TTS Pickups – Crazy Diamond set review

July 25th 2011 | Posted in Reviews | 38 Comments

The world of guitar pickups is growing fast and it can be a challenge to know which models to get from which brand. TTS Pickups is a fairly new company based in Oklahoma USA that’s taken up the challenge of making high quality hand wound pickups. They offer a wide range of models and I was especially intrigued by the custom Crazy Diamond set inspired by David’s Black Strat tone. Here’s my review.

It’s easy to forget that pickups play an important role in your tone. We spend fortunes on pedals but neglect what should be the very basis of the tone. Just what good sounding pickups are is highly subjective but it does wonders to your tone if you at least consider what pickups you want. Do you favour a classic transparent 60s or 70s tone or perhaps something hotter with more output? Perhaps you’re happy with how the guitar sounds off the shelf but most guitarist want to experiment with different tones as they develop as a musician and discover their “voice”. It has nothing to do with being a snob but everything to do with tone.

All TTS pickups are made on request in a close relationship with the customer. Single coils feature flatwork (instead of bobbins) that is assembled by hand with un-magnetized Alnico pole pieces. The pickups are wound to desired specs, potted (waxed) and magnetized. The whole operation allows you to get exactly the pickup and tone you want.

The custom Crazy Diamond set tested for this review feature:
– TTS 65 Haze neck (5.9k)
– TTS 65 Haze middle (5.9k RW/RP)
– TTS 200 Proof bridge (6.8k)
All three with Alnico 5 magnets and coated wire.

David’s original Black Strat feature neck and middle pickups from a 1971 Fender set and a Duncan custom wound SSL1-C. My assumption is that this would be very similar to the Fender CS69 + SSL5 setup. The Fender NOS and Replica models however feature a Fender Fat 50s neck, a custom wound middle and a Duncan SSL5. This is a slightly different setup commissioned by David.

The TTS 65 Haze is spot on the Fender CS69s – my favourite of all the vintage style low output single coils. It has the typical mids scooped transparent tone with a bell-like top and punchy lower end that defines the late 60s Hendrix era. This pickup in the neck and not least middle positions is very typical of David’s classic Pompeii and Dark Side tones as well as the more recent sounds. Compared to the Fender CS69s the TTS 65 Haze has a noticeably more open tone. Once you turn up the amp the neck in particular gets incredibly smooth and dynamic and even some of the brighter overtones (that many find too bright on the 69s) are slightly rolled off. I can’t decide which of the middle pickups I like best though. The CS69 has a slightly fatter lower end but the TTS is considerably more dynamic making it ideal for those Echoes tones.

The TTS 200 Proof is kind of a mix between the Fender Texas Specials and Duncan SSL5. It has the familiar mid rangy crisp Texas flavour with a warm punchy lower end as the SSL5. I’ve used the SSL5 for some years now and like it very much but the 200 Proof offers something different and perhaps a more open and transparent tone that the SSL5 – which I know many miss.

All three pickups go very well with the typical Gilmourish pedals. The Tube Driver and Colorsound Powerboost sound a bit more defined and transparent while the Muffs sound slightly more focused in the top frequencies especially.

I’ve tried tons of different pickups brands and models over the years but strangely enough I always drift back to trusty old Fenders. Although everyone seem to offer something different it ultimately comes down to taste and how trained your ears are. What I do know though is that proper hand wound pickups sound a lot more open and dynamic than the average assembly line models (including Fender and Duncan – although one can argue these are hand wound as well). An A/B test makes it very evident and while the difference doesn’t blow your mind it’s enough to make you rediscover the true pleasure and simplicity of a great sounding guitar plugged straight into an amp. Old school winding will always demand a close eye and a firm hand, which again results in a better tone. To my ears TTS Pickups have managed to offer this quality.

Check out the TTS web site with more info on each model and other pickups.

38 comments so far

  1. Michael says:

    Hey Bjorn, Vey nice review. I didn’t even know about these pickups.

  2. Roberto says:

    Great review! Just some questions if you can answer me. I have the EMG 20 pickups that I want to change just because they have too much noise for my taste and I would like to buy some new pickups for blues style, even Gilmour sounds and so on, but silent and tone are priority for me. I have a FENDER JOHN MAYER SIGNATURE STRAT that I really love for tone and is nearly silent enough for my taste. Are these pickups (custom crazy diamond set) silent enough and with great tone for blues and so on? Can I replace the EMG 20 pickups with them? I was also thinking about the FENDER HOT NOISELESS SET, (Jeff Beck Style, clean and warm blues tone) or FENDER NOISELESS SET STRAT VINTAGE… I ask you, if you’ll find the time to answer me. Thank you very much! Roby

    [Is the DG20 in the John Mayer Strat? As far as I know it comes with the custom Big Dipper pickups, which are modified CS69s. I’m not sure you’d experience a dramatic difference between these and the Crazy Diamond set. The Diamonds are very silent and pristine. I haven’t noticed any hiss or increased noise. The DG20 are supposed to be very silent so I don’t know why you’ve experienced the oposite. Keep in mind that they will hiss to some degree if you max the active tone controls. That’s just the nature of the effect you get. I’m personally no fan of the Noiseless sets. These tend to take away much of the single coil character and dynamics. Much more so than the DG20 in my opinion. The Crazy Diamond set should go very well with you JM Strat for classic Gilmour/Hendrix tones. – Bjorn]

  3. Adrian Emond says:

    I haven’t commented in forever but another great article!!!
    Cheers!!

    [Thank you Adrian. Hope all is well :) – Bjorn]

  4. Sami says:

    Hey, a really nice review, thanx. Do you have any plans adding a video clip or music clip where you are testing these pick ups?

    [No. I don’t think you can du justice to pickups by an audio clip. Mic positions, resconance in the room, recording software etc will all colour the tone. – Bjorn]

  5. Roberto says:

    Deleted?

    [Deleted what? – Bjorn]

  6. jarkko says:

    great review thanks!
    you said you have tried many different pickups and i was wondering have you tried any bareknucles and if so how did you like them?

    [I’ve only tried their Apache Strat set, which I guess is similar to the CS54. Very open and dynamic. Definitely among the better I’ve tried. – Bjorn]

  7. Giorgio says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    Good to hear back from you! And good to know there are alternatives for Black Strat fans like us. I have the trio SSL5/CS69/Fat50 on my strat and they do rock. The SSL5 is fantastic. I also love the CS69, but must say I am a bit disappointed with the Fat50. Nothing wrong I mean, just a tad too hot for my taste, so I keep rolling off some volume with it. So great to know TTS has another option there for us.
    Off topic I know, but very sad to hear what happened in your wonderful country. I’m sure you all will handle it in the best possible way. Ciao

    [Thanks Giorgio. We’re all shocked but I’m proud to know that we somehow seem to be able to deal with it. I agree with you on the Fat 50s. A bit too mcu hof everything for my taste and I must say that I’m a bit surprised that David wanted this in the NOS and Replica Strats. From what I understand his Black Strat pickups are much more similar to the CS69s. – Bjorn]

  8. Gabriel says:

    Hi Bjorn! Glad you´re back!

    Great review!
    I know that marketing means a lot these days, but do you think it was a good idea naming the set “Crazy Diamond”?? Because many pelople will think “Hey, I´ll get this set to sound just like David… and who knows, maybe the guitar will play by itself” and we all know it´s just not like that, and when they try this set in a crapy guitar, or a crapy amp and sound totally NOT like David they will hate it because it´s not what it was supposed to be… do you get what I mean?
    I´m listening to some demos on their site, sounds good, but like you´ve said it´s kind of hard to get a good audio clip that can do justice to a guitar pickup.

    Cheers!

    [I know what you mean and I think using names and graphics that recemble Floyd or other artists is just cheap marketing. On the other hand I can understand the reason since you want to target the product at a dedicated audience. Perhaps some people will get disappointed but then again I believe that says more about their undersnading of how guitars, pedals and amps work. There’s no such thing as Gilmour-in-a-box. Keep in mind though that the Crazy Diamond set is just a custom set consisting of models that has nothing to do with Gilmour other than the fact that he’s using something similar. The pickups are based on well known Fender models that easily can be ascociated with other tones and artists. I believe that’s different than calling a distortion pedal PULSE or whatever and claim it will give you David’s Comf Numb tone. – Bjorn]

  9. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn, This is my first comment, although I have been following your site for some years now and find it the best and most accurate for us Gilmour freaks. I never thought there was a bigger Gilmour head than my until I came across your site. I have been through tons of gear over the years, pickups, pedals, you name it. As far as pickups, I’ve tried virtually everything looking for the perfect balance between Gilmour & Hendrix. Personally I have come to settle on the CS69’s after much trial and error. At first I thought they were a bit bright, but as I used them more and more, I now find them wonderful. I personally even prefer the bridge over the SSL-5 because it’s gets better vintage quack in position 4 and works better for both Hendrix and early Gilmour. For example, I find it more suitable for nailing the solo on the studio version of Time. And even prefer it over the FS-1 for the studio version of Comfortably Numb. Which to my mind, is the version which caught the world’s attention. That slashing, biting, searing, woody tone. But I am always open to new gear. So my questions to you are, do you feel the TTS are superior in anyway to the CS69’s or do you still prefer the CS69’s?

    [Hard question really. I too mainly use the CS69 at least neck and middle and I’m used to their tone. I need a bit more time to test the TTS to say which one I prefer but they do soind very similar and perhaps the TTS even sound a bit more open and dynamic. I do prefer the Duncan SSL5 though over both the CS69 and 200 Proof. Either way were talking nuances so I wouldn’t say neither is supperior to the other. – Bjorn]

  10. Jason says:

    Great overview of these little known pickups. Now I feel like picking up a set to try out, thanks Bjorn.

    [If you’re looking for an alternative for the Black Strat tone then these are worth checking out indeed. – Bjorn]

  11. riberto says:

    best website for gilmour fans congratulation! im goin to buy a fender stra the next week and the new american deluxe is my choise becouse i cannot afford a custum shop strat. my only doubt is: the n3 pickups are any good for a gilmour hendrix sound? im afraid they are too bright. i have three di marzio malmsteen style on my squier that i like, could i replace the n3 with that on the strat? thanks

    [I haven’t tried the N3 so I can’t really tell. Based on the reviews and demos I’ve seen and heard to should do fine. Personally I don’t like these type of noise less pickups because they take away much of the classic Strat character. In my ears the sound is flat and not as crisp and dynamic as you’d expect from single coils. If you’re looking for that classic Hendrix/Gilmour tone I’d much rather get a Fender CS69 or TTS Crazy Diamond set and shield the guitar properly if noise becomes an issue. Taking care of your noise problems with shielding, correct power sources and good quality cables is much more efficient. – Bjorn]

  12. Rob D says:

    Awesome review Bjorn, Thanks! I agree that there is no such thing as Gilmour-in-a-box, but these seem like they would be very useful to me for other applications as well. I’m looking at picking up another strat soon, and I just may pick up a set of these to drop in and play with. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    Cheers,

    Rob

    P.S. I can’t tell you how psyched I am about the new Airbag album! Where will it be available on CD first? Burning Shed? I hope that you guys will try to get over here to the US for some shows… :-)

    [Thank you Rob! The album will be available at Burning Shed, iTunes and other major download and CD stores on the net as well as on our own site. Please follow us on Facebook and check out our homepage as well for more news in the weeks to come. – Bjorn]

  13. Hi Bjorn, Thanks for another great review with your usual fabulous insight. I have recently purchased a classic 70s white mn strat (mim) to go with my rosewood board version which has pups off my hot rod 57. I love the clear tone even of the mims pups. I tried CS69s and emg dg20 which were cool .. but I am still hunting for my take on “perfection”. I reckon the mim 70s are the strattiest pups I’ve tried. These TTS babies might be worth a look though. Here I go again. I love this hobby!! Thanks again Bjorn
    Howard

    [I think the 70s MIM pickups are based on the CS69s although the 69s are slightly brighter and more open. The TTS set will surely give you a great classic Strat tone and I think they’d work nicely with rosewood as well for a bit more warmth. – Bjorn]

  14. James Cameron says:

    great review. I love my Lindy Fralin Vintage Hots for the same reasons you mentioned. It is hard to describe tones but people understand cheap vs. quality tone. A good handmade pick up just sounds like quality and that is something everyone can understand. I feel the same way about NOS tube and certain speakers like Webers and a the like. Ozzy once said “you can’t polish a turd” and that goes for tone as well. p.s. the LFVH are N 6 M 6 B 6.8 very close to the output specs of the TTS Crazy Diamond pick up’s.

    [Agree :) – Bjorn]

  15. John Chilvers says:

    Hi Bjorn

    Great site!! not just for us Gilmour fans. Do you know if the TTS Crazy Diamond comes in a lefty set, i don’t like to go on about it, but we are the forgot few lol.

    Cheers

    John

    [Thanks John! Given that they produce all their pickups on request I’m sure you can contact them for a custom lefty set. – Bjorn]

  16. Troy says:

    Hi guys! The owner of TTS is actually my cousin, and I can’t tell you all how proud of him I am!!! @John Chilvers: I know he would have no problem doing a lefty set for you! Sean is very customer service oriented, and I know for a fact that if you get a set and aren’t happy, he’ll take them back and rewind them for you until you’re happy. He seriously wants to do right by his customers. He’s doing a custom set for me right now for a ’57 Surf green RI I’m building. His recipe is simple, really. He took the time to track down the right materials, and research the proper building techniques. Mix that with his amazing attention to making the player happy, and you’ve got the best set of pickups available, in my opinion!!!! Don’t forget, he also does humbuckers, P90s, Tele style, bass pups, etc!!!!

    [Thanks for the input Troy :) – Bjorn]

  17. nick says:

    Hi again Bjorn!
    Thanks for the review. Just wondering if you have ever tried Rio Grande’s vintage tall boy set and have an opinion on their suitability for Gilmoursih tones, or any of the readers out there? Im currently running these neck and middle with SSL-5 in the bridge. I have limited opportunities to hear other pups for comparrison.. Many thanks, Nick

    [Sorry, I haven’t had the chance to try these. – Bjorn]

  18. martin says:

    hi guys!
    some people are wondering why david wanted to have the fat50 in his nos and replica. but there is a video on youtube showing mr. gilmour talking about the gilmour replica guitar. and he says that he especially likes the neck-pickup and he will install that pickup into his own guitar because it sounds much more better than his own.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu9MrAKJWWQ

  19. Sean says:

    Hello,
    I am the owner of TTS Music. I would like to say thanks to Bjorn for the great review. His honest and up front description was perfect. He didn’t say things like, “you will sound like David in no time” or anything else. This was my first interaction with him and I have to say thanks.

    Thanks to several of you who have read this review and sent emails inquiring about the specs, how to order, and if they can be modified. I’d like to answer a few of those questions here if I may. The sets can all be modified. This didn’t actually start as a set, but it kind of grew that way. When I found Gilmourish (on advisement from my cousin, Troy) I wanted to get something together that would be very similar to what David has it his original black strat. I looked up the specs and realized they were very close to models that were already in our catalog, so we set the site up for people to order the set that way for convenience. If you want this set with a ’54 Proof neck pickup (more like the signature series strat) it is the same price.

    Also I make all pickups to order. You don’t get a set off the wall, we don’t stock anything but parts. You have to wait a few days, but you get a pickup made for YOU, not something that has set on a shelf. Because of this, we offer custom winding at no extra charge. Add some winds here, make the bottom strings have A-3 magnets, reverse the magnet stagger, whatever you want is no extra charge. The only exception is if I have to order special parts that I don’t stock. We hand sign every pickup and we make no claims that our products will make you David Gilmour. We do offer a money back guarantee if you are displeased.

    I hope this helps, and thanks for the interest. Bjorn has been a great host and has provided a great service to my company and pickup buyers by being completely transparent about the whole thing, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Thanks, TTS Music

    [Thanks for your input Sean. – Bjorn]

  20. Glenn says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Been following your site for a while, and my compliments on it and thanks to you for a great and entertaining resource.
    My question is how do you test different pickups? Do you physically rewire them into an existing guitar that you are very familiar with or do you demo in a separate instrument? My ear probably isn’t that refined but I think I would have a hard time discerning the subtle differences attributable to the pickups in either scenario, assuming you’re dealing with two generally comparable sets in terms of quality and sonics, such as the TTS 65/CS69. Do I really have that far to go? :(
    Best,
    Glenn

    [Thanks for your kind words Glenn! I usually test different pickups on different guitars. I try to use guitars that are similar to mine and always with my amp and pedals. That way I can make proper A/B tests. My Strats have sported many different pickup sets over the years like the Fender CS54, CS69, Fat 50s, Texas Specials, EMG DG20, Duncan SSL5 etc. Now my main Black Strat feature the TTS neck and middle and a Duncan SSL5 bridge. It’s not easy to hear the subtle differences but like testing similar sounding pedals you learn to appreciate the characteristics, dynamics, presence, attack etc of each pickup. It’s obviously more difficult to hear the difference between a CS69 and TTS 65 Haze than a CS69 and a EMG SA. Proper hand wound pickups are usually more open sounding with richer dynamics that the average mass assembly line pickups. There’s also a noticeable difference between hand made pickups from Fender and Duncan and the smaller companies like TTS, Kinman, Lollar etc simply because these put more care into the process, something which the bigger companies can’t afford to spend time on. – Bjorn]

  21. Can Pako says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for this great review. I’m thinking to upgrade my Clapton strat and thinking to buy this set. Can you please make a sound clip of these Crazy Diamond Set just to hear exactly what it is like?
    Many thanks,
    Pako.

    [I don’t think it does much help in recording the tone of pickups. A pickup tone can only be measured by a clean tone and the fact that you already know how your guitar, cables and amp will affect the tone. Pickups might sound complete different on different guitars and amps. Add to this the type of mic used for the recording and how it’s positioned. It’s nearly impossible not to manipulate the tone of a clean guitar so I think it gives a much better impression to just try and describe the tone. As explained in the review the neck and mid sound very similar to the Fender CS69s,while the bridge pickup is a mix between the Fender Texas Specials and Duncan SSL5 – all three with the distinct flavour of being hand wound. I can warmly recommend these for David’s Black Strat tones, classic Hendrix and I’m sure they’ll fit the Clapton strat too. – Bjorn]

  22. mouloudo says:

    hey Bjorn great reveiw as usual, might check these one of those days…

    I have a little question for you, I’m trying to buy evidence cables, and the french supplier is telling me that he hasn’t any lyric HG in stock ” since no one is buying this one anymore but the new Forte” but he can order it for me… so my question(s) is, have you ever tested the Forte? should I wait a month for a lyric or buy the forte in your opinion? thanks for replying, all I get is technical information from the evidence website, but that doesn’t help having a real idea of the two

    [The Lyric is perhaps the best sounding of the EA cables but it’s not recommended for stage and rehearsals since it’s just too thick and curls up. I’m using Melody to and from my pedal board. They’re identical to the Lyric but slightly thinner and easier to handle. The Forte is the same cable as the Melody but with a rubber coating. It’s a great cable and I don’t think you’ll be able to hear any difference to the Melody but it’s considered not as good. Anyway, if you only can get the Forte then I’d go for it. – Bjorn]

  23. mouloudo says:

    thanks!

  24. Nuno Cunha says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’ve followed your “Gilmourish” for some years now and I think you’re a great fan and follower of one of the greatest musicians of all times. I own a Strat Anniversary model and would like to “upgrade” my sounding throw the pics. I like that “bell” ring, (Gilmour, Clapton, Hendrix, Edge) that you ear in their best solos. Do you think a “Crazy D” from TTS could help me in getting a better sound from my Strat?
    Thanks.

    [Depends on what pickups are in your Strat today I guess but the Crazy Diamond set cover all those tones you described. The classic mids scooped bell-like flavour goes very well with 60s and 70s rock and blues. – Bjorn]

  25. TREAVOR says:

    Hello again Bjorn!
    I wanted to thank you for so much research that you put into the pages of Gilmourish.com
    I recently spoke with you about building a Gilmour inspired guitar, and as always, you were most helpful.
    I decided on a 2010 Mexican made Fender FSR special edition Strat. It came in black with a black/white/black 3 ply pickguard. A really nicely appointed tinted maple neck, and aged pickup covers and knobs. Picked it up via Ebay for $380.00 in like new condition, with only pickmarks on the pickguard denoting that it was in fact a used instrument.
    I then ordered a new set of TTS “Crazy Diamond” pickups and soldered them in place, carefully taking measurements on height. Lined the internal cavities with copper shielding just as you suggested. It was really a simple procedure as you inspired me to tackle the task. Installed a new set of DiaDarrio EXL 110’s
    and it sounds amazing!
    TTS offered a 100% satisfaction guarantee, that if I was unhappy with their performance, they would buy them back. They really outshine the Alnico pickups that came in the FSR model and give the guitar a feeling of substance.
    I use a Line 6 Flextone III, solid state amp, and decided to take your advice once again and purchased a Boss BD-2 to add to my Cry Baby or VOX Wah pedal. My amp adds a compressor, gate, and Tube Echo along with a Uni-vibe effect and “BAM!” the tone is simply something special and unique, just like David’s.
    Now if I can just add the talent to be able to play more like you then I’ll be in “bidness”.
    So thank you once again, I appreciate the reliability that comes with your very well thought out and researched reviews, without this site, I would have never duplicated the famous “Black Strat”!

    [Thank you Treavor! Glad you enjoy the site :) – Bjorn]

  26. Mike H says:

    I first want to thank you for all your knowledge and hard work and that you are willing to share it with all of us. I am going to send you a donation to help you continue. I have a set of vintage noiseless in my strat but as much as I love the noiseless part, they are not exactly Gilmour types. They are great pups for other styles though. My question is do you think it is a good idea to add the toggle switch? I have read that David does not actually use it but it seems like it would add another option. Thanks in advance.

    [Thanks for your support Mike! I don’t think the toggle switch is needed. David’s rarely using it and personally I found it quite redundant. Sounds a bit like a very muddy middle position on a Tele. – Bjorn]

  27. Miroslav says:

    Hi Bjorn. My thanks to you as always for all the unique and hard work – your web-site is amazing. If I have 1994 American Strat ’57 reissue with American Vintage Strat® Single-Coil Pickups – is it worth it to replace them with the TTS “Crazy Diamond” ? Also, is it worth also to replace the tremolo with the a Callaham Vintage S Model ? Thank you !

    [Thank you Miroslav! Depends on what tones you prefer I guess. There’s not a dramatic difference between the stock 57 pickups and the TTS, which are based on the 69s. Still though the TTS has a more open tone with more dynamics, less mid range and a tighter lower end. Personally I’ve never been a fan of the 57/62 pickups so I’d recommend the TTS, Fender 69s, Dave Allen Voodoo 69 or similar. The TTS has an overwound bridge pickup very similar to David’s Duncan SSL, which is great for solos etc. I definitely recommend upgrading the bridge! The stock Fender system is OK but the Callaham improves both your tone/sustain and the operation. – Bjorn]

  28. Michael says:

    Bjorn, I am a fairly recent visitor to your site and I must say it is very impressive indeed. You have obviously devoted a hell of a lot of time and effort to pick apart the Gilmour magic and how to achieve it yourself. Best of all you unselfishly share the results with everyone who wishes to know and have given many different routes to gaining that beautiful sound.

    I enjoy all your articles but given that I would like to give my old Strat a David Gilmour makeover, I was particularly interested in this one. As you know, there are very few places where a Fat 50s neck, a CS69 and a SSL-5 can be bought individually, and where they can, a significant price is being asked. The cheapest I have seen thus far is $179 + shipping for all three while the TTS pickups you have reviewed here are only $130 + shipping for the set. I have read that the neck Fat 50s is an especially creamy pickup and I must admit, that is something that appeals very much to me but on the other hand, a custom set of pickups for a lot less than what I suppose really are akin to mass produced items doesn’t exactly disgust me either.

    Would you say that when all is said and done, that if someone wanted to get the Gilmour sound, they would be better off with the Fat 50s, CS69, SSL-5 set or do these TTS pickups come close enough to be an accurate and worthy substitute?

    All the best,

    Michael

    [Hi Michael! Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) Actually, the Fat 50s is slightly different than what’s in David’s Black Strat. His neck and middle pickups are very close to the 69s but he wanted a slightly different tone for the relics. Apparently he liked the Fat 50s very much. Personally I think it’s too flat and doesn’t have the transparent punch and fat lower end of the 69s. The Crazy Diamond set is perfect for the Black Strat tones and about as close as you’ll get to David’s own Black Strat. – Bjorn]

  29. Robert says:

    Hi Bjørn,

    For several years I have been using Line 6 POD XT and POD HD500 as my main sound for the guitar. My guitar is a Mexican Stratocaster that I bought in the U.S. in 2006. The only modification I have done on the guitar is that i changed the tremolo system to a Wilkinson VS100. Made a ton of difference!

    I was happy enough with the sound I got from this setup for some years, but after a while I started to miss the pick attack and dynamics that I heard from your clips among others. After years of patience i now finally got the chance to buy the equipment that I wanted. This included some BYOC pedals that I custom painted. The BYOC Large Beaver is one of these pedals and I love it! You can see a thread about the pedals and pedal board here if you are interested: http://www.buildyourownclone.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=35100.

    Now I wanted to try something different from the stock pickups in the Mexican Stratocaster, and I have therefore bought a TTS Crazy Diamond set that will arrive at my home in a couple of weeks. Do you think I will notice a great difference with these compared to the stock mexican pickups? What will the main differences be if it is possible to answer that question? I am interested in hearing others opinion on this. Then I can compare to my own meaning on the subject when I get the chance to test the pickups :)

    BTW: I love your site a lot! Jeg er forresten norsk og bor i Norge. Bare kjekt å skrive på engelsk sånn at det er forståelig for flere.. :)

    [Hei Robert! You’ll definitely hear a difference. The TTS has a slightly lower output and they have much less mid range compared to the Standards. Depending on what tones you prefer I think you’ll notice that the TTS and vintage style pickups in general, will give you a much more transparent signal that makes your pedals sound more natural and you’ll also get that crisp attack known to David’s tones. Handwound pickups also sound much more open and dynamic. Håper dette var et greit svar :) – Bjorn]

  30. martin says:

    hi!
    a little offtopic … i am looking for a new neck-pu for my gibson les paul.
    in the bridge-position i use a duncan slash humbucker (al2). would it work if i use a gibson p94 (a p90 in humbucker-size) in the neck position? anyone has experience?

    [I haven’t tried that my self but I would assume that you’d get a volume issue between the two with the Slash being a lot louder. I always go for a Classic 57 in the neck for a bit more balls on the Strat tone. One way to go would be to slightly overwound this one. I’m sure TTS could help you with customizing that. – Bjorn]

  31. tony says:

    hi bjorn have just bought a squire strat in very good condition, it has gold tuners, and trem system, i got it to change the pups to the dg 20 , but having read your article am interested in the crazy diamonds , would they fit in my squire, and also how much are they? i have heard a chap called suliman and ithink his tone is amazing, but i think he must be very rich, because ive priced his equipment up and its sad to say beyond my price range, many thanks tony

    [Wether or not pickups work in your guitar depends on the overall sound of the guitar, the amp, pedals and your style and technique. The Crazy Diamond set is basically a Fender CS69 set with an overwound bridge. Not all that far off the DG20 with the SPC and EXG switched off. Personally I prefer the vintage tone of the Crazy Diaomds over the DG20 but you need to try for your self. With the “right” gear they’re spot on David’s Black Strat tones. I think the price is $210. – Bjorn]

  32. tony says:

    thanks bjorn one more question where can i get them, bw tony

    [You can order directly from TTS. – Bjorn]

  33. tony says:

    thanks again bw tony.

  34. Nick says:

    Hello Bjorn! I hope you are very well. I have a couple of questions for you if you dont mind. I have added the TTS Crazy Diamond’s neck and middle to my Roadworn Strat running with a SSL-5 in the bridge. There is a significant difference in volume between the CD’s and the SSL-5, particularly when playing the base strings (especially the low E – that’s almost twice as loud through the SLL-5!). I realise the SSL-5 is much higher in output than the CD’s, but the difference is really staggering… I have tried playing with the pickup hights in all positions but it hasnt made much difference. Is this normal?
    Also I would like to ask your advice on adding another overdrive or distortion pedal to my collection. My current set up is;
    Roadworn (TTS/SSL-5) or Black-strat (DG20’s) into;
    TC Polytune
    MXR Supercomp
    MXR 74′ Phase 90
    Blackout Effectors Musket
    Keely BD2
    Red Witch Chorus
    TC Nova Repeater delay) into;
    Fender Blues Junior AMP
    I have been happy with this set up, in particular for pulse tones, but I’m also reasonably satisfied with the early-mid 70’s tones (I drop out the Chorus for the phase 90 while switching the nova repeater from digital to tape). Ive just got myself a new Tokai Les Paul and was thinking about adding another distortion that would be versatile for hard rock, and not just for Floyd. I’m not overly sure if another overdrive or a distortion pedal in conjunction with my other pedals will provide most versatility? The Retro-Sonic distortion sounds pretty trick, and I was wondering if you had any experience with the MXR 78 distortion? reading your reviews it doesnt sound like a fuzz is the way to go on my home set up, and it needs to be useful with my Les Paul. Do you have any suggestions Bjorn? One last question, do you use the ‘phat switch’ on your keely BD2 or leave it off when boosting or in overdrive? Thanks for any assistance! kind regards, Nick

    [There is a significant difference in volume between the CDs/CS69 and SSL5. You will notice that both the volume and gain is higher with the SSL5. Pickups will respond differently with different guitars and you need to try different setups to make the best of it. Using an overwound pickup in combo with normal wounds will require that you’re more dynamic in your playing and know how to use the pedals to get the tones you want.
    The Retro-Sonic Distortion is basically a RAT with different tone options. Very versatile and great tone! Check out the TC Electronics Nova Drive or Dark Matter too. Basically the same pedal suitable for Gilmour and heavier stuff… especially with a LP. – Bjorn]

  35. Nick says:

    Thanks for clarifying that Bjorn, I just couldn’t believe the volume difference but now I know its normal I can get about altering how I approach things. The Dark Matter is available here in New Zealand but I would have to import the Retro-Sonic. Bewtween the two, is there a clear winner or are they pretty similar in what they offer? I’m not too fussed about tweaking dials all day, I’m just looking for some inspirational tones. Also do you have any advice for the use of the keely BD2’s phat switch for overdrive/boosting? Many thanks.

    [The Retro-Sonic and Dark Matter are very similar with saturated distortion and a considerable mid range boost. The Retro-Sonic allow different tone shaping, from mids scoop to boost, which makes the pedal very versatile. The Dark Matter is based on the RAT, I guess, but sounds more like a classic tube distortion. Warm, saturated and smooth. It’s a bit easier to dial in milder tones from near clean to crunchy overdrives. Hard to suggest which you should choose, but I’m very much into the Nova Drive at the moment, so I guess I’d go for the Dark Matter :) In regards to the Keeley Phat Switch… depends on your setup. For me it seems to work better on a home setup with lower volume. The phat brings out the lowers ends and maintains a full bodied tone, while it sometimes can be a bit too much on a bigger amp. – Bjorn]

  36. Nick says:

    Brillient, thanks very much Bjorn:)

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  37. Julius says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    I’m just about to buy Fender CS69’s and SD SSL-5. So I have to buy the one with Reversed winding and polarity and then reverse install it? And how do I do that?
    Thank you!!!

    [Just reverse the order of the black and white leads. – Bjorn]

  38. Todd says:

    Hi Bjorn

    I would just like to say a BIG thank you for all the great work, dedication and time you have out in with you web site. I have recently returned to playing electric guitar after many years of an injury which prevented me from playing the electric guitar.

    In the past two months I have learned so much from reading this site ( priceless information ) which would have taken so much time and perhaps loss of money ( from not having the right sound, equip and pedals) therefore all the work you do is very much appreciated.

    Great Thanks From Australia – Todd Carmona

    [Hi Todd! Thanks a lot for your kind words! Glad you enjoy the site :) – Bjorn]

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