Please find answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. If you can’t find an answer to your question, then please contact us
About Our Pickups
You seem to have a lot of Strat sets, which one should I go for?
The short answer to that is of course, whichever one you want. If you are a little unsure however, and find our range of Strat sets bewildering, please do not hesitate to drop us an email telling us about the sound you’re looking for and Radioshop’s Paul Best will be more than happy to help you get to the set which will suit you best. The biggest factor that influences sound choice really is which pickup wire is to be used. Our Strat sets use Heavy Formvar Wire or Black Plain Enamel wire so it’s worth starting there to whittle down your choice. Heavy Formvar delivers that classic 60s style bell like tone which is beloved of so many Strat players. Formvar wire gives a rounded bottom end, forthright mids and bell like highs. Perfect for nailing the 60s tones of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin and many more, this type of wire in the modern era is now also synonymous with John Frusciante and John Mayer too. In short, a versatile, classic sounding wire that nails a huge variety of tones.
The Black Plain Enamel wire sets give more of a 70s/Classic Hard Rock Tone. The wire’s inherent characteristics are a punchy bass response, scooped mids and brittle yet sweet highs. If you already have several sets of pickups with us or at least one Strat set already with Formvar, going for a Black Plain Enamel wire set can really help to give a very different Strat sound so that you have Strats which cover different bases tonally. We hope this is helping! Here is a slight oversimplification of what each Strat set does but we think it helps with whittling down the options:
Heavy Formvar Wire sets:
Vintage 63s - our first ever set. Heavy Formvar wire and Alnico V magnets. Many sets are a spin off of this set with little tweaks. A no nonsense, straight down the line, classic Strat sound which will nail a number of styles. Period correct for 60s Strat projects.
ID:Chris Buck - like the Vintage 63s but with reduced wax potting for more playing dynamics and a little more presence. Still the same ball park tone as the 63s but with a baseplate added for more oomph at the bridge. A great all round set.
The Black One - this set was designed in at the request of our customers to give the most authentic ‘Inspired by John Mayer’ tone. It’s a Vintage 63 set with a slight underwind for more sweetness and a stagger matched to JM’s Black One guitar.
Vintage 57s - another of our early sets and another set which nails classic era tones. With its Alnico III magnets it’s a little darker sounding and more mellow than the 63s to offset the brightness of a maple neck. Actually sounds insanely sweet in a Rosewood too though to confuse matters!
ID:Chris Buck 57s - very much the same set as the ID:Chris Buck original set but with Alnico III magnets and voiced to suit maple ‘board Strats for the more period correct guitar fan. The ID:CBS original set actually sounds great in both Maple and Rosewood but here’s where to go if you prefer that softer attack, smoky bar room blues feel of Alnico III pickups.
Case Study 63s - this is basically the same set as the Vintage 63s but is an EXACT study of a given set. We were very fortunate to be able to remove an actual set of 63s from an original pre CBS Strat to measure and study and this set has the same output, magnet height and diameter, bobbin height and much more - every detail recreated from that ‘Case Study’ set. The Vintage 63s will give you that classic 60s Strat tone in spades but the CS 63s reflects us really going to town and gives just a little more nuanced detail. Think of this as a very specialist, replica set.
The ID:63GTs - this set is in some ways a slightly hotter version of the ID:Chris Buck set but with none of the inherent tone darkening of ‘hotter’ sets due to it having a slight boost in its magnetic response. It’s the Chris Buck Set but with a selectable radius to suit your board and the magnets are staggered through the bottom of the pickup as well as the top so that each string has a polepiece of identical size for a more even string to string response. This is the set for you if you’d like to try a radius specific set for your guitar.
The Black Strat - technically this belongs on both lists as it features a mix of wires across the three pickups. This is an exact recreation of a famous set and is inspired by, you guessed it, one David Gilmour. A popular customer request over the years, was finally added to our line-up due to popular demand.
Black Plain Enamel Wire Sets:
The Montereys - another of our oldest sets. Its name reveals the genesis of its inspiration and this set is perfect for nailing later era Hendrix tones aswell as a myriad of 70s Classic Rock tones. A really sweet set that cries out for a large headstock, ha!
The ID:Evolution - this set is one of our proudest recreations. A slightly enlarged magnet set which gives Humbucker output from a Strat design but with none of the usual tone darkening of ‘hot’ pickups. All the normal Stratty-ness is retained but with increased output. Perfect for someone going between Strats and Humbucking guitars who doesn’t want the associated volume changes and also perfect for mixing with a Humbucker in a HSS setup.
I want to sound like ‘x’ guitarist, which set will do it for me?
If you have a very specific sound in mind or want to nail the tone of a specific guitar hero of yours, please just send us an email and we’ll be more than happy to help. In the past we’ve scoured fan sites and even listened to multiple YouTube videos sent by customers to try and find out a pickup specification to suit a brief. We’re adept at uncovering information to nail tones and our instinct on what spec of pickup will do it for our customers is pretty well trained by now.
A lot of your sets have ’63, ’57 or another year in their title - I’m looking for a modern tone though. What do you recommend?
A lot of our sets feature years in the title because it denotes a certain specification of pickup that is synonymous with the year it was designed and first put together. This does not mean that those sounds are frozen in time however. Most guitarists get inspired by those who came before who were in turn inspired by those who came before them. As a result, the Heavy Formvar wire and Alnico V combination of our Vintage 63s is as perfect for getting those Hendrix tones of the 60s as it is for pleasing today’s Mayer disciples. The names of a number of our sets may be vintage but their tones sound as fresh today as they ever did. A set of Vintage 63s, for example will handle modern Indie and pop beautifully and the 1967 and 70s inspired Montereys will provide searing, modern hard rock tones with no bell bottom jeans required. To be fair, Flares are quite cool though 🙂
Should I go for the Chris Buck Set, the ID:63GTs or the Vintage 63s?
It’s really hard to choose between our Heavy Formvar and Alnico V specification Strat sets. They are all originally spin off sets from our Vintage 63s and they all nail the same ball park tone but with subtle differences. Quite often it is a matter of choosing between something really specific or a more all rounder set which has more of an even brush. Have a look at the guide in the FAQ above which we think helps narrowing down a little. Please send an email if you are finding it really hard to decide and we’re more than happy to help. In short though, each of these sets would give a great 60s style tone but each has their own extra thing they offer. Quite often we are asked which set gives the perfect Mayer tone. Well the Black One really. But then the Vintage 63s will nail Mayer tones, SRV, Hendrix and much more. If you want EXACTLY what he has in his Black One guitar then the Black One will get you as close as we can get you. If you want to get that tone and a myriad of others perhaps look at a set which is designed to give less specific but a more versatile range of tones like the 63s, Chris Buck, GT and Case Study sets. We’re probably just confusing things here - maybe we should have less pickup sets, ha!
I have Strat pickup covers I like already, can I use my existing ones on your pickups? Will you give me a discount and send your pickups without covers?
We find that it’s best to send Strat pickups with covers as they help to protect the delicate winds during transit so sending without covers is not a great idea. The vast majority of Strat pickup covers follow the 52mm spacing from centre to centre of the two outer polepieces so you should find that your existing covers will fit like a glove. The only exception is our ID:Evolution Strat set which features slightly enlarged magnets and the supplied pickup covers have ever so slightly enlarged polepiece holes to accommodate this.
The wiring choice I’d like for my Loaded Pickguard isn’t listed, can you do it?
The website only scratches the surface of what we’re able to offer and there’s a myriad of things we can achieve with switches, push/pull pots etc so if you don’t see what you want listed, please just send us an email and we’ll see what we can put together for your project.
The colour pickguard I’d like for my Loaded Pickguard isn’t listed, can you get ‘x’ for me?
The colours of Pickguard listed on the website are just a small reflection of what’s available to us from our suppliers. If you have something else in mind, please do not hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to put your dream setup together for you.
I have a really nice pickguard already - can you add your pickups and harness to that instead?
Of course! It would be our pleasure. Please send us an email to discuss sending in your existing pickguard and we’ll also process a discount off the loaded ‘guard prices you see as a result of you sending in your own one. This also becomes particularly pertinent for alternative guitar designs which follow the Strat pickup array but have slightly different guards e.g. G&L Legacy, Suhr etc. It can be hard to source replacement ‘guards for these but loading to your existing ‘guard is always an option. In addition to this, if you are seeking a new pickguard for a less ‘off the shelf’ guitar design we can wholeheartedly recommend Tiny Tone in Manchester, UK who can custom make pickguards from your design brief and ship to us for loading.
Can you make a custom pickups set for me?
We make custom pickups sets for our customers all the time and in many instances there’s no extra timeframe or cost involved in varying the spec of a pickups set you’ve seen here and would like to tweak. Get in touch if you’d like to tweak something you’ve seen on the website and we’ll let you know a) if it’s possible and b) if it adds anything to the price on the website. Is what you’ve got in mind beyond ‘tweaking’? Maybe you have something truly original and fully bespoke in mind? Get in touch - we’d love to hear your ideas and we’ll always do our best to make things possible. Who knows, you might even end up informing the design of a new pickup in the future!
Do you offer Reverse Wound Reverse Polarity Pickups?
Yes indeed, we offer all of our Single Coil Pickups sets with a choice of Reverse Wound Reverse Polarity (RWRP) for hum cancelling when combined together or non RWRP. If you are unsure as to what this means, all single coil pickups have an orientation of winding and an orientation of the magnetic charge. For example a Strat pickup can be wound Clockwise and Charged North up. If you combine this with a pickup which is wound Anti Clockwise and charged South up (RWRP) then those two pickups will cancel hum when combined together. This gives a great functionality for instance when in positions 2 and 4 on a Strat but for many purists the more traditional non RWRP is believed to give warmer, ‘quackier’ in-between tones. We are inclined to agree with this and find non RWRP a little warmer but it is marginal. If the functionality of hum cancelling is important to you then please add ‘RWRP’ to the Notes section when ordering your Single Coil set. If period correctness is more important to you or you are not concerned with hum cancelling, just leave the Notes section blank and your set will be delivered in the traditional non RWRP form.
In a set of three pickups (e.g. Strat) typically the middle would be RWRP to give hum cancelling when combined with the neck or bridge. In a two pickup guitar like a Telecaster, we tend to make the bridge pickup the RWRP one.
Which Telecaster Pickups set should I choose?
If you are unsure of which Tele set would suit you best, please send us an email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Any description you have of the tone that you’re seeking helps hugely and even links to YouTube clips of a guitarist’s tone that you love can really help us to narrow down which set would do it for you best. Here is a slight oversimplification of what each Tele set is for which we hope will help:
Vintage 52 Telecaster set - perfect for early 50s Telecaster inspired projects. Lots of twang and grunt in the bridge, bluesy warmth in the neck, perfectly voiced for maple ‘board Teles. This is THE blackguard Tele set.
Vintage 58 set - still lots of lovely twang and bluesy-ness but with a little more smoothness in the bridge position and more mid response there due to the raised D and G polepieces.
Vintage 64 Telecaster set - perfect for Rosewood ‘board 60s builds and more of a modern tone. A bit more oomph and output than the 50s sets thanks to its Alnico V magnets.
ID:Telecaster set - this is the Vintage 64 set but with reduced wax potting for more playing dynamics and presence. A real all rounder set which still offers plenty of twang but can nail a wider variety of tones.
ID:Tele 50s Set - as with the ID Telecaster set above but magnets switched to Alnico III for more of a 50s tone. Voiced more to offset the brightness of maple boards
Which Humbucker/PAF Set should I choose?
The three humbucker pickups sets we offer were designed for quite specific uses really. Our best selling set and the one which we recommend for most applications is the Radioshop PAF set. This is designed to be as close as we can get you to that hallowed late 50s Les Paul tone and will handle a variety of styles beautifully. Wonderfully open sounding with superb string separation, it handles everything from clean to hard rock and riffing with ease and is our choice for solid body guitars.
For semi hollow and hollow body guitars we recommend the Electric Spanish set, it has a lovely rich warmth to it which suits those guitars really nicely. The other set we have is the Radioshop PAF Plus set which just offers that little bit more oomph in the bridge position over the Radioshop PAF set - that set is for those of you who want those towering solos to sound a little more … well … towering!
Should I order my humbuckers wax potted or unpotted? Do I need to worry about this?
The first humbuckers produced in history were all unpotted i.e. not dipped in wax to protect from microphonic feedback. Unpotted pickups are accepted to give a more open, airy tone with a little more presence and playing dynamics. We find that unpotted PAFs give a beautiful, warm tone and offer enough protection from feedback for everything from Clean Styles to very hard rock. If however, you are intending to play face melting metal we suggest going down the potted route to offer a little more protection. Just add the word ‘Potted’ to the notes section when ordering and we’ll happily give your new PAFs a lovely bath in wax to protect the winds further. If you’d like to go Vintage correct, please just leave the notes blank - our default is unpotted à la vintage Les Pauls and Semi Hollow ES guitars.
I’ve been reading about ‘Unbalanced’ coils in Humbucker making - what does this mean, and are yours unbalanced?
This question leads to a fascinating story which we love telling! The first humbucking pickups in history were wound on machines which had no counters. Now, if we take a humbucker as being a dual coil pickup with, say 5000 winds on one bobbin and 5000 on the other then that would be a pure humbucker in our opinion. The equal winds on each bobbin would cancel hum equally and give quite an even tone, if a little lifeless. Now what we have learned is that was not what was happening in the golden era of the 50s and 60s. Bobbins were wound either to a time period based on a speed or until someone decided it ‘looked like enough’ winds on each bobbin! Well, how do you tell what 5000 winds looks like?! The result was that there were uneven or ‘unbalanced’ coils. You could have ended up with 4500 on one bobbin and 6000 on the other. When the bobbins are unbalanced the hum cancelling effect is reduced and more single coil like tones start to come back through. Of course this led to there being huge variety in the quality of pickups and is the reason why some 50s Les Pauls are said to sound heavenly and others sound like, well … dogs! A really great unbalanced coil in the bridge position has an almost Tele bridge like quality to it with gorgeous string separation whilst still being able to give that wonderful heavy riffing quality and a well designed unbalanced neck pickup is just ‘woman tone’ for days with unprecedented warmth.
All of this ‘balancing’ and ‘unbalancing’ creates a conundrum for a pickup maker. Do we solve this problem or continue with it? By the seventies, the G company and others had decided to solve the problem and balanced coils became the order of the day in Les Pauls. This practice continued for decades. For many this lead to some clean but fairly sterile sounding humbuckers which lacked character and as late 50s guitars soared in value, the industry started looking at what made those classic pickups so good and the spotlight fell upon unbalanced coils once more.
Our humbuckers feature unbalanced coils to give the most classic tones possible. The chances are that most guitarists have heard plenty of unbalanced coils in classic recordings but perhaps never played them as the vast majority of stock pickups are generally based on a balanced coils spec. A really well designed unbalanced humbucker set is really something to behold and ours are the result of months of research, AB-ing and ‘recipe trying out’ (as we call it!) on real humbucker connoisseurs. Any maker can unbalance the numbers on each coil but this can’t just be done in a willy nilly fashion. Which coil should be the stronger? By how much? Would this split work better in the neck or the bridge? We spent literally ages trying to answer these questions by winding experimental humbuckers and begged and borrowed (didn’t quite steal!) Les Pauls so we could line up identical instruments with our different ‘recipe’ humbuckers to whittle down to our eventual Humbucker recipe. After a number of weeks of whittling we narrowed it down to eight humbuckers (labelled A to H) to try out in front of a panel of real, discerning Les Paul fanatics. Whilst we would never reveal our coil unbalancing split to anyone, we can reveal it was humbucker ‘C’ that was the champion of the bridge position and Humbucker ‘H’ took the spoils for the neck. Phew, that was a long night! Lots of fun though and the resulting humbucker recipe settled upon that night is the one we use to this day! When you buy one of our humbuckers for your guitar, what you are buying is the reflection of all of that work and research done to find the finest PAF tone possible!
Should I choose traditional braided wire or 4 way for my humbuckers?
We recommend choosing traditional if you are looking for ease of soldering in and have no intention of doing any coil splitting. Go for our 4 way option if you are looking to coil split and get single coil tones from your humbuckers or may want to try this at a later date. 4 way still enables the normal connection but does give further choices for switching in the future so can be a great way of tinkering further on down the line.
What are the wiring colour codes for your Humbuckers?
Here are our wiring colour codes for 4 Way humbuckers:
Red - Overall hot
White - Solder to green or to switch for variation
Green - Solder to white or to switch for variation
Black and Bare Wire - Solder to ground
Red = Slug coil Start
White = Slug coil Finish
Black = Polepiece coil Start
Green = Polepiece coil Finish
Bare Wire = Ground connection to baseplate
Guitar DIY – Help Me!
I want to wire up my guitar myself, do you have any wiring diagrams?
We’ll always try to help if you are getting your pickups from us. Just drop us an email and we’ll see what we can do in terms of sharing links to diagrams we use for wiring, etc.
I’m putting a Soldering setup together, what gear do you use?
There are lots of manufacturers of gear that work superbly but we recommend Antex 25-30W Soldering Irons and Cynel 60/40 Lead/Tin Solder with a diameter of 0.7mm. Of course, that contains lead so just be aware!
Do you have any tips for soldering?
Indeed we do! It’s well worth following us on Instagram or Facebook where we publish videos showing our pickup making weekly. A number of these videos show extreme close ups of our soldering process in high quality and basically serve as How To videos. Our reels on Instagram feature more How To Solder tips and we have also added a series of Soldering Tutorial videos to our YouTube Channel. In this we cover everything from equipment to technique and show numerous examples to help with pickup installation etc.
Can you make a wiring loom for me for my guitar? I don’t see the option I want on the website
Of course. We would love to help out and will always do our best if you are purchasing your pickups with us. Just drop us an email to let us know how we can help take the headache out of your guitar project!
Ordering My Pickups
Do I have to pay VAT?
As a very small, bespoke pickup maker of only two men (Besty and Dunny) we operate under what we in the UK call ‘the VAT ceiling’. This means that there is no VAT added to our prices and of course the upshot of that means there is no VAT to deduct either. The price you see on the site is the price of the pickups. However as a growing pickup maker the day is coming very soon where this will change so please feel free to call back on our website or drop us a message to enquire about VAT for EU Customers.
How many sets of ‘x pickups’ do you have in stock on the shelf?
We are in a very fortunate position as a pickup maker whereby everything that goes on the pickup winder is already sold. That coupled with the custom nature of a lot of our orders means that we rarely get chance to get sets on the shelf ready made to go out. Feel free to message about rush orders though (see below)
How long does it take for you to make my pickups after ordering?
As a small pickup maker handmaking within an extremely busy workshop we expect to complete all pickups sets within 16-20 working days (Relic’ed orders 5 days longer). We sometimes work quicker than those timeframes and we’ll always endeavour to finish your pickups as quick as we are able to of course. We can sometimes process a rush order if you have an upcoming, important concert or perhaps if you are buying for a relative’s birthday etc - feel free to message and we’ll always see what we can do.
Which courier service do you use to send your pickups and how long does it take?
By default all of our pickups are shipped with Royal Mail who we find to be excellent both within the UK and Internationally. Their rates enable us to offer prices that are very reasonable for our customers and the timeframe is great for the vast majority of countries. We find that, once despatched, Royal Mail tend to take 1 working day within the UK, 2/3 working days within the EU, 4/5 working days to North America and Worldwide. These are guidelines and of course some countries differ and the level of ‘officiousness’ in customs departments differs massively worldwide. If ordering from a country which is notorious for taking a while to process imported goods (we can think of a few!) please build this into your expectation on the timeframe after despatch.
Can I use a different courier to deliver my pickups?
Of course! Royal Mail generally hand the delivery of the pickups over to the localised service in each country once the package has left the UK. For example La Poste in France, Poste Italiane in Italy, USPS in the United States etc. Here’s a great link to Royal Mail’s list of partners so you can work out who is likely to be delivering your pickups https://www.royalmail.com/sending/international/international-tracked-signed/delivery-partners .We find that in the vast majority of cases, the partners that Royal Mail use do an excellent job of delivering your pickups once in your country. However we do understand if you have a preferred courier. Please just drop us an email and we will more than happily get you a quote for your preferred service if available to us. In general, the additional companies that we can deliver through are Fedex, UPS, DPD and Parcelforce Worldwide.
What happens after I order my pickups?
Once you’ve ordered your pickups you’ll receive a confirmation email from Radioshop’s Paul Best or Paul Dunn. We’ll then get started on your pickups set and will be in touch with a tracking number once your set is finished and has been despatched. Whilst you’re waiting for your tracking number it is well worth keeping an eye on our Facebook and Instagram feeds as we post footage and images of builds in progress all of the time and you may well see your build pop up in our daily progress. We can’t quite squeeze every build into our feed but we will always do our best. If there is something you’d like to see then feel free to request it - we can’t always guarantee it but we’ll do our best if there’s some aspect of your build you’d love to see.