster is the bridge pickup they utilize. The HSS features a humbucker while the SSS has a single coil. This distinction may seem minor at first, but it is highly recognizable especially when you move the first position in their pickup selection. 

A humbucker in the bridge position allows the Stratocaster to produce thicker and heavier tones which are elusive when dealing with single-coil pickups. Due to its tones, the HSS Stratocaster is perfect for playing metal and hard rock music. However, because of their alder body and the maple neck, the HSS Stratocasters are still not ideal for playing deep, heavy, and dark metal music. So if you intend to play musical genres that require extremely heavy and thicker tones then it is highly recommended to look for a Stratocaster with a different pickup. 

Nonetheless, the Stratocaster HSS is a versatile electric guitar perfect for playing common rock and metal music especially since it can effortlessly shift from producing warm and thin tones into producing metallic and heavy tones.

Like most Stratocasters that are made in Mexico (MIM), the HSS version surpasses the sounds and playability of other electric guitars at the same price point. This paved way for the well-established reputation of MIM Stratocasters among all guitarists regardless of their playing skill level. 

Pros And Cons

Humbucker pickups can generate thicker and heavier tones compared to single-coil pickupsEven though HSS Stratocaster (MIM) models feature a Humbucker pickup at its bridge, it still isn’t capable of producing the resonance, intense and dark tones mahogany or basswood-bodied electric guitars generate. 
Ideal for playing metal and hard rock music
Highly recommended for guitarists who prefer playing lead roles using the bridge pickup. HSS Stratocasters provide them with additional power

Humbucker (Bridge), Single-Coil (Middle), Humbucker (Neck), Or HSH Version

If you are the type of guitarist who prefers having a humbucker pickup on your Stratocaster, just imagine having two of them. The Fender Player Stratocaster HSH (MIM) features a pair of humbuckers at its bridge and neck ensuring that you get the thick and rich tones you desire.

The HSH Stratocaster is equipped with a pair of Fender humbuckers (blacktop) and a single-coil pickup at the middle position. These pickups, along with a push-pull coil-split, enable you to access a wide range of tonal possibilities. 

This particular Stratocaster (HSH) doesn’t generate the same signature warm and thin tones as traditional Stratocasters. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you only intend to have a Stratocaster but don’t indulge in them having single coils. 

The Fender Stratocaster HSH (MIM) is a unique electric guitar you can add to your collection especially since they are beautifully designed and come in a variety of colors that aren’t available in most Mexican-made Stratocaster models.

Pros And Cons

Features a pair of humbucker pickupsMight be unsatisfactory for guitarists who indulge in using single coils. 
Generates thicker and richer tones compared to a traditional Stratocaster
Wide range of tonal possibilities
Versatile electric guitar
Ideal for blues and jazz guitarists due to the deep tones produced by the humbucker at its neck position

Humbucker (Bridge), Single-coil (Middle), Single-coil (Neck) with Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge Version

The Fender Player Stratocaster HSS (MIM) with a Floyd Rose Bridge is a unique and rare electric guitar especially because it is uncommon to find a Floyd Rose Bridge featured in an affordable priced electric guitar. Unfortunately, the company stopped producing this specific model without a specific reason. 

This particular Stratocaster is an exceptional instrument that stays in tune for longer periods. However, with this advantage comes its disadvantage. It is difficult to change the tune of your electric guitar with a Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge, especially when compared to Fender’s Standard 2-point Tremolo and Vintage Synchronized Bridge. 

The Fender Stratocaster HSS (MIM) with a Floyd Rose Tremolo can effortlessly generate the same sounds as an HSS Stratocaster. Due to the upgrade in its bridge, this electric guitar enables you to access a more extensive range of tones by simply pulling its strings up and down. In addition, it allows you to effortlessly practice guitar techniques including flutter picking, shredding, and the addition of vibrato effects on chords.  

Pros And Cons

Perfect for guitarists who love shredding and playing heavy metal musicDiscontinued model and difficult to find
Secure and solid tuning stabilityDifficult to retune or change the tuning

Which Mexican-Made Stratocaster Is Best For You?

If you are searching for an affordable Fender Stratocaster Line and not a Squier Stratocaster, then going for the Player series is your best bet. The only problem here is choosing the right one for you especially since there are numerous models to choose from.

Metal And Hard Rock Music

The ideal Fender Player Stratocaster for playing metal and hard rock music is the HSS and HSH versions because these musical genres are likely to be effortless to play with a humbucker at the bridge position. HSS variations are ideal since they feature a single-coil pickup at the neck position enhancing this electric guitar’s versatility. 

On the other hand, HSH models aren’t a bad choice for playing metal and hard rock music either, especially if you prefer having another humbucker pickup at the neck position. It just so happens that the HSS offers more versatility over the HSH model with regard to these musical genres. 

Classic Rock, Blues, And Country Music

If you plan to play either classic rock, blues, or country music, then the conventional Fender Player Stratocaster SSS version is your best choice because of its ability to generate bright and warmer tones which are seen in these musical genres. 

Additionally, the placement of the number 2 pickup, which is situated between the middle and bridge pickup, is highly recommended when performing these genres because it produces the original Fender Stratocaster tonal palette, which is also produced by models made in Mexico.


The Fender Player Stratocaster HSH is the best choice for playing jazz music because of its humbucker pickup at the neck position which will surely provide you the warm and round tones (irreplicable by single-coils) ideal for playing jazz.

Key Takeaway

It comes down to personal opinion when deciding on the best Stratocaster pickup setup for you. Remember that while something may work for someone else, it might not work for you. You are free to decide which pickup you want to use for a particular musical style. 

Most of the information in this article comes from knowledgeable Stratocaster users. According to them, the HSS and HSH models are ideal for jazz music, the SSS models for classic rock, blues, and country music, and the HSS and HSH models for metal and hard rock.

The HSS with Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge, on the other hand, is a balanced combination of all these pickup configurations which may suit any musical genre, making them a great consideration to purchase if you get the chance. 

Overall, made-in-Mexico Stratocasters are exceptional electric guitars that will surely satisfy any guitarist.