I know it's been a while since we've featured any pickups here on Analog War Cry, but I assure you it was well worth the wait. This here is Chevalier Pickups, formally known as Copperhead Pickups. If ever you've had a chance to hear a set of these or own a set yourself, you know how fantastic they are. And if you're a newbie to the world of Chevalier pups you are in for a very special treat. Last year I set on a quest to put together a proper 60's style Straocaster. I went ahead and got myself a body, a neck, and got to work. Soon after I would discover it was easier said than done. I was able to find awesome vintage style tuners and trem setup, and great parts/components. Then it came to the pickups and I got stuck. I wanted to get as close to a 60's/Hendrix tone as humanly possible. Something that could push both stellar clean and dirty tones. While on my hunt I would come across a Copperhead Pickups review and to say the least, I was impressed and inspired by what I had read. A few weeks later a set of pickups would come knocking on my door and my search for the perfect tone would end. Now I am proud to say I own a guitar that is on a level that not many ever reach. All thanks to a cat named Jeff Chevalier.
- Hand wound to typical 67' wind count
- Plain enamel wire
- Alinco 5 magnets/Period correct stagger
- Grey vulcanized fibre flat work/Nod to Jimi
- Cloth covered leads
- Built for immaculate tone
- Custom customer specs also available
I honest to God don't even know where to start with these pickups, they have been such a blessing and have gotten me more compliments on my tone than any other piece of gear I own. Every show I've played with them, recording I've done, friend who has heard them, and tech who has heard them has been blown away by them. The 67's are wound to exact 1960's specs and are built with period correct parts and components. The outcome? A spot-on unmistakable classic 60's tone. Later Jeff would inform me that these were his tribute to the sound found in Jimi's spectacular late 60's Strats. Boy did he nail it. What else can I say about these baby's? They are built beautifully and will never ever leave my guitar. Now for some tones.
I will never forget the moment after plugging into my Strat just after having wired in the set of 67 pickups. I plucked down on that first chord and there it was.... that unmistakable snappy, bright, warm, and edgy sound of a proper 60's era Stratocaster. And all it took to achieve the sound was a decent guitar cable and proper tube amp. From here things would only got better too. The amp I started testing the pickups through was a Super Lead cranked up to a healthy howling grit. What better amp to test these pickups with right? The 67's playing through the amp's natural crunch sounded like something out of a dream! Within the pickups tones I could easily identify all of my favorite Hendrix records and tunes. Mixed with the powerful Super Lead the pickups created an overdrive type distortion that was full of jumping harmonics and overtones. What really stood out though was the amount of definition I was getting. I could hear every note perfectly! If I'd chug down, play a double-stop, or bend a string. The 67's would pickup every detail and nuance, then dish it out with killer classic rock flavor. For me, finding usable med to high overdrive with a Strat has not been easy. Usually I get too much raspyness, brittle character, or too sharp of a vibe. This is no problem if every you've played a vintage Strat. Something about the way the pickups were wound back then really let Strat's hold their own. This is the sound and feeling projected when playing through the 67's. I slowly started adding in more gain, cutting highs, and adding lows and mids. Here I was able to get more of an aggressive sound. A tone perfect for cutting through any setup, perfect for stacking guitar parts, and a perfect root tone for building on top of. While in the neck pickup position I began to experiment with some of my guitar's tone and volume controls settings. I was able to roll back on the guitar's volume to get a subtle, airy, light grit. I was still able to hear the pickups vintage character perfectly, and even more importantly still had the amp's root tone intact. With some pickups if you roll back the volume you find out things get muddy or out of focus. Not here. I then switched pickup positions to the neck/middle and played away. This pickup position for some reason has always been difficult to pull great tones out of. The Chevalier 67's blew right through this pickup setting like nothing. I had a great combination of boomy lows and thick midrange honk. The pickups also adapted and responded to tweaking the amp's tone controls quite nicely. I was able to dial in not just one sweet spot, but several. My pick attack had a lot to do with how I was able to pull so many tones from these pickups. With the amp set to a light overdrive I was able to get completely clean and serene guitar tones, just by picking softly. Then by digging in I was able to get everything the amp was dishing out. The really nice thing about playing these pickups through a sweet sounding light crunch was the 50/50 clean/dirty tones I would get by alternating my picking strength. Boy do I love me a set of pickups that can do that. It's something I've heard in Tom Petty's playing that I've always loved. Pickups like these are perfect for accenting your vocals and chorus'. I then took the Super Lead to high/medium gain levels and switched to the middle/bridge pickup position. Here I heard many many possibilities. Depending on how I'd set the tone and volume control on my guitar I was able to get everything from classic rock and blues tones, to alternative rock and country rock tones. Something I discovered while in this pickup position was a kind of cocked wah sound. I don't know if it was the cap I had in the guitar or what. But by shaving off some of the guitar's tone I got this subtle throaty sound that was perfect for riffing, leads, and power chords. Then the time for adding in some booster, overdrivers, and fuzz boxes came. For me it is all fine and dandy if a pedal can work great with an amp. But I like to use pedals, and if a pickup can't get along with my pedals it's time for that pickup to go. This of course was not the case here. Every type of dirt box or booster I threw at the Chevalier 67's exploded with fierce tonality. Pushing a fuzz pedal and vibe through my partner's Super Lead never sounded so damn good. Spot-on Hendrix city all the way. Even when dialing insanely cruel fuzz tones the pickups held their own and pushed out clear and defined notes. Single note runs also sounded killer, which in fact didn't sound like single notes at all. The amount of size these pickups can push out makes even the smallest of notes sound like giants. Since having the 67's in my Strat I have played gigs, recorded, let some friends record with them, and best of all written with them. There is nothing like a great sounding set of pickups to get your juices flowing. I am all about the classic rock, psychedelic, blues rock thing. These pickup? Perfect for that job. And this isn't the only arena they're champions in. At one point I was running some jazz solo exercises with my Strat because my buddy had borrowed my semi-hollow guitar. All it took to get a sweet dark'n'beautiful tone was playing with the right amp and tweaking the guitar's tone knobs. In the end it's all about feel. If you don't feel it - you don't feel it, PERIOD! Dream up or think of the most awesome sounding Strat tone your mind will let you imagine. The mirror of that tone is the Chevalier 1967's.
For more info on these amazing pickups go to www.chevalierpickups.com You can also reach the Chevalier Pickups site by clicking the direct link in our sidebar. I know Jeff is either int he works or already producing Tele pickups, which we will try are hardest to bring your way. Stay tuned