Stratocaster® pickups are pretty simple machines. Leo Fender was a manufacturer at heart, not a musician, and in 1954 he introduced a design that would create one of the most recognizable sounds in modern music. His legendary Stratocaster® was the first electric guitar to feature three pickups and their tone was an enticing as its "far-out" body shape. The task of recreating the sound that started a musical revolution is no simple feat, but David Allen tackled it head on with his TruVintage54 Strat® Set. With meticulous crafting and modern innovation, the David Allen Tru 54's offer original single coil sound with 21st century versatility.
As with all David Allen pickups the workmanship is impressive. The staggered Alnico 3 magnets and flatwork are both beveled by hand, the pickups are lacquer dipped, scatter wound and wax potted. Everything down to the cloth covered hook up wire is just right. To reduce noise when combined with the other pickups, the middle pickup is RWRP. We popped a set into our 7.2 pound G&L hardtail Legacy "pickup mule" to get a feel for what these pickups are like. For the record, the neck pickup is wound to a resistance of 5.7K, 5.76K at the middle, and roughly 5.8K at the bridge.
As players, we generally lean towards the fatter, more modern sounding G&L pickups, but these David Allen's were a fresh breath of vintage air. The TruVintage54's really embody every characteristic one could hope for in a vintage Stratocaster®. They are incredibly sweet and glassy on the top end, with plenty of sparkle without the sharp edges. The bridge pickup is very impressive in this regard, as it is a notorious position for being harsh and brittle. The TruVintage54 bridge sang like the others, but with a nice percussive punch and piano-like attack. The low end is tight and full bodied, and the mids have a generous scoop. Often in vintage pickups the scooped mids can be a cause for concern by sounding thin and anemic, but the 54's are balanced enough so each position is bright and snappy. The final test was adding gain. Too our pleasant surprise, they handled overdrive well, never losing their integrity or note separation. With moderate amounts of gain the 54's produced a nice grind that stayed tight, and maintained the clarity of the fundamental pickup tone.
Pickups are an easy and relatively inexpensive modification, but also somewhat a roll of the dice. Until it's in your guitar with your amp, you just don't know. The TruVintage54 set easily hits the mark when is comes to vintage but thoroughly useable tones. They have the unmistakable substance and clarity of the Strat design but can hang with more modern styles of music. If you're just not feeling it with your current Strat setup, the David Allen TruVintage54 set will not disappoint.