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Secret Guitar Pickup Tasting Event

I have to apologize FIRST for what I cannot divulge in this post. Instead, I'm gonna share something about a very cool experience I had this past weekend. Just know that sometime in the future I may be able to reveal more details.

Recently I was invited to attend an exclusive private event in which a group of a dozen or so guests were chosen to evaluate and rate guitar pickups. The event took place about 4 hours from my home, so I had to make travel & accomodations arrangements. The location was in rural Washington state in an old downtown, former storefront building in which the glass door and windows were curtained off.

Sounds pretty mysterious huh! Here's where it gets good. Just inside, the walls were lined with vintage amps stacked on top of each other. Also, a high shelf above displayed a row of several small very vintage combos i.e. tweed Champs & old Gibson amps. The stacks below included mostly larger Fender combos, black faces, browns and a couple tweed bassmans. Lots of old Fender cabs.

A small sound stage on one side of the room contained an old silverface Twin and a tweed Deluxe. On each side of the stage were 4 stands with eight high end, nitro finish Teles and Strats, plus a special Strat/Tele hybrid test guitar in which module mounted pickups could be popped in and out from behind in seconds.

Each guest was provided with a group of rating sheets with grids and comment lines for rating twelve single coil pickups, each on several parameters. The test guitar was utilized to rate 4 bridge, 4 middle and 4 neck pickups. A Seattle based pro guitarist was on hand to demo the pickups as we rated them on presence, harmonics, midrange, treble, warmth, compression, dynamics, definition and several other characteristics along with space for our comments. After going through all the bridge pickups, bridge #1 was popped back in, and we went thru them again. After that we were allowed more time to ask questions and compare the bridge pups additional times in any sequence until everyone was satisfied and ready to do the middle pups in the same way, finally followed by the neck demos. This took a couple hours.

Then the other guitars were demoed but not as extensively, followed by invitations for the guests to try any of the guitars. One of the Strats was a custom build with a super light one piece ash body and a non-trussrod chunky "D" profile neck custom made for the owner by Musikraft.
I focused on that guitar when invited to play, and plugged into the vintage tweed Deluxe.

As you can imagine, I was in heaven, although I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked. All the test pickups were different. None were crappy, but my favorite picks for each position-- I was informed later, were wound by the hosts of the event. The other 9 were apparently brand X models. So needless to say, these were some fine pickups-- and at the very least I can say my ear & tastes coincide with the makers. These pickups are hand scatterwound as more & more small boutique makers are doing now. The builder let us know that his method permits uniformly consistent results with every pickup made. All pickups tested had a standard appearance, and featured no unusual looking characteristics. Some had staggered poles, and some were not staggered, otherwise they all looked pretty normal. The snap-in modules were essentially part of the test guitar body and harness.

The pickups are still in development & not in production. The makers are long established in the gear industry, and well connected-- although the company will be a fresh & original entity. I do not know their time line or targets.

Again, I can't say exactly where or divulge any identities, but I had a Strat/Tele geek's dream experience for 3.5 hours last Saturday. Sorry to tease, but I had to share as much of this as I can.

So stay tuned on this one...

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