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Vaughn Skow Pickups

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rlcouser
01/21/2016 6:20pm

I have had the amazingly good fortune to have been able to purchase two of the Vaughn Skow pickup sets for my guitars, and I could not be happier with the results.

The first set I bought through WGS Guiatr Speakers was the Vaughn Skow Custom 1960 PAF Set.  They are everything and more that you could ask from a set of quality custom pickups made with attention to detail, and ultimate tone!  I put them in my ES-339 guitar and they wailed with touch sensitive complexity and vintage tone!

I was so impressed with the Custom 1960 PAF set, I decided to replace the pickups in my  Fender American Strat with the Vaughn Skow 1954 Historic Stratocaste set, and all I can say is WOW!  I had a very nice set of custom pickups already from a different major pickup builder, but was never satisfied with the tone, as it never felt quite right for my Strat.  After installing the Vaughn Skow 1954 Historic Stratocaster set, my Strat sounded like a vintage instrument, and the tone is incredible!

You will never be dissatisfied with a set of Vaughn Skow Pickups, and WGS Guitar Speakers makes it easy to order.  Additionally, Vaughn Skow himself is very responsive and helpful with any questions or help you may need, he is a great guy!

Order a set, and you will never regret it!

Roy Couser

 

VAUGHN SKOW
01/21/2016 7:33pm

Cool!  Thanks for the props ... and thanks for taking the time to report your findings here where we can ALL benefit from the addition to the knowledge pool.

The Historic 1954 Strat Set is a real labor of love; stopping every 1,000 turns or so for a little lacquer ... and waiting for it to gel before starting up again ... but man is it worth it. Nothing else sounds as harmonically complex and purely sweet as the classic ingredients of heavy Formvar wire, vintage composition and Vintage Gaussed AlNiCo III magnets,
heavy-scatter hand-wind, and No-wax light honey-comb spot-lacquer potting.  They're a bugger to make, but they have really became one of my personal favorite sets.

Bigredteleman
01/21/2016 7:52pm

Love, Love, Love my Vaughn's Velvet Tele pickups.  Flat-out best damn Tele tone ever, I've tried everything out there, including the names everybody always brags about, Vaughn's blow tham all away!  My search is over.

tcundall
01/22/2016 4:34am

I would like to echo the praise on this thread for Vaughn's pickups, I have tried quite a few of what people consider Boutique Strat pickups over the years and have been impressed and pleased with most of them, but when I heard Vaughn's 59 pickups in a speaker comparison video he recorded on a little camera I thought well if they sound that good on a crappy on board camera mic I need to check these out!  So I did! these are just spot on, very chimee, touch responsive, and harmonically rich, simply a real pleasure to play. I have them in an Ash body Strat/ maple neck, these pickups have made this guitar feel much more alive, there is more detail, as they are Alnico 5 they strike a perfect balance between vintage chime and a bit more attitude! They have been great for a wide variety of music styles.

I am currently waiting on Vaughn's 54 set for a Mahogany Strat that has not been overly happy with any of the pickups I have tried in it, so I am waiting with fingers crossed, but confidently excited!

david.hannah
01/22/2016 6:56pm

I've read several reviews of very happy guitar owners that bought custom Vaughn Skow pickups for their vintage instruments.  As a bass player, I want to point out that Vaughn has the knack for bass pickups as well.  I have an early 70s Fender Precision that I've owned since about '76.  Yeah, I personally qualify as vintage.  Back then I struggled to keep up with the loud guitar amps of the day, and I tried everything to get a "bigger sound" including installing batteries under the pickguard for active pickups.  After 30 years of replacing batteries, I asked Vaughn to make a set of P-bass pickups for me.  I was stunned by the difference!  The sound is bigger, fatter, and louder than anything I can ever remember form this bass, but it is the tone that made me immediately love it.  Oh yeah, and no batteries necessary!

So my trusty Rickenbacker became my #2 bass.  

Several years ago I bought a Gibson SG-Z bass.  I loved the styling but the tone was completely non-existent (I bought it by mail-order).  Something to keep in mind is that Vaughn isn't just a manufacturer or order taker.  I gave him my Gibson bass to play for a couple weeks.  He diagnosed the problem fairly quickly.  I think it was "Shitty pickup syndrome" or something.  He experimented with a couple designs and I know he spend a great deal of time searching for parts that would fit the guitar and look as good as the original.  The end result was amazing.  Vaughn walked me through all 20 something setting combinations that the pickup arrangement was capable of, and every setting sounded cool and better than the last.  I'm not technical enough to tell you what these pickups can do and why, but my Rickenbacker hardly ever gets a workout anymore.  

If you are a bass player and have an instrument that you would love to love but can't because the tone sucks, get in touch with this guy!  I'd recommend VS pickups for vintage instruments (stop worrying about resale value - it's the tone that will sell it, and you can keep the original equipment in the case), but also for players that don't want to beat up a vintage instrument on the road.  There are many inexpensive brands out there that can keep up expensive "standards" if you have the right pick-ups.  VS pick-ups  will make your $$$ bass sound like a $,$$$ bass or better.  Not a bad investment. 

VAUGHN SKOW
01/29/2016 5:38pm

Thanks Dave!  And I love the diagnosis: "Shitty pickup syndrome" :-)

More than a few guitars suffer from that!  Especially now that CNC machines in places like China can actually spit out a pretty decent looking and playing guitar ... but they still insist on putting crappy pickups in them!  Just like the companies that still insist on putting crappy SPEAKERS in otherwise decent amps ... when will the manufacturers learn???

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to post your results here!

btutt1
07/05/2016 6:48pm

I don't have the technical chops of some of the other posters here, but I can speak to the sonic qualities of the Velvet Tele pickups... they give real life to the tone of a Telecaster!

Everyone knows that the Tele is one-trick-pony kind of guitar! Ok, make that a three-pick-pony when using your pickup selector!

There are sounds that can come from a Tele that can't be found anyplace else in guitarland. Sounds on classic recordings... The chunk and the twang that can't be gotten anywhere else--

and then there is the other side of the coin, a sound that doesn't get you where your ears want you to go- a spiky treble and not enough substance or flexibility.

I recently bought a set of the Velvet Telecasters and they have a natural sound, while retaining the traditional Tele tone!

These pickups are made with care and great technical expertise but mostly I just notice the full organic and natural sound, the complexity from the middle position, the solid, full and throaty sound from the neck pickup, and the round sound the treble pickup-- something a Tele player would never expect.

I used my Tele as a specialty axe in recording before I got the Velvet Tele pickups, but now I am using my Tele more often and enjoying it more. If you are playing your Tele more and enjoying it less, you need a set of Vaughn's Velvet Tele's!

 

 

 

VAUGHN SKOW
07/12/2016 7:24pm

Yea ... cool ...

"full organic and natural sound, the complexity from the middle position, the solid, full and throaty sound from the neck pickup, and the round sound the treble pickup-- something a Tele player would never expect."

That's what the Vaughn's Velvet Tele set is all about!

fishkamp93_54722
10/02/2020 1:30pm

User Review - VAUGHN'S VELVET CUSTOM ALNICO 2/5 STRATOCASTER® SET - I purchased a 2/5 set for my Strat in 2018. I waited a while to write this review because often the reviews I read for music gear are from people who have recently purchased that gear and are still in the "honeymoon" phase of ownership. The reviews that are the most useful to me are the ones from people who have owned the product for a few months or at least long enough to have explored the use of it in various applications. The guitar that received the 2/5 set is a Strat I have owned for 35 years. When I got it back in the 80's the factory original pickups were ok but were weak, had poor sustain and I was never satisfied with them. I swapped them out for EMG active single coil pickups a few years later. Gradually my Strat became more of a back up guitar to my Telecaster. Around 2017 I decided to pull the EMG's out and reinstall the factory pickups because I wanted to start using the Strat again for a few songs in my live set for the Hendrix/SRV vibe. I quickly remembered why I had swapped the stock pickups for the EMG's but I was just not satisfied with the "hi-fi" tone which the EMG's produce. I wanted a more authentic vintage Strat tone. So I set out on a quest to find pickups that met my needs which led me to Vaughn Skow. Vaughn repaired an old lap steel pickup for me in the past and I was very impressed with his work. So I called him and we talked about the tones I wanted and the style of music I play and we decided the 2/5 set would meet my needs. The pickups were installed in 2018. The first thing I noticed about the 2/5 set is the increase in output over the stock pickups. They pack a nice punch! Before installing the 2/5's I mostly played my Strat for the neck pickup tone. But after I got the 2/5's I really liked the way all the combinations sounded, especially the "2 and 4" positions which I had always avoided before due to the weak sounding stock pickups. After the 2/5's were installed I began playing the Strat at live shows and I used it on a couple of tracks for an album that year. The neck pickup of the 2/5 set has all the woody vowel tone you could ever want and it sounds AMAZING through an analog octave fuzz pedal or it can have a very jazzy 3D sweetness straight into a clean amp. The middle pickup is where the Funk lives and I go there to visit often! The Bridge pickup is just a workhorse that responds well with every amp/pedal combination I use. The rhythm crunch tone I get out of it straight into a slightly overdriven amp is strong but not ice pick prone, the midrange is full and the tone sits very well in the mix. It has a similarity to Blackmore's rhythm tone that put a huge smile on my face! If this was all I got out of the 2/5's I would have been a satisfied customer since these are my core Strat tones. I never was much of "2 and 4" position player but all of that changed after the 2/5's were installed. Now I can get the tones I always wanted from this guitar. Those Clapton, Robbie Blount, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Beck, Chili Peppers, etc. tones are really nice clean or through my drive pedals. I play a lot of slide lead and now that I have useable "2 and 4" tones it helps to bring out all the cool harmonics and overtones. When I am asked about my Strat tone I tell them Vaughn's pickups are my secret sauce. If you are looking for a pickup upgrade for your guitar you cannot go wrong with Vaughn's products. One of many things I appreciate about Vaughn is that he is a guitar player who understands tone and was able to interpret my tone references into the specific pickups he knew would get me there. I could not be happier with my Strat now! Thanks Vaughn! I'll be back for more pickups soon.