Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Klein Pickups/Bringing back the art of tone.

The musician, how he strives to find that special tone that lives within him. He sits patiently experimenting with endless combinations of settings and levels, hoping to strike gold. Some access their dream tone though skill, some with a fine ear, and others simply by chance. With all the wonderful gear available today I'd say it's almost impossible not to sound good. Some cats rely on their pedals, some their amps, and then there's that other breed of musician, the type that goes in and gets his hands dirty. These are the cats that have their sound howling at the moon, the ones you'd swear had to have sold their souls to the devil in order to sound so damn good. Under a fine light you come to see that the devil has nothing to do with it, what you do find are people like Chris Klein, and the passion that lives within that will only settle for pure, uncut tone. We're talking pickups here friends, pickups that'll have your axe singing like it's never sung before. It is important that we educate ourselves in every area of the tone spectrum, by dissecting our favorite tunes, artists, and eras we come to find the sound that fits us best. There is no better feeling than learning how to take control of our tone, and equally as good is discovering the new skills we acquire along the way, like a kid and a new toy. Well I happen to be that kid at the moment, these last few months have been my jump into the world of pickup swapping, and it's opened up an endless world of beautiful tones. When I came across Klein Pickups I had to pause and listen, my guitar was saying "We can stop here." For those of us who need more than the mass produced factory pickup this is the place to be, you'll come to discover your guitars true voice.

Model: Esquire
Output: 7.6k
Magnet Type: Alnico 3

When I first spoke with Chris about which pickups to try out I thought why not an Esquire model, I was very curious to hear his take on this timeless legend. When I saw the work put into the pickup I could tell they were built by a skilled hand, when I heard what the pickup sounded like I knew that passion and spot on research went into bringing it to life. The Klein Esquire pickup holds true all the sound of the classic pre-CBS Fender tone, imagine all the same characteristics with more richness and clarity. Coupled with a vintage Tele bridge and 3 brass saddles this pickup will deliver all the sustain, power, and size you'll ever need in a bridge pickup. It's wound with Alnico 3 Flush mount magnets and Enamel wire which stay true to early esquire specs. A hint of well balanced compression helps hold the tone in place and keeps it from becoming shrill and overpowering. Through clean settings it gives off a lucid chime and sparkle only a true to heart classic Esquire could produce. Overdrive and light distortion settings is where this pickup really sings, and my favorite were driving it through fuzz boxes. It grabs notes and releases them with ease, making guitar solos easy to manipulate into whichever shape or form fits your style best. This most certainly isn't just another bum replacement, I can bet once this puppy is swapped in it'll stay there. There's a reason why cats like Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, and Jeff Beck used Esquires in their music, the signature tone. For those true seekers of the vintage sound this pickup is the perfect place to start and a great way to regain one of the cornerstones of rock and roll. When all is said and done, I have to say I am extremely impressed with this pickup and would stand it up to any original.

Model: Early 50's
Output: 7.7k
Magnet Type: Alnico 3

Ah yes, the early 50's, when I think early 50's I think of one thing...the Tele. All the wonderful funk, country, and blues tones we know and love so well has made it's comeback in the Klein Early 50's pickup. Think of all that a good neck pickup can do for your sound and you have the Klein Early 50's Tele model. The shape of the tone and well balanced EQ makes for a versatile collection of great sounding guitar sounds and layers. After installing the pickup my guitar's tone knob came to life, my pick attack was spot on, and overall response of my amp's EQ was muc clearer. Rolling back the volume and tone knob through a good fuzz box produced some killer sounding classic rock rhythm and solo tones, think Sabbath and Cream...all day baby. My guitar was transformed into a screaming rhythm machine, full of weight, bite and growl. Clean settings with these pickups sound fantastic, a touch of compression and you have all the spank you'll ever need. Chris really went all out when he decided to build his version of a early 50's Tele neck pickup, playing and listening to the pickup you can feel it's genuine and vintage tone, an art loved but not lost. For those of you cats sporting standard Telecasters, building your own guitars and looking for an upgrade or mod, Klein's Early 50's and Esquire pickup models make for perfect replacements. We used a standard Tele to swap the pickups into and the projection afterwards was like day and night, it ups it all, your amp's tone, the delivery of your stompboxes, anything you throw at these pickups sound great through them. I've always been a huge fan of using rhythm pickups for lead licks, there's no better way at getting a chunky lead tone than by using a good neck pickup. One of the best things about rocking a set of Klein Pickups is that they're all hand wound and built from vintage specs, like vintage pickups this gives each pickup it's own distinct sound and character. What more can I say? You can't go wrong with these badboys, the sound is right, the price is right, and your axe will love you for it.

For more info on Klein Pickups go to www.kleinpickups.com or click the logo in our links. Also stay tunes for pickup demos of the Klein Esquire and Early 50's, and our interview with Chris Klein.


  1. I have the AD80 delay from these guys, the best little delay I ever used. Great review. I actually read your Klein Esquire and 50's tele pickups, nice work. I contacted Chris to get a set today, thank for the info.

  2. I have several Chris Klein Tele pups. 1)'Coffee Break' bridge pup,Alnico5 with raised d and g poles, 43 gauge enamel wire ,white cotton cloth, 8.78K. Unbelievable clarity and slight compression with this pup. Twangy(in a very good way) clean, overdrive is where this pup really shines, never harsh, just thick and creamy. 2) Broadcaster bridge pup. Alnico3 flat poles, 43 gauge enamel wire, black cotton cloth, 10.25K. Very different from the previous 'Coffee Break' pup, very 'BROWN' sound with heavier mid presence, but not overbearing. Tight bottom end and smooth treble. Solid clear clean presence, but overdrive this pup is a blast to play through with just the right mount of compression as this pup grabs the notes from the fret-board and releases them to the pre-amp. Addictive to play with high gain amps like Mesa's Rectifier or Marshall TSL's. Overall, Klein pups are very rewarding pups with regards to sound quality and character. I don't think Klein could ever make a bad sounding pup if he tried. I recommend his pups highly.

  3. I would buy more of these pickups if he could supply them faster. But Im happy with my Jazzy Cats. And have ordered a tele bridge and a humbucker