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OK. I have seen Guitar Fetish pickups at prices that seem insane compared to what most pickups cost - and they have things like humbucker sized P90s that are hard to find in any case. Their stuff looks great and they actually seem to know what they're talking about.

But I've never heard one. I don't have any friends who've taken the plunge and bought one. I'm reluctant to take a risk on any of these without a real human being reporting on it.

  • Based on your experience, are these pickups well-built, or are they noisy pickups that won't last?

  • How do they compare to, say, units built by Gibson or Seymour Duncan?

  • Can anyone describe the kind of tone they get, compared to other pickups?

  • I have the tele pickups from gfs and the active eq. I am very pleased with the tonal variation I can achieve with this setup. Much more variation then a passive system. The tone is clear and can sound like a stock Tele but with the mids cranked you get a gutsy blues/rock tone and you can add more treble as well, on a separate control. Don't forget that an active system can boost not just take away frequencies. – user2077 Dec 20 '12 at 4:59
  • I have these and put them in a Japanese Jaguar Special. I personally really like them, as I can get a lot of different tones from them. That being said, they sound like large single coils and not too hot. I actually put a switch on the shielding, so I can turn it on and off. Off, they sound like a single coil, and on they sound a little chimey, which I like. The difference is subtle, though. Overall a great pickup. One thing is that I think it lacks a wide response, but most pickups do IMHO, even expensive ones. I really like the sound I get from these, though I wanted the Brooklyns. – JFA Jun 25 '14 at 2:05
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I bought one of the tele style hollow body guitars from guitar fetish with the P90 pickups. In my opinion they sound great for rock and blues. I can plug the guitar straight in to all of my amps except the solid state practice amp and get a good sound.

Through my Fender tube amp, cranked, they sound a lot like the tone from "I Fought The Law". I am debating purchasing a set of the Dream 180s but I've been procrastinating. Some people on Harmony Central and The Gear page have posted samples of the pickups, if you're interested in listening.

  • This is the personal experience with GFS products that I am looking for, thank you. What is wrong with the sound through your practice amp? Does this guitar sound any worse than others on that same amp? Or is it just that your practice amp doesn't sound that great in and of itself? – gomad Mar 16 '11 at 1:28
  • @gomad: Very few things sound good through the practice amp, so that's probably not a knock on the pickups. All the other amps around here are tubes and its the only solid state. Everything but my strat sounds harsh through it. – Anonymous Mar 16 '11 at 5:36
  • They sound great through my Vox Pathfinder-10, which is a tiny practice amp. – JFA Jun 25 '14 at 2:09
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Although I have no qualms with Guitar Fetish, I would only purchase pickups from reputable dealers that I know to be of high quality. Since the pickups lend so much to the tone of your instrument--they are essentially the microphones to your guitars voice, in my opinion you should be very picky about ensuring that you get quality components. There are many other manufacturers that sell any pickup your heart desires, but at a little more scratch than what GF wants for them. In my experience it will be worth it, however. There's a good chance that if you bought a set from GF it would have Made in China stamped somewhere on it, and although I have nothing against the Chinese that usually doesn't point to a quality product when it comes to electronics. I have upgraded every guitar I own from stock manufacturer's pickups to sets wound by my favorite pickup guy for a couple hundred bucks a pop--and I am absolutely never disappointed by the tonal upgrade.

Call me picky, but pickups are one place where I would never consider skimping. Would you buy a guitar made out of plywood? I'd venture a guess: no.

  • Well, yes and no. I took my #1 electric, a 1988 MIJ top-loader Fender Tele to Sweetwater for last year's Gearfest and plugged it in to a nice amp. I believe a Mesa/Boogie. Anyway, after that I pulled a few other Teles off the wall, including a few Custom Shop Teles and a Baja, and I compared them. Remember that within 2 years, the MIJ Tele was a Squier model, so not great electronics, not great pickups, but I didn't think my #1 sounded that much worse than the US-made US-pickup'd Teles at the store. – Dave Jacoby Mar 16 '11 at 3:34
  • In my defense I'm not preaching boutique mumbo-jumbo here :D. I'm just as broke as you guys, but I really do hear a very large difference between my stock MIM Telecaster pups and my Lollar Tele specials. That difference may be small to some folks, but to me it's huge and worth the investment. Totally subjective though I understand. – Jduv Mar 16 '11 at 3:55
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Guitar Fetish or GFS is a reputable business and has a very good return policy if you follow the rules. I have had good luck with their products - best practices: the really inexpensive pickups are going to be a bit better than the ones sold with low end guitars. Note: sometimes the clearance sales are for products they bought on a volume deal and are not their own products. I bought a set of clearance Tele PU's for $21 and they sound pretty good, much better than the stock Squier Affinity PuP's. I've also purchased a set of the Strat Texas style at $50 and they are pretty good but I understand the $70 set is smoother (from a guy on another forum who has tried both). Thrir products are decent and might be comparable to higher end parts (Seymor Duncan, etc..) but there is no guarantee of that. Personally I have been very pleased with their products and the prices and service have been excellent.

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Guitar Fetish don't build their own pickups. Several of their models are identical to those offered by the Artec brand, so it seems likely that Artec are the OEM (as they are for Wilkinson, Tone Rider, Iron Gear, Giovanni, Warman and several other brands). To widen the net slightly you could simply find the corresponding Artec model to the pickup you fancy and see if anybody has reviewed that pickup. For example Artec build a Dimarzio X2N copy that is sold under various brand names (Crunchy Rails in GFS parlance). In general if a cheap pickup looks very similar to another cheap pickup then it is likely from the same OEM. The GFS Crunchy Rails pickup looks pretty identical to the Entwistle Pickups X3 model.

The only issue I can foresee is that because Guitar Fetish can buy in bulk they might specify differences in the pickup specs. For example they may request an overwound cream-coloured PAF-type humbucker with hex-bolt pole pieces. Visually this would look like an Iron Gear Steam Hammer humbucker (and the Dimarzio Super Distortion of course) but may sound different if GFS request a different magnet or output rating.

My biggest concern would be that Artec simply build one style of humbucker, and adjust one attribute without worrying about the others. When Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, the boutique winders et al decide to build a hot humbucker they don't simply take their standard PAF humbucker flatwork and magnet set and stick a couple of thousand extra turns on each coil. They might have done this in the '70s (back in the bad old days when some guitarists took two original Gibson PAF pickups, stacked them vertically and wired them in series to get a hotter signal), but builders tend to consider ever element of a pickup when it comes to adjusting an element of the design. A cheaper builder will probably not do this, simply swap a magnet or set the winder to a different count number without due consideration for the impact this will have on the pickup's tone.

I would warn that cheaper pickups might be microphonic, but the most loyal PAF clones come without any wax potting, and authentic Strat pickups get a perfunctory dip in lacquer by way of potting. Some people claim the microphonics enhance the tone... but usually only when they've spent considerably more than GFS prices for their pickups.

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Have been playing since '62 and owned a lot of guitars. Few years ago started restoring some of my older and cheaper instruments and tried Guitar Fetish pickups. Was amazed by the sound. Now have their 'lil killers' (I think) on a nice recent US Strat, 2 sets of their humbuckers on good Ibanez gtrs, set of their 'red actives' on a Japan Strat, and a set of their humbucking p90 replacements on a Tele. All these pups sound (imho) very good indeed. On other guitars I have most of the big name active and passive pups. The Guitar Fetish pups hold their own with anything else in my collection. I use expensive amps and am particular about tone. I am in absolutely no way associated with Guitar Fetish and have no idea what their guitars are like. Their pickups are damn good.

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little late to the conversation!!have guitar fetish p 90,s on a loaded scratch plate,fitted to a project guitar,mostly ebay!.superb sound,plenty of range,every body here loves it!at a cost of £43.00 sterling,including shipping to UK.no hesitation in buying their products.puts my USA strat to shame tonewise!both played thro valve marshall amp.

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