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A Double Cream humbucker set, that isn't DiMarzio, and costs only $25

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Antigua Tele, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. bender66

    bender66 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 18, 2010
    on my bike
    Here's a 13.45k version for the R&R folk?
    [​IMG]
    I purposefully left the link out so Dimarzio doesn't get his pantaloons in a bunch.
     

  2. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    Maryland
    One person's "fantastic" is another person's "meh".

    Also, "best I've ever played" doesn't mean much if the person poasting it has only been to Guitar Center.
     
    IsleFan likes this.

  3. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2014
    Canada
    You're quoting me out of context. I lived in China, traveled all over and visited dozens of guitar shops there. So when I talk about Chinese guitars, I know because have had a very close up look at a lot of them. But it was already pointed out to me that they are exporting some fine stuff. Thing is, bulk manufacturing is what they do best. That works well with electromechanical stuff like pickups, not so much with an artisan product (or what should be one), like a guitar neck. It can be done but there is a lot of effort in the skills tranfer.
     
    bender66 and CFFF like this.

  4. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    It's a little strange. There are a lot of top notch guitars made in China for low prices, such as the Squier Classic Player, or Cordoba classical guitars, or a brand called "Recording King" that sells some models for as low as $150 that leave little to nothing to be desired, but then you see no name stuff on AliExpress that isn't much cheaper, but is much, much worse in terms of fit and finish. I bought one just to see what they were all about and documented the thing here http://www.tdpri.com/threads/160-chinese-telecopy.693627/ . Most of the problem with this guitar comes down to a lack of attention to detail, there is effort being put into it, but various things are done wrong. So the question I have is, why can't the people working on the better guitar brands share some knowledge with the people making the no name stuff?
     
    richiek65 likes this.

  5. dswo

    dswo Tele-Meister

    Age:
    48
    268
    May 1, 2016
    East Carolina
    I bought one of these a year ago, to replace the single-coil bridge pickup in a Squier VM Strat. It arrived after a few weeks but, for some reason, it did not magically jump into the guitar and solder itself in. Eventually (the week before Christmas) I took the guitar, HSS pickguard, and pickup to a local store and asked the tech, whom I'd been getting to know, to do it for me. We discussed options, and he put everything together with CTS pots, including a dedicated 500k tone pot for the humbucker; I believe a lemon drop capacitor was involved too.

    This evening I A/Bed it with my Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro (with Probucker pickups, modeled on the Gibson Burstbuckers).

    Yes, I'm comparing second-tier instruments. All I can say is, the Epiphone (which I bought used on eBay) is very comfortable to play (not counting the weight) and the VM Squier quacks like a Strat in the 2 and 4 positions; it's also light and looks cool.

    My impressions won't surprise anyone: in my Strat, this pickup has more treble, compared with my Les Paul bridge, which has more grunt. That's not a judgement on the Donlis pickup, just a report of what happens when you put it in a Strat.

    What did surprise me was how obvious the difference ess: maybe it would disappear in the mix, but it was easy to pick out in isolated succession. (I used a Y pedal to feed both guitars into the same rig, so it only took a few seconds to put one down and pick the other one up.) People say that distortion disguises your guitar, but I was playing both guitars into an overdrive pedal into a distortion pedal. Possibly in this case distortion exaggerated the difference, but it was palpable.

    Dialing the tone down took some of the Strat's brightness out, but it couldn't add back the LP's thud. Neither sound was obviously better or worse. In a band with a bass player, the Strat might fit in better.

    Thank you, Antigua Tele, for recommending these pickups.
     

  6. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    I’m glad to hear you’ve got the new humbucker installed. Did you get the A2 or the A5 version?

    Regarding your question. Im not at all surprised that your Strat and Les Paul bridge humbuckers sound different. To be honest I’d be shocked if they sounded similar. I don’t get into those tonewood discussions but I do find some construction elements produce consistent differences in tone.

    When it comes to Strats, I find the tremolo bridge and bolt on neck makes for a pretty noteable tone. I personally think that’s what makes a Strat sound Straty. The Les Paul on the other had with that thick mahogany body + maple cap and a set neck tend to have a very noteable tone as well.

    Another area that is up for discussion is the neck material and the fretboard. The neck on the Les Paul will typically be mahogany with a rosewood slab and the Strat will usually be one piece maple or two piece maple or maple with a rosewood fretboard. I personally find the maple necks are snappier and the mahogany necks are darker.

    I think with a compressor pedal and some adjustments to tone you can get your Strat to approach the tone of a Les Paul but I don’t think it’s going to get to the point where you’re going to mistake one for the other. Maybe with a blocked bridge and blocked tremolo cavity you could get closer but the pickups on a Les Paul are mounted to the maple cap and they’re mounted to the pick guard in the Strat so that may be a variable as well.
     
    CFFF likes this.

  7. dswo

    dswo Tele-Meister

    Age:
    48
    268
    May 1, 2016
    East Carolina
    A5.

    I hope I didn't give the impression that I'm disappointed. On the contrary, I had a perfectly good guitar that was sitting in the closet, and now I'm playing it again.
     
    awasson likes this.

  8. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    Maryland
    I'm sorry if you feel that way. I realize that I'm probably a dummy but I've yet to play the Epiphone, Squier, Agile, etc... that measure up to the old stuff I own or even the Historic Gibson or older (before it was a cookie cutter line) Fender CS guitars.

    When someone says the best they've ever played you have to wonder what they've owned and what they consider good. Toan is subjective - maybe someone out there prefers the Line 6 to the 60s Plexi or 50s Tweed Twin or maybe someone prefers the Epiphone to the Burst.

    Play what you like.
     

  9. CFFF

    CFFF Tele-Meister

    363
    Oct 31, 2016
    .
    This seller does not state which alnico magnets they are. And no inductance values. Just two conductor. The slug poles have a gramophone surface appearance to them like those that Donlis sells. Good price but no buyers yet it seems. Interesting though. Am I going to be the first to test the water? Will think about it more tomorrow :)
     

  10. CFFF

    CFFF Tele-Meister

    363
    Oct 31, 2016
    .
    I contacted the seller to ask which alnico magnets they are and any information on inductance. The seller responded quickly, night time in China. No data available. At a glance they appear to be similar to those offered by Donlis but close study shows that the holes in the top of the slug bobbin and the baseplates are not the same. And of course just two conductors. Looking at the seller's other products I saw very good feedback.

    I decided to take a chance for the team. Ordered a set today.

    € 13,44 delivered. Even if they are only ceramic, for the price, etc. Ceramic pickups can sound good too. I have some alnico magnets at home if I wish to experiment. Will share my thoughts when they arrive.

    ITEM: Alnico Humbucker Pickups

    STIPULATIONS: Alnico , Neck : 8.2K ; Bridge : 8.6K ,

    PRODUCTION PLACE: GuitarFamily made in China

    COLOR: As shown in the picture [Cream]​
     
    awasson likes this.

  11. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    Question for those of us who bought the double cream humbuckers @Antigua Tele started this thread about... Did you get the A2 or the A5 and what’s your opinion of them now that you’ve had them for a while?

    I’m asking because I’ve got some opinions of my own.

    I bought two sets of Donlis humbuckers. I bought a set of covered A5 humbuckers and a set of A2 double cream humbuckers from this discussion.

    The A5 set are the DL51 and aside from the covers they had similar specs to the A5 double cream humbuckers that were discussed. I wish I had the equipment to test them to see how close they really are. Anyway, the covers were chromed brass so I’ve replaced them with nickel silver covers. The pickups under the covers were a white neck and a black bridge pickup and they looked very much like the double cream with regard to construction. These are installed in my semi hollow body Ibanez.

    The A2 set are the double cream as described in this discussion thread and are installed in my solid body Ibanez electric. I’ve had both sets in my guitars for more than a year so I’ve had plenty of time to get to know them.

    I spent most of the weekend playing the Ibanez guitars and listening to the differences between the two guitars and I’ve decided that the A2 pickups are absolutely magnificent. I’m considering switching the semi hollow body guitar to a set of the A2 pickups too. The A5’s sound great, they really do but the A2, to my ears sound just that much better. I’m not sure how best to describe it but the A2 seems to have more upper midrange perhaps and the A5 appears to be more scooped. Different guitars will obviously make a difference but in my recollection of the old solid body’s pickups, these A2’s appear to have more of this vocal upper midrange that the old pickups didn’t have either. Sort of a tenor vocal range. I really like it. It’s super clear and really works with the solid body guitar. I always liked that guitar but with these double creams in it, I don’t know if I’ve played a nicer humbucker tone.

    Anyhow I’ve been thinking about this most of the weekend and i’ve wondered how others were feeling about theirs now that they’ve had them for a while.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
    CFFF and mroll like this.

  12. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    I haven't tried the A2, but the differences you describe between them are almost identical to what you read about the difference between the Seymour Duncan '59 and their AlNiCo II Pro, which are substantially similar, with the main difference being A2 versus A5 magnets.

    I've been favoring AlNiCo 2 myself lately. There seems to be a "softened" transient that makes the bass seem looser, and the highs less abrasive. The Donlis A5 is actually the last A5 set I have in any of my HH guitars. IMO, if you lower a humbucker with AlNiCo 5 enough, it will sound like an AlNiCo 2 humbucker, but then it looks a little funny because you have to sink it down so far to get that same tone. One of these days I'll just put some A2 bars in there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
    CFFF and awasson like this.

  13. mgt280y

    mgt280y TDPRI Member

    Age:
    33
    54
    Jan 5, 2018
    England
    Glad this one has come up I just ordered a set of the a2 double cream for a thinline type build.

    Been looking at the
    A5 8.2k bridge version they have in black, for another body anyone got any idea of what to match that with for a sc tele neck pup from donlis
     
    awasson likes this.

  14. mroll

    mroll TDPRI Member

    29
    Apr 7, 2008
    Laguna Woods, CA
    Thanks for the input. I have a set of A2s with nickel-silver base plates and covers, but I'm going to use them in a build I just started, so I haven't heard then yet. I have used other Chinese-made A2s and they've definitely been my favorites. I particularly like Tone Emporium's TE-20 set (toneemporium.com). They use an A2 neck with an A4 bridge. Around $80 a set USD, but they often have 15% off coupons.
     
    awasson likes this.

  15. CFFF

    CFFF Tele-Meister

    363
    Oct 31, 2016
    .
    I have two uncovered sets of the A5 versions. First set is the cream option like what is reviewed here and the second set I bought came with a high output bridge and nickel baseplates. I don't think the nickel baseplates improve or change the tone but they do look pretty even though we can barely see them when installed. These pickups do sound mid scooped. I have read that this is a common characteristic of these magnets. I would not suggest that they lack mid range though. I have been moving them around les pauls and prs guitars and I am delighted with them. These guitars have different scale lengths, pickup placement, string gauge, pots and wiring etc. Naturally in each guitar they sound a little different yet their character always comes through. Great pickups anyway. Really sweet sounding. I have ordered a set of A2 with nickel covers so I will have something to compare them to.

    I have two les pauls with Gibson Burstbucker Pros (A5) and SD Slash (A2) but these pickups are quite different. Any comparisons would be like apples and oranges. I like them all. I will say that Donlis pickups are not anywhere near as loud though.
     

  16. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    Lots of love for the A2’s I see. I’m just floored with how much I like them. It’s especially telling because I’ve had them long enough to wear off that psychoacoustic effect of them being new and all. They just sound great. The only other pickup I’ve loved this much is the SD Screemin Demon pickup I used to run in my semi hollowbody. I’m tempted to slap on a nickel cover and put it back in.

    The A2’s seem to have more output than the A5’s. When I first put the A2’s in, I set them too high, based on where I thought they should be and didn’t love them. I lowered them to flush with the covers and then raised them until I hit sweet spot and left them there. The A5’s in my other guitar are set higher to find that sweet spot.
     

  17. jonrpick

    jonrpick Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Marietta, GA
    @Antigua Tele

    You mentioned a similarly between the Duncan 59 and A2P humbuckers. Did you mean Duncan Jazz instead of 59?

    The Jazz *is* the same pickup as the A2P except for the magnet. Same coils, just Alnico V magnets.
     

  18. jonrpick

    jonrpick Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Marietta, GA
    Awasson: I'm currently running a Screamin' Demon (bridge) / A2P (neck) combo in a Les Paul. Amazing set.
     
    awasson likes this.

  19. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    The Jazz and the 59 aren't all that much different either. It appears that they Jazz is has a slightly lower inductance on average, but several samples of the Jazz and 59 have been tested and the values tend to drift around to where they can nearly overlap. Overall, they're similar enough that if you put an AlNiCo 2 bar in a '59, it will produce a sound very similar to an AlNiCo II Pro.
     

  20. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    54
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    You know that’s exactly what I was thinking might make a nice match although, the A2 sounds deadly in the bridge too. The A5 sounds good but the A2 has bark to it. I may need to route a humbucker into a Tele body I’ll be assembling once the weather gets nicer because I’m starting to have a bit of a surplus of pickups over here.
     
    jonrpick likes this.

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