Can anyone recommend me some vintage-correct strat pickups?

itsGiusto

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I feel like I hear about PAF clones all the time, everyone's always talking about which is better, Seth Lovers vs Tonerider vs ThroBack, etc. But people don't seem to talk too much about vintage-correct strat pickups.

I'm in the market for something that would be pretty vintage correct for a '54 strat, does anyone have recommendations? I'm also looking to keep it below something like $400. I think, if I'm not mistaken, that probably alnico II or alnico III would be the way to go, is that right? Maybe this Angeltone pickup set is a good way to go, does anyone have experience with it?

I think I tend to like strat pickups that are lower in output, and slightly less ice picky and harsh than some of the more modern ones, but that are still nice and "chimey".
 

schmee

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I feel like I hear about PAF clones all the time, everyone's always talking about which is better, Seth Lovers vs Tonerider vs ThroBack, etc. But people don't seem to talk too much about vintage-correct strat pickups.

I'm in the market for something that would be pretty vintage correct for a '54 strat, does anyone have recommendations? I'm also looking to keep it below something like $400. I think, if I'm not mistaken, that probably alnico II or alnico III would be the way to go, is that right? Maybe this Angeltone pickup set is a good way to go, does anyone have experience with it?

I think I tend to like strat pickups that are lower in output, and slightly less ice picky and harsh than some of the more modern ones, but that are still nice and "chimey".
The lower wind ones are the ice picky ones IME.

You dont have to spend a lot. Fender pretty much makes all of them, and I understand they varied by time period. However, generally you are on the right track with low wind for vintage replicas. I think Fender wants too much for the '54 set and would find those specs in an aftermarket type with the same components.

Fender Custom Shop 54: Neck/Middle Pickups: 5.9K. Bridge: 6.5K
Fender 57/62 set: all are 5.9

I hated the 57/62 set but I like hot pickups.
 

itsGiusto

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Thanks!
The lower wind ones are the ice picky ones IME.
TBH, I have two strats right now, one is a MIJ ST54 from 1995, and other is an MIM from 2010ish. (Both are ceramic btw.) I love the sound of the MIJ, and dislike the sound of the MIM. The MIJ is much lower output and sounds much more mellow to me, so that's what I'm basing my preference from.

So that's the sound that I'm trying to get closer to, the sound that that pickup was based on. I assume, but do not know, that the ST54 pickup was trying to replicate the sound of a 1954 strat (since the ST54 was pretty close to 1954 specs in most regards), which I think would have had alnico III magnets.
 

Wrong handed

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As mentioned above, the 57/62 are quite good, and the 54 are very good too.
If you want to keep it cheap and you do not mind experimenting, there are some pickups called Artec Giovanni. They are handwound in Asia, and they are quite good and low output. I had one guitar that came with those pickups.
 
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Beebe

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Find out some specs on a vintage set you want to copy: magnet types, wire gauge, and resistances. Then you can find similar ones at various price points, or have them custom wound.
 

Wildeman

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I put a set of Migas Touch '59s in one of mine and love them, very vintage correct tone and extremely well balanced with each other. I have the CS '54 set in another one and didn't like the bridge pickup, seemed unbalanced and shrill.
 

itsGiusto

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Find out some specs on a vintage set you want to copy: magnet types, wire gauge, and resistances. Then you can find similar ones at various price points, or have them custom wound.
Well, I guess that's part of my question. I don't really know any sets I want to copy, I don't have ideas about this, and have very little knowledge about what's out there, and what was being done in 1954. Like I say above, I love my MIJ ST54, which is ceramic, but I believe based on a 1954 strat sound, and I want to get a set that might have been what that might have been based on.
 

Beebe

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Well, I guess that's part of my question. I don't really know any sets I want to copy, I don't have ideas about this, and have very little knowledge about what's out there, and what was being done in 1954. Like I say above, I love my MIJ ST54, which is ceramic, but I believe based on a 1954 strat sound, and I want to get a set that might have been what that might have been based on.

Finding and artist that you like that plays a guitar from that era is one way. There might be some specs on the original out there or maybe a custom shop or signature model you can reference. The specs on each guitar varied so there is no one right answer.
 

Tarkus60

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57/62's are very nice. I have always wanted to try the tone rider's .
 
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itsGiusto

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Finding and artist that you like that plays a guitar from that era is one way. There might be some specs on the original out there or maybe a custom shop or signature model you can reference. The specs on each guitar varied so there is no one right answer.
My favorite player of vintage strats is a local artist, but I've been out of contact for a while, it'd be weird to suddenly check in and say "hey, what's your pickup wind?". My two favorite strat slingers besides that would be Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, but I'm sure both of them played a lot of different strats. I guess I prefer Hendrix's earlier sounds, like Axis and Are You Experienced to his later sounds. Likewise for Beck.
 
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Beebe

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Here are some specs from a Reverb listing:


Make and Model: Fender Stratocaster

Year: 1954. Serial number 1135, potentiometer code "304435" (304 = Stackpole, 4 = 1954, 35 = 35th week). Neck heel pencil signature "TG - 11 - 54" (Tadeo Gomez, November 1954).

Measurements: 9 lbs even / 4.05 kg total weight. The neck profile measures 0.93" / 23.6mm deep at the first fret and 1.01" / 25.7mm at the 12th fret.

Pickup resistance measurements are neck = 6.15k ohms, middle 6.05k ohms, and 5.90k ohms.
 

itsGiusto

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Here are some specs from a Reverb listing:


Make and Model: Fender Stratocaster

Year: 1954. Serial number 1135, potentiometer code "304435" (304 = Stackpole, 4 = 1954, 35 = 35th week). Neck heel pencil signature "TG - 11 - 54" (Tadeo Gomez, November 1954).

Measurements: 9 lbs even / 4.05 kg total weight. The neck profile measures 0.93" / 23.6mm deep at the first fret and 1.01" / 25.7mm at the 12th fret.

Pickup resistance measurements are neck = 6.15k ohms, middle 6.05k ohms, and 5.90k ohms.
Hmm, unfortunately that's not very much to go on. The only pickup information there is the resistance. No info on wind, wire, magnet type.
 

Beebe

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My favorite player of vintage strats is a local artist, but I've been out of contact for a while, it'd be weird to suddenly check in and say "hey, what's your pickup wind?". My two favorite strat slingers besides that would be Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, but I'm sure both of them played a lot of different strats. I guess I prefer Hendrix's earlier sounds, like Axis and Are You Experienced to his later sounds. Likewise for Beck.

Apparently Beck played a '63 that he called a '54.


Buddy Holly played a '54 and they think they found it in Australia according to this 2019 article. That looks like the pickup maker Kinman in the video, so there might be specs on these pickups published somewhere.

 

Beebe

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Hmm, unfortunately that's not very much to go on. The only pickup information there is the resistance. No info on wind, wire, magnet type.

Yup. Maybe a starting point though. I'm sure there is info in another thread on this. I'm pretty sure Fender was using Alnico 3 and 5 around this time.
 

Killerclam

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I put a set of Fralin 'Real 54's' in my 2001 custom shop '57 reissue. I put them in at least 10 or 12 years ago... everywhere I take that guitar just about everyone who plays it ends up loving the pickups and asking me about them. I don't play that guitar very much, but I do like the pickups.

They're - N=5.95 M=5.98 B=6.81
 

Beebe

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A quick web search revealed this:

The magnetic alloy also changed from alnico III on the very earliest '54 Strats to alnico V from 1955 onwards. Alnico V continued to be used throughout the vintage era, but around 1974, Fender stopped using staggered slugs.Aug 26, 2016

https://guitar.com › essential-guide
All About… Stratocaster Pickups | Guitar.com

Edit:
 

timbgtr

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I’m happy with these Lollars:


i got the “Dirty Blonde” set with a slightly overwound bridge, but they don’t seem to market that set now.
 

Beebe

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I put a set of Fralin 'Real 54's' in my 2001 custom shop '57 reissue. I put them in at least 10 or 12 years ago... everywhere I take that guitar just about everyone who plays it ends up loving the pickups and asking me about them. I don't play that guitar very much, but I do like the pickups.

They're - N=5.95 M=5.98 B=6.81

Looks like these use AlNiCo 3. And the Article above says 42 gauge wire. Add South up beveled magnets to the spec.

Screenshot_20221125-165905-327.png
 

beyer160

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I'd do this-

Buy yourself a set of used Squier Classic Vibe '60s pickups with A5 magnets and a set of the old version Squier CV '50s pickups with A3 magnets (confusingly labeled STA5). Get a set of vintage wind A2 pickups, too- don't pay a lot, Bootstrap or GFS are good options. You should be able to do this for under $300 all-in, and you might be able to buy loaded pickguards of the Squier pickups to make swapping easier. Try all three sets, keep the set you like best and sell the others. Live with the winners for a while, then if there are things about them you want more/less of, use that as a guide to shop further.

It's a lot of work, but anything other than that isn't much better than blind guessing. There are scores of pickups that meet your criteria, you will get recommendations for all of them. Lollar and the other heavy hitters do make good pickups, but I have an A5 S-style pickup set salvaged from an AXL that cost me $10 that sound great, too.

Also, do you play with a wound 3rd? If not, you probably don't want a "vintage correct" stagger.

And if you haven't, go try out a G&L Legacy. Every one I've ever played did the chime-y, quack-y Strat thing in spades.
 




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