If you love way a guitar plays but are unhappy with the tone, look to the pickups. Without a pickup the electric guitar is an acoustic, so it’s fair to say that a good proportion of its tone is in the pickup. With that in mind, a cheap guitar can benefit just as much as an expensive one – and the results can be dramatic in both. Whether you've got a classic muddy '57 or an outrageously powerful Far-Eastern ceramic single coil I can help.
Changing pickups is an easy, straight forward task that requires some basic soldering skills and patience! Many people have successfully changed pickups without any prior experience using the installation guide provided with the pickup. Please remember that it is imperative that you have the correct tools, remember hot soldering irons can cause very serious burns (I know). Also remember it is possible to damage you or your guitar if you rush and slip. We can arrange to fit the pickups for you or you can use a qualified local luthier to do the job if you do not feel confident.
Each pickup has been developed by me, a guitarist who cares more about tone than anything else. Using Bare Knuckle Pickups exceptional, award winning tone as a starting point, together with the same winding techniques and construction methods, I've taken a great deal of time and effort to develop pickups that rank among the worlds best. The aim has not been to remove the character of your guitar, just bring out it's natural qualities and get the best tone it is capable of producing. Organic, alive, dynamic and responsive tone and top class build quality is the design brief; try them for yourself - I think you'll agree!
Where mass production has killed of tone among pickup manufacturers, guitars are better than ever. Some of today’s entry level production instruments are very good – but the quality of pickups tends to be poor. A good £200 guitar with a set of Bulldogs will give guitars costing many times more a run for their money.
Yes, you would be amazed at how many respected manufacturers penny pinch when it comes to pickups, and none of the big guys go to the extra effort of winding by hand. A Bulldog pickup will make a good instrument great.
What is the benefit of a hand wound pickup?
Hand wound pickups have improved clarity and extended harmonic response over machine wound pickups. It’s because winding by hand creates a scattered pattern of wire wound on the pickup bobbin. This scatter winding lowers capacitance, and you hear more treble detail and harmonic content. Next to machine wound pickups the difference is dramatic. It’s no surprise that most of the early pickups whose tone is legendary were wound by hand.
It helps if you can narrow down the tone you are looking for. Perhaps you need classic vintage output with clear highs and smooth midrange, or maybe high power with pronounced midrange. Use the pickup descriptions and sound clips as a guide and feel free to get in touch if you need any help. If you can’t find anything in our standard range let the Bulldog custom build your perfect pickup.
Bulldog doesn’t want to mislead of confuse you with tech specs, let your ears be the judge! But just help here’s a few tips.
Resonant peak is determined by several factors, including capacitance, inductance and impedance. The resonant peak is the pickups most prominent frequency, and can give an indication of a pickups voice. The problem is that the resonant peak will change as the amplifier your using, any effects, the cable you use all affect the balance between impedance and capacitance. So, published resonant peaks aren’t much use!
DC resistance is often used to indicate a pickups power. Trouble is it doesn’t really tell you that much, other factors come in to play regarding output power. DC can be used as an indication of power so long as you know the wire gauge used and magnet fitted. High DC can indicate two things, more turns or a thinner gauge of wire. DC in the product descriptions is approximate and will change depending on room temperature.
A pickup is a generator. Three elements can be changed to vary a generators power, more wire, a more powerful magnet or increase the rate of change in the magnetic field (heavier stings or more pick attack). Faraday figured that out. DC can be used to compare pickups wound with the same gauge of wire, but do check the type of magnet used when comparing power.
Magnets affect the output and tone of a pickup dramatically. The classic pickup magnet is called alnico, and is available in several grades, each having its own power output and tone. Ceramic is a different magnetic material and has it’s own tone and sounds great in the right pickup.
Wire and the type of insulation also affect tone and power just as drastically. More turns yield more power but darken the tone and increase midrange. Thinner gauges alter the size of the coil changing the sound, and also allow you to put on more turns. Wire insulation also affects the tone of the pickup especially in the midband, a fact often ignored by many manufacturers who specify insulation based on ease of manufacture rather than tone.
Bulldog pickups are all wax potted as standard, covered and high output pickups are double potted (first just the coils, second after assembly). This limits microphonic feedback, the high pitch uncontrollable sound that can occur at high volume or high gain levels. This is full wax potting is recommended for most players, the tone is still great but you'll not have microphonic feedback problems!
Lower power Bulldog humbuckers are also available un-potted or with our partial pot technique. Both of these techniques give a more responsive and resonant tone that breaks out easily into controllable harmonic feedback.
Un-potted pickups maximise this response but due to our exceptional build quality and careful coil winding the feedback is not too severe and can be controlled by an experienced player. Highly recommended for those seeking true vintage tone and response, not recommended for high gain players.
Partial pot humbuckers have wax carefully applied to key areas to minimise vibration and unwanted feedback. Partial pot humbuckers are still not recommended for use with high gain amplifiers at high volume as they are prone to microphonic feedback in these circumstances, especially if you stand close to the amp.
Bulldog will either help you find your tone from one of the standard pickups in the range, modify one of these standard pickups or custom build from the ground up. Just select the pickup closest, tell us what you want it to do by filling in the other requests box and I'll handle it from there.
I use the best parts, build carefully, and can confidently guarantee pickups for life to the original purchaser. In the case of problems as a result of materials or workmanship, just return them for repair or replacement. This does not cover accidental damage or misuse, normal cosmetic wear and tear, improper installation or modifications.
Bulldog Pickups use two different styles of magnet, alnico and ceramic. We use different grades of alnico (II, III, IV and V) and one grade of ceramic (8). Each type has a different amount of magnetic strength and this effects the tone. We carefully match the magnet to the coil wind for best results.
Alnico tends to be found in vintage style designs where ceramic is found in more modern guitar pickups. You can use them as an indication of power when you look at the DC resistance. (read here)
Magnet wire is the name given to the wire that is wound around the pickup to form a coil and make it work. Different diameters will change the power and tone. We use AWG (American Wire Gauge) when talking about diameter and the higher the number the thinner the wire. The length of wire wrapped around the pickup is one factor in determining pickup's power, thinner wire will allow you to put more turns around the pickup before you run out of space thus increasing power. Thinner wire also has a higher DC resistance reading hence the reason why you need to know the wire gauge before comparing DC resistance. A pickup wound with 5000 turns of 42 gauge wire will be around the same output as a pickup wound with the same number of turns of 43 gauge (thinner) wire but the 43 gauge will have a higher DC as the wire is thinner. The tone will also change with 43 gauge being brighter.
The insulation around the wire also effects tone. For vintage P.A.F. tone it must be plain enamel, for vintage pre CBS Strats you need Heavy Formvar, or plain enamel on later strats. More modern poly based insulations display a high mid peak that gives many pickups a harsh sound. We have found that when used carefully this style of wire favours contemporary high power pickups and the midrange peak can be used to add clarity and definition.
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-’54 Vintage: vintage stagger with a high G string magnet. With a vintage neck radius under 9.5” this stagger is best used with string sets with a wound G string.
-’57 Vintage: vintage stagger with a low G string magnet. With a neck radius under 9.5” this stagger is better suited to strings without a wound G string.
-Reverse stagger for left handed players available on request.Teles:
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