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Ok, as discussed briefly in this thread; http://forum.musicradar.com/showthre...ha-You-Cowtron!
and on his blog; http://www.theguitarweasel.blogspot.co.uk/, I asked Ash the Guitar Weasel whether he could come up with a PAF-lookalike which sounded more like a vintage Gretsch Filtertron than a traditional mid-heavy Gibson humbucker.
There's plenty of detail on the blog about exactly why this is more of a challenge than would first appear, but the fundamental differences are that old Gretsch H/Bs have very low output coils compensated for by HUGE magnets. Getting all this to look like a PAF means using one-off parts and a lot of ingenuity on Ash's part.
Well, cut to the chase, after exchanging a few emails and ideas, my custom-built pickups arrived incredibly promptly, so I chucked them in a Les Paul Standard (weight-relieved not chambered). The change was immediate, no tweaking, messing about, or looking for the "sweet spot". I suddenly had a super-beefy rockabilly machine and a massive grin!
I find that most H/Bs have a very narrow height range and polepiece setting which works for me - I tend to play mostly clean with the amp pretty loud and the guitar volume low - but these things didn't care. That too-punchy midrange with the volumes up was gone too, along with any upper mid harshness caused by careless amp settings.
Best of all, they really do twang. I know that doesn't seem relevant to everyone, and to pure metalheads it isn't, but a lot of the great guitar tones we all know and love are from guitars which are capable of a great country sound, even if that is miles away from that player's style or intentions.
With a JTM 45 set flat out, I can go from a passable SRV impression to the sweetest lap steel-type bends by flicking a pickup switch, without masking the inherent girth of the Les Paul sound, or I can stick it in the middle for a Setzer-fest, with the advantage of a good solidbody's sustain.
One concern I had before delivery was whether my guitar would end up being too emasculated. 4.8k is a pretty low output by anyone's standards, but these really do prove how that reading is just one of many factors.
In purely subjective, non scientific terms, these are as capable of overdriving an amp as a warmish Strat pickup or an original punchy Broadcaster pickup, i.e they seem (to my ears anyway) to have around 7/8ths of the power of a sweet PAF type.
I know that's a slightly silly, arbitrary measurement, but it gives you an idea of what they feel like. In pure output terms, you may think they'd be about the same as a Danelectro Lipstick, but they have far more going on than that, and my LP will still happily push a Bluesbreaker into overdrive.
I'm pretty well addicted to these things, and am tempted to try them in other guitars. It could really be the neck pickup of your dreams in a Tele for example, giving you that elusive balance and bite that most fat Teles lack, but I also can't wait to try them in a semi- or full-hollow.
Anyway, that's enough rambling, it should be fairly obvious that I love these pickups, and am seriously impressed that someone I've never met could nail my requirements based on a handful of emotive descriptions rather than true science. I'm away from my recording gear for a couple of weeks, but will throw a couple of clips together as soon as I get a chance.
Cheers Ash, you're a star!
Last edited by p90fool; 1st February 2013 at 11:21 AM.
Awww thanks mate ... they were fun to make, I just drove everyone mad with loud rockabilly for a week or so as I soaked up the sound!!!
Here is the third one of your 'Cow-t-rons' as they are now known ... pretty much in the spec I intend them to be sold in. My magnet supplier is cooperating wonderfully with me and will soon be able to offer not only this alnico 5 version, but even go one up for the power demons and offer an alnico 8 version! This should give all the clarity without the nasty top end of ceramic as used in some modern Gretsch replacements. I am looking at buying in small Gretsch style H gate covers for the Cabronita lovers too.
These pickups are going to be a massive upgrade for any of the modern cheap Gretsches with the standard humbucker-size ones.
Pity I sold mine, now...
I may pick up one of Jezz Woodroffe's Semi acoustic bodies http://www.facebook.com/j.woodroffeguitars and put together a Starcaster/Gretsch hybrid as a demo instrument.
For heavens sake, theguitarweasel, stop it. I was dead set on having a p90 of yours. Now you insist on giving another delicious proposition? It just won't do.