As a guitar builder, I've had a unique opportunity to try ALL kinds of pickups in instruments. I've used most of what's on the market today all the way to original vintage pickups that fetch $3000+ a set! Some of the old pickups had something hard to describe that was missing from most modern pickups. They were lively, raw and gutsy, with soul that just sounded 'vintage'. No better way to describe it. With a bit of discontent and some curiosity, I began the quest to create something I was finally happy with. Several hundred Strat pickups later I found it! Since 2005 I have been winding what I feel are some of THE BEST pickups on the market today. Part of the difference had to do with handwinding vs. machine winding techniques and the randomness of the patterns. The other had to do with simply the right parts and the technique or as I call it the secret recipe! Early on I took several samples of real early Pre-CBS wire (From real deal vintage Fender pickups). I took careful measurements and searched until I found wire with the same insulation O.D. as the original. It took some time and lots of experimentation, but all the details ended up with a rewarding result and something I'm very proud to offer in my guitars... in house made Rocketfire Vintage Pickups with GUTS!!

Total 60's Strat (as seen in Vintage Guitar Magazine) 

Staggered AlNiCo 5 Magnets | Formvar Magnet Wire | Cloth Covered Leads | Forbon Bobbins | $298 When Available

This is my meat and potatoes classic Strat set. If you're looking for huge vintage bluesy tones that cut through the mix yet smooth as butter with sweet silky highs these are it. They're made to nail the original tones from the vintage Strats we grew up hearing. Think of the dripping vintage tone from Hendrix' Hey Joe. There's something that was sort of etched into our brains and ears as we've listened to music over the years. There's a sound that we attribute to a Stratocaster that tells us, NOW that's a Strat. Just like when we hear a REAL Hammond B3 organ through a Leslie. We know, "That's the Sound!". There's nothing that compares to it. There's a sound etched into our brain by recordings that had "The sound". When we don't hear it, we wonder why and it seems like something is missing. These pickups were made with that in mind. I want guitar players and even the un-educated listener to hear them and say, "That's the Sound"

These are huge for cleans, right on the edge of clipping (SRV) to thick overdriven Fuzz tones through a cranked amp. They sound great with funkier licks and they sound great with modern Alternative ballads.  Characteristic of these pickups is a raw, gutsy, and vintage sound with a hint of almost tube rectifier compression that comes back at you after you hit a chord. The sound is very complex with good dynamics and amazing clarity.

Here is a great comparison between this set and the Fender Custom Shop 69's in a YouTube video created by a customer:

Here is one of my favorite recordings of these pickups graciously sent in by Tyler Grund: YouTube video

Rockin '54/Session Player's Strat Set

Staggered AlNiCo Magnets | Formvar Wire | Cloth Covered Leads | Forbon Bobbins | $298 When Available

This set is based on the first two years of Strat pickups from Fender production. These pickups have a warm sound with not a bit of harshness found anywhere through-out  the spectrum. The shorter 'G' magnet (than the later 50's - 60's stagger) yields a VERY smooth tone that is great for light to medium overdriven sounds. These are my 'session players' Strat pickup. They have an ultra ear pleasing tone that is sweet at any volume. They are not as popular as my Total 60's set but only because I don't market them nearly as hard... why? simply because I think most people think of 60's Strats when they think of Strat tone. In fact, I almost pulled them off the site simply because I had so many questions about them vs orders. But I honestly think they're great or I wouldn't bother offering them. If I don't think it's important that I offer something, i.e. if I don't feel that a product has a special nitch or place in my heart as far as tone, I don't sell it. I'm not selling ANYTHING just for the sake of having another product in the lineup... notice I don't offer a 70s flat/non-staggered set (I have of course tried it with my pickups and just didn't think it was something important to offer). If I don't think it REALLY stands out and has a distinct place amongst what's currently available for sale, you won't see it here! You have my word on it! 

These pickups have the stagger that most of the popular modern production (not going to list manufacturers, but most of them) Strat pickups have (EA-Tall D-Shorter G-B is the Shortest- E slightly shorter than E and A)

This difference looks like a small detail but it's amazing how the shorter 'G' pole piece affects the tone of the pickup. Guitar players regularly ask me is one better for a maple neck Strat than the other. I always recommend either. The total 60's set sounds great with maple necks even though maple was normally seen on 50's Stratocasters. It's just a matter of what kind of tone you're shooting for. The Rockin 54 set is a little smoother. Neither is harsh in the slightest, but the Total 60's set is a little punchier sounding in any guitar you put it in. The Rockin 54s sound a little better with overdriven chording/rhythm parts. This is why I call it my "Session Players Set". Also interestingly... take a look at the pole piece heights. You'll notice that the stagger is similar to a 1960's Telecaster bridge pickup. Maybe this is why I also like early 60's Tele pickups for light crunch rhythm playing. Hmmmmmmm.............

'52 Butterscotch Blond's for Tele

Staggered AlNiCo Magnets | Formvar Wire | Cloth Covered Leads | Forbon Bobbins | $239 When Available

As used in Leo's first REAL electric guitar the Broadcaster and later renamed Telecaster. Beautifully balanced and always smooth. Overdrive nicely for rock and plenty of twang available for country and rockabilly. Nails the classic Page tones. Very lively and inspiring. Sounds very much like the real thing but affordable and with New construction. Never wonder if your Blackguard pickup is going to give up the ghost at any moment. These do that thing and with many years of reliability you can count on.


Audio Clip's and Samples

Here's one of my Total 60's Strat set - Quick little lo-fi recording through a USA Crate V5212VFX I happened to have in the room. Sort of an old pearl jam vintage strat drive sound to it. Didn't plan it that way... that's just what I thought after it went onto the tape.

Here are 3 Nice clips of my  Total 60's Strat set in a Jeff Beck Stratocaster. Recorded by Canadian Session Player Cam MacInnes. Great player and thanks! Also thanks to Gord Basa who did the actual audio recording.  Middle (my favorite pickup and beautiful clip Cam!!!), Bridge, Neck. This was recorded through a Clark Piedmont (Tweed Bassman replica). Notice the lively almost acoustic properties of the middle pickup.

Thanks to Matt Mawhir of Florida for these samples of ALL 5 positions both CLEAN and DIRTY. Great playing Matt!

Bridge and Middle
Middle and Neck

Bridge and Middle
Middle and Neck

Thanks to Tyler Grund of brrrrr cold Minnesota for these next samples.
Total 60's through an Arc Furnace pedal
YouTube VIDEO!! of Grund doing the SRV thing!

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