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Fred Stuart's Pickups = Incredible!

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Sunburst Island, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Sunburst Island

    Sunburst Island Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    535
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    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    States
    I fairly recently ordered a set of Stuart Pickups from Virtual Vintage Guitars. They were a "Custom Item" as I was wanting a few additions done to Fred's usual "Black Guard Electric Guitar Pickups". I might add, Jason was very friendly, and thorough throughout the entire process. By the way, if any readers wonder, I was quoted at a minimum of 4 weeks total for them to be made. I've been playing them for some time now, but as I remember. They were safely snug in the back of my mailbox around 3 weeks and 5, or 6 days. Not too bad, eh. Truthfully, I wasn't ever concerned in the least bit, and I only include this tid-bit for any who might be on the fence about ordering specially made "boutique" pickups. That said, I'll get to what's most important. The sound.

    These are but a few descriptions of what I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure more would come to mind if I plugged up and played right now. But these should do.

    The pickups are: Responsive, Clear, Articulate, Clean, Gritty, Smokey. Leads can Sizzle if pushed hard, or Sing if lightened up on some. Rhythmically they can actually yield quite a "Brownish" tone too. Impressive to me. They both have a lot of depth, and aren't too limited at all, whatsoever. (I'll add all of the above are capable whether played clean, overdriven, or distorted). Some other people here have described the neck pickup as 'woody', or like an old Jazz box, and I concur. This very guitar, as is, is quite "woody" sounding on it's own (natural, organic). However, yes, the neck position can very well and easily be described as "woody," but it is not just limited to that in nature. Though it is quite nice that it's there, and available. I'm not one of those players who always thinks a Tele neck pickup is useless in and of itself, especially with a chromed brass cover. I actually quite prefer them to a Humbucker up top. This particular neck pickup is Very Nice. Nothing dull at all as people tend to think.

    While I'm at it, they (front, or back; positions one, two, or three) also handle high gain situations if wanted. Yes, I've tried. I'm definitely not a 'Heavy Metal', nor nu-metal, or thrash-like player at all, but they do take high gain situations quite well. Given the gain, they'll speak for you. I'll also add that they handle dynamics smoothly too. Subtle changes are a specialty here, and come across distinctly. Crank the amp loud and play overdriven to distorted and the overtones produced are very vocal. The overall character is as if they (the pickups) breathe on their own at times. Lively is definitely a word that can be used in this context. They have breath, and a voice that will deliver what you give to it. (Maybe it's better said that they are quite expressionistic.) Not only does this particular set of pickups have such a distinctive quality, that is what I like to hear from my guitars usually, they are very capable of covering A LOT of different musical territory. With these I can achieve many different ranges, and genres of music, effortlessly. Depending on how I set the Volume, or Tone controls, or how I play a note, a couple of strings, or a few strings, strum, etc... This guitar, and very much so with the help of these pickups, covers a wide range, or large scope of variety. They are not one-dimensional in the least bit.

    I will never need another guitar. I mean that too. Yes part of that is because all of the elements combined makes this particular instrument such a pleasure to play, and is inspiring each time it is back in my hands, this set of pickups bring out ALL, and more of what I wanted to achieve by choosing them. Acoustically the instrument is absolutely amazing to play. It rings, it sustains, and is quite loud on it's own. From the EQ spectrum it has an incredibly rich tone regarding bass, and treble, but it does lack the mid's which I find appealing. I loved the guitar as it was beforehand, but knew I could eventually find something to add what was missing at times. Before, it had a set of SD Antiquity II's in them. They were, in fact, very remarkable pickups, so much so that I will never get rid of them. I'll just have to find another use for them in due time, eventually, but no hurry. I wanted to be able to achieve a "Blackgardish" Growl, and Primitive voice that is distinctive to the era, yet still be "historically" correct to the guitar's make up as it's a '59 T-Replica (USACG premium 2 piece Ash body, with a qtr-sawn hard rock maple neck, topped with a Brazilian Rosewood slab fretboard. [just to give an idea of sound characteristics]) Fred Stuart's 'Blackguard Set" with a raised D & G magnet did exactly what I was hoping to be able to incorporate into the guitar. Of course, to round it out, he complied with my 'geek' wishes and left off the additional lead on the neck pickup, and wrapped the bridge's coil with white twine dipped in Black wax, à la what was originally done to Fender Telecaster pickups at the time. Yeah, little nuances that essentially don't make much ado to anything that's most important.., the end result in sound, but it totally appeases the overall ending aesthetic result. These look as if they are 1959 pickups, very cool. So yeah, it's essentially a '59 T-style set with Alnico 3 magnets wound to Blackguard specs. He did an incredibly superb job, and is very talented, and quite skilled. Many can attest to that of course. He knows his stuff, and he knows it well.

    Are they exactly like my other favorite set of pickups, a Hamel Standard set in a '99 TM Nocaster? No, but very, very close. Is one better than the other? No. I don't want two guitars to sound the exact same, otherwise why not just have one instead. When I was originally talking to Alan back in 2004, or '05 I brought up Fred's "Blackguard Pickups" in a question about the coveted flatpole pickups that set the precedent for 'the Telecaster sound'. His response was, "Fred makes a Very Good set of pickups. If you chose to order from him, please do, you will be quite happy with what you get." At the time I chose to go with a set of Hamel's. I'm glad I did. I am also very glad that I decided to later look to Fred for what I had spoke to Alan about at another time later on. This very set is all I could've hoped for, and wanted too. Absolutely no fluff.

    Thank You very much Fred, and Jason at Virtual Vintage Guitars for great service, top quality, and exactly what I wanted in the first place.

    No matter your musical style, and choice, it will most likely deliver what you play in spades all of the way, as well as be pleasing to you.

    Anyway's who likes to play and not like what is coming out of their amp?
     
  2. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sounds great!

    I'm still loving mine.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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