The importance of choosing the right pickups for your guitar, is an often overlooked part of the whole tone search. We spend most of our budget on expensive pedals but a tone starts with the guitar and its pickups. In this feature we’ll look at different single coil models with David Gilmour’s tone in mind as well as a few tips and tricks.

Simply put, a single coil pickup consists of a given length of coil, six magnet poles and mounting plates. The tone characteristics of a pickup is a combination of different types of ALNICO magnets and coil, number of wounds and the technique used during the winding process. Less turns of the coil creates a cleaner, more transparent tone with less output. The more turns, the more output with more mid range and less highs.

When you pick a string, the vibration resonates between the wood (body and neck) and the strings. The vibration is picked up by the pickup magnets that pushes the magnetic field through a stationary coil. The signal is induced and in turn amplified. The type of wood, lacquer, string gauge, pick etc will colour the resonance.

Why new pickups?

Like pedals, the pickups in your guitar are a part of your tone but perhaps more importantly, they pick up and transfer all the nuances in your playing. You could very well just use whatever pickups you want or even make a pickup yourself but choosing a model that fits and enhances the timbre of your guitar, the tone of your amp and your technique, is important to get the tones you want.

In the listings below, I’ve focused on the familiar and easily available models from Fender but I recommend that you check out similar models from different brands. Everyone has their special way of winding a pickup and it’s the small nuances that makes a difference.

Choosing the right pickups

Obviously, which pickups you should choose depends on your taste and purpose of use. Depending on what tones you want, a dark sounding guitar, will perhaps need brighter, low output pickups (Fender CS 54, 69), while a bright, thin sounding guitar, can be improved with a set of higher output pickups with more bass and mids (Fender Tex/Mex, Duncan SSL5, EMG DG20).

The same principles applies to combining pickups and amps. The hotter the pickup, the more you push the amp towards breakup. This can cause some difficulty in choosing the right pickup if you’re mostly playing at home. A hotter pickup will compensate for some of the tone loss caused by low volume but it can also make a smaller amp distort sooner. My best tip is to check to try out a couple of models or at least have some idea of how the models will work with your rig.

I prefer low or moderate output pickups. These are generally more transparent sounding, allowing the pedals and your playing to sound more natural and dynamic.

All of the models I’ve listed are tested with David Gilmour’s tones in mind, using the same guitar (alder body and rosewood neck) and setups for both stage and bedroom. Most of the models will be able to cover a wide range of other genres and tones as well.

Fender Custom Shop 54

Recommended similar models: D Allen Tru Vintage 54, TTS ’54 Proof, DiMarzio Area 58, Kinman Impersonator 54
Classic clean and transparent, bell-like Strat tones, with a bit more bite in the bridge position. A bit thin in the lower frequencies but this can be compensated by installing an even hotter bridge pickup. If you want David’s Strat Pack 2004 tones, then look no further. 

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: 5.9k to 6.5k (neck to bridge)

Gilmour tones: #0001 Strat.

Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s

Classic clean and transparent Strat tones with, compared to the 54s, a bit more mids scoop and bass. Ideal for neck position.

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: 6k to 6.3k (neck to bridge)

Gilmour tones: Featured neck pickup of the Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour NOS/Relic Stratocaster

Fender Custom Shop 57/62

Classic clean and transparent, bell-like Strat tones. Very similar to the CS 54s, with slightly less output.

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: 5.6k (all positions)

Gilmour tones: A lower output alternative for the #0001 and Black Strat tones.

Fender Custom Shop 69

Recommended similar models: D Allen VP ’69 Voodoo, TTS ’65 Haze, DiMarzio Area 67, Kinman Woodstock

Classic clean and transparent Strat tones, with glassy highs, mids scoop and thumbing lows. A full set is spot on Gilmour’s Atom Heart Mother-WYWH tones. Replace the stock bridge with a Duncan SSL-5 pickup for Animals-present Black Strat tones.

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: 5.8k (all positions)

Gilmour tones: Black Strat all eras.

Fender Custom Shop Texas Specials
Recommended similar models: D Allen Austin Blues, Kinman Blues

Based on the CS69s, these have a bit more output, with extra mid range and bite. Great alternative if you want that classic late 60s tone on brighter sounding guitars and amps.

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: 6.2k to 6.5k-7.1k (neck to bridge)

Gilmour tones: Slightly warmer alternative for Black Strat tones.

Fender Custom Shop Tex/Mex

Classic, vintage Strat tones with, compared to the CS69s, higher output, boosted mid range and an overall warmer tone. Great alternative for brighter sounding guitars and amps and bedroom, low volume level setups.

Magnets: Alnico V

Resistance ohms: bridge 7.4, neck and middle 6.4k

Gilmour tones: Warmer and darker sounding alternative for Black Strat tones.

Seymour Duncan SSL-5
Recommended similar models: DiMarzio FS-1

Based on the late 60s tones, the SSL-5 was conceived in 1979, designed for David Gilmour’s Black Strat. The pickup has a classic, vintage Strat tone with considerably higher output and mid range, compared to the CS69s. Great bridge pickup for more sustain and bite. 

Magnets: Alnico V
Resistance ohms: 12.9k (all positions)

Gilmour tones: Black Strat bridge pickup (Animals – present).

Fender CS 69 and S Duncan SSL-5 combo

This combination is as close as you’ll get to David’s Black Strat setup from Animals to present. The moderate output, transparent sounding 69s in the neck and middle, makes a great contrast to the hotter sounding SSL-5 bridge. Ideal for warm and smooth rhythms, bluesy solos and full-blown Big Muff mayhem.

The Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour NOS/Relic Stratocaster sports a slightly different setup than the original Black Strat, as requested by David: Fender CS Fat 50s neck, Fender Custom Wound middle (CS69-ish) and Seymour Duncan SSL- bridge.

D Allen Voodoo Blues set

The Voodoo Blues set feature a combination of the Voodoo 69 neck and middle pickups and a slightly overwound bridge pickup for more output and mid range. Lovely open sounding and dynamic pickups, ideal for Hendrix, Blackmoore, Gilmour and all your favourite late 60s tones. See my full review of the Voodoo Blues set here.

D Allen Echoes set
Utilizing a push/push mechanism (the set feature a custom tone pot that you need to swap with your old) you can switch between two “modes” on the bridge pickup – a slightly overwound 69 at 7.6k (same as featured in the Voodoo Blues set) and the even hotter SSL5-ish at 12.5k. The neck and middle pickups are Voodoo 69s. This is a versatile set covering most of David Gilmour’s tones as well as just about everything else. See my full review of the Echoes set here.

TTS Crazy Diamond set
The Crazy Diamond set is based on that late 60s transaprent, mids scooped tone, with a slightly overwound bridge for a bit more output and bite. Well balanced and dynamic pickups ideal for those early Black Strat tones. See my full review of the Crazy Diamond set here.

EMG DG-20 set
This is a custom set featuring EMGs legendary SA single coils, similar to the Fender CS69, and the active tone controls, the EXG treble and bass booster and SPC mid range booster. The set was featured on Gilmour’s 1983 Fender ’57 reissues, notably the Candy Apple Red Strat – David’s main guitar between 1987-2005. See my full review of the EMG DG-20 set here.

Active VS passive pickups

Single coils are by the nature of their design, quite noisy. Some manufacturers has tried to tackle this issue by designing different kinds of hum canceling systems for single coils. EMG, among others, started to offer active pickups in the late 70s. The advantage of the active pickups was that they shielded the guitar from the huge stadium light rigs and they could also drive the guitar signal through long cables and big effect racks. The down side, and what made many go back to the passive, vintage style single coils, was that the active pickups didn’t sound Straty enough and lacked some of the dynamics of the vintage models.

Others, like Kinman, has succeeded in making noiseless pickups with a twist on the basic, vintage design using iron and differential winding techniques in the noise sensing coils. The tone and dynamics are intact and you get a very silent signal.

If you simply can’t stand noisy single coil pickups, you might want to look into a humbucker. It won’t sound exactly like a Strat but choosing the right model will take you very close. I prefer the old PAF or a mid 50s humbucker. Set them slightly lower than usual and you’ll have a warm, transparent Straty tone. It’s also worth checking out the humbucker sized Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P90s.

Pickup height

There’s no right way of setting up the pickups but keep the following in mind: low string action will create a strong magnetic pull, which can kill the sustain and create distortion and bad pitch. A high string action will create less magnetic pull but the pickup will also sound weaker and loose some of its characteristics.

I like having the bridge pickup fairly close to the strings and the neck slightly further away. This allows a slighty edgier lead tone and smoother rhythms. You can do this because the strings has a higher tension at the bridge, so there’s also less vibration and magnetic pull. You can also experiment with different outputs, like a hot Duncan SSL5 bridge and a mild Fender CS69 neck. This allows a bit more boost for leads and solos.


A single coil pickup is pretty much an exposed antenna picking up all kinds of electric radiation. There are two types of noise that afflict magnetic pickups. HUM is electric interference that surrounds us all, caused by 50Hz (Europe) or 60Hz (USA) alternating mains from electrical components. BUZZ appears as a static caused by radio noise propagation from electrical components (motors, processors etc).

The typical 50 or 60 cycle hum is hard to eliminate. You can add a gate or noise suppressor to the signal chain but these units have a nasty tendency to kill the sustain. There are also hum canceling systems like the Ilitch, which works quite well. However, the most effective and inexpensive way of dealing with the problem is to eliminate as many nearby electrical components as possible and turn away from the source. A few degrees to the left or right or a step back, is often enough.

Buzz can only be eliminated by installing a conductive shielding (copper foil) inside the guitar cavity that’s connected to ground. It’s not a shielding like an umbrella but rather a drain of the electric interference out of the guitar to ground. Although an easy and effective way of dealing with the problem, shielding will also reduce some of the high frequencies in your tone by raising the capacitance of the circuit. This is especially noticeable on low output, bright sounding pickups like the Fender CS69.

Pickups is a huge topic and just like pedals, it’s easy to get lost in what models and brands to choose. My best tip is to have an open mind and to appreciate the fact that pickups matter and by choosing the right pickups for your guitar, you’ll get a much better tone and basis for your pedals.

Feel free to use the comments field below and share your favourite pickups models and tips!

253 Responsesso far.

  1. Dino says:

    In terms of the noiseless pickups, have you checked out the Seymour Duncan STK-S6? It’s supposed to be a noiseless version of the SSL 5. I’m curious what you think about it.


    [Yes. It’s a tad darker and not as open sounding, I think. Didn’t really like it that much. – Bjorn]

  2. Luc Huard says:

    Good Article Bjorn

    I followed your advices and last year I upgraded my MIM Strat.
    I have a SD SSL-5 for the bridge and CS69 for the others and it sounds great.

    [Glad to hear, Luc! – Bjorn]

  3. Jonas Carlsson says:

    I find one thing a bit curious: The 0001 Strat is supposed to have Alnico III pickups if original, not Alnico 5, althought the not so correct ’54 reissues do feature that alloy. Also the polepiece crossection is supposed to be different, though I don’t remember quite in what way, now.

    As such the ’57/’62 set and others similar should sound a good bit steelier and stiffer by comparison.

    Those original pickups should be closer to Fralin Real ’54s, and those other non-Fender pickups mentioned by you w. 54 in their names, with more compression and less snap in the highs. Some pickups w. Alnico II and even 5, if designed with that in mind, come pretty close too.

    [You may be right on that one. The CS54s are very close but perhaps not authentic enough. I guess we won’t know unless we get to try the #0001. Depends on the guitar’s specs as well and how well it resonates all the characteristics of the pickup. Thanks for the input! – Bjorn]

  4. Fritz says:

    Have you heard (of) Nico’s USA DeeGee Tribute pickups? I’d be interested to know what you think if you have the chance to try them out.

    [Nope. Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out! – Bjorn]

  5. Josh says:

    Check out the Klein handwound set modelled after the black strat https://www.kleinpickups.com/p-105-s-8-stratocaster-set.aspx

    [Thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  6. Mateusz says:

    Hello, Bjoern. In my guitar I use DiMarzio Area/Virtual Vintage noiseless pickups. For me they are great. Have you ever tried them?

    [No, thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  7. Yoel says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    I’m in love with two of David’s main tones, only problem is, their from polar opposite eras. I love all of his Pompeii-Wall tones, and that smooth screaming loud late 80’s modern Delicate Sound of Thunder tone. I’ve been really torn between to DG20s and the CS69 with SSL-5 and possibly Fat 50’s Bridge combo. Is that tone all in the pedals, or hidden in the pickups? In other words, what are the most versatile pickups to nail both those eras? A few more questions; I’m going away for the summer out of the country, and my guitar’s a little hefty to carry on the plane, and I’ve heard horror stories about $20,000 vintage guitars getting eaten by those monstrous baggage machines. So I was looking into getting a travel guitar and amp as well. I looked at the Steinberger GT guitars, and the fact that David used them on Momentary Lapse was a big plus for me. But Im kinda at a loss for amps. What is an amp that is small enough to fit in a suitcase easily but can still pack a nice punch, and maybe has some headroom for pedals? My Fender Champ 600 is too big and wont match the voltage over there. Thanks in advance!

    [The tone is mainly in the pickups, pedals and not least the amps. Regardless of what pickups and pedals you choose you can’t expect them to sound like David’s setup without a decent amp. If you ask me, I would say that the Black Strat pickup combo is the most versatile. They nail all of the early and latter tones and they’ll do a pretty nice job replicating the 80s and 90s as well. Ampwise, I think you’re better off with a processor like the POD or similar. – Bjorn]

  8. Ben says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I like the new look articles on Pickups and Fuzz, good stuff. I’m thinking of upgrading the pickups on my Korean Strat (Ash body, maple neck), it’s not necessarily too bright or too dark, they sound okay clean but don’t seem to handle fuzz well! I’m thinking maybe a set of Fender 69’s or maybe Dimarzio Area 58’s or 67’s as i’m trying to go for an early Gilmour-based tone. Someone i know mentioned Gold Lace Sensors but I’m not sure. What do you think?

    [What amp are you using? I would assume that the fuzz issue lies more with the amp than the pickups. Anyway, the vintage style pickups you mention will all do nicely for an early era Gilmour tone. Personally I don’t care much for the Lace. To me they sound a bit flat and dark but try them and make up your own mind :) – Bjorn]

  9. Fritz says:

    Following up on the Nico’s USA DeeGee Tribute pickups, I came across these YouTube videos that you and some readers might be interested in:

    [Thanks! – Bjorn]

  10. Keith says:

    Since you knew this was coming, I thought I’d get it out of the way. It is a fact, not some myth, that Lindy Fralin wound the pickups from the black strat, they are not being used, because of many reasons, some of which seem to be contractual with Fender,(this has been told to me, but this reason, I cannot say is true or not), but the fact that Phil sent them to Lindy says something about his work. You said you’d tried some of his pickups, but not his Vintage Hots, which are .1k hotter than Fender 69’s at 6k neck, and middle. The bridge can vary depending on what you want, but because of the use of #42 formvar wire, the max is 6.8 which I chose for CYMBALINE,( my handcrafted, Not Quite Black Strat replica. You never said which of his pickups you didn’t care for, but he is world reknown for making the best Strat style pickups, and P-90s available, anx I cannot under any circumstances understand why you haven’t tried the Vintage Hots. I know you depend on builders to send you items for review, and Lindy showed some interest when I told him of the site, but he spends every waking hour winding pickups the old way, and NO ONE but he winds pickups with his name on them. He has a staff of three, who solder leads, anzwer phones, and take care of the shipping, but none ever touches the winding. He also hand bevels each pole piece, uses Alnico III in his 54s, and Alnico V in the V Hs. He as a player, has always lived, and breathed STRATS, and I’ve seen him play one of the most incredible Voodoo Chile( slight return) versions through a champ, no pedals, that would have made Jimi Smile! He is THE STRAT MAN I’m going to attemt to get you two together one more time, as I KNOW his pickups belong at the top of the list. Once again, no insult intended, as you can’t review what you haven’t played, but there has to be a way to get a set to you. I promise you will freak out, and fall in love with them!
    Peace, love the new gear guide! KEITH

    [Nice plug, Keith :) I don’t doubt you’re happy with the pickups! As I’ve said before, I’d be happy to check out whatever I may receive :) – Bjorn]

  11. Richard says:

    Howdy, really enjoy your site, Bjorn. Just wanted to put in a word for the 57/62s, which surprised me no end — I was expecting them to come up short to the CS69s I’ve been using (and still will) but on the 57 Vintage reissue, which isn’t an expensive guitar, these stock Fender pickups are great for Gilmourish tones (early period, my favorite period). I’m using a Lunar Module and/or Hoof Fuzz, Laney Cub, and the Pompeii tones are phenomenal (not that I can really play it — yet!). I thought they’d be too “country” but they really shine. They can cut up some harder stuff as well, very versatile. Cheers —

    [Thanks for the input, Richard! – Bjorn]

  12. jorge says:

    hot gold lace sensors rules!!

  13. GaryH says:

    Hi Bjorn
    How would you say SD SSL5s compare to SSL1s ? I understand John Frusciante uses SSL1s in his vintage strats, which must say something about their quality.

    [They’re very similar to the CS69s. Perhaps a bit more open sounding with a slightly rounded top. – Bjorn]

  14. Sebastian says:

    What do you think about set:
    bridge: DiMarzio FS1
    middle & neck: DiMarzio Area ’67
    I have Laney Cub 15W stock.

    [Should be spot on the late 70s Black Strat :) – Bjorn]

  15. Chris says:

    I’ve used a Lace Sensor Hot Gold set for the last couple years in my Black Strat and what I can say about them is that they are good pickups but they are not the most Gilmourish pickups. The Hot Golds are good for more of a more modern sound (although I did run across a video of Gilmour playing a strat loaded with LS Hot Golds when he was playing for some random unrelated act). Now I’m replacing them with a set of Fender Tex Mex for the neck and middle and an SSL-5 for the bridge, finally building the guitar I’ve dreamed of

    [I have the TexMex and SSL5 combo in my test-Strat at the moment… the sunburst used on the AnalogMan SunFace clip. I love that combo! – Bjorn]

  16. Bern says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for this article. I’m wondering if you are familiar with LeoSounds pickups, and if so, if you can offer any comments please? I’m thinking about putting a set in my Strat, possibly their Vintage Player 1966 Classic in the neck and mid, and a hotter model such as their Red House in the bridge.



    [I haven’t tried them my self but heard much about them. I’m very fond of Gregor Hilden and I’d love to try his signature sets. – Bjorn]

  17. Fritz says:

    What kind of pickups are in “The Workmate” 1955 Esquire? Are the other telecasters he is using right now (eg, 1952 Butterscotch Reissue) have stock pickups, or are they Seymour Duncans?

    BTW, your site gets better and better — thank you for this.

    [Thank you Fritz! To my knowledge, it’s never been documented what kind of pickups there is in the Workmate. It says that Duncan custom wound the neck but I would assume he also did the bridge. Judging by its tone, I would guess it close to a so called NoCaster winding… perhaps a tad hotter. The 52 Butterscotch and the 50s Custom Shop that he used on the last tour, all feature stock pickups. – Bjorn]

  18. Keith says:

    This post is just because of the question about Tele Pups. Lindy Fralin, of Fralin pickups now makes a P-90 that is very close in sound to stock Gibson spec P-90’s, although a bit quieter, and fits standard Telecasters! They look like a tele pickup, but sound like an early P-90. Since my Squier Thinline has a Gibson scale neck, and is a semi hollow body, I’m having a set put into it to get just a tad closer to the sound of an ES series Gibson, I hope! I sure do miss my ’71 335. :(
    Check out his website, although I don’t think he’s updated the site to include the Tele P-90 yet!
    Peace y’all, Keith

  19. Fritz says:

    Another pickup find:


    [Thanks! I’ve seen these before but never got to try them… perhaps they’re worth checking out. – Bjorn]

  20. Fritz says:

    Regarding DG’s use of Seymour Duncan pickups, I directed your attention to page 116 of Phil Taylor’s book on The Black Strat. There is a picture of the invoice from SD for pickups dated July 1979 — this is when DG changed from the Dimarzio FS-1 in the bridge position to the SD SSL-5 which has remained and is used in the Custom Shop signature model. As I understand it, the 3 pickups identified as SSL-1C are now under the name of the SSL-5. Is this correct?

    What about the other two SSL-1C? What about the SSL-4 Quarter Pound and the standard SSL-1? Were these simply tried, found lacking and set aside?

    The reason I bring this up and ask is that I have recently received information that the configuration of The Black Strat in the neck and middle positions are not, in fact, the stock Fender pickups from the 1971/2 Bullet Strat, but are Seymour Duncans closely resembling SSL-1.

    I don’t have Phil Taylor’s contact information, nor do I have a contact at Seymour Duncan to try and find this out, so …. I thought I’d throw it out here.

    [The Black Strat book clearly shows pictures of the Bullet Strat pickups in the neck and middle position of the Black Strat. I haven’t heard or seen otherwise. The Fender Signature Strats feature a FAT 50s neck and a custom wound late 60-ish middle, which is different from David’s own setup. I have no information on what may have happened to the SSL4 and standard SSL1 but I’m sure David and Phil tried and still tries out tons of stuff that they end up never using. According to Duncan, the SSL1C is the forerunner to the SSL5 so I assume they’re more or less identical. – Bjorn]

  21. Ry says:

    Bjorn, good article. Just want to know if you heard of duncan’s svr-1 vintage rails pickup and what do you think of it as for neck/mid? Thanks.

    [Thanks! Haven’t tried them, so I can’t relly tell… – Bjorn]

  22. Will Bowden says:

    Excellent article Bjorn!… So, I have a setup in mind… A Fender Classic Series 60’s reissue with a Dimarzio FS-1 bridge pickup… I plan on building a replica of the ’77 version of the Black Strat… What do you think? Are there any other little things that I have missed out? Many thanks, Will.

    [Thanks! Depends on how much you want to spend. The stock Classic Series pickups are OK and based on the late 60s tone but I recommend upgrading these for some handwound ones like the Fender CS69s or the D Allen Voodoo 69. I also recommend that you consider replacing the stock tremolo system with something better, like the Callaham Vintage set. It’s much more stable, smoother operation and better sustain. These upgrades will take your guitar to a pro level. Good luck with the project! – Bjorn]

  23. Keith says:

    @ Fritz, I’m by no means an expert on what DG does, or doesn’t use, but living in Richmond, Va. and being a close friend of pickup artist Lindy Fralin, I do know that about 1 1/2-2 years ago, the original Black Strat pickups came into the Fralin shop, with Phil Taylors name as the sender, asking for a stock rewind. Whether they got used or not is not known, but it is a fact that they were wound with stock wire, at 8000, 8000, and 8400 winds respectively. I assume they were sent to Fralin because in the opinion of most, he is more familiar with Fender, and specifically Strat pickups, than most people alive today, and I have his Cintage hots in my guitar, with resitance readings close to those DG has in the current Black Strat: N: 6.0, M: 6.0, B: 6.8 middle pickup is RWRP, and all have #42 Formvar wire, with the bridge having a “bass plate” to strengthen, and smooth the bass, without losing high end, and middle. Just Google Fralin pickups to check out his site.
    peace, Keith

  24. JR says:

    Hi Bjorn, excellent site and great reviews. Any experiences about “loaded” pickups? (For example: http://www.siglermusiconline.com/store/pc/Seymour-Duncan-and-Fender-Loaded-Pickguard-DG-style-181p5000.htm).

    [Thanks! Loaded in this case means that the pickguard offered is set up with pickups and electronics. The pickups are all stock Fender and Duncan, selected for David’s Black Strat tone. – Bjorn]

  25. Stevie Bees says:


    I’d interested to know whether you’ve tried Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups, and if so what you thought of them. I’ve currently got Surfers fitted to the neck/middle of my G&L Legacy, and I’m planning on putting a Texas Hot Custom bridge in the bridge position…



    [Never tried them so I can’t really comment on that. – Bjorn]

  26. Keith says:

    Bjorn, where is the best place in my chain for the Octavio?
    Thanks, Keith

    [First :) – Bjorn]

  27. Pat says:

    Hi Bjorn, great site very informative.I’ve got CS Fat 50s in my Strat and i’m putting a Dimarzio FS-1 in the bridge should i change the middle pickup to a CS 69 to get the Black Strat tones or will the Fat 50 cover it. Thanks for all the jnfo, Pat

    [The Fat 50s will cover it but I prefer the 69. It has more clarity and punch, which is nice for the middle position. – Bjorn]

  28. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, I know you said first, and I always listen to you, but I’m taking the wah off the board to make room, and to place the wah where I can easily reverse it. Would it make a big difference to place the Octavio between the Wah, and my JH-M1 Fuzz Face? It sure would make my board work out better, space wise!
    Thanks, Keith

    [There’s really no wrong way to arrange the pedals. Either way it will affect your tone. I prefer having all fuzz pedals first, then wah, the rest of the gains etc. The wah will alter the fuzz even when it’s off, so it’s best to have this after. Why don’t you just arrange the pedals as you want them and use longer cables? A buffer at the end of the chain will compensate. – Bjorn]

  29. Keith says:

    I swear I’m not trying to hijack the posts, but I just read an interesting article by Roger Mayer, who worked with Hendrix, and designed what he called the ” Ocatavia”. I always thought it was just an octave pedal, with a unique sound, and had no idea it was a Fuzz pedal as well. The originals were two piece, with basically a germanium fuzz in one box, and an octave, and filter in the other. Mayer then went to silicon, and combined everything in the famous”cheese wedge”. Quite frankly, I didn’t even look at the pedal enough to see the controls are, level, and fuzz, and only ordered it to get 1 of 2300, attempting to get the entire tribute set, but missed out on the Univibe. So, have you played this pedal, and how does the fuzz stack up against the Fuzz Face? I believe Jimi used a germanium Fuzz Face, then a germanium Octavio, as he liked to call it. I’m not sure if he continued to stack another fuzz in fron when it went to silicon. Should I run both to get that wild sound in the Purple Haze outro solo, and Machine gun? I know this is Gilmourish, but I know you know quite a bit about Hendrix as well. Sorry to be so inquisitive about a pedal that’s not Gilmourish, but it is a very interesting subject, having actually learned what it really does!
    Thanks, Keith

    [No worries Keith… it’s all about guitar :) I haven’t explored Hendrix’s setup that much but I know he did some crazy stuff and stacked the FF, Octavias, UniVibe and wah on some occasions. I haven’t tried that my self, basically because I don’t like Octavias (imagine that!), but I would imagine you’d need to be pretty hands on the guitar volume to find the right balance. Jimi’s old Marshalls were cranked beyond sanity but they also had a lot of headroom, which could handle this sort of setup. Again, I’m sure there are others that both knows and has much more experience with Hendrix’s setup than I. – Bjorn]

  30. Stephen Ford says:

    This is the case with some fuzz pedals, unless you have a buffered wah like the Area 51 Buffered Wah for Fuzz pedals which works well in front of fuzz pedals. I recommend a Eye Rock Electronics Gull Switch if there is an issue. it is just a signal switcher and turns your wah from a wah into a seagull at the push of a button. I truly prefer having the Fuzz after the wah in my system (using an Area 51 buffered wah). Putting a fuzz before the wah makes the wah sound anemic to me personally. Cheers

  31. Tom says:

    You have an awesome site going here, very informative. I love it! What would be a good set/combo for Live at Pompeii tones? Would it be just a set of all ’69’s? Or would a combo of 69’s/SSL5’s work? Also, which combo gives more variety in it’s tones; I play more than just Gilmour inspired stuff – when it isn’t Gilmour/Pink Floyd, I listen to Southern type stuff like the Allman Brothers and the Black Crowes. Any insight you may be able to give me into what types of pickups would work for me would be great. Thanks

    [Thanks for your kind words! A full set of 69s would be the closest match to David’s Pompeii tones. The SSL5 in the bridge works nicely too and adds a bit more balls to your tone. I also recommend the Texas Specials, which are similar to the 69s but the slightly boosted mid range might make them more versatile. – Bjorn]

  32. Tom says:

    Thanks… What do you think a combo of 69s with Texas Special bridge would do? Just pondering…

    [Might give you a bit more bite but it’s not that big difference. The SSL5 would be a better choice I think. – Bjorn]

  33. Stef says:

    First great thx to your answers in the other 2013 reviews. Secondly – topic came up above already – any input for telecaster set-up for David’s tone (beside custom made tele with strat pickups)? Quite not a friend of strat shape, tele feels much better in my (!) hands. thx

    [I think almost any Tele could replicate David’s tones. I have a Custom myself that I’ve loaded with a custom NoCaster neck and custom late 60s bridge, which has a bit more mid range than the stocks. You could also go for something with even a bit more bite. – Bjorn]

  34. Keith says:

    Lindy Fralin, Fralin pickups, makes some fine split blade Tele pickups, and a p-90 style Tele pickup as well. Search his site, or call and talk to them. I’m sure they could set you up with some great Gilmourish pickups for a Tele. Mine’s being done with custom wound Fralins as we speak!
    Peace all, Keith

  35. JohnA says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    Love the new site! Quick question– I’ve got a MIM CS ’50s and am looking to at least replace the bridge pup for something SS-L5ish. Do you know how my stock neck and middle pups compare to, the Voodoo Blues neck and middle? Should I replace the whole set or just go for the Voodoo Blues bridge, to get Animals-present Black Strat tones? My current neck/middle have really nice tones, as is, but perhaps the D Allen is a bit more well-rounded… I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks, John

    [The stock CS 50s pickups are based on the Custom Shop 54s. Low output, clean and a hint of mid range. The Voodoos, being hand wound and having better quality parts, will sound fatter, more open and have a much better sustain. Tonewise, they’re quite similar with a transparent clean tone and a fairly low output, as vintage single coils did have. I would definitely make the swap. – Bjorn]

  36. mikw says:

    I am planning on building a Gilmour Black Strat and I would like to get in the neighborhood of the “Live in Gdansk” sound of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” clean and over driven sound. What pickups do you currently recommend? I see some new Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Gilmour sets of 3 out on the market now, but I thought I would ask your opinion. Do you still recommend the Classic Series 50’s Strat?, then replace the pickups, bridge, pots & caps, etc. You have a great site and you’re doing a good service helping all of us on our tonequest. Thanks, Mike

    [Yes, the Classic Series feature som very nice guitars with the right feel and looks for the Black Strat. I do recommend that you try a few models and choose the best sounding one. Mexican Fenders tend to vary in quality and tone. Pickupswise, I’d go for a classic 69 neck and middle and a SSL5 bridge. That’ll give you the closest match to David’s guitar. Swap the Fender 69s with Duncan SSL1 or check out the D Allen Voodoo 69s. – Bjorn]

  37. Fritz says:

    Regarding Mike’s post of March 15:

    Doesn’t DG use the Red Strat with EMG-SAs for “Shine On…” in Gdansk?

    [Indeed he did but only for that song so I thought a more versatile setup would be more appropriate. Anyway, depends on where you want to go and personal preference. – Bjorn]

  38. David says:

    Good day Bjorn lovin the website its a great spot for info on setups the pickups here talk more on a strat model guitars but what do you recommend for pickups for a Telecaster Since I read that the mim tele pickuos are a bit boomy Im trying to get that Run Like Hell type of sound

    [I prefer the early 60s models with about 7k. These are transaparent, vintage voiced with a hint of mid range and a nice bite. The Texas Specials are also quite nice. Personally I’m using a NoCaster neck and early 60s bridge. – Bjorn]

  39. Keith says:

    @ David, check out the Lindy Fralin pickup site, he has many alternatives from Stock Tele,(slightly hotter), to a P-90 that fits Teles. If you’re looking for low noise, straight Tele sound, with a little heat, his Split -blade® Teles are noiseless, but not the kind of noiseless that keeps you from getting good feedback, and works just like single coils. He will wind the bridge as hot as is humanly possible upon request, and you can call, and tell him exactly what you’re looking for! I have his Vintage Hots in my Strat, and they are the quietest single coils I’ve ever owned, but the tone is pure ’69 Fender! I am his friend, but recieve no compensation for pushing his pups, just trying to give everyone on GILMORISH, THE Fender alternative! Bjorn, had a meeting, your Vintage hots will be in the mail soon!

    [Great! – Bjorn]

  40. David says:

    Thanks guys your input means alot to me as an avid Gilmour fan you try to play as your hero and try to replicatehis sounds I got my Telecaster at what was Manny’s Music shop (now its sam ash) and it was like calling out to me as I plugged it through a blues junior which thanks to this site for recommending it I now intend on getting it. I also checked the Fralin pickups site and a couple of models caught my eye my worries are for songs like dogs or sheep would a hot pickup be too much or is vintage styling the way to go? Again thanks for your time fellas cheers from New York City!!!!

    [Glad we can help, David! I don’t think you can wrong with any pickup although for the typical Gilmour Tele sounds, I’d prefer low output vintage voiced around 6-7k. Pickups, although important, is just one factor of the tone. How your Animals or other tones ends up, depends as much on the guitar it self, the amp, pedals, your settings, playing etc etc etc… :) – Bjorn]

    • KEITH says:

      Just looking through these cold posts, and wanted to clarify the hat vintage hots, is just a name. A ’69 fender Strat pup is about 5.8k, and a Fralin Vintage hot is about 6.0 k, not much difference there! However, the “bullet Strat” pups DG has in the black Strat only average about 5.3k, while the SSL-5 is around 12k, not anything vintage about that, but they do have a tap around 7k, so with a more cro switch, the SSL-5 is a great vintage pickup when tapped, and a real screamer when the whole coil is used.
      Peace, KC

  41. Jason says:

    great article. i have recently replaced the stock pickups in my black 2008 mim strat with a sd ssl-5 in the bridge and ssl-1s in the neck and mid and will probably leave them there from now on. these pickups are outstanding. the ssl-1s totally have a vintage vibe while the ssl-5 has an overwound sound it still sounds like a strat.

    by the way i personally belive that with a proper setup a stock mim strat can be just as good as a mia but thats just my opinion.

    [I agree with you there, Jason. How good or well a guitar sounds and play have nothing to do with where it’s made. There are some differences between US and MIMs, in terms of laquer, contour and general specs but that’s more down to taste than quality. The biggest difference is the hardware, electronics and pickups but as you say, a proper set up and some mods will make a MIM stand up to any US. – Bjorn]

  42. Rafael Sena says:

    Hey Bjorn, how are you doing?

    I’m considering intalling a CS Fat 50’s on my MIM Strat and I was wondering if shielding the guitar as well would be a good idea. Are your guitars shielded?

    When I last participated in a recording session the buzz kinda got under my skin at the moment of recording, but nothing that was really a problem at the mix.

    Considering that “shielding will also reduce some of the high frequencies”, in your opinion does the buzz reduction pay off the signal loss?

    Thanks a lot!

    [If you have a serious problem with buzz then shielding might be a good idea. However and as you point out, there will be some high end roll off. You might not notice it though depending on the transparency of your signal. All my Strats are shielded with copper foil and I have no problem with buzz. – Bjorn]

  43. Rafael Sena says:

    Thanks a lot for the answer! I talked to my guitar tech and he said “I can’t even play with a guitar that isn’t shielded”. So I’m gonna have it done.

    But I have a kinda silly question: if you could choose just one set of pups, having in mind a gilmourish tone (let’s say… from More to Pompeii or DSOTM)…

    Which one would you go for: a fat 50’s or a Texas Special?

    [Keep in mind though that shielding will only eliminate the buzz. The hum is hard to get rid of. See the feature above for details. Both pickup sets will go nicely for the periods you’re mentioning but a more accurate set would be the CS69s. – Bjorn]

  44. Soumyajit says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Just wondering what could be the alternative to CS69/CS50/SSL5 if i consider Dimarzio pickups? Since I already have CS-SSL combo in one guitar and thinking to upgrade the other one.

    Thanks in advance.

    [Don’t really have that much experience with DiMarzio but the FS1, that David used for Animals, is somewhat similar to the SSL5. – Bjorn]

  45. randy says:

    K…so far i have a 50RI fender neck…a single piece alder cut to the us strat specs and now getting ready to buy the pups. but how do i know the types of pots to use….for the black strat do i use 500 or the 250k? any suggestions?


    [I’d use 250k. They fit the single coils better. Be sure to get some high quality ones. You don’t want to compromise the quality of the tone and volume pots. – Bjorn]

  46. Randy says:

    Just got the 50s RI neck with the vintage tuners….aged alder solid piece cut to American strat specs….vintage style trem….

    1) Now I’m ready to get the pickups. But a bit confused on 250k vs 500k pots and where to go to buy the neck toggle switch.

    2) other than the finish how does nitro cellulos vs poly paint effect the tone?

    [Sorry for my late reply Randy. There are lots of part dealers out there. I usually search guitarpartsresource.com. Go for the 250k for your Strats but be sure to get some high quality ones and not the cheap copies. How the laquer affects your tone depends on the wood of the body and neck but in general, nitro is a bit warmer and softer, while poly is a tad brighter with a it more bite. – Bjorn]

  47. Rolf says:

    Hey Bjorn

    For anyone looking for a flatpole alternative to Fender 69’s, I highly recommend the Gypsy set from Rumpelstiltskin. I have these with a slightly hotter bridge (6,1k) in a 10-16 radius Warmoth strat, and they definitly hold their one against the 69’s. Slightly mid-scooped with clarity and strong bass, and perfect for authentic Hendrix, Gilmour and Blackmore tones etc.

    Great customer service, and lots of configurations to choose from. Aaron will wind to your exact spesifications

    [Thanks for the tip, Rolf! – Bjorn]

  48. Robert says:

    Hey Bjorn!, i just have one question, i’ve been trying to get the Echoes tone, and i’ve been wondering what kind of pickups should i get, the stock ones i have do not have the punch nor the crystal sound i’ve been longing for…

    [Hi Robert. What amp and pedals do you use to get the Echoes tone? Let me know and I’ll try to help :) – Bjorn]

  49. Robert says:

    Well, i have never followed the rules everyone suggests that will get you a Gilmour sound…or any sound or tone…i tend to make my tones a little more versatile and dynamic, so i can use them and adapt them to every genre i play.
    Currently i use an old 80’s Peavey Bass head, Mark VIII (yeah, i said bass head), wich will give me exactly the highs i want and love, and the low thumping bassy lines i need.
    A modified and reversed, Vox Wah V847,
    a modified Boss DS-1, wich gives me heavy as hell, or barely distorted sounds…
    a Boss GE-7,
    a MXR Analog Chorus,
    a Boss FDR-1 Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb…
    yeeeah, it isn’t that fancy or complicated, and i almost get that gilmour sound i want, is just that my strat lacks the ‘punch’ or the ‘highs with a little bass thrown in there’ …
    by reading your reviews of the pickups, i think i feel more attracted to the Custom Shop 69’s, but i’m not too sure…

    [Sorry for my late reply, Robert. I agree with your philosophy. Create your own tones, that’s always the best approach :) Based on your setup I’d recommend the CS 69s. They’re very similar to the late 60s pickups David used when recording and playing Echoes in the 70s. You might want to check out the D Allen Voodoo Blues set, which are 69s neck and mid and a slightly overwound bridge for a bit more bite. – Bjorn]

  50. sebastien says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I’m still sticking to my beloved Fender CS 69’s, and I’ve left the complete set on one of my strats, even the bridge pickup. I’ve also got the leosounds Fireball, wich is the same pickup. Made for that end 60’s /very early 70’s, Ritchie blackmore , Gilmour tone (till DSOTM), or hendrix at woodstock.

    You should give the Lesosounds a chance, they’re made in Germany, old style wiring. great stuff.

    that being said…. As everyone knows, having the 3 pickups withe the same low output (5.8 Hz ), gives a bridge pickup sometimes a bit too much trebly, not as hot as you’d like to.

    Doi you think it would be a great choice to have a slighty more hot bridge pickup like in the Dave alklen Cs69 Voodoo set ( not the voodoo blues). does it really improve the bridge pickup sound, and won’t it kill my Blackmore tones(the guy switched between the bridge and the neck only, the middle pickup was pulled off)…in your opinion?

    What do you have in, your strats today?

    – I know that your black strat has SSl5 + 2 X cs69
    – your rosewood neck japanese 65 model has the DG20
    – what pickups do you have in your Hybrid strat with road worn body and warmoth neck?
    – any other strat ?

    At last, do you use the Dave allen pickups as definitive pickups in one of your many strats? or the TT Crazy Diamond?

    Thanks again ,

    Have a good evening .



    [Hi Sebastien! I don’t think the Voodoo’s will ruin your Blackmore tones. They have a slightly hotter bridge but not nearly as much as the SSL5. It just makes the pickup sound a bit more balanced and rounded. I experiment with new pickups all the time. At the moment, my main Strat feature D Allen Voodoo 69 neck and middle and Duncan SSL5. I also have one with DG20 that I often use for recording. The “frankenstein” you’re referring to feature Fender Tex/Mex (stock) neck and middle and a D Allen Voodoo Blues overwound bridge. This is my test guitar so I’m swapping pickups all the time. – Bjorn]

  51. Sebastien says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for your prompt answer!

    I’d like to know what you think about the RWRP middle pickups
    . This seems to be a standard feature nowadays on many boutique pickups, as opposed to the exact vintage specs of the fender CS 69 which doesn’t have the RWRP for example.

    I know the RWRP feature is supposed to lower the hum but won’t it kill the vintage vibe in your opinion?

    And my second question is abour caps. The only ones I’ve used are 0.22 uF and 0.47 uF.
    But after visiting a couple of websites that show the inside of vintage strats, it seems that all the vintage strats form 55 to 69 had a 0.1 uF cap ( orange round like the Cornell dubilier).

    Do you know if David’s main Strat in the end of 60’s and till WYWH had a 0.1uF cap?

    Best regards,


    [I guess RWRP is about taste and preference. It doesn’t do all that to the tone but you will notice a slightly rolled of top so that might make them sound less vintage… I don’t know. Depends on the overall sound and resonance of the guitar as well. In regards to the caps… I’m sorry but I have very little knowledge about this. Perhaps someone else can help. – Bjorn]

  52. Christos Vrs says:

    Greetings from Greece mr Bjorn,

    Inspired form Gilmours great tones and of course your great reviews I have been in search of the components of my new strat! But I do fancy other classic rock legends such as Richie Blackmore and Rory Galagher. So I have thought about going with the classic Fat 50s in the neck, Custom 69 mid and either the Bare Knuckle Irish tour (Rory used them on his Irish tour) or the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound (Richie Blackmores pickups) for the bridge. I am doing this to get a more versitile and crunchy sound so my question to you is do you think it will blend with the whole set so I can have a bit of Gilmours and Blackmours or Rorys sound?

    Best regards , Christos Vrs

    [Well, I haven’t tried it myself but judging by the specs it should work nicely. Perhaps not identical to David’s but a versatile setup nevertheless I guess. – Bjorn]

  53. Steve says:

    I would love to hear your opinion on combining the Custom Shop 69’s Neck and Middle with a Dimarzio FS-1 in the bridge position. Cheers!!

    [That would be what David used for Animals, his 78 solo album and the recording of The Wall. The FS1 is perhaps somewhere between a CS69 and the SSL5. Hotter and a bit warmer than the 69 but not as hot and mid rangy as the SSL5. – Bjorn]

  54. Anthony says:

    I want to buy a new set of pickups for my American Strat and was wondering which would give a better sound. I know you say that the Fender custom 69 pickups are spot for Atom Heart Mother-WYWH sounds, which is exactly what i want! The only issue I am having is the guy at the guitar store said the custom shop 54 were more Gilmour of that era! Your opinion/thoughts would help!!! I have played the 69’s and they do sound like David but never tried the 54’s!

    [Well, David’s Black Strat featured stock late 60s pickups from 1970-1973 and early 70s pickups from 1973 to present (the bridge is a S Duncan SSL1 custom). The Fender CS69 is definitely the closest match. The #0001 Strat however feature mid 50s pickups. It’s not a huge difference between the two. The 69s are a bit more transparent, with a bit more low end but both has that bright vintage flavour. Depends on the guitar too and how well it matches the pickups. A third option would be the Texas Specials, which are basically 69s with a bit more mid range. – Bjorn]

  55. Ben says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    Great in depth review!

    I want to upgrade my MIM Fender with some new pickups. The only problem is the humbucker in the bridge. I’d really like to get some convincing DSoTM and On An Island tones out if this guitar since I don’t have enough money to buy a whole new guitar. Is there a good combo of pickups you can recommend? I’m playing at home through a Blues jr.

    Thanks again Bjorn!

    [How about a P90 for the bridge? Check out the S Duncan Phat Cat humbucker sized P90. I’d pair that up with a couple of CS69 or perhaps Texas Specials for a better match with the P90. That should get you close to those 70s tones. – Bjorn]

  56. jeff says:

    http://www.guitarfetish.com has some really decent pickups and a humbucker adapter plate to single

    [Thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  57. Lorenzo says:

    Hi Bjorn, recently I bought a SD SSL-5 that is now installed in bridge position. My Strat is a 2008 American Strat: those guitars were equipped with standard American Strats Pickups, that sound pretty good (to me) in neck and middle position, but the one on the bridge sounded terribly harsh, with no bass or middle frequencies at all…pretty awful. With the SSL-5 that problem was fixed, with much more sustain and general sound quality improvement. Even combining it with the other two standard pickups. Absolutely a great purchase, even for everyone who wants to go beyond reaching Gilmour’s tone

    [Hi Lorenzo! Yep, the SSL5 is a great sounding pickup and very versatile for a wide range of different tones and genres. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  58. Wolf says:

    Hi, what pickups do you recomend to Fender Standard Strat MIM? I like present black strat tones. I have Laney 12 stock. Take care!

    [How about Fender CS69 for the neck and middle and a Seymour Duncan SSL5 for the bridge? – Bjorn]

  59. Tucker says:

    What telecaster pickups would you recommend for Gilmour’s RAH Fat Old Sun tone?

    [I think some late 50s or early 60s models works great. Check out the Texas Specials as well for a bit more bite. I would avoid NoCasters and the more modern sounding ones. – Bjorn]

  60. Jake says:

    Hey Bjorn! Been a huge fan of Gilmourish.com for a while now and I’ve recently started building up my equipment and I’m wondering what the best pickup/combo is best for a Meddle-Wish you were here Gilmour tone? Thanks for the great site!

    [Thanks Jake! Depends on what guitar and amp you have but in general I would say a full set of Fender CS69s or something similar like the D Allen Voodoo 69s. David didn’t start using the Duncan SSL until Wall. Having said that, the SSL5 compliments those tones perfectly. You could also go for the D Allen Voodoo Blues, which has a bridge wound for something between the CS69 and SSL5. – Bjorn]

  61. Josh says:

    I have duncan ssl5 that i want to put in the bridge of my mex std strat. IM having an issue though, the pole pieces are staggered differently than the stock pups i have in there now, and the diagram that came with the ssl5 dosnt show anything about this. I was wondering if you could tell me witch direction the pup should go. In other words what pole pieces should be under witch strings?
    Thanks for your time- Josh J

    [Hi Josh! The flat pole should be under the B string. – Bjorn]

  62. Lake says:


    When one goes for the set like the Relic/NOS:

    Neck Fender CS Fat 50
    Bridge SM Duncan SSL 5
    Middle Fender CS 69

    Should the CS 69 on the mid pickup be a RWRP (Rewind Reversed Polarity)?
    Hope you can help me on thuis.


    [The CS69s are vintage straight wired and non specific to placement. You need to reverse the black and white on the SSL5 though. – Bjorn]

  63. Levent says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    First of all i’d really want to thank you for informing us about reaching gilmours sound. I have a 2007 strat american deluxe with rosewood neck and i want to change its pickups for reaching warmer tones like DG.
    From your suggestions, i was thinking on cs 69s, Fat 50s set or maybe a sd ssl-5 on bridge pickup but i cannot decide between them. I would be happy if you give me an advice.

    Thanks a lot

    [Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) Personally, I prefer the CS69s over the Fat 50s. The Fender Signature DG Strat feature a Fat 50s neck but David’s own guitar feature early 70s neck and mid, which would be closer to the CS69. The 69 has a bit more clarity and low end. The SSL5 is a great alternative for the bridge, with a bit more warmth and output. If you want something not as hot, then check out the D Allen Voodoo Blues set, which is based on the Fender CS69s, with a slightly overwound bridge. See my review here. – Bjorn]

  64. randy says:

    Almost there….it’s been long but very close!

    I’d be alot closer if someone would be kind enough to hook me up with the proper wiring diagram….H E L P!!


  65. Chad says:

    Are you familiar withe the 920D Mod Standard MIM Strat Custom Electric Guitar with Fat ’50s, ’69, and SSL-5 Pickups sold by Siglet Music Company? I currently have a fender MIM Fsr that I installed cs 69’s in. I was going to put a fat 50’s in the neck and ssl 5 in the bridge, but when I came across these on ebay I became interested. I am aware of the stratcat biz version, but this one is 250 with free shipping. At that price if it is of good quality it could save me some time and effort. Could you give me a little insight?

    On another note,
    A year ago I began my Gilmour tone chase using your site as my main guide. Using an mxr compressor, BYOC triangular and DOD delay (it was a free gift and will be upgraded later), I have come very close. I recently got a great deal on a Peavey Delta Blues 210 that I play through. I spent a day with a classic 30 side by side with it and the db produces a closer gilmour tone (for me). I am getting very close and think the pick up change will finish it off. Thank you for all the info and please give me any feedback you can?

    [Thanks for your kind words, Chad! The 920D is pretty much what it says, – a modified MIM Standard with the same pickup configuration as the Fender CS DG Strats. If you’ve never tried a Standard then visit your local guitar shop and try one to see if you like the specs. If so then you can expect a decent quality from most MIMs today so it’s up to you :) – Bjorn]

  66. Ross says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’m loving the Seymour Duncan SSL5 in the Bridge on my Strat along with the CS69 in the middle and neck. What difference would there be changing the neck pickup to a Fat 50 ?
    Would this be worthwhile? …I think this is the config (Fat50,CS69,SSL5)on the Custom Shop DG Black Strat?

    [Yep, the CS DG Strats feature that combo. David’s however, is closer to a CS69+CS69+SSL5 combo. Not much difference between the 69 and F50s. A bit more mids and a slightly smoother character from the F50s but how that applies depends on your guitar, amp etc… – Bjorn]

  67. Chad says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for the reply. I am actually not getting the entire guitar. Just the pre wired pick up guard. I am going to drop it in my FSR. Do you think it will be noticeably different than the set of cs 69’s that I currently have in it and do you think the quality of that pick up assembly is solid??

    [I assume they know what they’re doing so that given the pickups themselves are top quality :) The Fat 50s and CS69 are very similar. The Fat 50s has a tad more mids. The SSL5 has about twice the output of a CS69. It’s slightly darker and lots more mids. I love it and it compliments the set nicely. – Bjorn]

  68. Pete Walsh says:

    Your site is awesome! Thanks for all the work you’ve put in.

    What is your opinion of the Fender N3 pickups?
    Also, would they benefit with 500k pots to brighten them up?

    [Don’t have much experience with the N3s so I can’t really comment on that. Brightening up the high end loss caused by shielded pickups might work but you should do some tests and see which cap fits your guitar and rig. Using good quality cables and a buffer in your setup will always ensure a clean path for the signal. – Bjorn]

  69. Roko says:

    Hi Bjørn,

    I was looking around for some pickups and I stumbled upon a small company here in Croatia that seems to make high quality pickups. All pickups look extremely good but I’m mostly intrigued by 1970 Strat pickups since those should be the most transparent ones and best for Hendrix and Gilmour’s pre-Animals tones. Am I right? Which ones do you like the most?
    This would probably be my best bet since out here in Croatia everything is a little more expensive. These would cost me the same as Fender Custom Shop pickups.
    Here’s the link to the pickups: http://www.wizz-pickups.com/pickups.html

    [Thanks for the tip! I’ll check it out :) – Bjorn]

  70. Rick from Chicago says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Thank you for this site, I have learned allot and always trust your reviews. I have a couple questions for you.

    1. I have a G&l HB Strat. It has a JB in the bridge and 59 in the neck. Since this has a humbucker what is your suggestion to get that 70’s Gilmour sound??? The 59 isn’t bad at all

    2. What do you think of Vintage Noisless pickups in a Clapton Strat??

    Hope your having a great day.

    [What kind of amp are you using? – Bjorn]

  71. Rick from Chicago says:

    Hi. Hughes and Kettner 18 watt tubemiester and a two rock studio pro 35

    [Sorry for my late reply. I’m not that familiar with either of these amps but in terms of David’s tones and humbuckers I prefer either some low output PAFs or late 50s or P90s. Actually, I find myself using P90s more and more and often prefer them over single coils. They have more bite and attack than single coils but lots of headroom and as dark sounding as humbuckers. See Keith’s post as well for more tips. – Bjorn]

  72. Keith says:

    Rick from Chicago, I heard the most incredible thing in Lundy Fralins shop yesterday, and it would take care of that problem 100%. It was a Strat, with what looked like a humbucker in the bridge, but was two of his split blade noiseless single coils where a humbucker used to be. It had a master tone, and blender pot, and was wired so he could play it with his awesome splitblade as a single coil, not a tapped humbucker, and with a push on the blender pot, the second single coil kicked in, and it sounded like a grear humbucker! The great thing about this setup is, his splitblades do not have the problems that so called noiseless pickups cause, because they are two separate coils, that cover 3 strings each, which does nothing, when wound correctly to make them tonally different than a vintage single, but are in actuality a humbucking pickup. It’s based on the p-bass theory. You can find the info at Lindy Fralin Pickups, just Google his name, and contact him, he’ll hook you up, and you can get Gilmour, and Beck from the same ( well two!), pickup!
    Peace, Keith

  73. Rick from Chicago says:

    Hi Bjorn
    I wrote to Dave Allen about my situation and this was his response. What do you think

    Hi Rick,
    making buckers sound like single coils takes some doing.
    I would recommend my P-51 set it sounds very nice when split. There are a couple youtube vids that show it coil split.
    go to 2:15 onn this and you can hear the splits on this LP

    [Sorry for my late reply. Allen has a variety of different P90s that should suit most nuances of the single/humbucker terrotory. I haven’t tried the 51 myself but the clip sounds promising. As I said in my previous reply I use P90s more and more and think they have a versatile quality for David’s sounds and any genere really. – Bjorn]

  74. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, and everyone else. I have been on a mission for almost 2 years to get Bjorn a set of Fralin pickups, but until I spent a couple of days hanging out in Lindy’s shop, it kept getting lost in the absence of us talking about it. However I went in last week for a total of 7 hours over two days, and besides learning more about pickups than 30+ years of playing in somewhat successful bands had come close to teaching me. Lindy is known to most of the business, as a master of Vintage Fender Pickups, and is known for innovation, and for using the best materials available. Everyone from Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton , and even David have at least one set of his pickups, ( early versions of his splitblade, with Beck the only one who has them in a stage guitar at this time, but he has rexesigned them, and each of the 3 guitarists have a set waiting in a Lindon shop for pick up at this time! ), and as I’ve mentioned, the original pickups from the black Strat were sent to Lindy to be rewound, and they are still wound from that rewind. So, the real purpose of this post, is about the set of pups I got for my thineline Tele, a pair of P-90 inspired,( they are basically exactly the same as a P-90, but made for Teles!), with a neck rated at 8k, and bridge is a fairly hot 10.5k. These are without a doubt the best pickups I’ve ever heard in a Tele, and cover the live Dogs tones from the PAF David used in his ’59 perfectly. I’ve gad his Vintage hots in my Rodriguez since it was built, and they are absolute perfection of Vintage Fender tones, with 6.0 neck, 6.0middle, and 6.8 bridge, which us very close tot DG’s early ’70s pups. I’ve also noticed that the David Allen Pickups are wound very close to the Fralins, with the values of his 69s very close to the vintage hots, and his Voodoo Blues, almost the same as Fralins Blues Specials. Lindy has been winding pickups for 35 years, and still gigs nationally with his Blues band, the Bop Cats, and has been lauded by every major guitar magazine as the best vintage Fender style pickup builder there is. I’m happy to finally get a set to Bjorn, so his ears will finally see what he’s been missing all these years, and there nay be and there may be a new brand of pickup sitting in Bjorn’s main Strat soon. While that remains to be seen, I bet my life that you can’t find a better Strat, or Tele pickup builder anywhere, and his Gibson style pups are top notch as well. You can find all the info tou need a Lindy Fralin pickups. I challenge you to find a less than stellar review in any respected publication. I can’t find one!
    Peace, Love, and Gilmourish!

    [Hi Keith! Just got back from an awesome weekend in London. Seeing Roger at Wembley was a huge experience… not least due to the amazing crowd. I’m very much looking forward to try the Fralins. I’ll contact you very soon. Cheers :) – Bjorn]

  75. Keith says:

    @Rick from Chicago, Fralin also makes P-90s that fit Teles, and Strats. I just put a set in my Tele, and have never heard a better sounding Tele Pickup.

  76. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, when you get though being called F’ing wrong by jerks, ans get caught up, check your FB messages, I was thinking about you about the time Roger was hitting the Stage, and later wrote that I hoped you had an anazing time! Glad you did!

    [Ha ha, yeah well, I don’t want that kind of behaviour here. Anyway, I’ll reply to your mail in regards to the Fralins very soon :) – Bjorn]

  77. Keith says:

    @Rick from Chicago, I believe I failed to mention that Lindy Fralin also makes his incredible P-90 in Strat sizes. This eliminates the need for “boating” the body, which changes a guitars tone when so much wood is removed. These are roughly 8k neck and middle, and 10.5 k bridge, and bolt right into a Strat, with no modification to the body, or pickguard. They sound incredible in my Tele, and I can only imagine how great they’d sound in a Strat. One thing Ice noticed about them is that with the amp just on the edge of breakup, these pickups at full volume overdrive nicely, but with just a very slight turn, clean right up. But man do they have balls. While one would think they would be really different sounding, I found that my tele has never sounded more like a Tele than these pickups produced, yet turn the volume to 10, and you’re approaching PAF territory. I know I’m
    sounding like a Fralin employee, but I’m just a very excited customer who had the luck of having one of his first rewinds some 30+ years ago, and his knowledge talent, and notoriety have grown exponentially since it became his business instead of his hobby. Do yourself a favor, and talk to him, he is very accessible by phone, or email after 11 am edt Monday – Friday
    sorry for the length, peace, Keith

  78. Operario says:

    @Keith hey man, I figure now’s a good time to ask you about the Catalinbread Echorec. I believe it’s been a while now since you got one, right? What’s your opinion on it?

  79. 100JH (David) says:

    Just thought I would point out this web site. Guy does impeccable work, responds quickly. I got the full assembled pickguard for my black strat project. I went with the SSL 5. Just an FYI for people as a resource.


  80. Ben says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I took your advice and put some cs69’s in my Strat. They sound better than I could ever have imagined. Thank you so much. I also added a mod to turn the bridge pickup on in the other 4 positions. It’s subtle but is awesome.
    If your ever interested in some other great pickups, you might look at Pete Biltoft’s Vintage Vibe Guitar Pickups. His website is kind of clunky but his product speaks for itself.

    Thanks Bjorn.

    [Thanks for the tip, Ben! – Bjorn]

  81. Keith says:

    @Operario, sorry I haven’t said more about the echorec, I’m self employed, and was out with an injury, and an illness back to back, so time has been limited. But here’s a quick review of the Echorec, AWESOME, THE BINSON IN A MXR CASE! The syncopated, overlapping delays are exactly what the Binson did so well, and every time I’ve messed with it, I’ve come up with several incredible riffs, it’s not the one trick pony I expected, but also is a great song writing tool. It took me all of five minutes, without the head settings in hand, to get the absolute perfect delay for the Echoes Arpeggio at the end of the space jam, right before it goes into the third verse, and it was dead on, just like pompeii, or meddle. It’s not too tinny, not muddy, just a very versatile 4 head delay sound. I love it, every Gilmourish guitarist should have one. If I could afford a real one, I’d still get this for gigging, because it’s no maintenance, and does the binson, and much more. I give it an 11!
    Peace y’all, Keith

  82. Keith says:

    Hey Bjorn, hope you’ll post this. I just have to go on about the set of Lindy Fralins Adjustable steel poled pickups for Strats, and Teles. The magnets are placed flat like a P-90, so they are in essence tonally a P-90 style pickup, with the classic P-90sound, and heat. Knowing you are a big p-90 fan, I want to tell you what the set I put in my classic vibe Squier Thinline Tele, which had already had Vintage wire, CTS pots, can cap, and all-around great components installed, including a bone nut, but still had the Duncan Design stock pups, which were okay for a $250 guitar, but not one so well made, and modded. The really special pickup to me, is the 8k neck pickup, that will even get a bit of wonderful grind from a clean REEVES, when at full volume, but the slightest turn causes it to clean right up. Think DG’s ’59, with the PAF. I can reproduce the acoustic part of Dogs where he used that Tele live, perfectly, and it’s indescribable how full, and balanced the pickup is. The bridge, a respectfully hot 10.5 K makes the guitar sound more like a Tele, that the tele pups that came out, nice and twangy, with lots of bite, but without sounding spikey. If you’re into Teles, and P-90s, it’s a match made in heavenly sound, and when you choose, fury! I can promise you’re tele will still sound like a Tele, but if you choose, it can be a screaming banshee as well. And these are just one small part of the oldest small boutique pickup shops offerings. Lauded by his peers, and friends like Seymour Duncan, he can make every pickup you’d want, but with his magic touch thrown in. Ask DG, The Edge, and JeffBeck, just a few who have Fralins winding magic. The king of the Fender Vintage sound! IMO they cannot be bettered!
    I don’t work for Fralin pickups, and receive zero for my praise
    Peace, Keith. Take a look at Fralins site, just Google it.

    [Thanks for the info Keith :) – Bjorn]

  83. chris d says:

    What is a good pickup combo for a telecaster. Everything dave does on a tele sounds great so some thing close would be nice to have.

    [He’s mostly using 50s Teles so I would imagine that a pair of NoCasters or some early 50s customs would do the job. Personally I prefer something a bit hotter, around 7-7.5k, which for me at least, works better with distortions etc. The Texas Specials or some custom wounds would be fitting. – Bjorn]

  84. Diego says:

    Hi Bjorn! I’m pretty in love with your page, it’s been very useful for me, I’m from Mexico, I bought a few months ago a Squier Stratocaster just because it was black with black Pickguard, and I bought it to have it in my collection of guitars, somebody offered me a MIM Fender black strat around 500 US dollars, I bought my Squier for less than 200 dls, and searching in the net i found it was a Japan Made E series Squier, that supposes to be better than common squiers out there, so I decided to keep my squier and upgrade pickups an pots, and found on ebay a pickguard with Duncan SL5, Fender CS69 and Fender CS fat 50’s Pickups and with the mini toggle switch installed, but I’m not sure if that one would fit my squier, I’m pretty sure I’m willing to try that combination of pickups in my Strat, but I would love to have you opinion about the Japan Made Squier and the pickups I choose, and If that Pickguard will fit mi guitar… Thanks in advance

    [I don’t know about new Japanese Squiers but the 80s and early 90s models are supposed to be very good. The current Squier models that you find in most shops today are very good. They’ve upgraded much of their lines and you get a lot for the buck. A few mods and you have a very nice guitar. The pickguard should fit but make sure it has the same screw hole configuration as your guitar :) – Bjorn]

  85. Tom says:

    Hey Bjorn, do you know which one of these Tele pickups would fit Animals tone ? http://www.dimarzio.com/pickups/tele/standard-tele?view=grid
    Thank you very much for everything, greetings

    [David used the beaten Esquire for Animals and although it’s not confirmed what bridge pickup it feature I would assume that it’s no hotter than 7-7.5k. Possibly lower. In that case the True Velvet would be a good choice. – Bjorn]

  86. Tom says:

    Ahh, also, which late 60’s pickups would you recommend for David’s tone ? (love the have a cigar tone on your tele!! is really great)

    [You mean late 60s for Tele? The DiMarzio True Velvet, although a bit hot, would go nicely. You may also want to check out the D Allen Blues Cat set, which is very close to the custom wounds that I got :) – Bjorn]

  87. Tom says:

    Thank you so much Bjorn :) i really mean it

    [Cheers, Tom! – Bjorn]

  88. Diego says:

    Thanks a lot, I forgot to say that my squier was made in 1984-1987, an that’s the reason I want to keep that one and change the pickups, I ‘m pretty sure I gonna use a combination of Duncan SL5, Fender CS69 and Fender CS fat 50′s Pickups, I have a VOX Night Train head and cab amp, what do you think about the combination of the pickups and the amp? do you have an idea about how would sound? I have a handmade clone of the Ram’s Head Big Muff Large Beaver to use with my guitar an the amp, I would like to find a nice tone like in the DSOM or in Animals albums. Thank you very much for answering and you have made a great job with all the information in the webpage..

    [Hi Diego! The setup should make a nice combo with the Muff. Of course, it’s always down to how you set it up and in what environment you’re playing in but you should be able to get some nice tones :) – Bjorn]

  89. Pedro Partarrieu says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    I have been investigating about the SSL1 California Staggered set, and doing some reading about also flat pup’s. They say for 7.5 is good the staggered pup’s and I recently bought a Fender American Special FSR Ash vintage blonde that haves 9.5.

    I also read that this is no big a deal if it haves Alnico V magnets, but if its Alnico III, you will feel D-G Strings very loud compared to others strings (California 50’s set has Alnico V).

    On the other hand, read that the SSL-1 California 50’s, when you play more than 1 string they have a little bit of “gain” and that you have to turn down the volume a little bit to get a really clean sound.

    I am watching a CS69’s too, SSL5, and regarding of what I fond out about Staggered vs Flat, I will consider too the SSL2 or SSL1. I will buy too a Push/Pull DiMarzio Potentiometer for the bridge Pickup.

    What’s your opinion/advice on this topics?

    Thanks for everything! Great website!

    [Perhaps Keith wants to chip in on this? – Bjorn]

  90. Daniel Haas says:

    Hello again my friend!
    Yust a quick help here. Have you heard about the Seymour Duncan ssl-52?
    If yes, what do you think of it in the neck, combined with the ssl- in the bridge and the fender cs 69 in the mid?
    Thanks! Cheers

    [Never tried it. – Bjorn]

  91. Cássio Nandi Citadin says:

    There is a pickup manufactor from brazil called Malagoni. They have a custom set called DG based on David Gilmour preferences and setup for his black strato.

    You can see here (not english localized): http://www.captadores.com.br/loja/produto-34302-1751-novo_custom_d_g

    Each pickup is different, wires, polarity, all AlNiCo. You must give it a try!

    [Thanks for the tip! – Bjorn]

  92. Chad says:


    I just wanted to give you an update and share some info with the followers. I had inquired about the 920D Gilmour wired pick guard assembly back in August. I really wanted to get one from Stratcat.biz, but I was looking to save some cash. Well I lucked out and came across a guy outside Dallas, where I live, that plays a lot of Floyd covers in his band. He also builds guitars from scratch and puts them together for artists around the area. He happened to be selling a MIM, that he dropped one of the Stratcat.biz assemblies in. I was able to sell my Fender FSR, with custom shop 69’s and for $150.00 out of pocket pick up his.
    All I can say is wow! The pick up assembly is built to perfection. The look and the quality are fantastic. It has the shortened trem arm and green numbering on the nobs. The toggle looks great and is very solid. Plug it in and things get even better. The sound is fantastic. I can achieve all the tones I have been chasing. It is great for not only Floyd, but most anything I play. The neck is clean and bluesy and with that hot Duncan in the bridge, I can get all kinds of crunch.
    I have been upgrading for over a year now on my Gilmour tone quest, with you site as my main guide. I started with a clasic vibe 60’s and have finally ended with the MIM, with the Stratcat.biz custom pick up assembly. Thank you for your guidance and all the info. For any of you readers, I highly recommend the mentioned pre wired pick up guard and pick ups. I will say that I am no kind of tech guy and so I was fortunate that the guy I bought it from really set this guitar up nicely for me.
    Thank You Bjorn! Bring your band to Dallas, Tx and play for us sometime!!

    [Thanks for your kind words and for sharing, Chad! – Bjorn]

  93. Kevin says:

    Reading through the older posts after trying many, many different pickup combos. I second the recommendations on the Dimarzio Area/Virtual Vintage series pickups; they are the best noiseless I’ve tried (others: EMGs, Bill Lawrence, and Fender Vintage Noiseless).

    I put a set of Virtual Vintage 54 Pro pickups in my ’50s Classic Player and they are fantastic. Comparable in sound to the D.Allen 54s but QUIET!

    After that I started experimenting with the other Area pickups for my American Standard (rosewood board) and initially went with the 58/67/61 set. I didn’t really like the 58 as it seemed a bit muddy (much like the Texas Specials if you like those) and replaced the 58 with another 67. Hendrix Axis tones all day with a decent early ’60s bridge sound. I want a hotter bridge and a little more dirt in the neck so I think I’ll be putting a Chopper in the bridge, move the 61 to the neck, and keep the 67 in the middle. I’m guessing the 61/67/chopper setup will get me close to the Fat 50s/CS69/SSL-5 setup (which I was running for a while in my ’50s CP and liked).

    Check ‘em out if you can! – K

    [Thanks for the info, Kevin! – Bjorn]

  94. Francesco says:

    Hi There!, Many thanks for suggestion.

    What pick-ups do you suggest for matching with Laney 12CUB R in order to reach Black Strat all eras sound? Could CS 69 with Duncan SSL-5 @ bridge be fine?

    [That would be spot on :) – Bjorn]

  95. Pedro says:

    Greetings Bjorn!

    Just a few questions, what’s your opinion?

    Guitar: Fender American Special FSR Vintage Blonde, Ash body maple fingerboard.

    Neck & Middle: Texas Special (Comes with my guitar); CS69′; D.A. Voodoo Blues; SSL1, and Dimarzio True Velvet.

    Bridge: Texas Special; SSL5, CS69′, Voodoo Blues; and Dimarzio Red Velvet.

    What’s your Advice and opinion on this Pickups?

    [All pickups will give you a nice tone but it depends on your amp too. Personally I think the Texas Special are a bit too middy and they can sound a bit dark on some amps but if you ask me, and since I use them myself I think D Allen’s pikcups are awesome. Check out the Voodoo 69s :) – Bjorn]

  96. Francesco says:

    Hi Bjorn, thank you very much indeed!
    BR, Francesco

    [Cheers! – Bjorn]

  97. Terry Carter says:

    I play a Diamond Series 006 Deluxe with factory pickups. I like playing a variety of music from Metallica, Tom Petty, Country Music, early 90s, beck anything that sounds good with a guitar lol. Can u look up my guitar and give me advice on some pickups for it please ? It has two double single coils in it now. Thank you Terry

    [I’m not familiar with the guitar model but I think it has two humbuckers right? If you want something versatile I’d go for some low output vintage style ones like a pair og Gibson PAF or perhaps a pair of Duncan Phat Cat P90s. – Bjorn]

  98. Terry Carter says:

    Yes it does thank you.

  99. Terry Carter says:

    Its a schecter diamond series 006 Deluxe.

  100. Maksimilijan says:

    Hi Bjorn, thank you again on really helpful and interesting article. Wanted to ask you, what do you thing about GFS (Guitar Fetish) pickups. I would order Jimi Reverse Stagger Alnico Premium Pickup Set, because i don’t have money for any pickups you wrote here. Would the sound be close to any pickups here? What do you think?

    [I’ve never tried the GFS pickups but from what I’ve read they’re well worth a try. The JH EXP seems like a good choice for those classic tones :) – Bjorn]

  101. Rob says:

    Greetings. I just started learning to play again since I have had traumatic brain injuries and the guitar I have to work with is a MIM Deluxe Players Strat with noiseless pickups and the added butto to mix more pickup combinations. Since I cannot just runout and buy a new guitar anymore (living on disability) I will have to mod what I have. My medical issue, believe it or not, is driving me crazy because the sound I get with my strat is blah, and my brain screams no so I need to get closer to that DG sound. I want that Dark side, wish you were here, and maybe some of the wall sound. I have a couple of really good acoustics (Martin HD-28v & Gibson Hummingbird) which I am using to play an acoustic DG & PF sound but want to use my strat. I have a Vox AC15 a alnico blues amp. I’m probably asking a lot, but really if you had my medical issues you would be amazed at how the sound being too far off makes my brain scream stop. Crazy, I know, hope you never have to find out for yourself.

    [Sorry to hear about your health. Start by setting up your amp for a nice and warm clean tone, which will be the basis for your pedals. See this feature for some amp setup tips. I’m not sure what pedals you already got but you would need a few to be able to cover the tones. An overdrive, distortion and delay will get you far. I’d go for something versatile to be able to cover as much ground as possible without spending too much. Check out a Boss BD2 for those classic overdrive tones and a RAT distortion for all the lead tones, such as Time, Money, Comf Numb etc. It’s also worth checking out the Mooer clones of these pedals, which are a bit cheaper and sound great. Any delay would do but check out the TC Electronics Flashback. Great tones and several modes for different delay types. See this feature for some Dark Side tone tips and this one for Wish You Were Here tone tips. Hope this helps :) – Bjorn]

  102. Edi says:

    Hi Bjorn!!

    Great to see you keep doing an amazing job!!

    I need your help… I just bought the neck and middle CS69 pickups for my Strat (already have a SSL5 in the bridge), but I think something’s wrong… I also asked to install the Gilmour Mod…

    The thing is, in position 2 (Bridge+Middle), I hear a thin sound, with less volume than the other positions and with almost none bass and middle’s… I get a very trebbly sound and no “quack”… what can that be? Can you point out a wiring diagram?
    I didn’t perform the instalation of the PU’s, it was a guitar tech…

    Cheers from Portugal!

    [Hi! You need to reverse the connections on the SSL5. Black wire to the switcher and the white wire to the volume pot. That should solve the issue :) – Bjorn]

  103. Edi says:

    WOW, thanks for the prompt reply! :)

    So, keep the CS69 connected “normally” (that being: white wires to the 5-way switch) and reverse the connections on the SSL5. Ok, I’ll pass the information to the guitar tech and see if it solves the issue…

    This would be correct right?

    Kind regards!

    [That should do it :) – Bjorn]

  104. Keith says:

    Bjorn, and Edi, I had the same problem when I first brought Cymbaline home, and the middle pickup being RWRP had been hooked up with the leads reversed, so it could be either issue, just having been there, thought I’d throw my two cents in!
    Peace, Keith

  105. Brooks says:


    Thanks for the website it has always been a big help to me. I have been a long time follower but this is the first time I have posted.

    I have been out of playing guitar for the last few years but some friends of mine whom I used to play with have talked me out of retirement. I had sold off most of my stuff except for several pieces of some project guitars I had laying around the house.

    Right now I’m putting together a parts guitar to get some rehearsals going but I had a couple of questions for you and the readers of the website. I was working on my own Gilmour pickup setup, I had purchased on a whim last year a SSL-1C-DG pickup from stratcat.biz. I also recently purchased a loaded Gilmour Style – 7 position pickguard from HD Custom Guitar supply. It has the Fat 50s, Custom 69, and SSL-5 pickups installed as well as the toggle switch to add the neck pickup. My plan is to replace the SSL-5 with the DG pickup. Also I’m going to add the Callaham full alumn. pickguard and sozo capacitor.

    I was also thinking about adding the Callaham Base Plate to the bridge pickup but do you guys think this will ruin or enhance the bridge pickup?

    Also not related to pickups but this is a hardtail Robert Cray body, and I was thinking of using the Graph Tech String saver saddles to a Callaham bridge? What do you think of its effects on tone?

    One last question, after I finish this guitar I’m going to get back on a relic strat I have been wanting to finish. I have an MJ Tele neck and body. I was thinking of adding the Callaham Prewired pickguard assembly with Fralin H/SRV Specials. Any thoughts on those pickups?

    My previous guitar I was using was a 2005 EJ Strat with an SSL-5 in the bridge position. Loved that guitar, should have never let it get away. Actually when I bought that guitar I was looking for a 57/62 Vintage strat that I was going to modify using your recommendations from the website. I thought is was a 57 reissue when they handed it to me, but it was so light I knew something was wrong. (apologies for the shameless plug).

    [Hi Brooks! Sorry for my late reply. The base plate will give you a bit more mids and a generally warmer tone but experience with is that it’s redundant with the SSL pickup. The pickup has a lot of mids and a considerably darker tone, compared to the neck and middle and the base plate can be bit of an overkill… my opinion at least. Still, it will always depend on the overall sound and character of the guitar.
    I don’t have experience with the with the Graph Techs so I can’t tell about that one. In regards to the Fralin question – I’ll leave that to Keith :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  106. Edi says:

    Hello Keith!

    Thank you for your help. So in your case you had both pickups (Middle and Bridge) leads reversed? Where they CS69+SSL5?


    • KEITH says:

      Just saw this, very very late. No, my issue was when they put the leads on the middle pup, they accidently wired the black and white wires like a normally wound pickup, so it was out of phase. They simply reversed them at the pickup, and second position is quack city!

  107. Drew says:

    Bjorn – greetings from the US. fantastic job on the site! I’ve currently got an SSL-5 in the bridge, a Fat 50’s in the middle, and an SSL-1 in the neck. I’m swapping out the middle pickup and replacing it with a CS 69 this week, and was considering swapping the neck pickup as well.

    How do you feel about the dimarzio FS-1 in the neck? i believe David used it for a bridge pickup before he switched to the Duncan – but I’ve read that Mark Knopfler actually used one in the neck. The point for me is that I’d like something a bit hotter than the SSL-1 I have now, and was considering going for an FS-1 in the neck. Ultimately it would be FS-1 in the neck, CS 69 middle, SSL-5 in the bridge. i will be running the black strat mod as well, so I will have access all 7 pickup combinations.

    have you experimented with the dimarzio fs-1 at all? have any opinions on the pickup in general?

    thank you!

    [I’ve only tried the FS1 in the bridge position so I have no idea how it works out in the neck. Personally I prefer lower output pickups for the neck. It just sounds better to my ears and if I want something hotter I swap for a P90 or PAF loaded guitar. I’d be curious to know how it works out :) – Bjorn]

  108. Ben says:

    Bjorn, question for you about the Seymour Duncan ssl-5: Is it better than or about the same as the DiMarzio fs-1? I have looked everywhere for a comparison but I haven’t found proof that one is better than the other. Any adivce? FWIW I have ssl-1’s in all positions right now, but don’t know how the DiMarzio will mix in.

    [They’re very similar. The FS1 is a tad hotter but not a huge difference. – Bjorn]

  109. Chris says:

    Hi Bjorn, quick question regarding the SSL5. I finally got one not too long ago and after installing and playing with it for a while I had a little bit of a feeling it might not be for me and perhaps I needed something in between the CS69 in the Bridge and the SSL5. Maybe a Texas Special. The problem I had was I sort of lost my pristine cleans in the bridge position. In love with the lead tones though so I was hesitant to swap it back. Then after some more time getting to know my new setup, I started going to the middle pickup which I never would normally do and found that I now have a much more versatile strat. I have my cleans in the middle position, great neck sound and then for that screaming smooth lead, I can go to the SSL5 bridge. Or a gritty bridge if the amp is more on the clean side. Then watching Live at Gandske, I noticed Gilmour seems to do the same. On the clean stuff he seems to have the selector in the middle or bridge. So I ask, is this basically what I can expect, what you see with your setup, and I have indeed installed my Duncan correctly? It most certainly is a keeper and now that I’ve adapted the configuration to my playing I’m loving my strat even more. I can also dial the volume back and clean it up, its just not as bright as I was use to. Maybe other users can chime as well. I’d certainly like to hear their feedback… what would rock and roll be without feedback.

    Best regards and thanks for keeping this site going. One of the best websites on the grid.

    [Hi Chris! The SSL5 has a lot of mid range, which can appear not as clean as a lower output 69 or similar. It certainly isn’t as transparent. It’s a matter of taste and either yu like it or not. One option is to go for the tapped version or the D Allen Echoes, which allows you to swap between the SSL5 and a slightly overwound 69 by a push on the tone knob. That’ll give you the best of both worlds :) – Bjorn]

  110. Hp. says:

    Hi Chris and Bjorn, i can confirm the darker tone with my SSL 5 too. I have installed one in the Bridge Position of a Blade RH-4 Strat and the crystal clear Highs are some sort of damped now, but as Chris said, more Power for Lead tones is also nice.
    I also had installed two other SSL 5 in a selfmade Strat Project some Years ago, and had installed it back then in the Middle and Neck Positions!!!, man that sounded fat, but, not very bright anymore……..

    I own a 2009 American Standard Strat too, still with its Stock Pickups, which were called back then “American Standard Pickups” with following specs according to Fender Support answer:

    Here are the specs…

    Alnico 5 Magnets
    Neck- 5.9 DC resistance
    Middle- 5.9 DC resistance
    Bridge- 7.3 DC resistance

    “They are close to the output of the Custom Shop 69’s but with a hotter bridge.”

    And this Guitar sounds bright enough, but i have sometimes the feeling that i have to “fight” a little bit more for some sustaining lead tones compared to the SSL 5 one, whose tones will come out and stay a bit easier, but that is just my opinion…..

    Another Question to you, Bjorn. May i ask you for your opinion about if there is a “big” Sounddifference between these 2009 American Standard Strat Pickups, and a 69 or Fat 50 like Custom Shop one??? I only need to know it for the Neck and Middle Positions, or are these American Standard Stock Pickups very close (enough) to the Customshop ones???? And if not, maybe you can describe me where the most important tone difference lies, like: Bass, Middle, Treble, Bell-like, Glassy, round, soft tone, smoother response, better attack….. and so on…. And…Thank you again for this nice, informative and helpful Website!!!

    [The SSL5 are darker sounding than most single coils because they have more mid range and less treble. It’s how the pickup was designed. The more wounds with the thread, the higher the output and the less top. Based on the specs alone, it looks like the pickups you got are very close to the 69s, with a similar Texas Special in the bridge. – Bjorn]

  111. Ralph says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I am new to this electric guitar stuff…just recently bought a used Fender American Deluxe Strat HSS and a Fender Mustang III amp. The Strat is stock-no modifications done. I am a huge DG fan (thats why I’m at this site). What can I expect from my rig at the moment for getting “Gilmourish” in sound/tone? or will I need to upgrade things? I’m trying to replicate the sounds from “dark side of the moon” and the “Mother” solo. The amp is a bit overwhelming and has all these effects that I can mess with using the Fuse software. Do I have any hope of achieving these sounds/tones with what I have currently? Any thoughts?

    [Hi Ralph! The guitar and amp alone should be able to give you a nice basis for your Gilmour tones. Check out this feature for some amp setup tips. As for the effects, I don’t have any experience with setting up a Mustang so I can’t really give you any pointers. I’m sure it’s possible to set it up for some very nice Gilmour sounds. Anyone else here have experience with this model? – Bjorn]

  112. Guille says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I’m looking to improve the sound (of course I love Gilmour’s tone) of my Ibanez RX-650. Here’s a picture of the guitar (that’s not mine). http://home.comcast.net/~pointco/Ibanez%20RX%20650.jpg

    Given that I’ve never replaced pickups, I have some very basic (and maybe silly) questions…
    – Is it possible to install single coil pickups on that guitar?
    – If not, do you have any advise about pickups for that guitar that may approach Gilmour’s tones?

    As always, thanks in advance and congrats for maintaining this great site.

    [It is possible but it would require some heavy modifications, so the answer is really no. But, you can replace the humbuckers with a pair of P90s in a humbucker casing. The P90s are single coils but wound very hot for a tone that’s right between a hot single coil and a mid 50s humbucker. Works great for David’s tones. Check out the Seymour Duncan Phat Cats :) – Bjorn]

  113. Rob says:

    Wanted to see if any Fender custom shop DG NOS model owners experience significant Buzz with these guitars? I have owned mine (built in 2008) for about a year and a half and absolutely love the tones out of this guitar; in particular with the pickup selector in the bridge position and the mini switch engaged so all three pickups are engaged at once. Unbelievable magic!! The only issue I have is with Buzz, and it is equally noisy in all pickup selector positions. Fender says it is normal but wanted to see if others are hearing the same; obviously increased with effects in the system (cornish, butler, boss, Arion, etc). Thanks so much for providing such a valuable resource for DG fans!

  114. George says:


    A question about Fender CS ’69 pickup.

    I’d like to know if each position (bridge, mid and neck) has it’s specific pickup or is the same pickup for all three.


    [It’s the same :) – Bjorn]

  115. Marco Stroppa says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    I recently bought a new black Fender Stratocaster American Vintage 57. Would you recommend to change the pickups for David’s tone? At least the bridge pickup with the Seymour Duncan SSL-5?
    Kind regards!

    [It’s not a must. The stock pickups are great but personally I’d replace them for either CS69s or an SSL5 in the bridge :) – Bjorn]

  116. Roger Sartori says:

    Hi, Bjorn.
    I recently got a Fender strat (54 model, CIJ 1997-1998). I don’t know what pickups came with it, they’re originals, but do you think it will sound better with a TEX-MEX trio on it? Thanks as always.

    [Those mid 90s CIJs were equipped with none-specific 50s style pickups, I think. Mine was at least. The TexMex pickups has a higher output, more mids and an overall darker tone. I like them but they’re very different from what you already have. – Bjorn]

  117. Roger Sartori says:

    continues: I mean, to nail Pompeii and Dark Side tones…

    [The CS 69s should be perfect. – Bjorn]

  118. Roger Sartori says:

    Fender has the “Pure Vintage” series pickup sets… there’s the 65, 59, 56, sets… have you tested some of these?

    [Nope but I would assume that they’re not that different from the CS models. – Bjorn]

  119. Morten says:

    Hi Rob and Bjørn. The DG NOS is not schielded. After shielding the buzz in my DG NOS is gone. Morten

  120. DIMITRIS says:

    Two weeks ago, I bought a second-hand Laney L20 head with a Masrhall Haze matching cab. Really happy having read about this amp, on gilmourish!
    But something was missing. I had my great germanium fuzz (which I gave away to get an Analogman BC109), but my American strat has a set of Samarium Cobalt Noiseless PUs. To me it sounds really bad. Not like a Strat. Acoustically it’s really good, but when you plug into any amp, loses all of it’s beauty. Kinda flat, no soul in it. Both clean and distorted tones. Do you have any experience with these pickups?
    So, I think of replacing them with a set of Fender CS 69’s. Although I ‘d like to try other brands too, in Greece they ‘re not available. How would you compare them to D’Allen VOODOO 69’s?
    p.s. After some loooong conversations with friends last days, I think we, guitarists, are only trying to replicate tones and sounds by other guitarists (let’s say David Gilmour) we love and we miss the point of using them as tools and as a reference to express ourselves and say and play for our thoughts, feelings and motives in life.

    [Hi! Good point. Replicating a special tone is part of the fun but learning how to express yourself on the instrument and using effects and different amps and guitar to find your voice is much more rewarding. I’ve never tried the Samarium but on a general note… the issue with most noiseless pickups is that they lack the top end and that bell-like chime of the passive single coils and the vintage ones in particular. It depends on what tones you want really. If you want classic single coil tones then stay away from noiseless and active pickups. If you want hotter output and pickups suited for modern tones, rock and metal, then they’re a very good option. Between all the late 60s models that I’ve played, the Voodoo 69s are the most dynamic and open sounding. – Bjorn]

  121. Roger Sartori says:

    I imagine if Gilmour releases another album this or maybe next year and uses a black strat with a totally different setup, with other pickups… HAHAHA.. a lot of people, just like me, trying to change everything again! 8^)) Taylor on his book specifies that Gilmour was trying to get more punch on bridge position and tried the dimarzio, but he thought that it show no significant difference and started to use the duncan ssl-1… I wonder why this models is not used on the Fender Gilmour signature model, but they installed the ssl-5 instead… maybe “ears” are responsible for this fact… cheers.

    [Ha ha, yeah, it will be expensive for many of us :) – Bjorn]

  122. Trinity says:

    Hi. I sold my fender stratocaster many moons ago and have a Gibson les paul but I miss my emg dg20 pickups. Can I fit them to a Gibson body and what issues am I likely to encounter. Thanks x

    [Ah… for one, the size and the fact that you probably would need to remove a good chunk of wood to make the middle pickup :) Other than that… I don’t know. Why bother? If you have a Les Paul then a nice pair of PAF’s or P90s would really be the closest match… or EMG H, which is a single coil in a humbucker enclosure. – Bjorn]

  123. Hamish says:

    What pickups would you recommend for David’s Run Like Hell live 1980 tones?
    Thanks, Hamish

    [Any vintage model. I’d prefer that anyway. The NoCasters might be a bit thin but some 60s with a slightly hotter output would go nicely. – Bjorn]

  124. Aussie says:

    Hi Bjorn I have a mim fender strat and want to change the stock pickups in them. I want to have a SD ssl-5 for a bridge pickup, and I’m thinking of cs69 or Texas specials for neck and middle. What would you suggest would be best for a more current black strat sound such as on an island?

    [SC69 neck and middle and SSL5 bridge. – Bjorn]

  125. Aussie says:

    I forgot to ask, what would be a good choice of pickups to get that pulse sound especially in songs such as sorrow and comfortably numb

    [EMG DG20 obviously but you can get very close with 69s as well and pedals with a bit more mids like an OCD for overdrive and a RAT for leads. – Bjorn]

  126. Charles says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    What do you think about Bare Knuckle Mother’s milk set?
    Did you already test it?

    [Haven’t tried them… – Bjorn]

  127. KEITH says:

    @Roger, the SSL-1 was a specially wound one for David. It is what became the SSL-5, so it’s basically the same pickup. However, I tend to disagree with using active pickups. Maybe it’s my really sensitive, ( nit to be confused with educated) ears, but I hear a very modern sound whenever I hear those RedStrats, and think truly vintage pickups are better all the way around. The right pedal will give you all the punch, and aggresiveness you need. EXAMPLE : When DG started using the pups from the ’71 Bullet truss Strat, they were lower output than even CS 69s, a CS 69, or a vintage 1969 Fender Strat pickup is approximately 5.8k output, and around 7800 winds of #42 Formvar, while those pups from the bullet, that DG swore by for many years, ( only recently taking the neck and middle out,( by recent, I mean about the time Fender gave him his 69’s), those ’71s are only 5.3-.5.5 k and about 7200? Maybe 7500, I can’t remember at the moment, but the point being, that most everything you heard from the black Strat between ’71, and when he went to the FS-1, were low output CBS made Fender pickups, that didn’t even use the formvar wire most “Vintage Fendee pups used, instead they used plain enamel wire, and staggard poles that instead of being flat on the bottom, the poles were all the same length, vut staggerd top and bottom. The examples I’ve seen are generally between 5.2-5.5, and like I said, CS;69, and their original kate ’60s grandfathers were about 5.8k output. I find that at 6.0 N 6.0 RWRP M, 6.2 B, are a perfectly balanced set, (Fralin Vintage Hots), and are perfectly capable of producing the best of David’s tones, depending on the amp, and the pedals used. I’m not going to go into my usual salespitch bout Fralins, as no one will take my word for it, and I will eventually get a set to Bjorn for review, but the whole point of this very long post is, a good set of vintage Fender style pickups cannot be bested IMO, and most of the tones he got from 71-76, were on a weak set of CBS Gray Bottom, low output ’71 Strat pups, and either ’50′s, , or ’60′s Fender RIs, or the many clones available, ie D. Allen, CS-69, Fat 50′s, or my beloved Fralin Vintage hots, will cover any DG tone with warmth, and balance!
    Peace, Keith

  128. KEITH says:

    And when I said active, I was reffering to the EMGs, not the SSLs! Just wanted ti be clear ;)

  129. Justus says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    first of all thanks for this amazing website ! I play an Fender Pawn Shop Mustang Special and ask myself if I should replace the stock humbuckers which sound quite dull and undefined with the Seymour Duncan Phat Cats to give it a more singlecoily sound with more brightness and definition. I always liked the sound of P90s so what do you think ?

    [I would assume so. I’ve replaced hunbuckers with Phat Cats with great success but it depends on the guitar and how well it can handle the pickups. – Bjorn]

  130. John says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I’ve been visiting your site for some years now and really wanted to thank you for everything you have provided. I’m looking into swapping out the stock pickups on my American Strat and was thinking of a combo of a CS 54 in the Neck, a CS 69 in the middle, and either a Seymour Duncan SSL5 or Dimarzio FS1 in the bridge. My favorite tones for Gilmour are those on Obscured by Clouds and Animals, and I really enjoy his clean tones on The Division Bell. What do you think of this pickup combination? Do you think the SSL5 would be more versatile for capturing these tones over the FS1?

    [Hi John! Thanks for your kind words :) Seems like a very nice combo. The FS1 and SSL5 is very similar. The FS1 is perhaps a tad more aggressive but both cover the period perfectly. – Bjorn]

  131. Anthony says:

    Hello! Ive always been a fan of mahogany body guitars and i was wondering what you think of them for a strat, either with a mahogany or maple neck, and with the cs69/ssl5 combo. Some people say its too “dark” sounding. whats your 2 cents?

    [I haven’t tried that so I really can’t tell. Mahogany tends to be dark but I’ve no idea how that would sound with a Strat contour and maple neck. – Bjorn]

  132. Ratan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have Washburn Nuno Bettencourt N1 guitar. Summary of Specification for N1 PICKUPS: Washburn neck pickup and Washburn Bridge pickup( Washburn 621/623 humbuckers) PICKUP CONFIGURATION: H / H CONTROLS: 1 Volume with push pull (to select as single coil pickup) PICKUP SELECTOR: 3 way toggle.
    t has two Humbuckers which can be selected as two single coil as pull/push button. What Humbuckers pickups do you suggest which i can use as both Humbuckers as well as two single coil pickup? I would like to get single coils sound keeping in mind David’s sound.

    [Either PAF style humbuckers or P90s humbucker size and late 60s single coils. – Bjorn]

  133. Axel.H says:

    Hey bjorn!
    do you know if you can install an sl5 in the bridge position of telecaster or a similar pickup that would work in the tele bridge? And also a pickup for the tele neck position that would help cover davids tone ? Great website keep up the good work ;)

    thanks a lot! Axel , Finland

    [I think Duncan has a similar model for Teles. Check out their page. I had a custom wound SSL5 that I had made for my Tele at one point but it made a nasty feedback. Teles doesn’t handle high output pickups that well. – Bjorn]

  134. Michael Chapman says:

    I just purchased a Squier vintage modified Stratocaster and all in all I am pleased with it, I feel it was well worth the price. I have owned a couple of Mexican Strats the first was a 70’s replica I bought back in 2002 and I didn’t change anything and loved that guitar. Unfortunately later that decade the company I was working for went out of business along with much of the factories in my hometown and I got a loan at a pawnshop for it but because of money troubles and just a basic depression I let it go and now things are better and I am sick about leaving it there. And just within the last year I had a Mexican standard that I really liked also but it was stolen so this is why I ended up with the Squier which I am not ashamed of I really like the guitar and unlike the MIM’s I figure I am going to modify or swap the pups which are Duncans. My question is the MIM’s were made of alder and they seemed to get much better sustain whereas my new Squier is made of Basswood which seems to be lighter I may be wrong but it feels that way to me. Do you have any suggestions of what kind of pickups would work with this type of wood to get more of a singing clear sustain opposed to a bit of a broken up distorted sound. I am playing through a VOX Valvetronix 20 watt combo which has a power knob that can be set at 30 watts which helps with the getting a fuller tone even when playing at low volume. Any suggestions will be respectfully noted.

    [Thanks for sharing, Michael! The difference between alder and basswood alone isn’t that big. I have basswood in many of my Strats and prefer it over alder actually. It has a bit more character I think and there’s nothing wrong with the sustain. It’s all about taste but also the fact that the Squiers are cheaper for a reason. They’re great guitars but they probably don’t have the same wood quality as the more expensive ones. You probably need to go through more guitars than usual to find a really nice one. Any pickups would do but since I haven’t actually played your guitar it’s hard to tell which model would be better than others. – Bjorn]

  135. Nato says:

    Hey friend.
    I got a deluxe players strat, it has a set of Fender vintage noiseless pups with that switch that activates bridge pup with position 4 and 5.
    I was considering changing pups to get a more classic strat tone and some David’s tones, so I thought about getting a full set of SD SSL-1s or Fender CS 69s, and then change the bridge to SSL-5.
    Are there many differences in tone between the SSL-1s and the CS 69s? Wich one you think would fit best in this guitar? Thanks in advance.

    [The CS69s has a typical vintage feel, with a low output and scooped mids. The SSL5 has a high output, sound darker and has more mids. – Bjorn]

  136. Nato says:

    Hi Bjorn. I think you misread the question. I was asking bout the SSL-1s, not SSL-5, and the differences in tone in the SSL-1s versus the CS 69s.
    The fat 50s could be a good option in the neck and mid too right? I wasn’t cosidering them before.

    [Sorry. The SSL1 is slightly hotter compared to the 69s but it has a very similar tone. Transparent and scooped. The Fat 50s has a bit more kids. Very nice in the neck. Never tried in the middle. – Bjorn]

  137. Michael Chapman says:

    Thank you for your response Bjorn, I have bookmarked your site and will send any questions I have your way your opinion is very much respected and appreciated. I have played guitar for awhile, and this will probably sound dumb, but I have never tinkered with setting up a guitar so I went to the Fender webpage and looked up the specs and the only part of the setup I couldn’t find that applied to the Squier VM was the pickup setting. They had three choices of pup sttings I believe they were Fender standard, vintage and Texas specials so what I did was set the neck and middle pickups to the vintage specs and set the bridge pup according to the Texas because the Duncan bridge is wound for more output like the Texas specials, from there I tweeked them slightly as I listened through the amp. The set up had the pups way to low when I received the guitar and after the adjustments it sounds like a totally different guitar all together I am very happy with it but I still can’t wait for the day I have the money to buy the American Standard. Thanks so much for your input I am always running into issues that I am afraid to ask the folks at the dealerships because I never know if they are being straight with me or trying to talk me into spending more $$$ LOL. I am not mad at them though that is there job.

    [Cheers, Michael :) Well, that’s their job and unfortunately many stores are more eager to sell rather than to inspire and make sure they have long lasting customer relations. Happy to help :) – Bjorn]

  138. pg says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I see a few posts back that Nato is talking about swapping out his Vintage Noiseless pups for some CS69’s or SSL-1’s with the SSL-5 in the bridge. Have you tried the Vintage Noiseless pups from Fender and can you offer your take on tone comparison between them and the CS69’s and SSL-1’s?

    Love the site!
    Thank you.

  139. **Sebastiano** says:

    HI Bjorn,
    first I’d like to say thanks for alll your support and for the great work you are doing and the passion you put in.
    I have already “bored” you in the last months :-) and now my pedal board is almost complete I remind you my “tools”
    Stratocaster MIM (all original) – Boss CS2 – Skreddy p19 – Wampler Plexidrive – Choruslab / ElecLady – TC flashback – Laney Cub 12R Combo.
    As you suggest in the next future I’d like to buy also a Buffalo Evolution.
    I’d like also to start to improve my Stratocaster made in Mexico, I must say I am quite happy about the tone I am getting now but anyway I am sure there are some room to improve.
    Can you suggest what you ‘d do if you was me which pick up, tremolo, and ……. you’d buy?
    Thanks a lot in advance

    [If you like the way to guitar plays and sound then there’s really no need to upgrade it. I’d rather spend the money on upgrading cables and power supply. Still, if you really feel the need, then I really like the late 60s pickups. They sound more vintage than the stock MIMs and they also blend really well with pedals. My favourites are the D Allen Voodoo 69s. Place a Duncan SSL5 in the bridge and you have the Black Strat tone. I’d also upgrade the tremolo system to Callaham. Check out their site and find a suitable model. – Bjorn]

  140. **Sebastiano** says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    sorry if I came back again, but I was buying the Duncan SSL5 on the web and I have found two options:
    1) Duncan SSL5 Custom Staggered
    2) Duncan SSL5 RWRP (reverse polarity)

    If I understood well I have to buy the 1), could you confirm? I’d like to avoid mistake.
    Which is the difference between the 1 and 2 ? Is the second one for middle pick-up?
    Thanks a lot

    [You pretty much got it right :) #1 is the one you want for the bridge. – Bjorn]

  141. John Kouk says:

    What do you think about having as bridge pickup a Duncan SSL5, as middle a Dimarzio Area 67 and for the neck pickup a Fender custom shop fat 50’s? Would these three make a good set? I’m not sure the middle and neck.

    [I guess so. – Bjorn]

  142. Debargho says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Can a pickup booster pedal be placed right after a dedicated buffer unit in a chain?
    Ps: one of my previous questions is still witting your answer. Would be great if you could answer that please.

    [A pickup booster should be placed right after the guitar, i.e. first in chain. This for it to be able to interact with the tone and dynamics of the pickups. You can place it later in the chain as well but you will notice a less dynamic effect. – Bjorn]

  143. Debargho says:

    Bjorn: what I meant was: can a pickup booster and an independent buffer unit (like the pure tone or virtual sound buffer) be placed together say: guitar > pickup booster > buffer > other pedals?

    [Yep. – Bjorn]

  144. Ed says:

    I just bought a Squirt vintage modified 70s strat. My first guitar in many moons. While not dissatisfied with the stock SD Design pups, I hate the noise and always have. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I know I will have to sacrifice some tone but for my own sanity, which is fragile to begin with, I really need some kind of noiseless pup. Gilmour has always had my favorite strat tone. I was looking at the SD STK S6 for the bridge. Any thoughts on the neck and middle choice? I was leaning towards the SD STK S4. I welcome the peanut gallery thoughts too. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work with the site!

    [I don’t really have that much experience with noiseless pickups. The ones I’ve tried, and this is a common issue, sound a bit too dark and almost processed. The EMGs are OK but you really need to engage the active tone controls for them to sound good, I think. Keith here will have something to say about Lindy Fralins, I’m sure… Keith? – Bjorn]

  145. Axel.H says:

    Hey Bjorn, i sent you a message in july asking what was the closest tele bridge pickup to the S.Duncan SSL-5, you told me there was one in their range and i should ask them. After 4 emails i still have no answer, so please please Bjorn help me x)

    [They don’t offer a Tele equivalent to the SSL5 but the Hot Rail, Hot Lead and Quarter Pound are similar sounding… although slightly hotter. I haven’t investigated other brands but perhaps there are closer matches out there. Another alternative is to contact a maker, like Dave Allen, and ask them to make a custom wound pickup for you. – Bjorn]

  146. bran says:

    i have a Fender Mexican classic player series ’50 strat. I’d like to change my pickups to get sound in style of SRV. Can you please give me a suggestion.

    [Check out the Texas Flood SRV set from D Allen Pickups. – Bjorn]

  147. bobize says:

    Hi bjorn.
    On my strat i have a seymour duncan antiquity texas hot on the neck position. It works very well, sound like a fat 50’s fender pickup, and match very well with a comp (mine is the custom comp mxr) for the solo of another break in the wall for example, even if it’s the only (i think) solo that david plays with a Les Paul. For the middle position i have the seymour duncan antiquity 2 surf rp/rw and for the bridge position the antiquity2 custom bridge with a higher output level.
    This last pickup match very well with my electronic orange banana boost and my costalab custom muff, for play time or other songs of this period.
    I have a boss dd2, but i would like to choose an analog delay. I will try the catalinbread echorec and the strymon el capistan by the corner shop, but i would like to try the replica and the flex delay too.
    Hope that i’m not wrong about the pickups, and thank you for your site.

    [Not sure if I got the question here but your setup and pickups looks great :) – Bjorn]

  148. Ali says:

    Hi bjorn, hope you’re well

    after reading your reviews about pickups i decide to buy “only neck” pickup for MIJ strat,
    i also have dimarzio dp151 pickup in “bridge pickup” in its sound is really awesome.
    if i want to get gilmour’s modern era with fat and high gain tones and also with nice clean tones, and similar to your guitar tone in airbag’s “Call Me Back” guitar solo, which “neck pickup” you recommend to me:

    1 – Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s
    2 – Fender CS69
    3 – Fender Custom Shop Tex/Mex

    Another important subject that i want to suggest to you, “please, please, please” create “gilmourish forum”
    that we could easily ask our questions from you and other users and other user shares their experiments that we could learn from them…
    thank you so much my friend

    [Depends on your amp and what pedals you use but between these I’m a huge fan of the CS69s :) Check out this Gilmour forum. – BJorn]

  149. Daniel says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have a Fender Classic 50’s series Stratocaster with the following pickup settings: Fender CS Classic 69 (neck), Fender CS Fat 50’s Strat (middle), Seymour Duncan SSL-5 (bridge).

    It happens that in the 2nd position of my 5 way switch (which would combine middle + bridge pickups) the guitar sound is like very high-ranged, I kinda associate it with the sound you get when you have a wah-wah pedal all the way down, it mostly sounds like that, and not as conventional stratocaster 2nd position would sound, which would be more warmth and much less aggressive.

    Before I had this set of pickups, I used to have a full Fender CS Classic 69 set with the same sound in that position. I’ve tried tons of combinations, even switching positions of the middle fat 50’s pickup with the neck classic 69.

    The truth is that I can’t get my strat to sound more like a classic strat in that position.

    I’d like to know if you have any idea about why is this happening? Is it something about the pickups or could be related to something else like pots, capacitor, wiring, etc? (I’m using 250k pots)

    Awesome site by the way, greetings from Venezuela!

    [Hi Daniel. I’m no expert on electronics but my first thought is that you may have wired the SSL5 the wrong way. That will cause a hollow, thin Tele-like tone in that position. But it doesn’t seem that that’s the issue… I don’t know. Perhaps it’s the guitar or the amp that’s reflecting some strange frequencies when you use that combo…? Shouldn’t be any reason why a pot or cap would cause any issues but I’d take the guitar to a local tech and let him have a look. – Bjorn]

  150. Lucas says:

    Have you heard about the new Emg Sa X version, are they good?
    Sound like the old SAs?

    [Never tried them. – Bjorn]

  151. Michael R says:

    Thoughts on the Seymour Duncan JB humbucker? Ever tried one? If so, does it play well with a muff? And is it versatile? I like a lot of King Crimson (Basically all eras), Porcupine Tree (Also basically all eras), Vai (Zappa and early career), and of course, Floyd.

    So I want versatility. I’m using an Epi LP Standard. What do you think?

    [They have a fairly high output and my experience is that lower output pickups are better suited for getting a typical Gilmour tone from your Muff. With high output a Muff can sound a bit too aggressive. It also depends on the amp you intend to use with it. It might be a nice choice for Vai and other heavier tones but for Gilmour, Wilson etc I’d go for PAFs, ’59s or even P90s. – Bjorn]

  152. Michael R says:

    Which leads to another question. Reason I’m looking at the JB is because I’ve heard with high gain, PAF style pickups can get muddy and flabby in the bass. Any experience with this? Is it true? If not, I’ll probably go with a set of 59’s.

    [Depends on your amp, what effects you use and also the overall character of the guitar. The PAFs lack a bit of mid range, which can make them sound flabby on amps that doesn’t have much mid range. I prefer PAFs but it’s a matter of taste. – Bjorn]

  153. bernie says:

    Happy new year Bjorn. You have been a great help in helping me find and understand everything guitar related and I am really happy with my Thames Weber speaker upgrade in my Laney cub12r. i am becoming increasingly aware that my Favorite Gilmour tones are from the Pulse, momentary lapse of reason, delicate sound of thunder and Division bell. I also write my own songs with my own tone being looked for! My guitar is a Mexican Classic players 50 strat with Seymour Duncan slll-5 in the bridge. Baring in mind, part of my pedal board consists of a Blackout Effectors Musket. Bd2, Dover Driver and Buffalo Power booster, my question is – I am seriously considering going for The emg d20 pickups. From what I can tell the emg Dg20 give a fuller sound overall and a greater degree of versatility! Do you think this is a worthwhile upgrade for me and could you elaborate a little on the pros and cons, if any, with these pickups as compared to what I have currently? Once again thanks for your time.

    [Very sorry for my late reply, Bernie. The EMGs are indeed bigger sounding than the typical vintage output single coils. They’re quite essential to David’s 80s and 90s tones and I think you’ll be very pleased. My objection is that they sound a tad processed and perhaps not as dynamic as passive single coils. The active tones controls are very handy though. – Bjorn]

  154. Stefaun says:

    It says above that the higher the strings, the less the magnetic pull on the strings. Also says that lower string height will have more pull. The string playing height of the strings on the instrument have nothing to do with the pickup output. It is the pickup distance setting below the strings that determine the magnetic pull on the strings. That is what those screws on each end of the pickup are for besides pickup mounting : height adjustment of the pickup. I use only very low string action, and lowered pickups to match.

    [Yep and that’s what it basically says… in regards to the string height alone. – Bjorn]

  155. Don says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have been really enjoying your new album and I also voted. #3 is awesome.

    I have a MIM FSR black strat. Alder body and maple neck. Plays nicely but was not crazy about the pick ups. I bought a SD SSL-5. I took the strings off and the pick guard. De soldered the old bridge pick up and installed the SD just the way the old pick up was. I put new strings on. Using GHS Boomers 10-48s. I had to use a new string from another pack because I cut it by mistake (I hate when that happens). Once it was all setup, I plugged in and played. Boy, it sounded bad. Either the pick up ws defected or I screwed something up. Not only that, my whammy bar was pulled all the way down. Ugh! I did some research. The SD doesn’t play well with the Fender pickups. You have to reverse the wires. I also learned about adjusting the screws for the claw. Never owned a Fender before. I pulled the guitar apart to start over. I figured since I had the pick guard off, i was going to do the Gilmour mod. I was a little nervous about drilling a hole. I reversed the wiring, installed the switch, and adjusted the claw. I didn’t trim the strings yet because I had already burned two packs and I was on my last one. I plugged in. BOOM! Big smile on my face. Sounded great. Switch worked well too. I like the sound of the bridge and neck pick ups together. Also, the whammy worked like it should. It was a great weekend of learning and moding. My wife is going away this so I sm going to have lots of time to try different settings on the strat and pedals.

    Thank for all your advice and information.

    Don – Maryland USA

    [Hi Don! Thanks for your support and for sharing! Yep, the SSL5 needs to be reversed when you combine it with certain Fender pickups. Glad it worked out :) – Bjorn]

  156. Bernie says:

    Hi bjorn
    Just wanted to thank you for your help in helping me decide on the emg d20 pickups. They have given me the thicker/fuller sound I was looking for and still enable me to get close to vintage sounding too. i found that 4mm distance from the strings was best for me and through the correct use of the expander control I can get some nice straty tones still. The spc takes the tone towards humbucker-ish but with more something! The versatility of these two controls and the tones they produce once set up with my clean amp base tone is amazing! Well pleased – Thanks again.

    [Glad to hear! Thanks for sharing, Bernie! – Bjorn]

  157. *Sebastiano* says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    at the end I found in USA a loaded pick guard (black) with installed a Fat50 – CS 69 – Seymour Duncan SSL5 and also with mini toggle to add the neck pick in combination with CS 69 and SSL5.
    Last Friday a Guitar technician installed it on my Fender Strat MIN.
    FANTASTIC! Gilmour Sound!
    Thanks for your web site!

    [Glad to hear! Congrats! – Bjorn]

  158. Glenn says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have a 2006 Eric Johnson Strat (maple fretboard). The bridge and neck seem good, although I’d like something a bit more “meaty” and I’d like more punch in the bridge. I’m considering SD SSL5 in the bridge, but it seems it could be too hot paired with the neck and middle EJ pickups. Also considering the David Allen Echoes set for this particular guitar.

    Do you have experience with the EJ strats pickups and would the Echoes set be a significant change?


    [There will be a significant difference anyway. The SSL5 is very hot, while the EJ and neck and middle in the Echoes set are low output. Still, if you want something similar to David’s Black Strat tones then the hot bridge is kind of the point. It’s very versatile for rhythms and leads and the low output neck, sounds better for warm cleans and bluesy leads. – Bjorn]

  159. Thierry Mattea says:

    Just curious! My understanding of Texas Specials, which I have a personal experience with owning an SRV Strat at one point, is that they are overwound and hence have a higher output, and they sound like it. They sound very full, dynamic and hot with greater upper mid-range and bass outputs with sparkling highs. And yet, I keep hearing from various players, especially on YouTube that the TS’s are low output and therefore require a higher volume setting on the amp to compensate. This to me is a contradiction. Can someone please chime-in and clear up this confusion?!

    [Depends on what pickups you’re comparing them with. The TS are based on the 60s pickups, which are low output and very clean. The TS has a bit more mids and low end, making them sound bigger and slightly louder than the stock vintage 50s and 60s pickups. In comparison with more modern pickups however, they’re still in the low output category. – Bjorn]

  160. KEITH says:

    @Thierry, Texas Specials are wound reverse the normal direction of other Fender Vintage style pups, and while not super hot, the average vintage 60’s strat had around 5.8k, the Texas specials are : Neck, 6.2, Middle, 6.4, and Bridge is fairly hot at 7.6. They use #43 enamel coated wire. To many the best sounding vintage strat pups use #42 Formvar wire, but if you try to wind over about 6.2-6.5? The #42 becomes too large, so like the super hot SSL-5, and hotter FZ-1, they use a thinner wire to allow more windings. So, to answer your question: Texas Specials are hotter than any stock, vintage Strat pickup I know of, especially that 7.6k bridge pickup, but as far as all pickups go, they are considered low/medium output! Great pickups IMO!!!


  161. Renardm says:

    Hi Bjorn, I have an American Special Strat. I installed CS 69 pickups into the guitar. It sounds great but if I am using any type of fuzz, I have to use an OD pedal after it. If I don’t, the guitar sounds sputtery and clipped. I am told that this is because the pickups are very low output. Did you find that this was the case with your CS 69’s?


    [The pickups are low output with very little mid range, which can make fuzz pedals sound a bit thin. However, these are the pickups most Strat players used in the late 60s so it’s more a combination of what amp you’re using and how. Low output pickups may sound thin on smaller amps and low volume but crank them on a loud tube amp and they’ll sound huge. A booster after the fuzz is a way to compensate for some of the tone loss you get on typical bedroom setups. – Bjorn]

  162. Josh from Australia says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I want to change my bridge pickup. Its just a mex strat but I love it so much. Thinking of a single coil sized humbucker for a different type of sound. Just wanted to get your thoughts on the Little ’59™ for Strat SL59-1 (http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/stratocaster/medium-output/little_59_for_s/) or Hot Rails™ for Strat SHR-1 (http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/stratocaster/high-output/hot_rails_for_s/).

    Will also do the coil split in either to get other sound options.

    Love the new site as well.


  163. Yaroslav says:

    Hy Bjorn. First of all i want to say a couple of words of appreciation for the great job you’re doing. This web-site really is a boundless sourse of information for guitarist playinge in all styles of music and especially us Floyd fans. I thought you might suggest what Fender CS Texas Special pickups’ magnetic polarity is. I want to pair a set of these pickups with a humbucker,hoping to get a normal in-phaze hum-cancelling sound in the second position of a 5way strat switch (middle pickup+split coil of a humbucker)

  164. **Sebastiano** says:

    HI Bjorn,

    I remind here my stuff:
    Stratocaster MIM with Fat 50 – CS 69 – SSL5.
    Boss CS2 – Skreddy p19 – Wampler Plexidrive – Choruslab / ElecLady – TC flashback – Laney Cub 12R Combo

    For next step, I’d like to change the tuners. I am checking on the Fender website what Gilmour signature stratocaster has and they report: Vintage-Style.
    I have seen from pictureson different sites that the tuners don’t report the brand Fender on each tuner.
    do you know if they are:
    Fender Vintage-Style Locking Guitar Tuning Machines or
    Fender American Vintage Stratocaster®/Telecaster® Tuning Machines or
    Gotoh SD91 Vintage Style Locking

    do you know it? Can you suggest, please?

    Moreover do you think that I should be place in my effects chain first the P19 or the Plexidrive?

    Thanks a lot, Sebastiano

    • Bjorn says:

      Go for the Gotohs. I’d place the Plexi after the P19.

      • **Sebastiano** says:

        Hi Bjorn,
        I have seen that Gotohs produce diffenrent tipe of SD91 Vintage Style:
        1- Standard
        2- SD91 MG (Magnum Lock) MG is a system that locks the strings
        3 – SD91 HAPM HAP system holds a adjustle-height roller-post plus M that locks the strings. So is a combination of two systems.

        The 3rd one seems too complicate for me. So cancelled by my choice.

        But I am in balance between the standard and the 2nd with the interlocking system. could you support me based on you know-how?
        Thanks a lot

        • Bjorn says:

          I’m not the right person to answer this but from the top of my head I would say that you could go for either. It just depends on what you prefer. Standard Gothos are very stable too.

    • Dimitris says:

      I just saw that post, I ‘ve had some issues with my am strat too.
      Before buying different style tuners than the ones your guitar has, check the tuner holes if they match. Some tuner busbings might be needed. Also you might need to drill new holes for the screws!

  165. Don says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I have an issue I`m hoping you can advise me on……I have a MusicMan Silhouette I purchased new in 1993. It has the original HSH pickup configuration, but I`ve acquired a new SSS pickguard and will be installing CS69 pickups in the neck and middle positions and also a SSL-5 pickup in the bridge. The problem is, my Silhouette has a volume control and just one tone control. Should I add another tone control or leave it the way it is with only one tone control? I would have to have another pickguard made if i add another tone control, because I think the two controls on there now are too close together to squeeze in another one. I was thinking that I could have another pickguard made without holes for the volume and tone controls so I could drill them myself and put them where I want them.

    • Bjorn says:

      I think you need to decide whether you’ll need two controls or not. I rarely use the tone controls but some do all the time.

  166. What is your opinion on the “HSS” strat ? Do you find it to be more diverse or do you think it’s not a good idea overall ?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends entirely on what tones you’re looking for. It’s not very versatile if you want a classic Strat tone but the humbucker bridge will give you a bit more power and bite. Alternatively, you could replace the humbucker with a (humbucker sized) P90, which will get you closer to a SSL5 kind of tone.

  167. Franklin Ruiz says:

    I really enjoy the single coil sound but the hum is killing me. I already tried do shield my guitar and get far from eletronic equipments, but it doesn’t work for me. I am thinking to buy the EHX Hum Debugger because they say it kills the hum but keeps the sound and the sustain.
    Wich mechanics does David Gilmour use to prevent the noise? I never did some single noise from his songs, did you?
    Sorry 4 mah bed englando.

    • Bjorn says:

      Sorry for my late reply, Franklin. Buzz should be eliminated with shielding so I’m guessing you have problems with hum, which is hard to eliminate. A noise suppressor will work but regardless of the model you need to be careful with the settings. David doesn’t use any noise suppressors or gates and if you’ve ever seen him live, you’ll notice that there is a lot of noise coming from his guitar. However, good quality items throughout the chain and shielded cables and powering will get you far. It’s also a matter of mastering what ever issues you may have. Using a volume pedal to kill your guitar between songs, palm muting and turning away from the source is crucial.

  168. Don says:

    Regarding my SSL-5 pickup…….Is the pickup cover really supposed to sit on top of the pickup wires? also, there are 2 mounting screws and 2 small spacers that came with the pickup….I`m assuming the spacers go between the pickup cover and the bottom of the pickguard, but what about springs?…..should the SSL-5 have had a pair of pickup springs included in the package, or is the pickup mounted solid to the pickguard with no provision to adjust the height?

    • Don says:

      Well, I figured it out, the “spacers” that I thought were hard plastic are actually silicone tubing that act as a spring between the pickup and pickguard. I still don`t like the pickup cover sitting on top of the pickup wires and having the lower part of the pickup windings exposed because of the raised cover, but who am I to question Seymour….

      • Bjorn says:

        The cover should fit… are you sure you’ve fitted it correctly?

        • Don says:

          I`m sure the cover is on correctly, and after looking at it some more I think it was meant to be this way. I have found someone else on the net that asked the same question but never found the answer….as far as I know. I`m thinking about cutting out a plastic spacer on my scroll saw to take up the space between the base plate and the cover. I did a Google image search and found a photo of the SSL-5 with the cover off showing the location of the lead wires, and another photo showing the cover on the pickup with the gap between the baseplate and cover.



          • Bjorn says:

            OK, I understand what you mean now. That’s normal as the pickup is designed that way. As long as the pickup cover doesn’t cover the poles, you’re OK.

  169. Daniel says:

    Hi Bjorn
    I have had the SSL 5 on the bridge for a while but I think mine must be defective: I get a lot more output out of my stock MIM bridge PU (6.5kOhm) and with my nkt-275 I get more saturation too with the stock PU. I have tried different heights and even re-did the internal wiring just to make sure.
    Given that you have also this PU and an analogman nkt275 (I also have the bc109), do you reckon there’s something wrong here or this is ok?

    • Bjorn says:

      Should notice a considerable higher output and a darker tone than the stock pickup. I’d have a guitar tech look at it.

  170. Dimitris says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    I am to buy a new Vintage Reissue Strat. Left hand models are the ’56 (alder/maple) and ’65 (alder/rosewood). Most likely the ’65 one, because Gilmourwise I like the tones on Dark side and WYWH most. The ’56 has caught my attention though, partly because of the thick V neck and it will be a tough decision! Still I ‘ll have to order one without even trying it, cause there’s no left model in stock.
    1, I was wondering if you’ve ever tried Alnico 3 pickups, as the ones on the ’56. If so, do they work well with fuzz, boosters and other pedals? All videos show the classic 50s setup (Strat into Fender amp) and I can’t judge only by that. I play a Lionheart 5w, and I always liked British style amps better than Fenders.
    2, Those Grey Bottom pickups on ’65 seem to be quite famous. They are Alnico 5, but I also have a spare DAllen Voodoo 69 set, have you got any clue how would they compare? If they are similar, I might sell them to get some extra money for the guitar.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Dimitris! The differences between all vintage style pickups are minimal but noticeable. How much of a difference you will notice also depends on the guitar’s wood and resonance, your amp and pedals. Alnico 3 have a tad more mids and a more rounded high end, compared to the alnico 5s, which has a typically scooped tone. The increased mids, will probably work better on smaller amps and go nicely with fuzz pedals. I think the ones on the 65 will be similar to the D Allens.

  171. Alessandro Borges Cordeiro says:

    Dear Bjorn,

    Congratulations once again for the excellent site and the great tips!

    I have a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster mid 2009/2010: sunburst, alder body, rosewood neck, with pickups N3 and S1 Switch.

    A Nice Guitar! I really like it! has a good sound and is very easy to play.

    My question is: is it worth changing the pickups this guitar by a DG configuration type: SSL 5, 2 CS 69 or SSL 5, CS 69 and CS Fat 50s?

    In that case I would have to change all electrical configuration and S1 Switch?

    Thank you for your attention!

    • Bjorn says:

      Always hard to answer questions like these because it always depends on what tones you want and how that guitar work with your amp and pedals. It might very well be that on a particular setup, a Les Paul with humbuckers would be the best choice for David’s tones. Anyway, your current setup is very versatile and if you like it I see no reason to change it. That being said, you might appreciate the slightly more vintage flavour of the CS69s and SSL5 :)

  172. Emilio Melo says:

    Hi Bjorn, due to your review, I’ve installed the SSL-5 and Custom 69 in my old japanese Roadstar II Ibanez from 1986, with basswood body and maple/rosewood neck . I’ve compared to a Fender Gilmour Relic and I got almost the same sound from my Ibanez. It’d saved me a few thousand bucks.
    Now, I’m gonna try another configuration to eliminate hum in pickup positions two and four. I’ll install a middle Custom fat 50 in the Middle position since it is reverse-wound. The output rating (Bass/Mid/Treble) from the custom 69 is 5/4/5 and from the custom fat 50 middle pickup is very close 5/3/5. Have you tried or heard anything like that? As soon as possible, I’ll let you know the results.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t. Personally I prefer the CS69 in the middle, as it has a bit more clarity and punch compared to the Fat 50 but let me know how it turns out :)

      • Emilio Melo says:

        Hi Bjorn, I’ve instalei the middle cs fat 50 in the middle position. Now I’ve got no hum noise with 2 and 4 positions and the sound is very close or even better than with the cs 69 in the middle.

  173. chris says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’m trying to decide on the CS 69&f50s /and the voodoo 69s , to go with my SSL5 I’m leaning towards the Voodoos, any thoughts? Also I had the pleasure of meeting “blackie” at GS in NYC yesterday I took some pics but I can’t seam to upload..anyway what a guitar! Its how the CS relics should look..I couldn’t believe it sold for close to a million bucks, I’m sure its more $ now.

  174. Ardavan N Rad says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thank you so much for another great article as always and congrats to the awesome new website.

    I would really appreciate it if you would give me some advise in regards to my set up.

    I have a MIM Fender Classic player, 50s strat with stock Fender American vintage pickups.
    I have also already bought a Seymour Duncan SSL-5 bridge pickup and also a Fender custom Shop fat 50’s neck pickup.

    What do you think I should do? What if I just replace the stock bridge and neck pickups and leave the stock middle pick up undisturbed?

    Or is it better to use Fender Custom shop 69 on the neck instead of the fat 50s.

    Is it important to change the stock pickups to CS69 at all?

    I also love Stevie Ray voughn’s tone especially his neck pickup solo tones, can I get something similar to his neck pickup tone with a CS fat 50’s or CS 69 neck pickups.

    Also would I have to copper shield the inside cavity of my strat for best result and tone?

    What are the best options for me?

    I only practice at home and in bedroom.
    My amp is a VOX AC4 C1-BL, blue which is a 4 watt combo tube amp that is fairly loud for bedroom practice. I also have a Yamaha THR-10 practice amp.

    My effects are: your recommended Vick Audio’s overdriver, 73 Ram’s head, Buffalo FX Evoloution, Wampler plexidrive, Wampler Ego Compressor, TC Electronics Alter Ego V2 and Hall of Fame, Xotic EP Booster and SL Drive, MI Audio Super Crunch Box, Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer, Korg Pandora Stomp.
    I also use Evidence Audio’s Forte cable and SIS PATCH cables.

    As you can see I’ve bought many of my gear
    only because of your recommendations, thank you very much.

    Do you think I should detox my rig and downsize? In that case what pedals shall I leave out?

    I do not have any modulation pedals but have a Korg pandora stomp which is a small multi effects processor.
    Will that be ok for rotary, chorus, flanger, phaser etc…?

    Also I’m thinking of buying the new and very reasonably priced Hotone Roto Rotary that’s had a good review by the TG Magazine as I really love David’s “What do you want from me”, Gdansk Another day for freedom, Raise my rent, comfortably numb, time, shine on, echos, on an island, the blue, marooned and endless river solos.

    What do you think of the Hotone Roto, will that be good enough as my rotary stimulator as I really don’t wanna have a big bulky unit like for ex the Boss RT20.

    I’ve tried to describe my rig and favourite tunes as thoroughly as possible for you.

    I’m sorry about this long comment/question but I’d really appreciate your time and advise.

    Many thanks again

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Ardavan. Sorry for my late reply.
      You have a lot of info and questions here but let me try to be brief…
      I prefer the CS69s both for the neck and especially the middle. They have a nice punch and that bell-like top end that goes nicely for those early 70s tones. You don’t have to replace your pickups but I think you will notice a considerably more dynamic and responsive tone.
      Shielding with copper might help eliminating some noise – if you have problems with that. Tonewise, it doesn’t do much. Perhaps roll off some top end due to a slight change in the impedance.
      Whether or not you should detox the rig is entirely up to you. A good rule is to always have some though of the arrangement and placing of the pedals. Do you need all of them? Is it better to swap places on some? My first thought was that you have a lot of overdrives and distortions and I would perhaps consider one or two of them but again, if you use them then there’s no reason why you should take them off the board. You might want to consider a dedicated buffer though, to drive and balance the signal from the guitar to the amp.
      I haven’t tried the Hotone so I can’t really tell.
      Hope this helped :)

  175. chris says:

    Hi Bjorn, did you ever get to review those frailins we’ve heard so much about?

  176. me ka says:

    Hello Bjorn, Ive got this Yamaha Pacifica 112V guitar, it has a humbucker in the bridge position, and two single coil in the middle and neck position. I was thinking of replacing the stock pickups with a JB SH-4 Seymour Duncan for the humbucker – and for the two single coil pickups I was thinking of either two identical SSL5, or one SSL5 and one cs69. What would you think of these combinations? Will it be too loud with two SSL5? Will it be too umbalanced if the middle was the cs69 and the neck was the SSL5? I am really not sure what to put in there… the only thing I don’t want to change is the JB SH-4 in the bridge. For the other two I need advice.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried that specific pickup configuration so I can’t really tell how the pickups blend but the JB SH-4 is fairly hot so I’d go for the SSL5 – at least for the middle position. Maybe a Fat 50s or TexMex in the neck. The 69 will have a noticeably lower output than the humbucker.

  177. Chris says:

    Hi Bjorn, David Allen emailed me saying his pickups would be out of phase with SD’s and doesn’t recommend, is all it is, to just reverse the wires, to make it work, Or is it more involved then that?

  178. TedB says:

    I took your advice and put cs69’s + SSL5 in my new strat – love it!!
    My old strat has cs fat ’50’s – nice, but the bridge pu is too harsh. What’s a nice bridge pu to combine with the Fat ’50’s, perhaps an SSL1?

    • Bjorn says:

      The SSL1 would perhaps sound a bit bright and thin combined with the Fat 50s. Depends on your Strat and its tone. It might work very well too. You might want to check out the D Allen Voodoo Blues, which is a tad hotter than the CS69s but not nearly as hot as the SSL5.

  179. Brooks from Texas says:

    Bjorn, I was just wondering, what telecaster set of pickups would you recommend? I know the black strat has always been at the fore front of tone for the majority of readers on the site. But I have always loved David’s workman Esquire since the pictures from the About Face. I was thinking of building my own Signature Esquire model in the near future and was interested on what your thoughts on Tele pickups might be. My apologies if this question has already been asked.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Brooks! David’s “workmate” feature custom wound pickups by Seymour Duncan. There are no sources on what these might be but they were done sometime in the mid 70s and by the tone I would assume that they’re late 60s specs or perhaps a tad overwound around 6-7k. There are lots of different models out there in this category :)

  180. Ardavan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Thank you so much for your advise.

    I love all of Dave Gilmour’s tone from past to present especially his Live in Gdansk. My favourite solo tones are: Louder than words, Raise my rent, Comfortably numb especially in pulse, Live in Gdansk Echoes, A great day for freedomI, The Division Bell’s What do you want from me.

    I have a few OD/Dist. pedals and would really like to detox.
    I’m thinking of having a pedalboard with 6-8 pedals including 2-3 OD/DIST pedals maximum.

    If you were in my shoes, which 2 or 3 of the pedals below would you choose, as best options, to get David’s solo tones for the above mentioned songs?

    Vick Audio Overdriver
    Vick Audio 73 Ram’s Head
    MI Audio Super Crunch Box
    Buffalo Fx Evoloution
    Xotic EP Booster
    Xotic SL Drive
    Xotic BB Preamp Comp
    Ibanez Mini Tube Sreamer
    Wampler Plexidrive

    I also have a TC Alter Ego V2 Echo pedal. Is this pedal good enough for David’s both echo and delay sounds or would I need a separate delay pedal like for example TC Flashback?

    My Amp is a VOX AC4-C1 Blue, and my Strat Pickups are Fender CS 69 neck and middle and Duncan SSL-5 bridge, after your recommendations.

    Many thanks again for your time and advise.


    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Ardavan, you’ve got a lot of gain pedals there :) Obviously, I can’t tell you which to keep and not. Your taste and preference should be the judge of that. Personally, I’d keep the ones that has a bit of mids, since the AC4 has a fairly scooped tone. The Evo, TS and PD are somewhat similar and the Overdriver, BB and Crunch Box might also be overlapping each other. If you really want to detox, I’d keep the Muff, an overdrive and a booster.

      • Ardavan says:

        Hi Bjorn,

        Thank you so much for the reply.
        Yes, a lot of gain pedals, :-) but I don’t use all of them and want to sell some of them.
        What if I go for this sequence below:

        Guitar… EP Booster…Ego Compressor….Evoluotion… Vick 73 Ram’s Head… Mooer Elec Lady….Mooer Ensemble King Chorus…. TC Alter Ego V2….TC Hall of Fame Reverb…..Amp

        Is the Alter Ego V2 enough as both an echo and delay pedal or is it better to use a separate delay pedal like TC Flashback as well?

        Kind regards

        • Bjorn says:

          Seems OK :) I’d add the Flashback :)

          • Ardavan says:

            Many thanks bjorn

            I have just found out that you can download all of TC Flashback delay tones to the Alter Ego V2 plus as uoi know many other toneprints. At TC Electronics they say that the Alter Ego V2 and other models and also all Flashback models are actually the same pedal.
            But they have told me that to downlowd the Flashback delay onto Alter ego I will have to downlowd the tones to my computer first and then load it to the pedal.
            On the other hand you could download many great delay tones created by guitarists including Doug Aldritch, Steve Morse … so quick and simply using only your mobile phone.
            This is great Bjorn isn’t it?

            I have another question Bjorn. To get Dave Gilmour’s lead solo tones is it best to set my Vox AC4 C1 as clean as possible or slightly overdriven?

            • Bjorn says:

              I haven’t tried that but I will definitely look into it :)
              How an amp should be set depends on what tones you want, the amp’s character and what pickups and pedals you use with it. Setting the amp at the very edge of breakup is usually where the clean tone sound its best, with a fat and dynamic response. Try it and see how that works with your guitar and pedals :)

              • Ardavan says:

                Hi Bjorn,
                Thanks again for your reply.
                What do you mean by “setting the amp at the very edge of break up”?
                My amp has a volume and a gain knob.
                I do not know what people mean by cranking the amp, is that putting the volume knob on maximum or the gain knobb or both.
                On my amp even if I put the volume on max I would have to have the gain knob at about 9.00 o’clock to hear my guitar but if I put the gain knob to max it sounds pretty distorted and loud and if I even use overdrive and distortion pedals at that setting it will sound pretty horrible.
                By the way why is this comment window getting smaller and smaller gradually? :-)
                Is it OK to communicate and send comments and questions through your website?
                Chears Bjorn
                I really admire your knowledge, effort, guitar playing and skills and appreciate your advise and thank you once again for your time and your fantastic website.
                You’re the best.

                • Bjorn says:

                  Hi! I haven’t noticed any issues with the comments field but I’ll look into it.
                  Usually, the gain is the volume for the pre-amp and the master, is the output volume. The more you drive the pre-gain, the more your amp will distort. The volume and headroom is produced by the output stage. Setting the gain low and the master high, will provide the cleanest tone but David often keep the preamps pretty hot, right before breaking into overdrive and the master volume to push the volume further.

  181. William says:

    Hi Bjørn,

    I have a Mexican HSS strat, wich i love. It’s my first guitar. I like to upgrade this one to simular to the Gilmour signature one. Witch humbucker pick-up is the best replacement for the SSL-5 bridge pick-up?

    Thank you

    • Bjorn says:

      I’d go for either a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat or a PAF of some sort. They have a fairly low output and sound somewhat similar to the SSL5.

  182. Andrew says:

    Hi Bjorn

    First of all thanks so much for putting this incredible tone resource together!! Really helps me find out what’s out there and how different pieces of gear compare. Awesome site!

    I’m planning on modifying a 2014 American Standard Strat (maple neck, alder body, fat 50’s pickups) that I’ve never been totally happy with. Could be a particularly bright guitar, but I find the fat 50’s pickups sound a bit harsh with my set up, especially in the bridge (neck sounds pretty good though, but not really my taste). I’m primarily interested in getting a tone closer to the Animals/Wall era tones, and I’m thinking that the DiMarzio FS-1 or the Seymour Duncan SSl-5 in the bridge, and Fender Custom Shop 69’s in the middle/neck might be what I’m looking for judging by what I’ve read in the article and in the comments. Between the FS-1 and the SSL-5 which one is thicker and/or louder? I’m hearing a lot about the SSL-5 but not a lot about the FS-1, although for authenticity wouldn’t the FS-1 be closer to the 76-79 tones (since I believe it was used on the recordings and the SSL-5 didn’t show up until the subsequent Wall tour in 1980)? Between the FS-1 and the SSL-5 which do you think would get me closer to those late 70’s tones I’m looking for? Also would the Fender Custom Shop ’69 be a noticeable improvement over the fat 50’s in the middle and neck position?


    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Andrew! You don’t mention any amp so baring in mind that you have an amp that provides the tones you want… The FS1 and SSL5 is very similar. The difference is just a nuance and whether you hear it or not depends on your amp and the pedals you use. I prefer the SSL5, it has a tad more mids and a slightly warmer tone, but again, we’re talking nuances. The CS69s, or similar late 60s pickups, have less mids compared to the Fat 50s, and they sound smoother and not as bright in the upper mid range. I think they go well with the SSL5 and the whole setup is great for David’s Black Strat tones from basically all eras.

      • Andrew says:

        Thanks for the reply and the advice! I use a Vox AC-15 (handwired) with Celestion greenback speakers in it. That seems to work pretty well in my small home studio setup. My signal path from guitar to amp usually looks like Boss CS-3 compressor, Dunlop JH-f1 Fuzz Face, EHX Little Big Muff, EHX Deluxe Electric Mistress, and TC Nova Delay. I ended up taking your advice on the SSL-5 (bridge) and CS69 (middle/neck) set up. Just got the new pickups installed and after some quick tweaking of pedal and amp settings I can hear a difference in tone that is much closer to the Black Strat tones I’ve been looking for!!! Turned a guitar I was never totally happy with into a dream! Couldn’t be happier! :)

        Thanks again!

  183. Sergey says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    I’m choosing pickups for HSS strat, how do you think: will ssl-5 in a middle position sound any similar to ssl-5 in a brodge position?

    • Bjorn says:

      Why not an SS5 in the bridge as well? I think that would make the best match.

      • Sergey says:

        Only because I’m not using middle pickup very often and I’m thinking maybe single coil neck+ssl5 middle +humbucker bridge might be more versatile.

        • Bjorn says:

          Sorry, I didn’t read your first comment properly. No, the middle position sound very different from the bridge and you won’t get a similar sound just by placing the SSL5 there. It has more low end and less top. It’s a good match for a humbucker in the bridge though.

  184. Bernie Heerey says:

    Hi bjorn After a year on the emg dg20 pickups I am missing that “something “I had with my single coils plus the ssl5 bridge combination. I reinstalled the passive pickups but I would like to be able to get somewhere near the fat Shine on tone with a clean tone on the neck pickup. Would an eq in the signal path somewhere help or isn’t it that simple. I guess i want the tone majic of the passive pick ups but with the option of a fuller fatter clean tone too.. hope you can advise me . Thanks for your time.

    • Bjorn says:

      The best way to get a nice clean tone is to set your amp first and then, if needed, add an EQ, booster or compressor to further enhance it. Your amp should be the basis for all your tones so be sure to mainly focus on setting that up for the right tone. You might want to add an EQ and add a slight boost around 400Hz. A mild compressor will also tighten up the tone and add a bit of sustain.

  185. Spencer T Landreth says:

    I’ve tried over a dozen strat setups and many more combinations in 20+ years of playing, but I always come back to the CS69/CS69/SSL-5 combo. It not only is the most gilmourish sound I’ve found, but it is also the strattiest strat that ever stratted. I just reinstalled them and it feels like coming home. Thanks as always, Bjorn for these pages that bring me back to my senses!

  186. Matt Kehley says:

    Hey Bjorn, how would a DiMarzio Area 61 in the bridge and two DiMarzio Area 58’s in the neck and middle work? They seem like they are comparable to the SSL-5 and Fat 50’s pickups but I wondered what you thought. They have that nice bluesy tone that would work well for Gilmour tones.



    • Bjorn says:

      Seems like a nice setup… It would be closer to the 1970-75 specs of the Black Strat as the SSL5 is about twice as hot as the 61.

  187. Emilio Melo says:

    Dear Bjorn, please which pick-ups would you recommend for the Telecasters?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on what tones you want :)

      • Emilio Melo says:

        Sorry, I forgot to tell you what tones I’m looking for. :)
        I’m looking for Gilmour Telecaster tones. I own a Fender Highway Telecaster, but the pickups don’t sound as good as I’d like to.

        • Bjorn says:

          There are lots of models to choose from but the true tone should be somewhere in the 60s, with medium output and a tad mids boost. Check out Seymour Duncan or D Allen for some great sounding models.

  188. Bernie says:

    I must be getting somewhere! I changed back to my passive and sll5 pick ups then missed the fatness of the EMG!! I have now reinstalled the EMG s and made a discovery that has opened things up for me. I spent a long time plugged straight into the amp as you always recommend to start and found the base tone I was happy with after a lot of height adjustment on the EMG pickups – it made a lot of difference to me. I have now found that it becomes a learned skill to know how to adjust the controls SPC, EXG etc to obtain the tones i hear in my head I can now finally get a similar transparent tone like I had with my passive pick ups and get that nice biting fat tone for solo’s when I want it too. I am beginning to see that these EMG dg20 pickups give me much more versatility for my own sounds and not just Gilmour stuff. I also am becoming aware of the some times subtle effects of too much Presence, Bass, Treble or Mids, etc, etc which really helps. A long learning process I guess! Like you always say it all depends on what tones you want. Thanks for your help Bjorn.

    • Bjorn says:

      Glad to hear :) Experimenting is part of the fun :)

      • Bernie says:

        Hi Bjorn I am still experimenting! Am I right in thinking that the Passive plus SLL5 combination would be better at getting the early Dave Gilmour tones & particularly that tone on the ON an Island solo and coming close to the fatter EMG tone than trying to acheive both with the EMGs.. I hope this makes sense what I am saying here. I have tried using a Boss G7 equaliser with the Passive pick ups to boost the low mids for that Emg tone but it sounded awful. The Boss G7 seemed to suck the tone out of the passive pick ups? Any and all advice is much appreciated. Oh btw I am really just a very keen bedroom level player at present using a mim classic 50 players Strat, Laney Cub, Boss CS3, Blackout Effectors Musket, BD2, Buffalo Power Booster, Ec lady Fanger, mxr chorus and delay. Once again I thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge you are saving me a lot of money that I could have wasted!!

        • Bjorn says:

          Hi Bernie, how did you set the GE7? The circuit is notorious for sucking tone and for being noisy but the actual equalisation shouldn’t mess up your tone… unless you over did it :) The SSL5s has a lot of mid range so you need to be careful with the sliders on that GE7. Also, adding an EQ can simulate the DG20s to some extent, at least give you a bit more presence or scoop, but it won’t be just like having the EMGs obviously. Try raising the 400Hz band a tad and maybe a slight dip on the 3.2k and 6.4k bands and see how that works.

  189. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for great tips on pickups. I was determined to buy a 69 custom shop pick ups and ask the repair shop to put them in my 96 American Standard Fender Strat for me. They are authorized Fender repair techs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and they didn’t recommend doing that. They said 69 pickups are noisy. They are going to give me some recommendations in near future but I thought I pick your brain in this regard as well. So which other alternative can give that kind of flavor of tone and response for most of non-EMG Gilmour tones with a bit higher output and less noise? The same sort of bell-like and glassy highs. My factory 96 Fender pickups sound a bit conservative and bland, and lack some of the high frequency content and mid range definition. I’m hoping I can find pick ups that are a bit more open sounding with a bit more dynamic range and expression while having low enough noise floor and moderate output (higher than 69 but without sacrificing the dynamics and bloom), with enough twanginess but not too much of it either. I think I was listening to demos of Fender 50s and 54s and they sounded as if the high frequencies and twanginess were a bit over the top.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, it all comes down to taste really. I don’t think the store does you a favour by dismissing the pickups and try to make you buy something else. They should have said “sure, that’s a great idea if you want classic, late 60s Fender tones like Hendrix and Gilmour but mind that they can be a tad noisy… like all vintage style passive single coils”. The EMGs and other so-called noiseless pickups are great but they sound different. There are lots of ways to effectively avoid noise with passive single coils as you can read about here. Just my two cents… :)

  190. Bernie says:

    Hi again Bjorn I am seriously thinking about getting an eq pedal to give me greater versatility and particularly to fatten up my cleans and some solo tones for other types of music on my passive pick up strat. Having been very disappointed with the Boss GE7 coloring the tone too much even when off I am wary, the mxr looked to be a possible but this has hard wire bypass which can colour the tone too. The Moore Eq looks to be great even though it only has five sliders. Do you have any experience or knowledge of this pedal. The Moore Flanger i have is great! Once again I thank you for your time and knowledge.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried that one myself but the reviews seems positive.

      • Bernie says:

        Thanks for your input Bjorn I didn’t like the tone coloring when the Boss GE7 was off (bypass position) Its a shame someone doesn’t come up with an EXG and SPC pedal to work with standard Passive pickups! I am coming to the conclusion that generally I must prefer the tones of low out put pickups with their transparency but would like that 400 Hz low mid boost for some things and to warm up some chord stuff. I will keep experimenting, thanks again.

        • Bjorn says:

          You might also want to look into mid focused overdrives or boosters, like a TS9/OD808 or the Klon… or a clone, like the Soul Food.

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