What pickup really knocked your socks off?

Tom Grattan

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I've never had the need to replace the stock pickups on my 58 Tele. They are GREAT sounding pickups, never a disappointment, always on the money.
 

bigjohnbates

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Vancouver, BC
Fralin Eddie Cochran P90 blew me away for clarity and tone. I bought a few handfuls, try them in everything. Recently got some vintage Supertrons that I'm becoming enamored with tho. Very dark and powerful beasts, I have to mess around with them to see what amount of transparency I can achieve.

I think I will be using a combination of the two in my live guitars in the future. I am also going to try a Fishman Powerbridge on my Country Gent to see what kind of acoustic strumming sounds I can get.
 

bigbenbob

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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.


Now I know there are a lot of haters for this pickup out there because it's clean, pricey, and can be very bright. I installed a set of Fishman Fluence Greg Koch Gristletones in a Tele and I think htey are a game changer. The guitar I dropped them into is a cruddy early Fender '80's "vintage" 1950's body, back when they first got the message that people relly like the old stuff. It is junk: Heavy, no character, would be fine for metal since it probably sustains for days. I threw a mediocre aftermarket Tele neck on and rustled up the hardware from a drawer. It played like crap and still does. BUT...

I brought it to a jam at a B3 player's house and the two of us wailed on loads of R&B tunes and some loud jazz standards. I was shocked at the pickups. Notes and chords seemed to leap out of my amp. The clarity, immediacy, and dynamics made me want to never stop playing that POS guitar. They're preamped so backing off the treble works as it should without wrecking the sound. I can actually play them with the treble rolled down to 2 and they still sound great. So having a functional treble control is a nice way to live. Same with the vvolume control: Back it off tpo wherever you need it and the sound still works. The little boost button gives me a nice bump, a little distortion, and a touch of low mid fatness. My only gripe is that with the chrome button in its chrome ring it's hard to tell if it is depressed.

Admittedly, at bedroom volumes, this pickup will do little for me, but it really comes to the fore in a performance situation.
 

endzone

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Louisiana
I installed a set of Tonerider Hot Classics in my Tele and it was instantly the sound I wanted. They are a little overwound, but not too much. I ended up giving the guitar to a young friend who was on full scholarship to Berkley School of Music. He was in a band with several of those musically inclined types. They all were blown away with his tone and wondered why their Teles didn't sound as good as his. He asked my what I had done to the guitar to make it sound so good. I finally let him on to the pickups. With Tonerider, you don't have to spend much to get great sound.
 

bblumentritt

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I loved the Fender Wide Range Humbucking Pickup on my mid-'70s Telecaster Custom, in fact, it was the only thing decent about that crappy guitar. I liked the WRHB so much, I put on on my '81 top loader Tele after I got rid of the Custom.
 

Kindness046

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Fender cs 50-51 blackguard pickups in my cs broadcaster. Currently selling my strat and tele because of that guitar. Everything I wanted in pickups and a guitar.
 

Tubeboy

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May 20, 2017
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Saratoga Springs NY
This isn't about a pickup swap just an observation. Got a Godin Core CT with Seymour Duncan P 90s. They sound so much better than the P 90s in a Gibson Les Paul Special I had. The Gibson pickups would woof out if you played down low on the neck position. The Duncan's don't do that but it could be the guitar different woods different shape ect.
20210313_165315.jpg
 

Frisco 57

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Arlington WA
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.

Great story! Sorry, off topic but Gregg Rogers (& Marcia) are old friends. Gregg has sprayed lots of necks and bodies for me over the years. He's out of the business now but, a year or so back, he and his Mrs. were liquidating inventory and I bought an G.R. painted Allparts V-neck that I used in my last (fiesta red) MJT strat build. Nice Folks!
 

Willie Johnson

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I got a Squier HS Tele that I bought on a doorbuster Labor Day sale for next to nothing--bridge humbucker was too hot, and Tele neck pick was ok but nothing special. Bunged some Strat pickups into it for a while--again, ok, in-between sound was good. Then, I put a GFS Dream 90 (hb sized P90-ish single coil) in the bridge, a 1 Meg volume pot, and an Esquire pickguard (so, no neck pickup), and now I love it--play it all the time. Tone knob gives a wide range of tones--switch is in there to fill the spot up, but not wired. My own homespun take on the Noventa Tele.
 

Johnnypops

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Fralin P-92

TV Jones Classic

I have to say Filtertrons too. I bought an electromatic which had the fairly ordinary Blackyop filtertrons and as soon as I got my hands on that guitar I became hooked on Filtertrons. I then bought a Tele where the owner had droppped a set of TV Jones into a tele and that was it for me. I took the blackies out of the Gretsch and dropped a set of Alnico II in her and they are crazy good. I also bought a set of humbucker rings that are sized for filtertrons and threw them into my Epi Sheraton and I've now got some of the most rocking guitars in town
 

Rick330man

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The DeArmond pickups that were in my DeArmond M75-T were incredible. One of those how on earth did I let that one go situations.

Lately though I've been looking at pickup replacements for my Squier Tele. So far the ones that have jumped out at me are the EMG T set. Specifically for the neck pickup. I haven't heard a Tele have that neck sound before. And I never thought I'd be a fan of an active set, but here were are. Hopefully I'll order them next month and have something to truly highlight how terrible of a player I am.

The DeArmond Gold Tones that came on my Korean made DeArmond S73 (copy of Guild S100 Polara) and on my Korean made DeArmond Starfire. They nail PAF tone better than just about any other pickup I have ever heard.
 

doblander

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Regina, Sask.
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.

It is my experience that upgrading pickups is a complete waste of time and money. I use 2 cheap modelling Amps with an ABY pedal and budget guitars. Ie. Epiphone and Squier. 2 amps at once is waaaay better than one alone. Easy to dial up tones that please me. I put Tex Mex pups in a Squirer recently. Zero detactable difference! That was an SE Squier and I have 2 of those. After the change up the t. Mex's sound SAME as the cheap SE pups on the 2nd SE. I put a $140 Cdn humbucker to replace the stock bucker in a budget Epiphone. Same thing. I wasted the money. I'm done looking for tonal improvements from new pickups. BUT. I play solo 100% of the time in my basement. Low volume. I can't help wondering if my experience would be different if I put some stress on the pickups. Big volume. I have never and will never try that to find out. I will simply accept that one pickup is like another (in my situation) and leave well enuf alone.
 

Phrygian77

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I think it was an F-150. Boots and socks.

I've got a '93 with around 300k miles (my odometer died a long time ago). That old 4.9L inline 6 will pull your boots and socks off ... along with a house ... uphill.

Firebird pickups, made the old fashioned way. Full range, bright, crystal clear, full bodied, ample output. And noise free. Fabulous. Like a cross between a great Tele pickup and a clean PAF humbucker.

Cavalier "Phoenix" Firebirds

51455455251_79ffcff4fa_h.jpg

What did you pair that up with and the pots you used? I've been thinking about that exact configuration for my next build.
 

moosie

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I have a hard time liking PAF style humbuckers. So when I play my 335 with it's pedestrian set of 57 Classics, I'm amazed every time. Voice of angels. But that doesn't mean I like them in other guitars, even other 335s. Weird, that.

I like most of my other pickups, but nothing else beyond expectations.
 

GearGeek01

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Jan 26, 2007
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Detroit
Before swapping pickups....

...I have a 1993 Fender Fotoflame (made in Japan) '57 Re-Issue Stratocaster (I bought in 1994). Literally before the surgery the only use-able position on the 5-way switch was #4. So much that I had at one time considered just hard wiring the guitar to that setting and removing the switch.

I did some major surgery on the innerds of the guitar. I replaced everything BUT the pickups. New CTS pots, CRL switch, ne orange drop cap, and new thicker gauge clot white and blac push back wires. THEN I pretty much dry-walled the entire pickup and control cavities and under the pickguard with copper shielding tape.

The results were amazing. Now I had a guitar that had "soul" in all 5 pup selector switch setting. I'm pretty sure all the parts and the tape together were under $50 bucks.

I never did swap the Japanese pickups, as they now could breathe with better electronics surrounding them. After reading and hearing about so many guys doing pickup swaps, I have done this to several Strats and other guitars with the same kind of results.

After this I never understood why guys would use the same teeny weeny Asian pots and itsy bitsy gauge wires yet spend hundreds on new pickups... then hate the results.

I consider the wiring to be like adding a 4-barrel carb and a set of headers to your favorite V-8 engine to allow it to breathe. I've heard other folks say they didn't get any different results out of new electronics under the hood, but my experience was actually mind blowing. I now use this guitar at church every Sunday and it is the only guitar I have that is cricket quiet under the stage lights (including 2 Les Pauls with HBs and a Epiphone BB KIng Lucille with HBs).
 




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