Seen a couple of posts on forums recently blaming certain brands of single coil Strat™ pickups for being really noisy with regard to 60 cycle hum. Well, I don’t normally leap to the defence of other pickup manufacturers … especially those who get their products made cheaply in the Far East … but with the normal ‘shielding’ and wiring plan of a Strat™ hum is part of life … and more to do with your environment and amp settings.
Some single coil designs are particularly prone to hum … like the P90, but the Strat™ pickup as such is actually relatively quiet. The problem lies in the normally unshielded control cavity and the ‘earth loops’ created with the standard wiring.
The answer is ‘star grounding,’ that is having an earthed conductive ‘cage’ around all the wiring created by a properly screened cavity and pick guard, and having all the earths running back to this – see this article http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php
Don’t blame the pickups … blame a more genteel age of guitar design and more sedate stage volumes!
As a post script to this post, so to speak, many companies sell copper tape that can be wound around a Strat™ coil then earthed to pretty well completely eliminate hum … but beware! Firstly the delicate windings should be protected by ordinary tape before the copper shielding is applied … secondly you may well change some of the essential character of the pickups when you do this. I know professional guitar technicians do this on the big star’s guitars … but usually this is just for high volume stage use.