Friday, November 20, 2009

Authentic Vintage Tone Today

We said we'd be back with some more killer gear from Raw Vintage, well here it is. For those of you who might have missed the last Raw Vintage feature we had done some reviews on their vintage quality pure steel saddles and tremolo springs. Raw Vintage is a company that has made it pretty clear what they're here to do, and that is to provide us with some really great guitar products, period! It is so important for those of us who play or collect vintage guitars to be able to fit them with the proper hardware and parts. Let's face it an authentic vintage piece just doesn't work unless it's sporting the correct outfit. Then there's that breed of gear junky that loves to build and modify his own gear. We hope we can inspire you cats to look into these killer products and get the chance to play your dream guitar.

Our next feature from Raw Vintage is their vintage voiced 50's and 60's Strat pickups, and these are no joke, serious, vintage tone machines. It's really something special when someone can builds gear that recreates the great sounds of our golden age of rock and roll. It is the many years experience in rewinding vintage pickups that gave Raw Vintage the ability to create their own authentic vintage voiced pickups. They used similar vintage pickup building techniques such as staggered pole pieces, Alnico magnets, AWG-42 gauge wire (same as the heavy formvar magnet wire used in vintage pickups), and wax potting. You can check out more info on Raw Vintage's pickup building techniques on their website. We had a chance to put each a 50's and a 60's set into action, testing each set of pickups through both vintage and modern amps. The outcome was something that floored us and absolutely satisfied our tone junky thirst. These are not your average boutique pickups.

(pickups available in aged or non-aged appearance)

50's Tone Pickups

If you've ever had the chance to play a proper 50's Stratocaster you know there is nothing quite like it. Pickups manufactured back in the 50's had something about them that created an even, warm, and defined tone. A sound we spend lots of time trying to achieve. So what is it about vintage pickups that makes them sound so good? It isn't some sort of magic or secret building techniques. So what is it? I'll tell you what it is, it's simply a matter of components and building strategies. This is why vintage pickups sound the way they do and the reason we're all hungry for them. The Raw Vintage RV-5661 pickups are everything you would want from a 50's Strat pickup from the sound on down to the look. What if you have an aged guitar that you don't want to swap shiny new pickups into? No problem, Raw Vintage makes both aged and new pickup styles. I swapped a set of RV-5661's into a standard mexican made Stratocaster and instantly I could hear a difference. All the bounce, jangle, and pop one would expect from a great set of Strat pickups came singing through my guitar. The 50's rock sound is one that had lots of spank in it, it was a sound that also worked great for blues, R&B, and blues. One thing that is a must in order to recreate a good set of 50's style pickups is warmth, period! I played the 5661's first through a 57 Tweed Champ, a reissue of course. All the way through the Champ's volume knob I was able to get some great usable tones. The blend of the low wattage amp and the Raw Vintage pickups created some of the best rhythm guitar tones we have ever been able to dial-in. We moved it up to some more power next by plugging into a Twin, here is where these pickups let themselves be known. All it took was a bit of the Twin's high's, mids, lows, and hint of reverb to get those immaculate clean tones we all love to play with. The depth in the sound of these pickups really shined as I turned up the volume and began to get some grit. Harmonics and richness in every note, and perfect amount of sustain without the use of a compressor. That's a good sign you're playing a quality set of pickups. Even when I dug into the strings things didn't become muddy, instead the strings resonated in all the right places which made them produce a warm, natural overdrive. The 5661's kept the amp's sound clear and consistent. To get back to a bouncy clean tone all I had to do was roll the guitar's volume back. I also noticed I could get clean tones by simply playing lighter, the sound would mellow out growl only when pursued. These are great pickups for those of you who like to let your hands do all the talking. The RV-5661's will produce everything from pristine cleans, punchy dirt tones, and screaming leads. Raw Vintage has really created a set of genius pickups, and all simply by following some traditional techniques. Oh how I love that good ol' rock and roll. Grab a set and bring back the sound that has worked for so damn long, you can't go wrong.


60's Tone Pickups

The 60's, they were a wonderful time for music, rock most of all. I see the 60's as the birth of heavy rock, experimentation, and the road that has led us to where we are today in rock and roll. There was a lot going on with both guitars and amplifiers that guitar players had to get accustomed to, having the right set of pickups was key in order to make sure you rocked. The Raw Vintage RV-6264 60's voiced pickups bring back all those fierce, in your face, and lovely tones we all love and worship. I put the set of RV-6264's in a 60's project Strat I was working on, they're still in this guitar and probably won't be going anywhere. First I played the pickups through a Twin Reverb, set it clean and let it fly. I was able to get a beautiful chimed and spanky sound, the kind of sound that's perfect for chord work, finger picking, country, blues, and funk. The sound was bright but not tinny, and had a sweet balance of lows and mids. Each string came across even and not jagged, which accented the beautiful cleans of my Fender amp. I've played single coils in the past that have produced uneven string projection, this leads to ugly sounding chords, and more work when recording. This is not an issue with these pickups. Next I added in some of my favorite overdrivers to the clean setting to see what kind of a dirty sound I could get from the 6264's. I noticed right away how well the lows, mids, and highs all stayed intact at all levels of overdrive. Some single coils will howl in all the wrong places or become muddy when played through certain overdrive or distortion pedals. I was able to keep my tone in check without much fiddling of the amp's eq knobs, and the pickups cleaned up nicely when I rolled back the volume. Now it was time for some serious overdrive, some english amp style overdrive. After all, what kind of a test would this be without playing these pickups through a vintage Marshall? I set in a perfect amount of rhythm grit, and flipped between each pickup position. The neck pickup had a perfect amount of output, great for those dirty Hendrix style rhythm tones. All I had to do to kick it into lead madness was step on my booster. Instantly everything from Stevie Ray, and Clapton, to Blackmore, and Buddy Guy came pouring from my amp. I was also able to get some nice dirty jazz tones by laying off on the drive and rolling back on my guitar's tone and volume. In the middle pickup position you get just as good a fat and clear sound only you get hint more mids and highs, this works for great for switching out your rhythm tones in case you're clashing with another guitar player. The ultimate joy in these pickups is definitely in the bridge pickup though, it's not too harsh and has just the right amount of output. The bridge position produced a smooth, balanced attack on the strings which made for some silky, aggressive lead work. Playing the lead pickup through a fuzz pedal was even better, all-out psychedelic rock heaven! It's clear these pickups were designed to work great in all positions. Along with all the in-between settings the possibilities are endless. The RV-6264's work great for so many uses and sound great for all types of music. Whether you're looking to build a solid 60's replica, need to replace a vintage set pups, or just want to upgrade your tone, these bad boys will sa-tis-fy! Enjoy and keep rocking on boys and girls.

For more info on Raw Vintage Products go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. We will continue to keep you guys informed on any news and updates from raw Vintage so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.



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