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The G&L ASAT Special – Truly Special

July 21st, 2016
A fancy ASAT Special

A fancy ASAT Special

My first-ever G&L was a 3-bolt ASAT Special purchased in the mid-80’s. I really knew nothing about the brand at that time, but thought it was a very cool guitar. It was used, and as USA guitars go, at a good price at the local music store.

It’s very hard to buck tradition, but the ASAT Special is intended to be evolutionary progress relative to Leo Fender’s iconic original solid body. The most noticeable difference to the Tele® are the large MFD pickups, often mistaken for P-90 pickups. These are what drew me to the guitar both visually and sonically. The neck pickup sounded very Strat® like, a tone I’ve always loved but never really took to playing Strats. But it was also bigger, fuller sounding, and could be jazzy, or Tele-like with a couple knob tweaks.

The bridge pickup was twangy, clean, and being a Beatles fan reminded me a lot of that early sound. But it too had more guts than my old 70’s Tele and sounded a lot sweeter than the Duncan quarter-pounder that I had in my homemade Parts-Caster. It wasn’t going to cut it for heavy rock, but through the drive channel of my Peavey — few pedals in those days — it was great for the type of stuff we were playing back then like REM, Crowded House and Steely Dan.

Fast forward thirty years and the ASAT Special is still relevant, and still a very usable guitar. It has the ability to channel both Strat, Tele, and even Jazzmaster, while also being able to kick it pretty hard with a gain pedal. My band is playing more funk theses days — thank you Bruno Mars — but country is also in demand. I think it’s time to break out the ASAT Special again.

Getting Better at Guitar: Play Well With Others

April 24th, 2016

This post is in no way to meant to be judgmental to the scores of guitar players that are perfectly content playing within the confines of their own personal environment. Realistically, that is the vast majority of the guitar world: Players who play for their own enjoyment and nothing else.

But is was a famous 19th century German Field Marshall who said, “No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” And much the same could be said for playing guitar. Or as I like to put it, “It’s all well and good until the drummer starts.”

Playing with other people can be hugely disruptive, but also highly educational. Maybe that solo you have perfectly crafted at home just doesn’t seem to work once other people are involved. You may also find that some of your favorite tones don’t sit well in a mix of instruments. Even if you have no desire to gig, learning to play in the less-than-sterile environment of a group setting will make you a better player no matter what your aspirations.

Truth be told, even for experienced musicians jam sessions or jam nights can be intimidating and/or frustrating. If you happen upon one with a couple self-anointed guitar slingers, jam nights can devolve into a noisy game of sonic one-upmanship. But true guitar slingers know how to play “in” the song rather than “on top” of the song. Ultimately, the goal of playing with a group is to make the song better, and not just insert “your solo” at every available opening.

A potentially more productive alternative is to find a couple people – or even just one other person – and work on developing a set of songs you like to play. Songs provide context and goals, and help develop structure, listening skills, dynamics and phrasing. These are all critical aspects of playing, and much harder to develop when only playing alone. And unlike a pure jam session, there is less of a competitive element and more of a shared vision. This does not mean that you can’t improvise, but the secret to a great jam session is good listening skills and dynamics. Learning songs with people teach those skills. Who knows, you might like what you hear, and decide to venture out to a local Open Mic night.

Little known G&L product options – Logo Delete

February 14th, 2016

asat-qmt-hsOne no-cost option that we’ve grown rather fond of is the “Logo Delete” option for G&L headstocks. Just as it implies, the Logo Delete option gives you just the G&L logo without any model designation. We think it gives the guitar a nice clean appearance, and if you are doing a model that has no specific logo — such as a Bluesboy — you might even say it makes sense. Some players have never seen this option before, and one prospective buyer asked if it was a replacement neck.

Because they don’t have decals for every possible color combination, matching painted headstocks almost always come with a logo delete.

leg-hb-lemon-hs

G&L Legacy, gloss finish with standard logo

We like the look, and have ordered several guitars in this style.

New body wood options for your G&L Guitar

September 13th, 2015

For years, the standard body wood offerings from G&L have been Alder and Swamp Ash. Mahogany is available too, but is generally reserved for the ASAT Deluxe and other maple topped guitars.

For a couple years G&L has been quietly offering pine as a non-price list option, and lately Empress Wood. Here is quick rundown on the two “other” woods currently in the G&L line up.

Pine – We’re personal fans of pine, most notably for its tone, and generally good weight properties. Pine has a slightly softer top end, and a touch of compression on the attack. So while as not punchy as some woods, it’s got a little “give” and responds nicely to pick attack. The low end is also very clean and clear. It’s good for basses as well as guitars. The heaviest pine guitar we’ve seen is 7.8 pounds, but they are more typically 6.8 – 7.4, with bass guitars being proportionally heavier. The grain pattern is nothing dramatic, and tends to be straight and clear.

Empress – Looks a lot like swamp ash, and is the welterweight champion of the current G&L lineup. This fast-growing and strong wood is native to Asia, and has historically been used for both musical instruments, and furniture. Empress guitars are typically right around 7 pounds, and our experience is that there is not a great degree of weight variation between guitars. Tonally Empress is on the brighter side with a very solid and punchy attack. The sound is a little less dimensional than swamp ash, with greater emphasis on the fundamental tone. If you like a forward tone with plenty of presence, Empress is a good choice. We really like it for bass guitars, and it has very solid low end response.

So two woods, with two very different personalities. With many guitar players — especially those of a certain age — looking for lightweight and comfortable guitars, both Empress and Pine offer alternatives to traditional woods, and with their own unique tonal spin.

David Allen Strat Pickups – Impressions

August 12th, 2015

strat setDavid Allen makes a lot of different Strat® pickups, maybe almost too many to figure out what to select. The variability of available sound-clips and videos only adds to the complexity. So when we decided to carry the line we asked David himself what pickups were most representative of the range. He recommended three sets: TruVintage 54, Tru ’62, and the Voodoo Blues SSS set. So armed with our trusty G&L Legacy (swamp ash, hardtail, Emerson wiring assembly, maple fretboard) we set about trying out all three sets to see how they compared.

Dave Allen TruVintage 54

As with many of the David Allen pickups, they don’t attempt to completely follow every excruciating construction detail of the original pickup. Instead they focus on creating the sound of a ’54 Strat rather than just replicating the construction. The TruVintage 54’s are wound progressively in the mid-to-upper 5K range and use staggered, beveled Alnico 3 magnets. Having never handled a true 1954 Stratocaster® (tonally these pickups are modeled after an actual set of ’54 pickups) we can only say that they sound the way we “think” they should sound: Exceptionally clean, glassy, with a bouncy low end. Characteristically, the bridge pickup is pretty light, and to some may only serve to pair with the middle pickup. But the Alnico 3 magnets lend enough sweetness to the high end that it’s not shrill or brittle. So you can actually use a distortion pedal with the bridge pickup and get some decent rock sounds. The TruVintage 54’s are textbook Strat, and hit the mark for those putting together the ultimate vintage Strat.

David Allen Tru ’62

Like the 54’s, the Tru ’62 set is graduated set, but wound from the low to mid 6K range from neck to bridge. They also use staggered magnets but in this case Alnico 5. They are rounder and warmer than the 54’s and a little less glassy. But they project a more soulful nature, and have a deeper rounder bass. There is also a little less quack to the positions 2 and 4, but in return you get one great sounding middle pickup. It’s got good low end like the neck pickup, but more twang and bite. It’s my favorite position of this set, followed by the neck + middle. Overall, the Tru 62’s are a slightly huskier sound than the 54’s but certainly won’t be mistaken for anything else than a Strat.

David Allen Voodoo Blues SSS

The Voodoo Blues set is a light top/heavy bottom set with a twist. The neck and middle pickups are wound to about 5.8K with staggered and beveled Alnico 5 magnets. These are right out of the David Allen ’69 Voodoo set, and you  get one guess as to what tone they were aiming for. They are bright and glassy with a percussive and snappy low end. Just the ticket for some Jimi, SRV or Los Lonely Boys. The bridge is wound to 7.8K but instead of just more wire, it’s also a lighter gauge wire. The net result is more output without the loss of clarity and detail typical of a higher output pickup (technically a higher resistance without a big jump in inductance). So you get more punch and better pedal performance without a big tonal sacrifice. Players who want to rock their Strat but won’t compromise on looks or authentic tones will like the Voodoo Blues SSS set.

 The Wrap

These pickups are not radically different from each other. It’s not like we were testing Hot Rails versus a vintage reproduction pickup. But in each case as we changed sets there was an “oh yeah, I can hear that” feeling as soon as we plugged in. We were not in total agreement on what we liked best either. My favorite set was the Tru 62’s while our new Sales Tech Eric liked the sweet-but-glassy tones of 54’s followed by the Voodoo SSS. For the moment, the Tru 62’s are staying in our Legacy, but the discussion is not over yet….

 

What fretboard material for your G&L guitar?

August 12th, 2015

With many electric guitars, the choice of fretboard material is often not an option. The manufacturer can have many reasons for choosing a particular material — cost, looks, feel — short of a custom shop model, most guitars are built with a certain fretboard material and that’s the end of it.

Any G&L guitar is available with a choice of three materials, with rosewood and maple being no-cost options, and ebony as an up-charge. In addition, there is the added option of selecting a gloss or satin finish on the maple fretboard (all fretboard materials are available with satin or gloss finish maple necks). Many players feel quite strongly about fretboard material, but in my own experience the fretboard material typically plays a small part in how much I like or love a guitar (I never hate a guitar, but I might find myself uninspired). Quite often I choose the fretboard material (and finish or tint) based on how I want the cosmetics of the guitar to come out, and the price point I am trying to hit. A satin finish neck is the least expensive and a gloss neck with ebony fretboard is the most expensive. Keeping that in mind, here is quick rundown of the options:

Maple

The original Fender guitars were solid maple necks, and this was purely a matter of cost. Maple is hard, stable and cheap. Traditional classical instruments used rosewood and ebony, but Leo Fender was first and foremost a keen businessman and manufacturer. Around 1959, Fender started offering rosewood to give his guitars a more high-end look.

A satin or gloss finish maple neck is felt to have a tighter and brighter tone than rosewood, and depending on the finish tends to feel quicker too. A satin neck has a nice dry feel that does not get sticky or sweaty, whereas gloss maple does give the guitar a more finished look. I often opt for a tinted satin neck as a good combination of looks and feel. That being said, my favorite personal ASAT guitars have had glossy maple necks. If I like a guitar, it’s a package deal.

HINT: If you are stickler for nicely polished frets, a glossy maple fretboard always had the nicest fret finish. Why? The gloss finish is sprayed on after the frets are put in, then then the finish is polished off. This extra amount of finish work results in extra-smooth shiny frets. It’s also why glossy necks cost more. Time is money.

Rosewood

Rosewood is likely the most common material for fretboards. It’s a traditional material that’s attractive, reasonably dense and easy to work. Depending on cost, rosewood can vary from a very light brown to a dark, almost greasy feeling brown-black. My personal preference both for looks and texture is the darker streaky rosewood, and G&L typically sources pretty nice looking stock. Less expensive guitars will often have the lighter, plainer looking rosewood. Rosewood has a little more “grip” than maple, and is a touch warmer and less percussive. I like rosewood with Legacy guitars, as it does have a tendency to round out the tone. Good rosewood is not as plentiful as it once was, and exports and harvesting are tightly controlled.

Ebony

While I’ve somewhat downplayed the difference between maple and rosewood, ebony does offer a noticeably different experience. Ebony is very dense, with a hard silky feel that sets itself apart from from even a glossy maple finish. Ebony produces the most percussive tone — is great for tapping and pulls — and works well with humbuckers or darker sounding woods. I specify ebony most often with ASAT Deluxe, Legacy HSS and Legacy HH guitars, as ebony tends to fit the tone, look, and ethos of these models. I had a customer order an ASAT Classic S Alnico with ebony and I really liked it. It made the neck pickup more snappy without making the guitar brighter overall. Ebony would not have been my first pick, but the net result was very pleasing.

While pricy, an ebony fretboard on satin maple with stainless frets practically plays itself. We’ve had a couple guitars built this way, and the glassy feel made a direct impact on how we approached playing those guitars.

Ebony is quite rare and the main source is Cameroon. Jet black ebony is most prized, but constitutes only a small proportion of harvest-able wood. Out of necessity “streaky” ebony is becoming more common, and it’s attractive in its own right. Taylor guitars co-owns an ebony mill in Cameroon, and imports of non-regulation ebony is what got Gibson heavily fined a few years back. Taylor has a very good video about ebony on YouTube, and it will give you a real appreciation about why it is so important to sustainably harvest this wood.

The Wrap

Looks are important, and when it comes to maple or rosewood, go with what “speaks” to you in terms of visual appeal and playing feel. If you like glossy, get glossy and don’t fret (no pun intended) about any tonal side effects. If you desire the fastest smoothest playing surface, or are looking at a humbucker model, ebony is definitely worth consideration.

 

 

Vintage or Modern wiring for your G&L ASAT guitar?

March 25th, 2015

Emerson vintage style Tele wiring kit with treble bypass

The Internet and blogosphere is full or articles and how-to’s on the differences of the so-called “vintage” versus “modern” wiring for guitars like the Telecaster® and Les Paul. So briefly, what is it and does it matter?

In short, in a typical two-knob volume and tone arrangement, the major characteristic of “vintage” wiring is that the tone capacitor (low pass filter) is wired between (connects) the volume and tone controls. On a “modern” circuit, the tone capacitor is connected from one lug of the tone control potentiometer to ground (usually the top of the tone pot). There are several variations on this theme, but in general terms this is the biggest distinction between vintage and modern.

Why Modern?

The modern tone control circuit allows for totally independent tone control regardless of where the volume control is set. Essentially, the tone control directly shunts high frequency single to ground, the amount depending on how much the tone knob is turned. In a modern four-knob setup (such as a Les Paul) the volume and tones controls are independent from each other and each pickup. In a true vintage Les Paul circuit, turning down one pickup all the way actually turns off both pickups (this can be remedied without changing how the capacitor is wired).

The characteristic of the modern circuit is that there tends to be a high end roll-off as the volume is turned down. This can be compensated by using a “treble bleed” or tone bypass circuit, which lets through a small amount of high frequencies no matter where the volume control is set. On G&L guitars there is a .001-microfarad bypass capacitor on the volume pot of every guitar. The capacitor acts as a high pass filter, and some treble bleed circuits use a capacitor/resistor combination.

Why Vintage?

In a vintage circuit the capacitor is connecting the volume and tone controls, and the signal going to the tone control passes through the tone capacitor first (in a modern circuit the full signal passes to the tone control before the filter capacitor is applied). As a result, the signal being fed to the tone control pot is dependent on the setting of the volume control.

The characteristic of vintage wiring is that there tends to be less high-end attenuation as the volume is turned down. Even without a bypass circuit, the volume control has little effect on tone. But the and volume controls are now interactive, and the tone control works differently depending on how the volume control is set.

Is One Better Than the Other?

The modern wiring setup provides independent operation, and with the addition of a treble bypass circuit the volume control is quite functional. On some guitars a little high-end reduction via the volume control may be desirable, but on a darker sounding guitar a volume control without a treble bypass may be all but useless.

With vintage wiring the volume control is usable – and possibly better sounding – without a treble bypass. But how the tone control works depends on where the volume control is set. To some this may be annoying, but I like the range of different sounds available via the interactive nature of the two controls. I also think the volume control plain works better too, and I prefer it without the bypass. On a two pickup four-knob guitar like a Les Paul, the vintage wiring setup allows a vast array of tones just not available with the modern wiring scheme.

I’m a vintage wiring proponent, but if you can solder it’s pretty easy to switch back and forth and see what arrangement are most comfortable with. There is no right answer, just options.

 

 

 

The G&L Fallout: A new rock voice

December 13th, 2014

fallout sonic blueIn 2013, G&L introduced a new model called the Fallout. The Fallout combines two things that I really like: The SC-2 body shape and G&L’s own P-90 pickup.

The SC-2 body shape means that inherently the Fallout is a guitar that weighs in at around 7.5 pounds or less. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the guitar business is that many players are obsessive about guitar weight; especially the idea of less weight. It’s the question I get asked most often, and while weight is not everything, as a general rule I don’t lecture customers about what they should want.

The second – and to me – more important benefit of the Fallout is G&L’s P-90 neck pickup. This is where I guess I do lecture customers: A good P-90 pickup is an essential music-making tool. There are several good ones out there: The Arcane ’57 Experience is excellent, the garden variety Seymour Duncan SP-1 is a bargain, and the G&L P-90 is up there as one of the best. Wound to a moderate mid-6K resistance, G&L’s P-90 combines richer, fatter single tones while retaining clarity, note definition, pick attack. No, it does not sound like a Strat, but it’s not supposed to. And in a live music situation how often does the Strat guy’s tone sound thin and weak? That’s a lot less likely to happen with a Fallout.

In the bridge, the Fallout uses the Seymour Duncan JB humbucking pickup. This is G&L’s go-to bridge humbucker, and while I’d rather have a Duncan SH-1, you could do a lot worse. Moderately hot with a manageable midrange peak, the JB is a modern classic, and is well suited to kicking out crunchy and harmonically packed rock tones. There is a pull option on the tone control to split the bridge pickup, which is pretty good by itself but blends especially well when combined with the neck pickup.

There’s not much else to say about the Fallout except that it’s attractive, nicely priced, comes with a tolex hardshell case, and is built to the same high standards as every G&L. Which I guess is saying a lot.

Hear your guitar better when playing live

November 2nd, 2014

Here is a very typical situation: You’re playing in a club, and as with most places there is not a lot of room. You’re standing close to your amp and one of two things is happening (or both); 1) You can’t hear your guitar very well, or 2) You’re told that you’re too loud.

Sound familiar? This happens all the time, and if you crank the amp up to the point where you can hear it, the audience gets pummeled. This is especially problematic with solos, as increased gain means increased signal compression, which can make it even harder to hear distinctly.

Here is the solution: In-ear monitors, preferably wireless.

Why would any club band need to resort to in-ear monitoring, especially for guitar? Because it’s the most effective monitoring method, takes up the least amount of space, is easy to carry, never feeds back, and cuts down on stage volume.

Quick aside: I common response is, “yeah but I’d rather tip my amp back, put it on a chair or use and amp stand. Yes, and you typically lose most of your low-end response and whatever tone you’ve been working is completely altered.

Whether or not you currently put the guitars through the monitors, your band has some type of mixer, and at least the vocalist has a monitor. So now all you need is an ear-monitoring setup, and a way to feed your guitar signal into the mixer.

A decent ear-monitoring system is not cheap, and a new one with earpieces will run close to $500. But there is always eBay, and I’ve scored a couple used transmitters and receivers at decent prices. But simply put, with ear monitoring you’ll hear the vocals better, hear your guitar better than you ever have, plus have a better idea of how it actually sounds. Ear monitors also cure the habit of over-playing and over-singing in order to hear yourself. Once you go this route, people might even ask you to turn up (a first for most guitarists).

My own setup is a Shure PSM200 with Shure SE315 ear monitors that have the form-fitting foam earpieces. The foam earpieces fit very snuggly and effectively “noise cancel” the ambient stage volume. I use only one earpiece, in the ear towards the drummer. This cuts the perceived drum volume way down, and with my open ear I get a feel for the general overall mix, but at a comfortable level.

It’s easy enough to mic the guitar amplifier, but my preference is to use a direct line. Radial Engineering makes a direct box called the JDX, which is a reactive speaker load box that goes between the head and cab (or speaker line in a combo). The JDX feeds a direct XLR line right to the mixer. The signal to the speaker is unaffected, and the line to the mixer sounds great, typically much better than what you can get with a mic. And you don’t have to deal with the mic getting jostled, or other resonances coming up through the mic stand. It also helps take room acoustics out of the picture, so if your amp is jammed in some little corner it will help it sound less like crap.

For all but the smallest clubs, the ideal setup is using the guitar amp to get the right tone, and using the PA to help create a balanced mix. But to do this you actually have to know what you sound like, and ear monitors are the best way to accomplish this. I use them everywhere, even in small clubs where I’m often only inches from my amp.

Because you’ll no longer be cranking a floor monitor (or your amp), you’re less likely to damage your hearing, have headaches or ringing ears. And if you’re also the sound guy (like me) it’s one less monitor to haul, there’s more space on the stage, and monitor-induced feedback is eliminated. One successful local band essentially required that any member have in-ears. If not, the player was responsible for bringing his or her own floor monitor and cables. That’s a little militant, but for logistics, setup and sound quality it made sense. Talk to a player that uses ear monitors on a regular basis, and you’ll find a convert for life.

Ear monitoring is not just for pros; the quality of the systems has gone up, and the prices have come down. Most bands that don’t use them have not tried them, or already have a significant investment in their floor monitors . But if you are planning to spend several hundred dollars apiece on good floor monitors, think about putting that money towards in-ears.

 

 

Alnico magnets and guitar pickups – How to choose?

November 2nd, 2014

The heart of any electric guitar is the pickup, and pickups play a huge role in the overall sound of any guitar. So it only makes sense that when players look to improve their sound, the pickup is the most common modification. There are dozens of reputable pickup makers to choose from; from large volume producers like Seymour Duncan – who virtually invented the aftermarket pickup market – to boutique winders making vintage style pickups with OCD-like fervor. And to a great degree they are all working with the same basic materials: Wire, magnets, screws, and various methods to hold it all together.

Arcane Strat Special Pickup

For an item of such critical sonic importance, there are not many ways to quantify their design. Besides the typical specification of DC resistance, which is a function of wire gauge and number of turns of wire, magnet type is the other most commonly specified feature of a pickup. The choices are typically a ceramic magnet or some type of Alnico, which stands for Aluminum, Nickel and Cobalt. Alnico magnet materials have been around for decades, and are the material of choice for the majority of high quality pickups. The benefits of Alnico material is that it’s efficient (think in terms of power-to-weight ratio) and it’s also very stable and holds its power well over time.

There are several different grades of Alnico, and the different grades are based on their metallurgical makeup. The most popular for guitar pickups are Alnico 2, 3, and 5; oftentimes referred to as II, III and V. Generally speaking the grades are not in order of “goodness” and the numbers simply denote a particular material composition. Besides what magnet grade is being used, the pickup maker can also vary the amount of magnetic charge (Gauss) the magnet has. Magnets bought in bulk are usually shipped un-charged, and the pickup maker energizes the magnet as part of the build process.

There has been a lot written on the qualities of the various Alnico grades, and the how a magnet material affects the sound of a pickup. So while I’m not blazing any new trails, here are my general opinions on the impact of Alnico grades, gained from my own personal experience and experimentation.

Disclaimer: There are so many other factors in making a pickup – wire gauge, winding tension, winding pattern, potting – that attributing the tonal characteristics solely to magnet material is somewhat folly. Also, some magnet grades are closely tied to pickup style, so you’re unlikely to see a high output metal pickup using Alnico 2 material.

Alnico 2 – Alnico 2 is used most often as a bar magnet material in humbucking pickups. This was the grade used in the early “PAF” pickups, and as a result is commonly employed in vintage-flavored designs. Examples of pickups using Alnico 2 material are the Seymour Duncan Seth Lover, Alnico II Pro, and the Arcane ’57 Experience. Pickups using Alnico 2 material tend to have a slightly soft attack, generally warm tonal characteristics and a slightly loose, bouncy feel. Wound strings have a somewhat woody tone and for some may lack enough definition. While pickups of this sort are generally not wound for high output, when pushed they develop a nice singing quality and make a pretty nice pickup for leads. Players who like to work their amps hard versus using pedals will dig Alnico 2.

Alnico 3 – Alnico 3 magnet material is used in both Gibson humbucker type designs and Fender Telecaster style pickups. Common in early Telecaster bridge pickups, Alnico 3 has good attack qualities, and a clear high end that some would describe as “grainy” and complex. In humbucker pickups, they create a nice balance of warmth, bite and clarity. This is the material used in the Arcane Triple Clone, which is modeled after the 1960 Gibson PAF. Tighter sounding than Alnico 2 pickups, lead tones are crunchy and pleasantly tight, and don’t get overly mushy in the neck position. A nice pick for both rich complex cleans and medium gain rock.

Alnico 4 – Not as common as the other more traditional materials, Alnico 4 is used by few pickup winders such as David Allen, Bare Knuckles, and Mojotone. The opinion is that Alnico 4 combines the warm feel of  Alnico 2 but with better attack and note definition. We really like the tone and pick response of the David Allen P-51 humbucker, which is an Alnico 4 pickup.

Alnico 5 – Likely the most popular magnet material, Alnico 5 shows up in both humbucking and single coils designs; Strats, Teles, and P-90’s. Alnico 5 pickups are characterized by strong output, clear tone, and punchy attack. This all sounds pretty good, and just about every conventionally constructed Stratocaster pickup uses Alnico 5. Some of most popular humbuckers use Alnico 5 including many Seymour Duncan models including the SH-1, JB,  and just about every Rio Grande pickup. Compared to Alnico 3 they may lack a little sonic complexity, but for those about to rock, Alnico 5 is a very good choice.

The Wrap – As they like to say in commercials, “your results may vary.” Your own experience with your own guitar will be the best teacher. Fortunately, pickups are neither very expensive, or hard to install. So do a little testing of your own and see you what you think. You can always drop me a line at sales@upfrontguitars.com.