What pickup really knocked your socks off?

pi

Tele-Meister
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Sep 30, 2003
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bay area, CA
I was reading the A pickup you totally hated? thread, and it made me curious to know the opposite.

What's a pickup that really stood out?

Before you answer: I don't want this thread to be a list of your favorite pickups--there's already a bunch of those (e.g. any pickup recommendation thread).

My experience and expectation is that a pickup swap results in a minor change. I'm curious for instances that went way beyond that expectation.

I want to hear about experiences where it wasn't just incrementally better, but was like a whole new revelation about what a pickup could do. Be as specific as you can.
 
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Lou Tencodpees

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My first Strat build was an attempt to do a version of Brownie. Gregg Rogers built and finished alder body, an Allparts neck and I put in a set Fralin Blues Specials. Having had previous experience with Fralin's I considered myself a fan. I had an outdoor gig the same day of completion and was anxious to give it a go. Without going to deep, I hated the results. I tore the Blues Specials out and installed a set of Fralin Real 54's. That was early 2000's and I'm still in love with the guitar. It just does the Strat thing so well, the 2 and 4 positions make my mouth involuntarily form vowel shapes to match the sound, lol. Other guitar players have commented as well that the guitar just "has it". Oddly enough I've tried another set of Real 54's in a different build and was disappointed with the results. I chalk it up to the "sum of all parts" equation and leave the rest to whimsy.
 

Sconnie

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My first tele came with Fralin "stock replacements" but the original AVRI 62 Tele Custom pickups were in the case too. I was never over the moon with the Fralins, so I threw the actual stock pickups in it and I couldn't believe how much more alive they were! I won't bore anyone with too many buzzwords but I could get that mean clean hybrid-picking twang I always wanted, that awesome thing that only teles can do, and the Fralins simply couldn't.

I got another set for my second tele (build) and that thing screams tele too thanks to those pickups. I've always been a huge Kurt Neumann fan (from the BoDeans) and my teles nail that sound he had on their first album.

Plus, no one wants them so they're cheap! No boutique searching for me, I'm all Fender for tele pups now.
 

Leonardocoate

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Ohio
I was reading the A pickup you totally hated? thread, and it made me curious to know the opposite.

What's a pickup that really stood out?

Before you answer: I don't want this thread to be a list of your favorite pickups--there's already a bunch of those (e.g. any pickup recommendation thread).

My experience and expectation is that a pickup swap results in a minor change. I'm curious for instances that went way beyond that expectation.

I want to hear about experiences where it wasn't just incrementally better, but was like a whole new revelation about what a pickup could do. Be as specific as you can.
Supro Gold Foil
 

BB

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May 17, 2003
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Location
Great Pacific NW
Years back, I had Jon Moore of Tonefordays wind me a set of low wind , PAFish buckers with mis-matched coils, A3 mags and no potting. They went into a custom build and sang with a clarity that was beautiful.

Dave of Zhangbucker rewound a dead bucker I sent him and that pickup did exactly what I asked him for. Also, his Paul Bunyan tele bridge and his Pure Handwound bucker were an awesome combo.

I bought a set of used custom wound buckers made by Mick Manlius. Sold the bridge pickup for what I paid for the set. The neck pickup was beyond splendid.
 

Chiogtr4x

Doctor of Teleocity
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Mar 29, 2007
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Manassas Park, VA
I no longer have this guitar ( sorry, Haydn!) as I needed $$, and sold... ,

but around 2006, I was gifted a beautiful Agile '56 LP Goldtop-style guitar that came with ceramic cream P-90's

As this was a 'free' guitar, I basically decided to put 'the best P-90's out there' into the guitar, and literally did a coin toss between Lindy Fralins and Lollars, as I had read these were the best, and the Lollars won the flip!

I had these P-90's installed into the LP( don't remember how hot or vintage these were, don't know how many options Lollar had then), and I don't know the pot values, but these pickups were so dynamic!
At low volume they were actually very clear and twangy bright- super detailed; at moderate volume, like more like clean Gibson humbuckers; at volume on '8' or '9' ( '10' was too much) these could sound nasally/squawky like cranked Allman Brothers tones.

I can't really comment if they sounded like P-90's or not as I'm just not very familiar with how they are really supposed to sound in real-world play life ( just recordings)
to me, they sounded like 'the perfect humbuckers!'
 

LOSTVENTURE

Friend of Leo's
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Feb 13, 2007
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Location
Charlotte, NC
Most of my Strats have been either AVRI or CS for the last 30 years. But when I picked up my 2014 American Standard, with Fat50's I was immediately surprised at how versatile those pickups are. I really don't think that they can be upgraded.
 

57joonya

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Jul 23, 2021
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New Jersey
My first Strat build was an attempt to do a version of Brownie. Gregg Rogers built and finished alder body, an Allparts neck and I put in a set Fralin Blues Specials. Having had previous experience with Fralin's I considered myself a fan. I had an outdoor gig the same day of completion and was anxious to give it a go. Without going to deep, I hated the results. I tore the Blues Specials out and installed a set of Fralin Real 54's. That was early 2000's and I'm still in love with the guitar. It just does the Strat thing so well, the 2 and 4 positions make my mouth involuntarily form vowel shapes to match the sound, lol. Other guitar players have commented as well that the guitar just "has it". Oddly enough I've tried another set of Real 54's in a different build and was disappointed with the results. I chalk it up to the "sum of all parts" equation and leave the rest to whimsy.
Hey , I have those blues specials....maybe I need to try the 54’s
 

Ron C

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Sep 12, 2006
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848
Location
Long Island, New York
I briefly had a set of Artec low wind ceramic magnet P90s, around $25 for the pair on sale, normally all of about $35. I put them in an inexpensive guitar that I was selling. The pickups absolutely blew me away - gorgeous cleans with such a rich quality that I never felt like turning up the gain.
 

JL_LI

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May 20, 2017
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I had a Stratocaster that just wasn’t doing it for me. I put Vintage Noiseless pickups in it to get rid of hum. They did that but sucked the life out of the guitar. My Strat itch was being scratched by my CS ‘69 so why bother, right? I was browsing through Stratosphere and an Ultimate Luxe loaded pickguard caught my eye. Cheap enough at $300 and only four solder joints to make. Why not?

Why did I wait so long? My CS ‘69 twangs like low wind single coils should. The Ultimate pickups have chime and harmonic richness that surprised me. I never liked the quack positions but I love clean tone from the bridge and middle. I’m not hearing what I expect from a Strat from this set. I’m hearing something very modern sounding in comparison, nothing like any of my other guitars. And I love the look of black on charcoal. Sometimes you’re surprised and sometimes you’re just astounded. This is fast becoming my #1.
DF451DD9-E4E2-41F8-8B1C-0F405364C23B.jpeg
 

Fiesta Red

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Nov 15, 2010
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Texas
Pete Biltoft Vintage Vibe SP90 set in my Stratocaster.

They have the girth and punch of a P-90 while retaining the sparkle and spank of a vintage Stratocaster pickup.
 




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