Review: Guitar Fetish Drop-in Strat Pickups

As I had a 2nd cheap Strat copy hanging around I decided to make it a bit more fun for recording with. Guitar Fetish is well-known to most modding folks and there are naysayers and boosters all over the net. To my ears the pickups aren't as refined as US-made boutique stuff but... who cares? I'm rarely after a refined tone, myself, and for the money you lay down you get interesting gear. This Strat copy has a basswood body (lightweight and "airy" in tone) and so I wanted to complement that with some pickups that'd play off of that sort of poppy dry sound that's almost semi-hollowbody in response pattern.

I picked out a 6k Pro-Tube alnico-mag lipstick pup for the middle (to coax some Dano tones). As expected (I've used them before) the lipstick pup sounds chimey and surf-twangy and the middle position comes across well as the "neck pickup" Dano sound. This is my default choice of the three as it's so clear-toned. You can get a pretty "rad" slide tone out of it, too, that sounds nearly acoustic.

The bridge 8k "Brighton Rock" pickup is snarly and a little "radial airplane engine" when overdriven at the amp which actually, on this guitar, gives it a really 50s Gretsch Dynasonic sort of sound. It's a fair bit warmer than your average Strat bridge pickup (which = icy) but certainly has bark.

Lastly... on that 6k "Lil Killer" in the neck... I wanted to get a mellower dark sound that'd suit chunky chording up and down the neck and this hit the nail on the head. It certainly gives an old-school jazzbox sort of tone but has more definition in the mids which makes it excellent for sliding power chords up and down with a bit of fuzz.

It's an odd mix but it makes this thing more like 3 guitars in one. All the pups had to be raised or lowered to make output match up decently and, of course, the Dano-style pup was the weak link which is something you always have to think about when incorporating them. They need to be jacked up really close to the strings to get decent volume from a smaller amp.

Yes... Oona chose the wild purple-blue for me. She's also claimed this guitar for when she's older!


Unknown said…
I have a Dano 63 that I converted to Nashville tuning. With a touch of chorus on the amp, and finger sweeping the chords it sounds like an autoharp. I love the lipstick pups for stuff like this.
Jake Wildwood said…
John: 100% true -- they're like nothing else.