Wednesday, October 7, 2009

From the Heavens to You

If I can say one thing that's for sure it is that my entire life as a musician has been one of learning, great experience, and more learning. Through trial and error I have found what works for me and what sounds best. Every once and when we come across those few pieces of gear that just sound and work great from the get-go. Whether it be some great sounding compressor you use in the studio, a dirty old little amp you use to record with, or that magic pair of pickups in your favorite guitar. This has always been the gear that has made our music special. Ken of Angeltone Electronics has taken it upon himself to build us some pickups that deliver some of the most unforgettable and immaculate tones from the golden era of rock, country, soul, and everything in between. Angeltone's pickups have been one of treasure finds for us here at Analog War Cry and as a musician has brought me some of the signature tones I have been seeking since day one. Out of an obsession and passion for great tone has Ken brought us these amazing musical tools. Because sometimes it takes more than just the love of sound to get the job done.

Angeltone Electronics
V Series
Model: 50b Pickup
Alnico III Flatpole Magnets
43 Gauge Plain Enamel Wire
Real Black Wax Potting
Original Spec Cloth Covered Hookup Wire

In order for a guitar to sound great it needs the 3 key ingredients, a good player, a sweet sounding amp to play it through, and a killer set of guitar pickups. It has been my experience that even the most flimsiest of guitars can sound great when equipped with some decent sounding pickups. Throw in a great set, a bit of skill and you're on your way to rocking in the free world. When I discovered Ken's Angeltone pickups I was in the middle of putting together a clone of a custom Tele I had lost. This was probably my all-time favorite guitar (being that I am a big-time Tele player) and putting together a clone of this guitar was proving to be one tuff task. His name was Black Dog, an all black Tele with a humbucker in the neck, single coil in the bridge, 5-way switch, and some sexy dings and scratches. Reproducing the sound of the neck pickup was easy, I had opened up Black Dog and discovered it was a Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbucker, not too hard to find. I never learned what the single coil Tele pickup was, it had no markings of any kind other than what looked like some vintage specs. I had explained what kind of pickup I was interested in checking out when I spoke to Ken, he suggested his Broadcaster 50B lead pickup, I was game. The pickup came in the mail a few weeks later looking more beautiful than I had imagined it would. Something happened to my Tele that day, it came to life and took the shape I was going for. Yet there was something more in the sound, it felt more open and in your face. As I dug in and began to play with my tones, pedals, and volume settings I noticed how transparent the 50B pickup was. There were some great rhythm pickup characteristics in it and also a projection in the sound I don't come across very often. Building a great sounding Tele bridge pickup is something many cats have told me is not an easy task. I've been fortunate enough to play some very early Broadcasters/Telecasters, Ken nailed that early 50's tone spot-on and with absolute authenticity. From this one bridge pickup I am now able to get all the tones I got from my lost guitar, and at the same time some of my favorite rock, country, and funk guitar tones. Combined with a good sounding tube amp these pickups are a dream, they hold and release the notes like a true vintage guitar does. That warm yet slightly aggressive tone you can get form digging in to the strings, that sound that works great with any type of music. Played through a completely clean amp tone the sound is full, spanky, and fills the air just right. Almost like they've been hit with a hint of compression and eq. It really is something special to listen to. The response is instant and hits hard enough to dish out some great naturally sounding overdriven sounds. Lots of rhythm guitar parts I play in my band are played with my Tele. With a bit of tube amp grit I was able to get some of the most perfect sounding rhythm guitar tones. Adding in a booster or drive pedal made things even better! To every sound I needed for a gig all I had to do was lay back on the guitar's volume knob and that was that. For those of you who love your pedals and mostly use pedals to get your crunch you will absolutely love these pickups. There is great dymanics, depth, and attitude in these pickups, because of this each note is well balanced and comes across clearly. We all know how much it can suck when you dial in a great sounding dirty tone only to discover that the pickups you're using can't handle and deliver the sound they way you want it to. These pups won't disappoint. Next I went through some of my favorite fuzz boxes, there aren't many cats who are known for using fuzz with Tele's. This is kind of my thing and I've discovered mixing Tele pickups with fuzz can produce some insanely cool and original tones. Just like I expected the pickup sounded great through all the classic voiced fuzz boxes. But what really surprised me was how well it took to some of the more extreme fuzz pedals I have. This is where I saw just how great of a lead pickup the 50B really is. Imagine all those killer Jimi lead tones blended in with some of Jason Simon of Dead Meadow's tone, absolute psychedelic rock heaven. Last just to see how well they handled high distortion we went ahead and plugged it into the hot-rodded Marshall. Again it came through with flying colors. We all know how hard it is to get those sounds we love, those sounds we work so hard to get. When we're able to dial-in a tone that's been floating around in our heads it's like magic, like pulling something out of thin air. Every once and while we need a little help to get the job done and that's where cats like Ken and his fabulous Angeltone pickups come in to play. Everything you do and play as a musician lives and speaks through your tone, make sure you're speaking clearly and with the right voice.

For more info on Angeltone Electronic pickups go to or click the Angeltone logo in our links for direct access to their website. Look for more info and Angeltone features to come in the near future.

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