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Thread: The $22 Loaded Pickguard Experiment

  1. #1
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    New York Finger Lakes Area

    The $22 Loaded Pickguard Experiment

    I've got an old Strat that I've been suffering through the Vintage Noiseless pickups with. The VN's have been a challenge to get a good organic and natural sound from, but there are situations where I want a 25.5" scale sound but need it to be hum cancelling. The VN's were supposed to be all that and a bag of chips, but after years of enduring their mediocrity and multiple pot and cap changes I decided to have some fun.

    Could be due partly to being stoned and shopping on Amazon, but I found a HHH loaded guard with two single coil sized humbuckers and on PAF style int the bridge, with three coil splitting switches and a lockout button for the princely sum of $22 USD, free shipping for Prime. Curiosity demanded that I buy it! The fact that they were all three zebras made it even sweeter.

    It arrives and it looks decent, so I grabbed my Strat and headed for the workbench. Two point bridge so no need to remove strings, three quick solder connections and away we go.

    The neck and middle are clearly Hot Rails clones, and the bridge appears to a PAF clone.

    Plugged it into three different amps - and each time the sound was - spectacular. Controls work great, tone controls are usable. Pots feel good. Components are all decent. I'm really, really pleased with it.

    I have a gig coming up with TeleBob and I'll let him give the sonic review of the pups in context.

    Being an engineer I always chuckle at the amount of "mojo" people like to imbue pickups with. They are really quite simple devices. If you know the Br curve for the magnets, the wire size and number of turns, whether its a bar or magnetized polepeices and a few things about the geometry you can reverse engineer any pickup. There is no magic. Give me a PAF, a T-Top, a Filtertion, P90, whatever and using tools like a Gauss meter and some wire metrology and we can duplicate it. Then knowing what the pups do you then size the pots and treble bleed cap to suit your individual tastes.

    This experiment just went to show how a $300 set up pups were really mediocre at best, and that an almost free setup is vastly superior.

    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  2. #2
    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    Re: The $22 Loaded Pickguard Experiment

    It's all about gathering the right batch of parts and having them magically work together. Some guitars will not give up a great tone no matter what you do with them. And then others come to life with a set of cheap, generic pickups. Such a beautiful accident!
    I was getting ready to send you a loaded guard of Kinmans, which I have always loved.
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

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