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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Cheap Chinese Pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Mr_Martin, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. Mr_Martin

    Mr_Martin Tele-Holic

    Sep 21, 2009
    Cologne, Germany
    I bought some chinese Alnico II pickups (Manufactured by KD) on eBay.
    I paid 25 Euros for both (ca. 30 Dollars).

    I know the Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups and i must admit these chinese pickups are equal.
    They are waxed and have 5 cables (like Duncans).

    I put them in my old Jagmaster and i'm realy surprised.
    Great sound clean an distorted.
    Much better than the original Duncan Distortion pickups.

  2. Felino

    Felino Tele-Meister

    Apr 28, 2016
    Thank you for this info.
  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Nice work on that guitar body and pickguard choice.

    I have found the import pickups, some of them, off ebay rival the tone of the favorite aftermarket ones that get auto-swapped into every guitar. The largest difference is the much lower internal capacitance of the pickups (about half of the other choices for similar kohm pickups). Could be wire choices but I think it is mostly due to the import pickups either being hand wound or machines set to simulate hand winding.

    Half the pickups in this picture were $15/set. The one on the left convinced a die-hard Gibson guy to ask me where I got them after he plugged the guitar into his amp. He was ordering that night.


    I pulled an SD the previous owner installed to put this one in (I dismantled and wired from 2 to 4 conductor to use the 4-way switch I installed).


  4. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

    I bought these for @15 bucks based on the looks alone for a build I made for a gr4 kid in my school band. I needed some chrome. I figured they can't be that bad and only a quick swap away for better ones before I handed it over.

    I've been more than impressed with how they sound. The kid has been ripping it up as the sole guitarist too.

    give a kid a guitar and they become little rock stars in the blink of an eye..:rolleyes:

    valstang pickups.JPG Valstang strung up1.jpg
    jvin248, emisilly, CFFF and 1 other person like this.
  5. Mr_Martin

    Mr_Martin Tele-Holic

    Sep 21, 2009
    Cologne, Germany
  6. jackinjax

    jackinjax Friend of Leo's

    Sep 11, 2016
    There must be different levels of "cheap Chinese pickups". My experience was somewhat different. I bought a beautiful Chinese made Gianinni electric guitar on eBay and, though the pickups sounded good, while attempting to adjust the pole heights I discovered that the adjustment screws weren't threaded. They were all held in place by the potting wax.
  7. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    I think cheap any guitar part is hit or miss. If you hit, it is big, and you pat yourself on back.
    Good tone, however you come by it, is a great thing.
    If miss, you complain why didn't I get something that would last longer or at least not crap out.
    Congrats on your find.
  8. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    The only real problem with import humbuckers is when they use cheap brass covers. If there is no cover, there is no problem. They tend to use cheaper metals for the base plate, but that doesn't have any significant effect. There are theoretical things that can go wrong, such as using a low permeable steel for the poles or screws, which can make a pickup sound weak, but I haven't personally come across this after having tested various import humbuckers. Steel is cheap enough that such defects probably wouldn't happen on purpose.

    Another reason people might not like import humbuckers, even without a cover, is if they are wound hotter than they like. A lot of pickups like the Seymour Duncan JB are wound hot on purpose, and people don't mind it because it's what they want. Sometimes they feature ceramic magnets, but again, it's a preference thing. A lot of times when people dislike a pickup, it's not that the pickup is cheap and sounds bad, it's just that it's not what the expected, and they blame the "cheap import pickup" instead of their own expectations.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
    Doctorx33, CFFF, tubejockey and 2 others like this.
  9. DougM

    DougM Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I've bought several sets of cheap Chinese vintage spec Alnico 5 Strat pickups with plastic bobbins and Teflon wire on Ebay from a guy who calls himself Guitar Madness, and calls the pickups 62z. They come in black, white, and cream for $24 a set, and come in staggered or flat magnet versions ( I got the staggered ones). I've used them to replace the ceramics in some Squier and Fernandes guitars, and to me they sound as good as the more well known GFS, Tonerider, and Artec offerings, or even more expensive Duncan and Fender sets.
    JohnS likes this.
  10. funkysoul

    funkysoul Tele-Meister

    May 14, 2013
    i hit thease
    in my 335 style guitar.they are solid soud ready to come for any style i play with her.i played with their high a bit to find the sweet spot for me.from then till now i'm very pleased.and i have to say that they are the most quiet pu's i've ever next move is this one to replace my tonerider pure vintage bridge pickup
    Felino likes this.
  11. tubejockey

    tubejockey Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2015
    the bozone
    The biggest problem I have with cheap Chinese pickups is lack of documentation. You don't know what you're buying. Donlis does a good job, thus I am more willing to try them out.
  12. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    The domestic guys are bad this too, though. Most of these serious winders have an Extech meter on hand, certainly the big names have several, and yet to don't publish inductance values.
    jvin248 and tubejockey like this.
  13. tubejockey

    tubejockey Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2015
    the bozone
    That's why we are grateful to you and your database. Thank you and keep up the good work.
    jvin248, bender66 and CFFF like this.
  14. Telesphere

    Telesphere Tele-Meister

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Telesphere

    Love this style, they look the biz! They look so distinctly different to the standard dull looking pole piece pups we're used to. I'll have me some of those. These are on the Donlis shop at Aliexpress. Thanks for the mention, Tubejockey, and for the thread, Mr_Martin.
    Mr_Martin likes this.
  15. harold h

    harold h Friend of Leo's

    Feb 15, 2004

    I read (a while back) on another forum that the pole screws are not screwed in on those,
    that they merely are stuck into the wax.

    Maybe things have changed, if you find out different let us know.
  16. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    Over the past 3 or 4 years I've been discovering: 1) there is nothing at all wrong with the ultra-cheap Chinese pickups, and they can hold their own against the more expensive brands; and 2) People derisively say when talking about cheap pickups (particularly those sold by GFS), "Well, you get what you pay for", but are oblivious to the other side of that - sometimes you pay for more than you get when you buy the expensive name brands.

    I just bought these nameless pickups on eBay, roughly $25 for both. I'm gigging with that guitar and have no complaints.

  17. Telesphere

    Telesphere Tele-Meister

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Telesphere
    HMMM.... interesting. My lack of knowledge about these may be showing. However, I'm always up for something a little different, not to mention cheaper. Also fully aware of the 'get what you pay for' brigade. But everything is relative. Those who belong in that camp and would say that, are not the type who would be buying the €60 SX Strat I bought 2nd-hand yesterday. Or any of the other less expensive, new SX, or other 2nd-hand guitars I've bought recently. I've been very pleasantly surprised by the quality found in these.

    Sharing knowledge is what keeps TDPRI thriving, and so I'll post my findings as and when they arrive.

    That brings me to another related point, shipping from China. I clicked on the shipping options to see what the expected delivery times were. The free delivery option states 24-35 days. Fair enough. Another option is 74c which offers an expected 21-34 days. The killer is the more expensive €5.53 option, which may be 4 days quicker at 20D... or 5 days longer at 40D :lol:
  18. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2014
    west coast
    That seems likely, otherwise you'd need special bobbins that support the threading. This sort of thing goes with the price point. From a technical standpoint, these steel poles pickups have a lower Q factor due to eddy currents, and the larger screw head probably decreases the Q factor even more. IIRC, these are also hotter wound pickups, in the vein of the DiMarzio FS-1. They're probably rather dark, muddy pickups.

    Also keep in mind that these prices are so low that you could buy them just for the parts. Actual fiber flat work is a lot easier to work with than plastic, which can have sharp edges and easily melt when you try to solver the eyelets. I bought several sets from Donlis, removed the coil wire and rewound them for my own purposes, and it was about the same price as the raw materials from StewMac.
  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Congrats and great info. I bought some super low output Alnico II uncovered hummers from Vanson in the U.K. Through fleaBay for dirt cheap and they are totally awesome. They were so cheap, I assume they come from China too.
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.
  20. Telesphere

    Telesphere Tele-Meister

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Telesphere
    Despite my initial enthusiasm, it seems they look better than they're built. Do I take it the hex pole pieces are merely stuck on top and form no part of the magnetic field fundamental to a pickup's operation? Please pardon my ignorance on the subject of electronics, I have much to learn.

    EDIT - Does this image showing dimensions of the individual hex head pole pieces shed any light on how they are fitted within the pickups? [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
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