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Old January 18th, 2013, 08:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Dream 180/Surf 90

I am thinking about replacing the pups in an ibanez Artcore AF86 (full hollowbody). I don't have a lot of money in the guitar (and don't want to), so I was thinking about GFS pickups. (if someone has another comparably priced recommendation, let me know)

I've read a lot of glowing reviews of the Dream 90s and Mean 90s, and a few less than favorable ones, but haven't seen as much on the dream 180 or surf 90. Has anyone used either and want to comment?

I'm going for a bit of a rockabilly sound with this one- I am not overly picky, but would like it to be a bit more articulate than the ACH pickups allow it to be - it just seems to lack definition...

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Old January 18th, 2013, 09:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Look for a post from Bug Music on his Dream 180's in an Artcore with sound samples. Pretty nice.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 09:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've tried the dream 180s and they do the rockabilly treble but I didn't like the rest of the spectrum. The surf 90s are great pickups with a very dynamic character to them and can do jazz, blues and country along side surf.. more treble detail than a humbucker. I am very much in honeymoon mode with them so ymmv.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 09:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I put a Dream 180 in a tele, and it was the worst sounding pickup I have ever heard.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colt W. Knight
I put a Dream 180 in a tele, and it was the worst sounding pickup I have ever heard.
Well that is quite an endorsement!
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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well that is quite an endorsement!
I really like their Hot Nashville Retrotrons
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Old January 18th, 2013, 11:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colt W. Knight

I really like their Hot Nashville Retrotrons
That is interesting, those caught my eye initially, but I dismissed them due to the ceramic magnet. I normally associate ceramic with pickups I would replace, not purchase, but I don't really know if I am basing that on anything.
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Old January 19th, 2013, 01:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Look for a post from Bug Music on his Dream 180's in an Artcore with sound samples. Pretty nice.
Oh yeah, love my 180's, I did put this clip up a long time ago for either you John or someone else (I forget) , these are the 180's in a Washburn 335 style semi-hollow. They sound really good to me for that rockabilly type stuff, but they can cover a lot of other ground too, from basic rock to blues.

Haven't tried the Mean 90's, but I hear a lot of good things and I'm dying to try them, I think that might be the next GFS purchase.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Colt W. Knight View Post
I put a Dream 180 in a tele, and it was the worst sounding pickup I have ever heard.
It's funny but when I was first looking at the 180's, I was trying to get opinions at different forums and I kept hearing the same thing. From what I gathered it seems like the 180's do tend to sound like total crap in solid body guitars. It's not just here that I have heard that either, it seems to be a general consensus on the few forums that I do frequent.

- Hopefully this helps.

- Jay
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Old January 19th, 2013, 02:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The magnet type really has has nothing to do with the pickup characteristics, unless it is in the core of the coil. Ceramic in the core would actually have no affect at all on the signal registered from coil, while most other materials will create eddy currents that interfere with the signal. The magnet type, core materials and dimensions should be chosen to maximize efficiency throughout the spectrum.

Of the Retrotrons, I think the Nashvilles actually sound the most like the D180's. The "Hot" version may even accentuate mids without the bass of the D180. My bridge mounted D180 works really well with my semi-hollow for a unique kind of defined brassy, but warm and punchy tone that also works very well with distortion. I do use a very low capacitance (~200pF/ft.) cable, which smooths out the upper mids and increases articulation by shifting the cut off frequency up. I recommend using such a cable. Another way to smooth the upper mids is to make use of eddy currents by using an Aluminum shield under the pick guard or the brackets around the pickup, but I don't think you'd need/want it with a low C cable.

There's a demo of my D180 through a few amp sim presets in this set:
https://soundcloud.com/narcoleptigon...sounds/s-jaCeO
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Old January 20th, 2013, 12:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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That is interesting about the magnet type - I have read so many discussions about the nuances of Alnico 3 vs 5, Alnico 2 for this sound or 5 for that sound, etc. that it somehow got into my head that Alnico had a superior sound.

So I guess my list has been refined to Surf 90 vs Nashville Retros. Jay's sound clips do sound good, although I have a hard time spending money on something that someone as respected as Colt says is the worst ever!
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Old January 20th, 2013, 03:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I have lots of Ceramics that are great and AlNiCos that suck. Its the makers skill in using the magnet(s) , coil(s) and topology in combo to bring out a good sound that makes a good sounding p/up. I like AlNiCo singles and standard HBs, best in general, but find Ceramic P90s better....How are the magnet(s), coil(s) done w a Retrotron ?
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Old January 20th, 2013, 06:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=Despres;4746773]I have a hard time spending money on something that someone as respected as Colt say[QUOTE]

I am just a nobody that likes to shoot his mouth off on internet forums. The well respected folks are too busy to be playing on the internet all the time.

Bardens have ceramic magnets don't they?
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Old January 20th, 2013, 06:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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180s are kind of bland. The Surf and Mean 90s are awesome. Surfs will have more treble but the Means do clean well and sound great with overdrive.
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Old January 21st, 2013, 08:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I personally wouldn't call the D180's bland, but I use very low capacitance cables to bring out the highs. They seem to have a nice brassy bell tone with decent clarity and punchy fat bass. If you play mostly clean, I can see how the Retrotrons might make more sense. I think all the Retrotrons are higher inductance than original Filtertrons, so you can expect less highs. Listening to the samples, D180's seem to be somewhere in between the normal and Hot Liverpools in tone, but with more bass. There are several factors influencing the results, so take that with a grain of salt. I think the S90's are definitely worth a try, too. I know the M90's are a good option. While the mids may be more pronounced, they might actually have less highs than the D180.
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Old January 21st, 2013, 03:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I LOVE the Surf 90's. Very bright and twangy but warmer and fatter than you might expect. Great clarity and note definition. Sort of like a clearer p-90 without as much midrange push, or like a fat and ballsy jazzmaster. They surf great, but they sound good playing a wide variety of music.
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Old January 21st, 2013, 03:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I've used Dream 90s Mean 90s and Surf90s, I think the Dream 90s are best. All are good.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 07:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I've used Dream 90s Mean 90s and Surf90s, I think the Dream 90s are best. All are good.
Not to get too far OT, but what do you think is the main difference tone wise between the Mean and Dream 90's ?

- Jay
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 07:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I just put a Liverpool mini-Tron in my Xavier Telemaster. The mini-bucker that was in there wasn't bad, it just lacked the sparkle I like. The fat body Tele pup in the bridge is very good. The new Liverpool? It's early to tell, but mini or not, it sure sounds like a Filtertron, which is to say a good PAF sound with a bunch of chimey, sparkly fairy dust sprinkled on top.

I think the broader theme here is GFS is putting out some damn good pickups for short money.

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Old January 23rd, 2013, 08:02 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Not to get too far OT, but what do you think is the main difference tone wise between the Mean and Dream 90's ?

- Jay
Dream 90s have a big beautiful open sound, the Means are more compressed and middy.
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 10:39 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I did a combo with a Dream 90 in the bridge and a 180 in the neck. Preferred the 90 for no specific reason that I can remember.
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