• D. Allen pickups review

    The pickups in your guitar are as important as any stompbox and a good set of quality pickups can do wonders for your tone. California based D. Allen pickups has gained a lot of praise lately for their hand wound custom pickups and I recently got a couple of sets that promised classic Gilmour tones. Here’s my review of the Tru Vintage 54, 69 Voodoo and Voodoo Blues.

    Choosing the right pickups for your setup can be a challenge. You might realize that the pickups you finally decided on doesn’t sound anything near what you’d expected. All of my Strats has featured Fender CS69s at one point and all of them sounded different. The reason is that there’s no such thing as two identical guitars. Even though they have the same wood, contour, lacquer etc, there are all these little nuances that creates a unique tone. So what pickups should you choose? Well, that really needs to be your decision, based on the gear you have but one thing is for sure – hand wound quality pickups will always be a welcomed upgrade.

    All D. Allen single coils are made by hand, making each bobbin with laser cut fiber flatwork, hand beveled alnico magnets, scatter wind, wax pot, use USA cloth push back hookup wires, finish off with a fabric tape. The tone character is designed in close relationship with guitarists and by meticulously studying vintage models.

    Tru Vintage 54
    The Tru Vintage 54s (alnico 3) are based on the pickups featured in the very first line of Fender Stratocasters. These are known for their glassy transparent tone with a rounded lower end and a hint of mid range. This is instant surf and Shadows but also a perfect match for David’s legendary #0001 Stratocaster.

    I’ve always been a fan of the 54s and in my opinion they’re ideal for big pedal boards when you want a transparent tone as possible. They can sound a bit thin and bright though. Especially if they’re combined with maple necks or if you’re used to hot overwound pickups or humbuckers. However, the Tru Vintage 54 has an incredibly smooth top that stays creamy even when you crank the amp really good. The fat lower end and slight mid range makes them very dynamic and versatile – almost to the point that you forget that these are indeed low output vintage style models. Highly recommended if you’re desperately seeking that Stratpack 2004 tone or simply a set that’ll cover most of David’s 70s tones.

    VP 69 Voodoo
    The 69 Voodoo’s (alnico 5) are based on the late 60s Fender pickups employed by Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, SRV etc. Recognized by their transparent tone, thunderous lower end and crisp top, this is as close as you’ll get to Machine Gun and Echoes!

    Over the years I’ve become more and more fan of the 69s. Although similar to the 54s, they respond even better to tube amps and high gain pedals and the boosted lower end makes them slightly warmer. Having used numerous different Fender 69 clones over the years I must admit that the Voodoo’s gave me a huge grin when I plugged in my trusted Strat. These are so scooped (middle frequency rolled off) that they can easily be mistaken for John Mayer’s Big Dippers. I also think Allen has better achieved the balance between the punchy lower end and the fairly bright top, which sometimes can be hard to combine with certain pedals.

    Recognizing that many players feels that the stock bridge can be just a tad too bright, D Allen has beefed it up from the usual 5.8k to 6.2k. Not a huge difference but enough for the pickup to sound considerably warmer with just a hint of mid boost.

    Voodoo Blues SSS
    The Voodoo Blues set feature a neck and mid 69 Voodoo (both 5.8k) and a slightly overwound bridge pickup (7.58k) wound with extra thin thread to bring out the dynamics. A common complaint about the late 60s pickups, is that while the neck and middle sound fat and well balanced, the bridge often sound thin and spiky. The Voodoo Blues bridge is designed for a higher output and smooth, creamy mids while still maintaining that classic late 60s tone with a distinct, bright top.

    The Voodoo Blues is very close to what you’d get from combining Fender CS69 with a Duncan SSL5. However, the Voodoo Blues bridge sound much more open than the SSL5, which on some guitars can sound just a bit too dark. I must say that I prefer that dark tone but the Voodoo Blues bridge is probably a better choice if you’re running lots of pedals and cables that kills some of those top frequencies.

    I always try to stress the importance of a good sounding guitar and amp. This is a much better and longer lasting investment than any pedal. After all, playing an instrument is about inspiration and no pedal will sound inspiring without a good basis. This, however, doesn’t mean that you need to blow all your savings but a guitar that you’re comfortable with will sound even better with proper pickups. A good rule when you buy a new guitar is to focus on the comfort, playability and how it sound acoustically. If the pickups do sound good, then you got yourself a bonus. If they don’t then I strongly suggest a new set of good quality hand wounds. For me, good quality pickups can be measured by how well they respond to your picking technique and whether they maintain their character when you adjust the guitar volume. Dave Allen has got me convinced with his great sounding pickups. Highly recommended!

    Check out the D. Allen Pickups website for more details and ordering info.

    I haven’t recorded any clips for this review. Soundclips will never do pickups justice because you can manipulate the sound with different recording techniques (choice of mic, mic placements, recording and mastering software etc). Check out these songs for a close reference:

    TruVintage 54s: David Gilmour performing Marooned at the Stratpack show, Wembley Arena 2004. #0001 1954 Stratocaster with Demeter Compulator, Chandler Tube Driver and MXR digital delay into a Hiwatt+WEM setup.

    VP 69 Voodoo’s: Pink Floyd performing Echoes from the Live at Pompeii film, 1971.. The Black Strat clean for all the rhythms and a (silicon) Fuzz Face with Binson echo for the leads into a Hiwatt+WEM setup.

    Voodoo Blues: David Gilmour performing Then I Close My Eyes at Royal Albert Hall, 2006. The Black Strat with Demeter Compulator, BK Butler Tube Driver and delay into a Hiwatt+WEM setup.

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59 Responsesso far.

  1. David produces fine pickups, but … his attitude towards customers is surprisingly unacceptable. The second month went by as I paid for the order. He received the money. The order sees. But no money. nor the execution of the order. No letters from him. Nothing. Neither Lindy Fralin, nor Jason Lollar, nor Klein did not allow this to themselves.

    • Bjorn says:

      Sorry to hear. I haven’t been in touch with him for some time but he always seemed professional to me.

    • Tay says:

      This is a surprise to me. I emailed him a few times and always got helpful replies. Hope you get this resolved!

      • Carlos says:

        He made a custom set up for me and he was very professional and even called me to discuss the project. Very nice guy. He has been very prompt and courteous when I contacted him.

    • Mark Ledford says:

      I ran into the same problem. Ordered some Blades about three weeks ago. After two weeks and no order and no email saying the order had shipped I attempted calling and emailing. Zero response. So my take on this is he’s quick to take the money but a he’s a real non event when it comes to customer service. I don’t know if I will ever get my order but at this point it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if these pickups sound like God’s guitar I’ll never purchase from D. Allen again. In this day and age it’s too easy to get way better customer service than this. From the posts below you guys must have caught him in a good week and that’s great. But unless he’s had a death in the family or is in the hospital himself, later….

    • Marcus D says:

      Maybe the problem is, based on the post above, you aren’t very articulate and it’s likely he misunderstood you.
      I’ve been a customer and experienced nothing short of top end, highly professional response.

  2. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks again for your wonderful thorough review. I am amazed by the level of your knowledge, skills, and dedication for putting so much time and effort offering such valuable information for guitar players in your web pages. You are awesome man!!!
    I had my ’96 Fender Am Std. at an authorized Fender guitar repair shop in Calgary for basic setup and fret dress. I also decided to go with the flow to get the pickups upgraded. SSL-5 for bridge and CS69 for the neck. I left the mid pu as stock since I wasn’t using it much. I must say SSL-5 cuts through all the low mid range of the dirt pedals with strength and expression so well. I love the clean tone of CS69 but with the same setting for dirt pedals when I switch from bridge to neck position, I must admit it sounds a bit too muddy. I know it is the nature of the neck position but I thought I pick your brain: A- if Voodoo 69 neck position cuts through better than CS69, B- if you use EQ pedal or booster pedal when you switch from bridge to neck, C- if you set your pedals to create a middle ground for both pu positions i.e. not making it too fat sounding on the bridge position and not too bright sounding for the neck position so it works equally well for both. In my case, I have a big muff issue with the neck position. If I set it sounding good with bridge pu, then at neck position it sounds muddy and lacks enough expression and details. The other issue I have is a bit too much neck pu CS69 stratitis with the strings that the magnets are sticking out (G and D strings). I brought down the pu to about 2 mm above the scratch guard (around 3 mm clearance from top of the string to top of the magnet in the last fret position). Still I get some. I’m wondering if Voodoo 69 has less stick out G and D string position magnets and overall you found it sounding more uniform across all strings. Thanks a lot.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi, sorry for my very late reply. Been too busy… Pickups responds to your amp, pedals, the guitar etc so identical pickups and setups will not sound the same on two seemingly similar setups. It’s also about personal taste. The SSL5 is considerably hotter than the typical vintage single coils, which also means that they have a lot more mids. I spent a lot of time setting up the SSL5 and CS69 pickups to match each other. You really have to see them as different pickups that you will use for different tones and applications. I rarely use the neck but I never use it with a Muff – I wouldn’t recommend it either – and I always roll off the volume a tad, just to balance the highs a bit. There’s a lot you can do but it’s also about what you can’t do :)

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Great site, very informative. I’d really appreciate some help with this…

    In the context of my band where the other guitarist is playing a telecaster my Tokai Strat (1984, maple neck, with its original pickups) is sounding really thin and weak (both using similar fender hot rods). I’m happy with the tone of the guitar but it does seem to be over powered. I often find I need to engage my boost pedal to get enough punch in the bridge position when playing the riff for ‘Superstition’ or ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ intro. The Sultans of Swing solo just gets completely lost in the mix. I am currently having a refret done as well as upping the gauge from 9’s to 10’s. I’m convinced this will help but probably won’t fix the problem so I’m also looking at pickups.
    Reading your reviews and comments there are lots of pickups I believe would do the job, however we actually play a huge variety of covers including many modern bands like..Killers, Kings of Leon, Black Keys, Foo Fighters to name a few. Versatility is therefore key. The Voodoo 69’s have been on my radar for a while but I’m interested to read about the Voodoo Blues bridge pickup. To be honest I am really confused. I love gilmour/Hendrix tones but I’m not playing any in the band. I definitely need something hotter than I have but mine may just need a rewind. I’m reluctant to go down the SSL-5 route.

    Any thoughts? (Sorry big ask I know)

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Mike, sorry for my late reply. You say telecaster but I’m sure you mean Stratocaster? I’m actually more interested in what amp you’re using. If you feel that your tone lack punch and it’s hard to cut through then it sounds to me that you might lack mid range and perhaps also some compression. Songs like Sultans of Swing definitely need a lot of compression to get that twangy tone and for the cleans to really stand out. Your pickups is probably fine and I’d start by tweaking the amp for a bit more mids and also add a compressor to your setup. You might also want to look into gain effects that has a pronounced mid range.

  4. Karl says:

    How noisy are the D.Allen Echoes pickups — i.e., how bad is the hum? Your demo video sounded fabulous! Thanks! Karl

    • Bjorn says:

      They’re single coils so they will pick up whatever sources of noise that’s nearby but no more than other single coils. I have all of my Strat’s shielded, which helps a great deal.

  5. Keith says:

    I finally figured out the question that’s been stumping me since I first heard of a Strat pup with the output of 12k+ like the SSL-1c, SSL-5, and D.Allens bridge. It hit me out of the blue yesterday. The more you overwind a pickup, say 10%, it gains 10% output, 10% mids, and loses 10% highs, making it darker, which makes cutting through floyds wall of sound much easier on David’s single note solos. Midrange cuts through, and the lower high end, keeps the bridge from being too icepicky! Now I finally get it! And also earlier in this thread I said that, 022 uf caps worked best, it may have been a bad cap, but Cymbaline wouldn’t get the laughing sound, and I changed the cap to the. 047, and I’m seagull city now!
    Peace, Keith

    [That’s great, Keith! Yes, what I would call an overwound pikcup sound darker, due to less highs and more mids. THat’s what happen when you wind it for a higher output. Mid range is crucial in a dence mix, epscially for solo instruments like a guitar. Our ears has a focus range within the upper mid range, which is where our voice usually lies. Drums and keyboards usually lack the mid range or don’t have that much of it so a trebly guitar will usually just disappear in that mix. Add a bit of mid range and it cuts through like a knife. It’s especially crucial when you use effects like fuzz and Muffs, which has very little mid range. – Bjorn]

  6. crimson says:

    on my black strat (maple neck) i am using fat50/cs69/ssl5 and i don’t want to change it.

    the other strat (rosewood) has three cs69 and i am not so happy with the bridge-pu. will it make sense to use a texas special bridge pickup? or would it be wise to switch to a cs54 set because this 2nd strat should sound different from my black one?

    [Only you can be the judge of that. I like the TS. They’re very similar to the 69s but with a bit more mids. I’ve tried to have a TS in the bridge but felt it was just too middy in combo with the 69s. One option would be the Voodoo Blues set, with the slightly overwound bridge. Again, very similar to the TS but more open sounding. I’m sure Allen can offer just the bridge. – Bjorn]

  7. Keith says:

    Thanks, that’s kind of what I thought your explanation would be. So basically for the period I’m most interested in, 68-77, The Fralins output is pretty close to what he was using. I would like to try the extra hot bridge though, probably great mid punch for solos, especially in live situations, with a loud band. I may see what Lindy can come up with, or check out one of D Allens new 12.5 tapped pup.
    Thanks, Keith!

    [Yes, you should be set but if you haven’t it’s well worth trying a hotter bridge as well. Hope you get better soon :) – Bjorn]

  8. Keith says:

    Bjorn, I realize that in the modern era, ( post Animals), DG has used the super hot SSL-5, which is roughly between 12&13k , but for the earlier stuff, when he used pretty much stock, or even the FZ-1, the output resistance was roughly half that, at basically around 6.7-.8. Having never used a single coil that hot, ( SSL-5), I’m curious why the change to such a high output pickup? I’m trying to figure out if I’m missing something that I might like. My Fralins are 6k 6k 6.8k, and with the #43 Formvar wire, you can’t really wire them any higher than that. Maybe David Allen could explain this to me. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around a “Vintage Fender pickup clone” with an output pushing 13k, and maybe all I’m missing is David’s very different, and more modern sounding Pulse sounds. Could you give me a brief explanation of the tonal differences of such a high output, compared to a more vintage, although mildly hotter than stock bridge
    pup,.You must have originally used a milder, and more vintage lower output bridge pup before you went to the SSL-5, so you are the perfect person to ask.
    Thanks, Keith

    [I have no idea why he decided to switch the FS1 with the SSL1c (now the SSL5). Throughout the 70s he experimented with different setups – see all the details here – so it wasn’t anything new to replace a pickup completely. Actually, all recordings from Atom Heart to Animals was done with 7-8k pickups. Wall was recorded with the FS1 while the SSL1c wasn’t installed until The Wall tour. So, the recordings and tones you prefer were all with the “classic” setup, which would be more or less identical to your Fralins. The low output and transparent tone does something to the fuzz tones. The SSL5 has a vintage flavour no doubt but it’s perhaps closer to a P90. More output obviously, more mids and a tad darker tone. Not as open and “huge” sounding as a P90 but very similar. I love it and it’s featured in my main Strat but it depends on what tones you’re looking for and need for a specific application. Sometimes I grab one of my all 69s Strats, sometimes the DG20, sometimes ‘buckers… apples and oranges… .) – Bjorn]

  9. Keith says:

    Isn’t 12.5k just a bit too hot?

    [Depends… – Bjorn]

  10. Max says:

    Oops my bad. I didn’t read the previous comment… I’m definitley looking forward to your review of the echos set. I’m definitely thinking about getting a set myself.

    [Yep :) I’ll have a review up soon :) – Bjorn]

  11. Max says:

    Hey Bjorn
    I bought a set tru vintage 54s for my strat and I love them. I think Dave Allen is producing some pf the best strat pickups on the market today. I see that DAllen has produced a new set of pickups called the Echos. Which is based on replicating the pickups on the back strat. It has 69 voodoos in the neck and middle and the bridge pickup is wound to a similar output as the 69 but also the tone knob I believe features a push pull button that adds extra winds to the bridge making it more possible to get both his tone from the 60s as well the creamier higher output bridge tones that he gets today. The idea behind this set is definitely exciting. I was wondering if you were gonna review this set, because I’m definitely curious how well the push pull button on the bridge works.

  12. David Allen says:

    Check out the new Echoes set with a double tap bridge so you go from the VooDooBlues setting to a 12.5k bridge with push or pull.

    [I will have a review up very soon! – Bjorn]

  13. Josetxu says:

    Sorry Bjorn, it was a question indeed. So you notice a great improvement when you changed the Fenders for the Voodoos, doesn’t you? I like the idea of the switchable bridge pickup of the echoes for adding versatility ;)

    [I wouldn’t say it’s a huge improvement. The Fender Custom Shop pickups are very good and the Fender CS69 and Voodoos are based on the same specs and tone. It’s more about nuances and what fits your guitar and its timbre. I’ve been using 69s for years but the Voodoos sounded a bit more open and dynamic to my ears. – Bjorn]

  14. Josetxu says:

    Thinking in buying two ’69 style pickups to go with a SSL5 I have hanging around. Why the Fender CS? I had the fenders once and I though they sounded great and their price is great but thinking in buying a boutique option if it they worth it. Thinking about Klein 69s (have a set of his 54 and 65 and they are great pickups) or even the new Dave Echoes set. Thanks for your great web site.

    [Don’t know if there’s a question here but I couldn’t be happier with my Dave Allen Voodoos. The new Echoes set feature Voodoos for the Neck and Middle. Very similar to the CS69s but a bit more low end and an overall more open sound. I haven’t tried the Klein’s so I can’t tell about those. – Bjorn]

  15. Tony says:

    Hi Folks!!

    Here’s a demo of my new “Echoes” set of guitar pickups by D. Allen. Strat loaded with the Echoes using the (hot) bridge position into a Big Muff into a delay through a ’72 Fender Twin Reverb doing the first solo of the studio version of Comfortably Numb, which the tone of has eluded me for 30 years (until now, thanks to Dave Allen), just playing along with a backing track recorded open air….


    [Sounds great! Thanks for sharing! I’ll have a review up in a few weeks. – Bjorn]

  16. jon says:

    Hello there, I know this is an older thread, but has anyone had luck with the Fender N3 pups? I know that JB is using these in his backup guitars. Not very many useful videos on YT.

    [Anyone care to comment? – Bjorn]

  17. T.R. says:

    I’ve just finished a demo vid on YT of David Allen’s “Echoes” set –

    No effects on this demo – just the guitar into the amp – I’ll be doing an “effected” version in the next couple of days.

    [Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]

  18. T.R. says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that you reviewed the Voodoo Blues set – I actually worked with David Allen in developing them.
    I had written to David about what I was looking for to fit a certain guitar of mine, and was wondering which of his sets would fit the bill. He didn’t have a set that fit exactly, so he started experimenting using my ideas and came up with the Voodoo Blues. He liked the finished results so much he decided to add them to his lineup and the rest is history.
    We didn’t have Gilmour in mind when we were working on them, but in hindsight I guess it’s the same basic concept of a late 60’s neck and middle and hot bridge.
    As Tony mentioned above David has got an “Echoes” set in the works, so I’m really interested to see how they turn out.
    His workmanship is top notch and his customer service is out of this world.

    [Thanks for your post! David’s a great guy and makes some awesome sounding stuff. I have a few of his sets now, including some awesome sounding P90s. Looking forward to the DG set as well! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  19. Tony says:

    For those interested in more of what D. Allen’s wonderful pickups sound like, here’s a quick stripped-down recent version of “In The Flesh?” from The Wall using of his Voodoo Blues set through a Basic Audio Tri-Ram Muff, an Ibanez Echomachine into a Ceriatione Hiwatt DR504 Clone…


    BTW: His soon to be released “Echoes” set will be very similar to the Voodoo Blues with a hotter bridge. I am hoping for the bridge will be a cross between the SSL-5 the SSL-1 and Dimarzio FS-1 but with improved quack in position 4. This would be a dream come true.

  20. Keith says:

    No problem David, I’m not a tech, but I eat information. Since becoming a Gilmourish reader a little over a year ago, I’ve studied, and called people I thought unreachable with questions. I found the information from my Luthier, Tom Rodriguez, and my pickup builder Lindy Fralin. No one seems to understand Fenders use of the higher value small caps, and both people I spoke to said that the. 022 can style caps indeed keep more of your high end in tact, and let the real sound of the pickup through, without sacrificing bottom end. My guitar has CTS 250k pots, and the .022, and It’s the quietest, most open sounding Strat I’ve ever played, and I’ve owned over 20 American, and MIM’s. Another thing I’ve not heard anyone speak of is a bass plate for the bridge pup. If you check out Lindy Fralin pickups, hey explains the benefits of a bass plate better than I could, but it basically allows him to wind the pickup for great bass response, without sacrificing highend tond. There is evidently always a trade off one way or the other when winding bridge pups.
    Peace Y’all, Keith

  21. David D says:

    Thanks for the advice Keith :)

  22. Stephen Ford says:

    Some prewired PU kits for Gilmour that I am finding are with a 0.047 uF

  23. Aron says:

    I’ve done a lot of research on this lately, as I’m gearing up to assemble my first Warmoth Start. Tone caps receive a lot of press if you search the internet. Basically there are camps that say the capicator is very important to the tone, and others that say it has no bearing on your sound. I’m not going to get into that part.
    The most important thing about the cap is it’s value. The larger the value, the more high end it will roll off as you turn the tone knob. So a .047uf cap will cut more treble than a .022uf. Throughout the years, Fender has used many different values. In the 50s, I believe they used .1uf and as Kieth pointed out they later moved to .022. My 90’s model Strat Plus Deluxe has a .047.
    Another thing to consider is what the cap is made out of. Again there are conflicting and hotly debated sides to this. Old school, is paper in oil; these days you will probably find ceramic disks a lot more common.
    So, how to use this… Depending what value of capicitor Bjorn has in a specific guitar will depend on what he rolls the tone knobs to. If Bjorn says in an article that he rolled his tone to 4, but when you do, your’s sounds much different, it could be that your cap is a different value, therefore you may have to roll down to 2.

    [Very good point, Aaron! Caps has a lot to do with the tone and, of course, the output of the pickups will also have an effect in regards to gain and how much you need to roll down the volume. – Bjorn]

  24. Keith says:

    Also saw a Peavy Classic 50 tweed, in excellent condition for $450 yesterday! And didn’t know this, but until recently, TTS pickups were also made here in Richmond, Va. Seems we have a great deal of musical products made here. Look out for John Kelly handcrafted, hardwood, stained pedalboards, excluding my PP2, It cost me about $400.00, but is not only very functional, but beautiful, and huge at 18″x 36″! Some Boutique pedals will start rolling out of this town very soon as well!

    [Nice! – Bjorn]

  25. Keith says:

    @ David D .022 for vintage Fender, with 250k pots!

  26. David D says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    I’m really interested in buying the Voodoo Blues pickups. This will be my first time changing anything on my guitar. What capacitor value should I get with those pick ups; 0.033uF or 0.047uF? I’m after the 70s black strat sound. And also, what difference does it make in tone the value of the capacitor?


    [This is really not my strongest topic. Perhaps someone else here can help you out or, send a request to Allen. He’s a great guy! – Bjorn]

  27. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Just a head’s up that Dave Allen plans to release a David Gilmour set soon. Very exciting.

    [Yep, looking forward to those. Love his pickups! – Bjorn]

  28. JAIME says:

    Hi Bjorn:
    What pickups are you using at this time in your telecaster?
    Do you have a reference for the telecaster pickups? Especially in the neck position
    Do you have any sugestions or coments??



    [At the moment I’m using a Cream T Pickups NoCaster and a custom wound TTS Pickups 7.2k bridge. I find that to be a very nice combo. Gives the neck a nice Straty feel and a bit more bite in the bridge. – Bjorn]

  29. Tony says:


    Just wanted to thank you on your recommendation of the VoodooBlues set and find them nothing short of astounding. Extremely balanced, clear, dynamic and focused with loads of glassy sparkle and the tightest bottom I’ve ever heard. The bridge is a perfect balance of vintage Gilmour and Hendrix that have plenty of bite without the pick or losing quack in combination with the middle PU. All posistions work gorgeously with drives, muffs and fuzzes. These pickups seem to bloom more and more everytime I plug in my Strat. The craftsmanship and packaging were stunning and his customer service was far above and beyond. No doubt the finest pickups I have ever owned without even going into all the pickups I’ve tried chasing this elusive tone. In fact, I’m so impressed I’m going to give another set of his a try. A master of his craft no doubt. I know I must sound like an advertisement here but am simply a genuine Gilmour and Hendrix freak with 30 years playing and gear experience who’s wasted tons of time and money (no pun intended) that simply wants to help other from wasting theirs as well if they are seeking the same magical tone.

    My deepest thanks for your amazing ears and bringing gear like this to mine and the public’s attention.


    [Cheers Tony! I couldn’t agree more :) – Bjorn]

  30. Tony says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Would you recommend the Voodoo Blues Or Voodoo 69’s to cover Gilmour tones from Meddle through The Wall? I love his searing lead tone on the solos to The Echoes and the studio version of Time, but also love his woody, dynamic FS-1 tone on The Wall, but preferably without losing too much vintage quack in position 4.

    Also, besides the warmer bridge on the Voodoo sets, what have you noticed is different from Fender CS69’s?

    Sincere Thanks,

    [I’d go with the Voodoo Blues. The neck and middle are from the Voodoo 69 set. Very similar to the CS69 but perhaps a bit more open sounding. The Blues bridge has a bit more output and mid range, somewhere between the CS69 and SSl5. Great choice for the 70s Black Strat sounds. – Bjorn]

  31. Chris says:

    With your combination set of the VooDoo 69’s and SSL-5 on the bridge, did you install an 0.047 capacitor for the tone control pot?

    [No… I think there already was a cap there. Need to check. – Bjorn]

  32. Brad says:

    Thanks! Are yours the revamped ones they made 2007 and later? Mine was my first strat after being a gibson player for years and I love the large headstock, jumbo frets and nitro finish. Tons of sustain. I got the flat black finish. Doesn’t hurt that it’s a dead ringer for the black strat, circa Pompeii:).

    thanks again,

    [I think it was one of the first to hit the market. – Bjorn]

  33. Brad W says:

    HI Bjorn,

    Curious if you’ve ever tried the ‘vintage hot alnico iii’ pickups that came stock in the highway one strat? I have a highway one and after months of planning to get around and add a duncan ssl5 in the bridge and possibly cs69s in the neck and middle, I’ve finally decided ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I really like these stock pups! The idea behind their design was to try to keep as much of a vintage strat sound as possibly while adding a little more ‘modern’ bite. However, I think these must be quite different from the texas specials.

    Have you ever played them or heard anything good or bad about these pups? They only really came in this one strat so there is not a ton of info out there.

    Many thanks!

    [I’ve a couple of Highway Ones and to be honest I didn’t care much for them. It might have been the overall feel of the guitar though… The tone seemed allright. I guess the pickups are somewhere along the Tex/Mex, don’t you think? Vintage tone with a bit more output and mid range. Personally I prefer the CS69 but as you say “why fix it if it ain’t broke” :) – Bjorn]

  34. David Allen says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    I hope all is well with the new addition :-) and you are getting some sleep!
    Let me know how you like the VooDooBluesset when you have some time.
    Many Thanks,
    David Allen

    [Just installed them. I’ll let you know in a couple of days :) The new addition is doing fine and we’re very lucky to have one that enjoys sleeping as much as we do :) – Bjorn]

  35. martin says:

    i really have a big bridge-pu-problem ;-)

    first i tried ssl 1 – it was too bright. then i switched to the ssl 5 – there was the g-string-problem … the g-string was much too loud und there was less treble. then i tried a fat 50 – same result as with the ssl 1.
    now i saw that there is a ssl 6 which is a flat ssl 5. do you think this will help with my much too loud g-string on the ssl 5?

    [I haven’t tried the SSL6 so I can’t tell what the difference is. Sounds to me that you need to look at the setup on your guitar to avoid the g-string problem. Amp and pedal settings also needs to be set to match the pickups. – Bjorn]

  36. Kristoffer says:

    Cool! I had no idea you had actually tried it. I know it is hard to talk about sound but I would be very grateful if you could describe the difference tonally (as in bass, mids, treble) between the regular 69 bridge (or something like the SSL-1 bridge) compared to the voodoo blues bridge pickup.

    I have a set of three Duncan SSL-1 in one guitar that I absolutely love but I’m looking to try something new in my newer guitar. I’m tempted to try out a hotter bridge pickup but I’m slightly worried it will sound to midrangey in an almost humbucker like fashion. Ideally I’d want something like the SSL-1, just slightly beefier (more output and bass).


    [The tone of a pickup depends greatly on the guitar and what amp and pedals you use with it. The Blues is basically a hand wound 69s neck and middle and a beefed up bridge. Very similar to the SSL5 with a bit more presence and perhaps not as much mid range, which, I guess, puts it somewhere between a SSL1 and 5… again, depends on the guitar. – Bjorn]

  37. Kristoffer says:

    Hi there Bjorn!

    Do you know anything about D Allens Voodoo blues set? That seems to be the voodoo 69 with a hotter bridge pickup. I suppose it is hard for you to answer but do you think that that kit would be a valid alternative to the “Voodoo 69 + SSL-5” -kit?

    [I’ve been using the Voodoo Blues for some time now and it’s very close to the CS69+SSL5 combo. Highly recommended! – Bjorn]

  38. Marc says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Happy New Year to you and your bandmates.
    Loved the review, just want to mention that these look like staggered pole-pieces, so us lefties would need to custom order the pups from the manufacturer.

    Now, for the downside ….. yet more gear to buy and test out …. ahh, that ain’t so bad after all, is it? :-)

  39. chris says:

    hi bjorn!

    nice review, thanks. as for the the sound samples i do not understand so far: does gilmour play the david allen pickups?


    [No, he doesn’t. The clips were ment to be references for similar sounds. David’s #0001 Strat feature the original Fender 1954 pickups and the current version of his Black Strat feature Fender 1971 neck and middle pikcups and a custom wound Duncan SSL1C bridge pickup (similar to SSL5). – Bjorn]

  40. Daniele says:

    Yes, i agree with you Bjorn. I think that sometimes David use the P1 only with GE7 and sometimes P1+BK. Will be great try his pedalboard!

  41. Thomas says:

    Him Bjoern,

    Once again a very informative review on you site – it am very curious about all the reviews that will follow during this year too.

    You are obviously a great fan of the Seymour Duncan SSL-5 – I use that pickup too, but have chosen the tapped version (SSL-5T) which gives me the opportunity to recreate the vey old Gilmour sounds much easier – I mean the time before he used the Dimarzio FS-1 (great pickup as well) and the customized Duncan Pickup.

    By the way – on your site, you mentioned that you use Weber Thames loudspeakers in your old Soundcity cabinet – and that you have replaced the old Fane Crecendos. Could you please tell me what the reason was for that swap and how do the Weber Thames sound in comparison to the Crescendos. I am not totally happy with my purple Fanes in one of my three SA212s and currently I am about to decide which speakers I should buy for my two other SA212s. Actually I would like to know how the Thames sounds treble-wise in comparison to the Crescendos. I prefer a speaker with a little bit more treble – what would you recommend? Weber Thames or Weber FC-12.
    I am pretty sure that a lot of fans from your site would be curious to get a deeper look in your experience on loudspeakers.

    Keep on the impressive work – Best regards from Germany


    [Thank you Thomas. I don’t have that much experience with different speakers although I have tried countless models over the years. The reason I replaced my old Fanes was simply because they were way past their peak. The cones were too dry and they’d lost much of their character. I tried lots of different options but settles with the Thames as these were the cloest match at the time. Now, several companies are making similar clones. The Thames were dead on my old Fanes but a bit brighter perhaps. Not sure whether they really are or if the old ones were just too dead but I’ve also read that other find the Thames a bit brighter with a slightly more mids too. It depends on the cab as well. My old SC cab is quite big allowing the speakers to breathe a bit more, which again rolls of some of the higher frequencies. – Bjorn]

  42. brandon says:

    For the shine on you crazy diamond and dogs tone, would you recommend these over the crazy diamond set?

    [They’re very similar but the Voodoo’s would perhaps be closer since the bridge pickup is more like the one he used at the time. The Crazy Diamond set is closer to the current Black Start tones. He used a Tele on Dogs BTW :) – Bjorn]

  43. John says:

    Off topic, but rumored Pink Floyd reunion for closing ceremonies of the olympics, nothing like Comfortably Numb to close out the quadrennial celebration of amateur athletics

    [It’s rumours and denied officially as far as I know… – Bjorn]

  44. Jon says:

    Have you tried any of the Bareknuckle pickups?

    [Nope. – Bjorn]

  45. ruodi says:

    Why buying another set of pickups, when you can make everything with household objects:



    [Indeed! Great clip :) – Bjorn]

  46. Daniele says:

    Can you use the tube driver after the Muff with these pickups? I have the Gilmour Custom shop and It’s really quite impossible for me use the tube driver(jj gold pin 12au7 in it) after the big muff with the Live in Gdansk settings. I think that Gilmour don’t use the Tube driver after the P1 or not with those settings, i don’t known something don’t run…I have a little studio with a Reeves Custom 100 + 4×12 vintage Hiwatt Cab reconed(The old cones were broken for the umidity) with weber thames, placed in a reprise chamber with a sm57, so i can play as loud as i want. I have the P1 since 1 month, it sound really closed to gilmour sound also without any effects, but with the tube driver boost setted placed before the P1 i can have the best result. What do you think about that? Maybe are the crescendo cone? But the sound with the BK placed after and with the gain at 4 is really uncontrollable, the P1 is GIANT! I’d like to knwon you experience, thank you for your valued work with and without your relly interesting band

    [Pickups alone won’t solve the problem. Keep in mind that although you have the same gear as David it doesn’t mean that his settings apply to yours. I’m sure that some adjustments of your settings does the trick. All of David’s pedals are modified by Cornish and the pedal board also feature tubes and buffers between all pedals. This alters the tone dramatically (or more accurately – not having this prevents the pedals sounding natural). His amps are also modified for more mids and better performance, so you really need to find your own settings. I have never gotten David’s Tube Driver settings to work, so I keep the gain and bass like his and the treble at 11:00 and the volume at 1:30, regardless gain setting. This makes the my Tube Driver sound as smooth as his and it blends perfectly with any Muff. David has the Tube Driver after the Muff but keep in mind that the settings we’ve seen doesn’t have to apply to all songs. He’s constantly tweaking his pedals and often just use the Muffs alone. Another point is that one often set the treble and mids too high on the amp. Try lowering these for a warmer tone and be sure to match the gain on the P1 and TD to avoid feedback and muffled tones. Hope this helped. – Bjorn]

  47. Patrick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    First, I want to wish you a happy new year and long life to your band..Second, i want to know with the 3 set of pickups that you’ve tested, is still your choice with the cs69 and ssl5 or would you do another mix? Thank you for your work .. really enjoyed it!

    [I have lots of different Srats with different pickups but at the moment I’m preferring the Voodoo neck and middle with a Duncan SSL5. Highly recommended! – Bjorn]

  48. peter says:


    let’s hope he changes his mind! :)

    nice reveiwe by the way :)

  49. Erik says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    What is the main difference between the CS 69 VooDoo’s and the standard strat pickups on today’s strats?:)

    [The Standard model single coils has a higher output, more mids and a generally darker tone. It works quite OK for David’s tones but you may find them a bit too muddy for your Tube Driver and Big Muffs. The 69s and similar vintage style, low output pickups are more transparent, has less mid range and goes better with equally mid scooped pedals. Check out the Duncan SSL1 or SSL5 or even the Fender Texas Specials for something in between. – Bjorn]

  50. martin says:

    just wanted to know if you ever tried leosounds, barfuss and creamery-pickups …

    http://www.barfuss-pickups.de/page2.php (the love and peace s-style)

    hard to decide ;-)

    [I haven’t tried them yet. Thanks for the tip! It’s essentially apples and oranges. The quality of hand wound pickups is very high and it’s more down to the little nuances each provide. Most makers offer the same models but with their own signature touch. – Bjorn]

  51. Pierre Chartier says:

    Happy new year my dear friend. How do the Vintage 54 compare with the original pickups of my American vintage 57 strat?

    [Very similar however the 57 has a bit more mids and can appear a bit dark. – Bjorn]

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