Technically, there's no such thing as a single-coil humbucker, so I suspect you mean "one that fits in the same space as a single-coil pickup". Sorry, gotta define terms early in the discussion...
Now then, a lot depends on what kind of music you play. They have super-hot ones, warm ones, classic ones made of alinco magnets found in Les Paul's basement, and all kinds of things. What kind of sound do you want?
Just do you know, it is possible to put a humbucker in a strat. One of my band's guitarists has a gibson 57 classic in a strat...Japanese strat i think. It may sound like a huge contradiction, but it sounds cool. If you must stick with a single coil, check out the fender lace sensors.
The humbucker was originally designed by Seth Lover at Gibson in the mid-50's. It consisted of two coils (instead of one) mounted side-by-side, but wound in opposite directions. This arrangement (as any Physics 102 major can tell you) causes phase cancellation, which stops all the noise that you typically get with a single coil. It allows the sound to get through unimpeded (pun intended but cancels (or bucks) the hum. I don't know why it allows the sound to get through and not the noise (I never made Physics 103) but it does. Side-by-side humbuckers have a very 'middly' sound because the string vibration is picked up over a large area. By mounting the two coils one on top of the other, you get the same hum-cancelling effect, but still maintain the edginess of the single coil - not to mention that you don't have to carve up your Strat or Tele.
I can unreservedly recommend Seymour Duncan pickups - they are absolutely wonderful tone wise. I believe they do a 'Vintage' type Strat replacement pickup which would probably be just what you want.
Lace Sensors are not an active pickup. A active EQ may be added and even a preamp (this is done on signature strats such as the Eric Clapton model). I do not have any active electronics on my guitar, but I do like the output characteristics of the pickups. No, they will not overdrive an amp like active EMGs, but they are hot when set to ten. And extremely sensitive at lower settings. there are plenty of distortion units to overdrive sound when wanted, but it is hard to replace the dynamics of a good passive pickup like the Lace Sensors. And they offer a great amount of variety in terms of the different styles (blue, silver, red, gold, and duals). Check out the fender web site.
Hey Bobdog, I have a fender strat plus with a Seymour Duncan hotrails in the bridge, it has crunch for days,fits right nicely too,also it has the gold lace sensors in the midle and neck,,Ive had three of the hotrails in my past strats,hope this helps.peace.
Avoid the Lace Sensors like the plague. I owned them and they blow. No dynamics and extremely sterile.
Seymours are good but I prefer Dimarzio.
Nothing in a single coil size sounds as good as a full size. Look under you pickguard to see if you can fit a full size. If it is a relatively newer guitar it should take both. I would still recommend routing it out anyway. Then get a new pick guard. It might save you a lot of trouble. I tried all of the same solutions, seeing as I play a strat. Everything I tried just didn't quite cut it.
As far as a full size humbucker the best I have found is Dimarzio PAF Pro. Not too hot as to distort, cuts through, sings with sustain and can clean up by backing off of volume with out losing character.
If you decide you still want a single coil size pickup try the Dimarzio HS3. They are still very smooth.
To me aside from a classic strat with original alnico's. The best a Strat can sound for rock/blues/fusion accent on the ROCK is Dimarzio 59 single coils in the neck and middle and a PAF PRO in the bridge. It's original Eddie VanHalen meets Stevie Ray/Hendrix with a tastful 90's vibe But so classic it will not be denied. The notes get bigger after you play them, and harmonics junp from under your fingers. Notes seem to swell and come alive. A tube amp of course helps this process.
I have a vintage reissue strat with vintage pickups. Right now I'm thinking of getting new pickups, considered the lace sensors but the shopowner told me they sound bad on all vintage strats, and recommended Kinman pickups instead.
What I'm looking for is the 80's Clapton sound and since the lace sensors are used in his signature strat, thought they would be a good choice. But still I don't know which pickups to choose. Anyone with suggestions?
OK two parts
Bobdog, to me the best pick-up for a strat iis the DiMarzio Chopper because it is wound super hot (you can always have less gain with the volume control but not more) the output of this pickup is more than a full-size PAF-pro. Seymore Duncans are good but if yo go with them I would just stay with USA standard pickups (same output) and a custom wiring job. Also if you have a humbucker installed in you strat make sure you have a 500K ohm pot installed instead of the factory 250K one. Otherwise your volume knob will work like an on-off switch. I have done alot of custom work on my strats (a 68', a 92, and a G&L Legacy (super-sweet)) and would be glad to discuss set-ups. Well good luck!
Ok part two
Congrats on the re-issue hope you love it. Part of what makes a vintage strat magic is it's original pick-ups!! I think the winding was still man controlled (he stopped the machine!) back then. That's what gave an individual voice. Not like now. That's why Stevie recorded with like 8 of his favorite strats and not No. 1 all the time. The pick-ups give your guitar a voice. If you must get replacements buy custom shop hand wound ones. oh and sell me the originals ones!
And on the re-issues everything was replicated the same as in 68'.
Cool guitar , but if you want high output get an Ibanez or something. Anyways keep playing!
P.S. If you really want to make your guitar sing try using an original TS-9 (the re-issues suck!). Thats what Stevie did!