Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / Heaven 57 Pickups

What better way to bring some character into a guitar than to wire it up with a new set of pickups? A new set of pups is not only capable of delivering great tone, but can also shape your guitar into the tone monster you've always wanted it to be. Coming at us from our Nordic friends across the sea is Lundgren Guitar Pickups, a Swedish based pickup company with a talented ear for great tone. Of all the fantastic pickup builders I came across last year Lundgren was by far one of my personal favorites. The mastermind behind Lundgren Guitar Pickups is non other than Johan Lundgren, a man on a mission to hand the world as many great tone tools as possible. After many years of playing the guitar, playing in bands, and studying guitar pickups, Johan decided to dive into the art of rewinding pickups. Then after years of trial and error, dissecting old pickups, and paying close attention to what makes a great pickup sound great, Johan finally mastered the rewind process. The next logical step was for Johan to build his own pickups, and so was born Lundgren Guitar Pickups. Today Johan and his company are responsible for some of the world's greatest sounding, greatest performing pickups. We had a chance to put a set of Lundgren Heaven 57 humbuckers into action. The outcome?... Well, it was absolute tone heaven.


Lundgren Guitar Pickups
Jönköping, Sweden
Builder: Johan Lundgren
Years in the Game: 20

Heaven 57®

* Designed to 50's Specs
* Modeled after late 50's P.A.F.'s
* Wound with Plain Enamel Wire
* 5-40 Polescrew
* Wooden Spacer beneath the Bobbin
* Nickel/Silver Baseplate
* Alnico Magnet
* Heaven 57 also available in Aged Cover


In only took about five minutes to decide Lundgren was one of my new favorite pickup companies. We took the set of Heaven 57's and swapped them into an Epiphone Dot we had laying around the studio. I also switched the stock ceramic capacitor for a .1uf polystyrene orange drop capacitor. Instantly the guitar was thrown back into the studio's rotation and sounding fantastic. The sound of the Heaven 57's vs the stock pickups was like a breath of fresh air, like playing a proper vintage Epiphone. The Lundgren pickups are that good, literally. The mission Johan had to dial these pickups into a late 50's P.A.F. sound is spot on the mark and without error. We had a chance to compare the pickups with a proper late 50's Les Paul Standard that was loaned to us and the similarities were uncanny. All of the woody, earthy, and chunky tone you would expect from a great set of vintage humbuckers can be found in the Heaven 57's. They added a classic vibe to the guitar that made it seem as if we were thrown back in time. The construction of the pickups is also very impressive, you will see just from holding them in your hands that they are built extremely well and will last you a life time. When hunting for pickups, at least for me this is true, I want to make sure it will be the one and only time I will be installing pickups into whichever guitar they are going into. Honestly it would be nice if all of us could afford to purchase our dream guitars, guitars with rockin' pickups and awesome specs. With the way things are going these days it just seems more logical to get a mid-priced decent guitar, then hunt down a great set of pickups to bring it up to par. I'll tell you this much, the set of Lundgren Heaven 57's definitely added a much needed boost of life into our Epiphone Dot.

There weren't many amps we paired these pickups up with that didn't produce an amazing sound. Everything from low-watt to high-watt amplifiers, and low to high volumes worked great with the Heaven 57's. Their classic Gibson P.A.F. tone gave them a natural aggression that drove clean tones into some of the most grit tearing rock tones I'd ever heard. Even better was driving an amp on the verge of overdrive and letting the pickups take care of the rest, this is where the pickups truly shined. Then matching them up with some of my favorite fuzz boxes? Oh yeah, absolute psychedelic/garage rock heaven. The first setup for us was a 100 watt Super Lead, and a TS808 for extra boost. We set the amp up straight up the middle and plugged into it's High Treble channel. I played through the neck pickup first without the TS808 engaged. The amp and pickups produced a sweet, warm, and rich sound that improved the guitar's dynamic range and enhanced the overall tone. To get a little grit out of the sound all I had to do was strengthen my pick attack. To get a completely sparkling clean tone from the neck pickup all I did was roll the guitar's volume back a tiny bit. Next I flipped into the Heaven 57 bridge pickup. Here I was able to get some stunning lead tones and growling rhythm sounds. The dynamic qualities that are in the neck pickup also translated to the bridge pickup. In the middle pickup position I got a perfect balance of punch and warmth. Taking the guitar's tone knob back about half way and kicking in the Tubescreamer created the most insane sounding overdrive sound. Think of Neil Young's tone blended with a bit of Stevie Ray's and that's what I got. Not too aggressive and just dirty enough to do some damage. In fact, this became my favorite Heaven 57 sound. Before switching amps we took the Super Lead and pumped it straight into a natural low overdrive. Like I mentioned earlier this is where the pickups really did their best work. I was stunned at how great our guitar was sounding. After flipping back and fourth from pickup to pickup I stepped on the TS808 and let everything fly. The distortion was open and whole, clear and not muddy, and in perfect harmony with the Dot's semi-hollow body design. With both amp and pedal cranked to their fullest we even got some edgy modern distortion tones that worked great for knocking out huge sounding power chords. One of the other amps we plugged into that really stood out to me was my modified 4x10 Deville. My Deville is the kind of amp that leaves no room for hiding, either something sounds good through it or it doesn't. Without any pedals, a tad bit reverb, and a evenly set tone stack, the pickups came off just lovely. The neck pickup was round and full, and bridge pickup crisp and clear. Playing both simple and complex chords sounded amazing. This is where you can tell a good pickup from a not so good one. A nice pickup will project every string evenly and clearly. A cheap pickup projects everything muddy and congested. Next the fuzz pedals came rushing in, both classics and newer stompboxes. All of them worked nicely with the pickups and never got out of control. When playing fuzz pedals you always want to make sure you have a pickup that can handle the job. We had no problem getting all the tones we wanted from the pedals. Even when we set really extreme fuzz setting the Heaven 57's were able to bring it back a notch by rolling back the guitar's volume. Just like you would expect from a vintage Les Paul or 335. In the end the Heaven 57's were able to cover many many different rock genres. Classic rock, blues, punk rock, alternative rock, country, hard rock, and even some jazz was possible with these bad boys. Now we have another guitar we can use in our recording sessions, gigs, and practices. I would highly recommend anyone looking for a authentic P.A.F. tone to seek out these pickups. Or if there's some other flavor you thirst for Lundgren I'm sure is capable of quenching it. There are a handful more different humbucker models, Strat, Tele, P90's, and even bass pickups. If you have a set you need rewound Lundgren can also take care of that for you. What does that say to you? I know what that tells me.... that these guys are on top of their game and very experienced in the pickup building process. We will try and report back on more from this awesome company and hopefully have some different models to introduce you to. For now if the 50's rock thing is what you crave, start here. You won't ever look back.

Aged Covers
also available for
Heaven 57 neck and bridge pickups


For more info on Lundgren Guitar Pickups go to www.lundgren.se Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more from this awesome pickup company. Lundgren also offers a wide variety of other pickup models and also does spectacular rewinds. Keep on rockin' and bringin' the noise!

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