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 is THE BEST Strat pickup 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, wind pattern, and tension. Early on I took several samples of real early 1960's wire (From real deal vintage Strat 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 | NO LONGER SOLD - ONLY AVAILABLE IN GUITARS
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 guitar players grew up hearing. Think of the tone from Hendrix' Hey Joe. There's something that was sort of etched into our brains and ears as we've listened to music. There's a sound that we attribute to a Stratocaster that tells us, 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. No MIDI keyboard simulator can do it. When we hear it, we know it. When we hear a keyboard playing a synthesized Hammond sound, we always have that feeling of something missing. Our ears don't lie. Same goes for a Strat sound. 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". It's a sound that says, I don't have to search anymore.
These are huge clean, right on the edge of clipping (SRV) to thick overdriven Blues Driver through a cranked amp. They sound great with funkier stuff and they sound great with modern Alternative ballads. Also great with an Analog Fuzz for a nice non-Audiophile vintage tube type sound. 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:
Rockin '54/Session Player's Strat Set
Staggered AlNiCo Magnets | Formvar Wire | Cloth Covered Leads | Forbon Bobbins | NO LONGER SOLD - ONLY AVAILABLE IN GUITARS
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) Here's a picture of what I'm talking about:
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 | NO LONGER SOLD INDIVIDUALLY - ONLY AVAILABLE IN GUITARSAfter years of being pressed for time to tool up for Tele pickups it finally happened in 2011 and I have been thrilled to be able to say that these sound like what I had
hoped for and had been hearing in our vintage pickup rewinds. These flat poles sound just like Leo's first pickup designed originally for his lap steels then later
used in his first REAL electric guitar the Broadcaster and later Telecaster. Beautifully balanced and always smooth. Overdrive nicely for rock and plenty of twang
available for country and rockabilly.
Audio Clip's and SamplesHere'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. The rhythm guitar track in that clip is position 2 (bridge and middle) I believe, the melody is the middle pickup by itself.
And the famous question.... can they do SRV? Of course! Can they do Hendrix? Of course! Can they do modern sounds? The long and short of it, they do Strat sounds. and I believe they do Strat better than anything else on the market. But back to SRV tones:
Thanks to Joel Hatcher of California for recording these clips. Great playing Joel and thank you for the clips:
SRV Clip One (my personal favorite of the Joel Hatcher clips - Captures the raw and lively personality of the pickups)
SRV Clip Two
Thanks to Matt Mawhir of Florida for these samples of ALL 5 positions both CLEAN and DIRTY. These were recorded on a desktop computer with a stock soundcard. 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.
Alkaline Battery in an Arc Furnace pedal
Carbon Zinc in an Arc Furnace pedal
FOR FUN (not offered):
More pickups to come in the near future! Quick Preview just for fun! Here is a clip of one of FEW paf sets I've wound. Thanks to a friend and Rocketfire Player.
Here are some quick MP3's. They're by no means professional recordings or playing. Most of them are me:) Sorry! I'm a bass player not a guitar player: )
Here's one of my Jazz Bass set - It is a slap clip. First of the bridge pickup solo-ed than the bridge and neck together (nice and thick).
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