Tone Specific pickups

jdl57

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You can't spend that $600 you don't have, though.
Different argument, and one I can relate to. I was out of college for five years before I made more than $10k in a year. Spending $100 was a gut wrenching decision.

I spent 10 years in the military, and just retired after 35 years as a pilot for United Air Lines. Allow me the fruits of my labor. Not being able to afford something now, doesn't mean you will never be able to afford it. And not being able to afford something does not mean that object has no value. Aesop wrote about it with the fox and the sour grapes.
Say for the sake of argument the $50 and $600 pickups function the same.
Let's say, for the sake if argument, that a Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Model S function the same. Is there any reason to choose one over the other? Or a Big Mac and a Ruth's Chris Ribeye. They function the same. In the movie Casino Royale, Vesper tells Bond she has brought him a tuxedo. Bond replies "I have a tuxedo". She says "There are tuxedos, and then there are Tuxedos". Function the same? Maybe. Sound the same? Not even close.
$600 and 2 month wait? Lol, hell no. Good luck with that business model.
They sell every pickup they make. Sounds like a good business model to me.
 

Antigua Tele

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Let's say, for the sake if argument, that a Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Model S function the same. Is there any reason to choose one over the other? Or a Big Mac and a Ruth's Chris Ribeye. They function the same. In the movie Casino Royale, Vesper tells Bond she has brought him a tuxedo. Bond replies "I have a tuxedo". She says "There are tuxedos, and then there are Tuxedos". Function the same? Maybe. Sound the same? Not even close.

There are things that make the Tesla objectively better better than a Nissan Leaf, as per our discussion about what does or does no define quality.

I don't think you understand the point being made about quality. You seem to think the $600 vintage correct pickups are higher quality than the $50 vintage correct pickups, but so long as both are equally as vintage correct, they are the same quality, and there is no justification for the price difference.

It's clear that you equate price with quality, as a justification unto itself, as "old wrench" discussed on the last page. If you say a $1000 set of PAF replicas you'd likely conclude they're even better, but it looks like the market has determined that people such as yourself are willing to follow this belief up to the point of about $600, and then for reasons which are probably unknowable, you decide that paying any more than that is too much.
 

11 Gauge

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Let's say, for the sake if argument, that a Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Model S function the same. Is there any reason to choose one over the other?
But that would be just for the sake of argument, only. Go test drive a Leaf and Model S for yourself, and you will find that 'functioning the same' is not a meaningful metric of anything.

So for the sake of this analogy, saying that a Bootstrap or Cavalier pickup would be like the equivalent of a Nissan Leaf, and a Ron Ellis or Tone Specific pickup would be like the equivalent of a Tesla Model S, isn't really useful.
 

jdl57

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I don't think you understand the point being made about quality. You seem to think the $600 vintage correct pickups are higher quality than the $50 vintage correct pickups, but so long as both are equally as vintage correct, they are the same quality, and there is no justification for the price difference.
Absolutely I think that $600 pickups are higher quality than a $50 set. To make a set of pickups that sell for $50, you have to cut a lot of corners. At $600, you cut no corners. Alnico magnet strength is determined by the ratios of aluminum to nickel to cobalt. So, is your alnico 5 magnet really a 5, or is it 4.5? Is that important? How can you tell? Do you trust that Chinese magnet factory? Are all the magnets the same strength? Is your 43 gauge wire actually 43 gauge, and does it stay 43 gauge for its whole length? Is that important? Is your pickup machine wound in nice even layers? Or is it scatterwound. At what tension is it wound? What is its capacitance? Your $50 pickup set was assembled from bulk purchased parts, by a nameless, faceless, slave-waged worker, in an overseas factory, who doesn't give a **** as long as it works and he/she makes quota for the day. My pickups were built with carefully selected, matched components and hand wound by the guy who builds all of his pickups, signs his name on the back, cares about his reputation, cares about how they sound, and lives in California. So, no justification for the price difference at all.
 

Antigua Tele

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Absolutely I think that $600 pickups are higher quality than a $50 set. To make a set of pickups that sell for $50, you have to cut a lot of corners. At $600, you cut no corners.

That's just not true. You have an overactive imagination. As someone who analyzes lots of pickups with a magnetomter and other tools, I can say I have not observed any evidence of what you're claiming. For example, if AlNiCo is made wrong, it will be too weak or too strong, or have too much or too little conductivity, and the testing I do reveals that, either with the magnetometer reading or the Q factor of the resonant peak, and the only time I can remember ever seeing some AlNiCo having inconsistency was actually in a set of Fender PV 59's, and US made pickup.

Occam's razor applies here, there's no need to look in the couch cushions for an explanation as to the price disparity, when your simple willingness to pay the $600 is sufficient by itself. It's not as if you had done any exhaustive study in quality prior to agreeing to pay that money. Your broad generalizations about foreign versus domestic production was enough to convince you. There are enough people like you to keep an operation like Tone Specific in business, enough to buy ad spots on these forums. These so called high quality domestic pickups might have incorrectly made AlNiCo magnets, but you would never know it, and be honest, it doesn't really matter to you anyway.
 
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tho618

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My issue with many of these pricey, boutique pup winders - namely Tone Specific here, is that they don’t even list the specs or have sound clips. You are supposed to to get seduced by their back of wine bottle descriptions only.
Sorry guys, that’s not enough.

Also, these are copies of Fender designs. It takes some balls and a big ego to charge more than the creator does.

After doing the boutique dating scene, I’ve come to think one of the more reasonably priced Fender sets has to be a fit in your guitar. Maybe not the first set you try, but one will bring it to life.

Fender OVs are my winner for a Tele.
 

jdl57

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and be honest, it doesn't really matter to you anyway
This statement is true. I would be interested to know what you do that requires analyzing all of these pickups. What I am truly interested in, however, is the sound they produce. Again, I rely on my 45 years of audiophile experience, training myself to hear differences in sound quality, trying to build that ultimate system--something that doesn't actually exist. In audio, inexpensive gear can sound good, but the best gear is never cheap, and two different pieces of equipment can measure the same, and sound completely different. Sound quality is not measurable. It will take more than a magnetometer to convince me that something made to a severe price point can equal something that is not.

While not having a huge trove of various pickups to draw from, I am prepared to make the following statement:
The Ron Ellis 50/60B and 50/60TN are the best sounding pickups I have ever heard. By the way, Ron tests his materials too, only he does it in a multi-million dollar laboratory he has access to. He used to work at Lawrence-Livermore, I'm not sure where he is now.

I have a set of "identical" pickups to compare them to, the ones in my Fender factory reissue Broadcaster. From what you have told me, these should all sound the same. They do not. I really liked the Broadcaster pickups until I heard the Ellis. You might blame it on confirmation bias, but I am not obligated to keep these, I can sell them without losing any money. So you may continue to think me a fool for spending this much on pickups, so be it, I'll have to console myself in the beautiful sound they make in my partscaster, which happens to be the best guitar I own.
 

Steve Holt

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I suspect that TS pickups are made in Asia. The whole fake “Virgil Argo” thing makes me question the whole enterprise. Buyer beware

I get the same vibe. It's the broken English and typos all over the website - though that's not to say you have to have perfect English to be running a business in the US. He could have come from overseas and settled here, or he could be like my dad and just be horrible at typing out his thoughts :p

The other thing I love is that there are various other websites you can find by clicking links on the tone specific and Virgil Arlo websites that just refer back to each other.
 

Antigua Tele

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I get the same vibe. It's the broken English and typos all over the website - though that's not to say you have to have perfect English to be running a business in the US. He could have come from overseas and settled here, or he could be like my dad and just be horrible at typing out his thoughts :p

They're made in the US. Any typos are just good old lack of professionalism.

The other thing I love is that there are various other websites you can find by clicking links on the tone specific and Virgil Arlo websites that just refer back to each other.

That's aggressive "SEO", that's how we've arrived to the unfortunate point of having to discuss this company. It feels very scammy, and I wish more guitarists weren't so oblivious to it.

After claiming the admittedly fake-named, and probably all together fake, "Virgil Arlo" was "retiring", they raised the price of those sets to $2,000, and it's shockingly embarrassing that there are is apparently a buyer or two out there who will take them up on it. I see them buying banner spots in these forums, and that tells me they're getting way too much business as it is.
 
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Jim Sams

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The tone specific guy is always cagey when people ask pointed questions. Someone suggested he pose with a current newspaper in front of the post office local to his winding shop. He refused. I sure it’s because he didn’t think the buyin public could read Mandarin. I
this really smacks of con artistry to me.
 
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Antigua Tele

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The tone specific guy is always cagey when people ask pointed questions. Someone suggested he pose with a current newspaper in front of the post office local to his winding shop. He refused. I sure it’s because he didn’t think the buyin public could read Mandarin. I
this really smacks of con artistry to me.

I think it's more about maintaining the option of closing up shop at a moment's notice, without leaving any means for customers to track you down subsequently. So many of these pickup makers in the past have ghosted their customers with unfulfilled orders, and what's worse, usually get away without apparently without any consequence. And, you know, suppose you want to start making pickups again under a new name... like, oh I don't know, "Tube-like Pickups". By contrast, I have to give Bootstrap a lot of credit for being remarkably open about who he is and where he's from.

By the way, I hope people also consider that if there is a two month waiting period, as there often is with these pickups makers, it's probably not because the pickup maker is working tirelessly to fill orders, they just don't do that kind of volume. It's more likely the accumulate orders for two months, and then make all of the pickups in a single day, then boxes and ships them the next, and then repeat the cycle bi-monthly.
 

piblock

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After looking at various TS threads, reading weird posts by the anonymous figure who refers to his company as "we", all the throwaway accounts that register for forums, gush about TS, then never login again, I don't see how anyone could possibly think this company is above board. The threads and obvious fake accounts are absurd to the point of being hilarious.

There are home winders who sell PAF style pickups on eBay for $75. They probably sound pretty good. The TS pickups probably sound pretty good. But there is absolutely no reason to think that Tone Specific is a legitimate company making pickups that are better than Wolfetone, Lollar, BKP, or even Wilkinson.

Antigua knows more about pickups than most, people should listen to him.
 

Red Ryder

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Yep, it seems to be an accepted opinion that a "cheap" guitar will sound better through a quality amp than vice versa... but also, getting the right pickups for the guitar in question. I had Twisted Tele in a bright Tele and the tone was too "exquisite"; Some great tones, but limited... Texas Specials are working out much better.

Edit - When I talk about tone I'm always referring to the neck pickup. I'm one of those weird Tele players that pretty much lives on the neck pup... I need to remember to mention that...:)
Why would you need more?
 

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Red Ryder

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There are always going to be some folks who equate "expensive" with "quality" - there is a perception of belonging to a select group, or an exclusive club - Group A

There are always going to be some folks who demand "value" and "quality" in exchange for their dollars - they also have a perception of belonging to a select group, and some of them do belong to a club, like Sam's Club or Costco - Group B

Who determines exactly what "quality" is?


Why would we think pickup winders should be any different than the rest of us?

Some winders are going to target Group A - other winders will target Group B

I don't have to give you any examples of pickup winders in either category because, no doubt, you are already thinking of your own examples


Advertising - that's all the info that pickup winders include along with a picture of their pickup - if they do include a picture

Yeah, it's all advertising - the descriptions, the superlatives, all of it

There are laws and regulations regarding advertisements - but they only apply in cases of blatant deception, because advertising is protected under the first amendment to the Constitution.

For example, a pickup winder cannot make the claim that their pickup will make you lose four inches off your waistline in one week - but they can say their pickup will make you sound like Eric Clapton or Eddie Van Halen

Sometimes what pickup makers don't disclose - like a simple resistance reading - is also telling

So, try to think objectively when you select your pickups - "caveat emptor" :)

.
Well you helped me decide. I want the ones that will help me lose that 4" off my waist.
 

Sax-son

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I have purchased pickups from at least a dozen different winders including stock Fenders. From my point of view, each winder seems to have their own characteristics, but are reasonably close providing they are using the same quality of materials and craftsmanship. I have some that work better on different guitars and pedals, but nothing I have found stands head and shoulders above the other. Your ears have to be the final decision maker as well as your own playing abilities.
 

JIMMY JAZZMAN

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I agree with GB Custom Shop, in the pool of tone, the matching of a guitar to a specific amp, can
save many, many mod issues (pickups, pedals, speakers ad nauseum) We've all had great guitars
matched with great amps that had meh tone. Once in a while an okay guitar will sound great
thru a great amp and vice-versa. Have a great 4th everyone, see you on the flip side.
 

wraub

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I found their marketing suspect, and I was dubious. When I saw a giveaway for a set of TS pickups, I entered on a whim, and, surprisingly, I won. I got the set, and they're quite good. I have no qualms about playing them and I like them a lot. I have no financial investment in them, and no emotional investment in them. However, when asked I have been hesitant to say what brand they are, and even when I've done so I felt I had to mention the marketing. It's a lot to overcome in a world where countless builders exist and offer more disclosure with fewer mysteries.
 




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