Fender Noiseless Pickups: The Quick Guide (2020)


As a Fender enthusiast, I love the piercing bite and attack from single-coil pickups.

However, I loathe the usual buzz, hiss, and noise booming from my amp caused by them.

Therefore, I recommend you take a look at ‘Fender Noiseless Pickups’ as a good solution.

After trying these pickups out for some time, I decided to right this post to give you the full low down on these unique pickups.

My post will discuss function, tone, and the differences to regular pickups.

In the process, this post will assist whether Noiseless pickups are worth trying out and the right choice for you. 

Let’s jump in…

Are Fender Noiseless Pickups worth it? Noiseless pickups are worth installing if you prefer a single-coil tone without the drawbacks of 60-cycle hum. Noiseless Pickups are excellent at reducing noise, hum, and interference. Furthermore, they remove the need to install a standard humbucker pickup. 

How Do Noiseless Pickups Sound (Watch Below)

What Are Fender Noiseless Pickups?

Despite their appearance, Fender Noiseless pickups are not classed as single-coils but are actually humbuckers.

Although they look like single-coils and sound more like single-coils, they function more similar to humbuckers.

That function reduces hum and noise (like a humbucker) while preserving the familiar thin, and bright single-coil tone.

How Do They Sound?

When it comes to tone, you can think of the Noiseless pickup tone as less articulate versions of regular single-coils. The benefit however is they produce less buzz, hum and, interference.   

And how are they quieter exactly? Well, Fender introduced an intuitive ‘stacked’ design on their typical single-coil blueprint.

I will go into more detail in a second of their design and how these pickups work.

But essentially, Fender stacks an extra pickup into one regular-sized single-coil compartment, which helps decrease hum, buzz, and unwanted noise.

Brief History

Fender first introduced their Noiseless Pickups series in 1998. Since then, they have provided many generations of their Noiseless Pickups on a long series of Fender models.

Despite them commonly being confused as single-coils (which I did at first), Fender attempts to remove confusion by not branding them as ‘coils’ of any sort, hence using the simple term “Noiseless pickups.”

Interestingly, there is no such thing as ‘Noiseless single-coils pickups,’ because any pickup consisting of a stacked design is essentially a humbucker.

Noiseless pickups are humbuckers but mistaken as single-coils because they fit into the single-coil slot on a guitar’s body cavity.

How Do Fender Noiseless Pickups Work?

When it comes to design, what makes these pickups unique?

Fender Noiseless pickups consist of two single-coil pickups stacked on top of each other, which fits into one individual single-coil compartment commonly known as a ‘stacked single-coil.’ (Image Below)

This stacked design doubles the number of copper windings similar to a humbucker.

Thus thickening the tone same to a humbucker and reducing hum and buzz, which is the drawback of regular single-coil pickups.

When it comes to why Noiseless pickups are like humbuckers is simple.  A traditional humbucker consists of two single-coils wound side by side.

Whereas, Noiseless pickups are necessarily two single-coil pickups stacked on top of each other hence why they have humbucker-like qualities.

These qualities are to reduce 60-cycle hum, which is main function of humbuckers.

As mentioned, they get confused as single-coils because they still appear as single-coil pickups but are a modified humbucker. But remember, looks can be deceiving.

How Noiseless Are Noiseless Pickups?

Noiseless Pickups do a great job of significantly reducing hum and noise.

With that said, they will produce some amounts of hum but far less than standard single-coil pickups.

Although the name says ‘Noiseless,’ these pickups are not entirely silent like active pickups. With that said, they are far quieter than usual single-coils that buzz and hum for days.

Noiseless Pickup Noise Test (Watch Below)

Keep in mind, this all depends on the level of distortion you use with your normal tone.

The more distortion you drench your signal with, the more hum and buzz will become more audible. 

On the other hand, it also depends how well your guitar’s internal electronics are shielded and grounded, which is another contributing factor to interference.

Furthermore, check for damaged cables and noisy guitar pedals that can also contribute to a noisy signal chain.

Noiseless Pickups vs Regular Single-Coils

When comparing tones, Fender Noiseless Pickups retain the usual ‘twang’ and ‘bright’ sound of regular single-coils.

The main difference is they are not as bright and articulate as regular single-coils. Some players describe them as somewhat slightly blunted versions.

This is because each pickup includes more copper windings and functions like a humbucker decreasing their presence and articulation, adding thickness to their usual sound.

Whether you like this extra beef is somewhat preference and comes to personal taste.  

Noiseless Pickups vs Single-Coil (Tone Comparison)

So what are the tonal benefits over regular single coils?

In my opinion, Noiseless pickups are best adopted for distorted tones, from mild crunch to heavily distorted rock territory.

They do a great job at reducing 60-cycle hum while still offering the usual single-coil sound. They can drastically improve your live sound if you play with a heavy amount of distortion but want to retain the bright single-coil tone.

Obviously, regular single-coils are known for being feedback and noise nightmares when played live through cranked amps on stage.

Therefore, Noiseless pickups are an ideal solution if your main sound is 70% distortion and overdrive.   

In my opinion, I would not choose Noiseless pickups over Active pickups if you are looking to play any form of metal genres. The reason is active pickups are virtually silent and thicken up your guitar tone.  

When it comes to clean tones, Noiseless pickups are not as bright and crisp as a standard single-coil pickup. They do not offer the full bright and chimney single-coil experience.

However, they do offer a different flavor altogether, which some players actually prefer over regular single-coils.

If you love bright and articulate cleans and not overly concerned over noise, then Noiseless Pickups may not be for you.    

Why Choose Noiseless Pickups?

This is the big question? The whole reason for the existence of Noiseless Pickups is to provide the usual Single-coil tone without the annoying 60-cycle hum typical of regular single-coils.

Furthermore, they remove the need to install a standard humbucker pickup in your guitar, changing the tone altogether. If you don’t want a humbucker sound, don’t fit one!

Let’s say you want to reduce your guitar’s noise and interference but your guitar does not have the slot cavity for humbuckers?

Therefore, the perfect solution would be Noiseless pickups because these pickups are essentially a humbucker that fits into a single-coil slot.

Drilling holes into your guitar’s body cavity would require some heavy modifications, not to mention it would also cost a hefty sum for these modifications.  

In these situations, Noiseless pickups are an excellent option for reducing your guitar’s natural noise provided that it’s internal electronics have been shielded correctly. 

Best Fender Noiseless Pickups

There have been many great inclusions within the Fender Noiseless series. Here are some highly-rated pickups from the Noiseless Pickup series you might want to check out. 

Fender 4th Gen Noiseless

The 4th Gen is the newest and up to date version that delivers vintage-style tones without annoying interference.

Fender claims the 4th Gen Noiseless is their most articulate tone and quietest pickups heavy removing hum and buzz.

Fender Vintage Noiseless

Vintage Noiseless is arguably the most popular product from the Noiseless line.

These pickups recreate the classic era of tones from the 50 & 60s Stratocasters. This product is currently preferred by famous blues player and Start legend Eric Clapton.

Fender Ultra Noiseless Hot Stratocaster

The Ultra Noiseless Hot is ideal if you want a pickup with more gain and available output.

As the name states, the Noiseless Hot Stratocaster includes more copper windings around its magnet, which provides more oomph and bite.

Ideal for players who hang around in the rock and hard rock territory more than softer genres.     

Fender Ultra Noiseless Telecaster

As the name implies, the Fender Noiseless is not just exclusive to Stratocasters.

The Telecaster version allows players to strap on a pair of noiseless pickups for their prized Telecaster. Enjoy a quieter guitar with all the tonal benefits of the spanky and twangy Telecaster. 

Fender Ultra Noiseless Jazz Bass

The Jazz Bass is Fender’s iconic and prized bass from its long line of bass guitars.

The 4th Gen Jazz Bass Noiseless Pickups deliver a thumpy and delicious bass tone that cuts through any mix with great clarity and punchy mids with articulate lows.  

Are Fender Noiseless Pickups Active or Passive?

This is an interesting question and essential for guitar players who examine new potential pickups for their guitar. To answer your question…

Fender Noiseless Pickups are not active and categorically ‘passive’ pickups.

The reason is they do not adopt any preamp stage which needs powering with a 9V battery, which is typical with guitars with ‘active pickups.’

However, although they are passive, they have been described by some players as having tonal qualities similar to active pickups.

The reason is that active pickups are not as bright and thin as a typical passive single-coil.

How to Install Noiseless Pickups

You have two choices here. You can choose to install these pickups yourself if you have soldering experience or pay an experienced guitar tech to install them for you.

Fender guitars are popular with the guitar modding community because their electronics are so accessible.

However, I would advise taking your guitar to an experienced guitar tech to do the work for you if you have limited experience with wiring and soldering.  

Here’s how to install these pickups yourself…

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my quick guide to Fender Pickups. Hopefully, I have informed you about the intuitive ‘stacked pickup’ design. And in the process, improve your guitar gear knowledge more than before.

Adam

Adam is the founder and author of Tone Topics and dedicated to providing the best guitar content for like-minded gear nerds. Please enjoy all the content on the site and support us by sharing these posts with other people. It would really help us out!

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