Pickups...

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Re: Pickups...

Postby Tigerdaisy » Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:37 pm

Unless you've money to burn, I wouldn't buy a US standard Strat- the pups are ok, but not really vintage HBM stuff- I found them totally uninspiring (I had two US standards). I've also had two Mex Standards which were made pretty well- maybe bodies not sanded so much on the rounds compared to the US models, however I didn't rate the pups and have therefore variously used Kinmans Traditionals and also the latest Kinman 54s, neither of which set me alight... The best pups I've so far come across are Toneriders Vintage and the Vintage Plus, both of which have great depth and sensitivity to playing attack. The best pups for a 'vintage' sound on a Strat have been the AxesRus Daddyos which are sold as an assembly pre wired and soldered which includes scratch plate, pups, controls, 5 way switcher- all you have to do is solder two wires to the existing jack plug. Ive never purchased higher than an US standard Strat, but the best sound out of the box for a Fender so far has been a Mex Tele, which unusually had a well balanced combination between bridge and neck pup, not so spaced tonally as they usually are- this Tele sounded really 'Shadows' to me- ie it had that bite in the bass E string.
IMHO I think people tend to get a bit too wrapped up in pups when in reality the HBM sound is, apart from Delay which as others have said is pretty secondary, but more it's the use of the trem arm which gives the real HBM signature sound.
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Re: Pickups...

Postby dave robinson » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:18 pm

Tigerdaisy wrote:Unless you've money to burn, I wouldn't buy a US standard Strat- the pups are ok, but not really vintage HBM stuff- I found them totally uninspiring (I had two US standards). I've also had two Mex Standards which were made pretty well- maybe bodies not sanded so much on the rounds compared to the US models, however I didn't rate the pups and have therefore variously used Kinmans Traditionals and also the latest Kinman 54s, neither of which set me alight... The best pups I've so far come across are Toneriders Vintage and the Vintage Plus, both of which have great depth and sensitivity to playing attack. The best pups for a 'vintage' sound on a Strat have been the AxesRus Daddyos which are sold as an assembly pre wired and soldered which includes scratch plate, pups, controls, 5 way switcher- all you have to do is solder two wires to the existing jack plug. Ive never purchased higher than an US standard Strat, but the best sound out of the box for a Fender so far has been a Mex Tele, which unusually had a well balanced combination between bridge and neck pup, not so spaced tonally as they usually are- this Tele sounded really 'Shadows' to me- ie it had that bite in the bass E string.
IMHO I think people tend to get a bit too wrapped up in pups when in reality the HBM sound is, apart from Delay which as others have said is pretty secondary, but more it's the use of the trem arm which gives the real HBM signature sound.


As the person who recommended and did demos of Tonerider pickups about six years ago, I agree that they do the business but there are others that are cheaper that do the job (Ironstone) and there are others that are even better and much more expensive (Sliders) but the key to the sound is having an amp that is voiced to do the job. I discovered only recently the Vox AC4 with Top Boost and it gives a great early Shadows tone. Just last week I got hold of the Vox AC4 tv which is equally good. These amps sound just like the old AC30 amps, only a lot more quiet, which allows perfect home use. On stage I have learned to voice my Mesa Boogie amps to behave in a similar way by careful use of the tone controls & graphic, so like I said if the amp will do it you should have no problem. It is a fact that certain amps won't give the required tone, but that doesn't make them bad amps, just the wrong choice, as with certain pickups. Some of the Kinmans I have owned and tried have a fabulous smoothness to the sound that the early Shadows sound doesn't, so it is difficult to copy the early sound with those. Remember, Hank didn't want to go there, he preferred the bold, smooth sound as opposed to the gritty aggressive sound on the early records. :idea:
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Re: Pickups...

Postby Tigerdaisy » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:17 pm

Obviously if you want the modern Shadows sound Kinmans are good- one thing I liked is that they give a very even output across the strings, but as for the 54 Kinmans I couldn't say whether or not they were a good simulation of the real thing. I had a small Vox valve amp with very simple controls- not sure if it was the one you mention, but you could set it to just 1 watt output. I got it to try and get overdriven sounds at home, however it was far too loud even at 1 watt to get a decent overdriven effect from it, so it had to go. The AxesRus pups are pretty cheap when you consider what you get for your money with the wired up loom I mentioned previously.
The Vox AC4 I think you must be talking about is pretty expensive at about £699- I assume you weren't referring to the £239 job.
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Re: Pickups...

Postby dave robinson » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:10 pm

I was referring to the Vox AC4 tv which has a power switch giving options of 4watts / 1watt / 1/4 watt. It retailed around £250. The other AC30/4 is a slightly later one around the same price, it comes in a varierty of colours mine is green, but they do white, blue and purple. These differ from the tv version as there is no power switch, but instead a gain control, bass and treble controls and a volume control and this is the Top Boost version. I find each of them useful for obtaining the Holy Grail tone. I haven't tried the Axesrus Strat pickups though I did have a Strat pickguard made up by them with two humbuckers and coil taps that work well. 8-)
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Re: Pickups...

Postby roger bayliss » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:01 pm

I have used the Daddy O's from Axesrus on a self build strat. The sound was very good IMO especially the neck/mid. The bridge is also good but IMO a little on the thin side but usable.
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Re: Pickups...

Postby roger bayliss » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:10 pm

Another point I have noticed on many sets of PU's suitable for the early sound is that the Neck and Mid tend to be around 5.6k to 5.8k. The bridge on CS54s and Toneriders Vintage are about 6.2k and the bridge on Daddy o's and 57/62s tend to be the same as the neck/mid (ie all the same)

The Ironstone Gold are very good and are about 5.7k and the silver set the Neck and mid are about 5.8k with a hotter 7k bridge. I have the Silver ones on another strat and like them with the thinner strings.

The more the resistance the more the bass end and the muddiness starts to appear especially on the neck/mid PU.

I have tried Impersonator 54s by Kinman and found them very good for these early Shadows sound too.
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