Ana Popović Explains Why She Prefers Single-Coils Over Humbuckers, Says She’s Not Into ’Cheap Instruments’

Blues guitar master Ana Popović recently sat down with the Guitarist magazine to discuss some of her guitar-related preferences, as well as her guitar- and guitar-gear-buying habits. When asked about sharing some of her guitar-buying tips, she simply explained how one needs to think of the very basics first, offering:

“Well, it’s the sound, of course. Not only guitars, amps are the same. I remember buying the ’64 and that’s a funny story, too. Back when I bought it, which was 2008, I went to Nashville, to Gruhn Guitars, and I gave myself a day – I don’t know, five or six hours – trying out different guitars…

Ana Popovic (live) - Ah-Nab-Awen Park (Grand Rapids, MI) - August 19, 2021

And, interestingly enough, despite her big budget, it was all in smaller bills:

“I had 20 grand in $20 bills that I collected over the years of selling my merchandise on stage.

Pretty wild. She adds:

“Back then, I was still living in Amsterdam, and I was touring heavily in the States and every $20 bill that I got from CDs, I would just keep. It was no use turning it into Euros because the dollar was so low.

Vault Sessions: Ana Popovic + Firemist Silver Stratocaster

“So I’ve got 20 grand in the box and can just choose any guitar. It was a day in paradise, you know, a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I remember trying out a mint-condition ’66 and then there was this beat-up ’64.

“[The ’66] was a red guitar, not a single scratch on it and sounded pretty good. I mean, I’d spent six hours trying all the guitars they had in that price range and these two were the final pick. And I thought that the ’64 was a wild guitar.

“That ’66 was proper, it just sounded right but had no life. And [the ’64] was wild; however I strummed it, it gave a different sound. And I just thought it was very inspirational.

Vault Sessions: Ana Popovic Jams on the First Black Strat Ever Made (Season 2: Episode 6)

However, she made her decision and is pretty satisfied with it:

“I don’t know if it was a better deal to get the mint-condition ’66, but I definitely never regretted getting the ’64. I mean, it’s been an everlasting inspiration on stage. You need an instrument that’s going to inspire you, no matter if you’re playing a blues song or a funk song, rock song… you need an instrument that’s going to live through the changes that you make as a musician.”

One of the things that Ana was also asked was whether she would go with single-coils or humbuckers for the rest of her life. In her case, it’s the single-coils and she explained why:

“It’s gonna be single-coils – that’s just my style. I’ve played humbuckers and I might play them in the future. I played them on [my latest] record, as well. [A humbucker is] wonderful; it just does the work for you. But I guess I like to work from my tone and so it’s always been single coils.”

ANA POPOVIC the Complete Show @ Token Lounge, Feb 2023

One other thing that she was also asked is whether she’d go with a cheap guitar with an expensive amp or a cheap amp with an expensive guitar. To Ana, there’s simply zero tolerance for cheap stuff:

“You know, it’s a tough choice. I’m not a ‘cheap stuff’ person. I’m like that with my band members – ‘I don’t want no toys on my stage!’ No cheap instruments – I don’t want anything that is not legit. When it’s a cheap drum kit or a cheap bass, I hear it and it bothers me.

Of course, as she explains, she’s got nothing against more affordable guitars or other pieces of gear and acknowledges that people know how to make them sound goo. But she added:

“Yeah, people can make those instruments sound good, but there’s something about legit instruments, you know? So that’s your answer. I mean, there’s not really a choice: I just don’t like anything cheap – not on my stage.”

Ana Popovic - Slow Dance (feat. Robben Ford)

During the chat, Ana was also asked about the first guitar that she bought with her own money. She said:

“I started playing guitar with a Fender Lead 1. I really wanted a Strat, but this was back in Serbia and, of course, that was just a ridiculous amount of money back then. So I saved and my parents helped and my first Strat was a ’72. There was a friend of my dad’s who had a reissue ’52 Telecaster and we were just drooling over that instrument. 

“Every now and then we would just get it, play it at home and bring it back. I really wanted a Custom Shop reissue, something better, and my dreams came true when my family decided to buy me a ’57 reissue and it’s been with me ever since I was 19 or 20. It’s got a wonderful maple neck and it’s a fantastic guitar.”

Photo: Roberta (Ana Popovic 07 (8569570482))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.