Changing pickups on your guitar can do wonders to your tone. Itâ€™s an often overlooked aspect of the whole tone quest but itâ€™s just as important for your tone as any pedal. D Allen recently released the Echoes single coil set. Promising to capture over four decades of David Gilmourâ€™s Black Strat tones I had to check them out. Hereâ€™s my review.
Itâ€™s no secret that Iâ€™m a huge D Allen fan and perhaps Iâ€™m a bit too biased to write this review. Anyway, the man knows how to make some sweet vintage tones and after a head count I realized that a have quite a few guitars with his pickups. Se my review of the TruVintage54, 69 Voodoo’s and Voodoo Blues SSS here.
The Echoes set feature three single coils based on the late 60s Fender specifications. The neck and middle pickups are â€œstockâ€ taken from Allenâ€™s 69 Voodoo’s set, with a 5.8k output for classic glassy top, fat bottom and a deep mids scoop. The secret of the Echoes lies in the bridge pickup. 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 â€œmodesâ€ â€“ a slighly overwound 69 at 7.6k (same as featured in the Voodoo Blues set) and the even hotter SSL5-ish at 12.5k. How cool is that?!
Compared to other late 60s single coils, D Allenâ€™s 69 Voodoo’s are, in my very subjective opinion, more open sounding, with a crispy attack and over all more harmonics. Of course, this depends on your guitar – its resonance and overall tone. Like all late 60s models, theyâ€™re quite bright but never harsh nor ice picky. The low end is nicely balanced and never too dominating nor boomy.
I like the fact that the Echoes is based on slightly overwound late 60s specs for the bridge. 7.6k provides a bit more bite for both your cleans and gains, compated to the typical low output 5.8k, which can sound rather thin on most setups. Itâ€™s also a better match for the considerably hotter 12.5k â€œmode 2â€, which is based on the Duncan SSL-5 featured in Davidâ€™s Black Strat (yes, heâ€™s got a SSL1c but itâ€™s the same as the SSL5).
It seems weird but the difference between the two modes isnâ€™t that obvious. I though there would be a noticeable volume drop or bump but theyâ€™re quite similar and what you get is a very versatile combo capable of covering a wide range of tones, from twangy cleans to almost P90 creamy mids. Mode 1 (7.6k) is great for those pre-Animals mids scooped fuzz tones, while mode 2 (12.5k) compliments Davidâ€™s more recent Tube Driver and Muff tones.
Itâ€™s easy to dismiss expensive handwound pickups as a redundant luxury and I totally understand that itâ€™s not the first priority for a tight budget but itâ€™s not really about good VS bad but rather finding the right basis for your pedals and amp. Itâ€™s about choosing the right tone but also discovering the true nuances and dynamics of your guitar.
I donâ€™t know why no one has thought of this before. Gilmour fan or not, what you get is an icredibly versatile combo allowing you to cover a wide range of tones â€“ and possibly saving you a guitar swap or two during a show! Highly recommended for your Black Strat project! See dallen.com for more details.