Lindy Fralin Talks Replacement Pickups
Looking to choose the right pickups? We want to help you find your voice, by collecting and studying our resources we can match you with the right sound. One of our favorite pickup builders is Lindy Fralin of Fralin Pickups. Here Lindy discusses the differences in PAF (Patent Applied For) Humbuckers vs. P90s, variety in vintage pickups and what makes a quality pickup.
So let's get started, so what is the difference between PAF and P90s for a replacement:
Lindy: Differences between PAF and P90. Both were designed by the same guy basically the P90 was around for a decade or more. A P90 is 10,000 turns around a roll of screws and the magnets are underneath. He thought to make a hum-canceling design just put 5,000 on each side of two coils. It was intended to be the same output and they (almost) are. They both have similarities, the difference is that in a P90 he's only picking up a 1/4" of the string and a humbucker is picking up 1" (more like )of the string. So there are cancellations of high end frequencies (in a humbucker) and that is the biggest difference in sound. You're going to hear that a humbucker has extra bright treble strings but duller wound strings than a P90. Also a humbucker lends itself to over-winding easier than a P90. This is because as any coil gets bigger the wire you put on the outside becomes further from the magnetic fields, so the coil does less and less good.
What's the difference between my stock Gibson Pickups and Fralin Replacements?
In the '50s nobody was counting turns within the accuracy so P90s ranged mid 6k to mid 9k. Like any pickup the more wiring you put on it the louder, thicker, darker and dirtier it becomes. Once 1964 rolled around, P90s had 10,000 turns. They got accurate turn counters and are all around 8k.
The difference with our pickups is that we are under winding neck pickups to clean them up so they are not overly muddy. Also we'll listen to what customers want and can under wind or over wind the entire set 5% based on preference. My typical P90 is a 9,000 turn neck and a 10,000 turn bridge. So they are a better calibrated set than if both were 10,000 turns. We also wind coils a little more carefully than any of the mass-produced stuff so almost universally our pickups have decent high end without it ever being excessive but always present. I do not like a dull, muddy pickup if I can help it. That is all about how much "air" is in the coil. You need to wind things slightly loose to get them sounding the best sometimes.
So What's the Difference Between Fralin and Everyone Else?
Say you want to go with a vintage style set of pickups for your guitar. There are so many different brands doing the same styles of golden era pickups? Who do I choose and why? Seymour Duncan TV Jones, Dimarzio Pickups, the list goes on. Fralin had this to say about choosing a manufacturer:
Lindy: "The people like me who JUST make pickups ALL make good pickups. I think it's more a matter of what does my particular taste differ from maybe Jason Lollar or TV Jones or Dimarzio or Duncan. They all make good stuff but they just have different tastes in how they WANT it to sound. For example I might like a lot of mid range but also a substantial amount of high end sparkle. Some might want to make a pickup with more power or more scooped mid range. It is all about the taste of the designer. We all learn by listening and we try to get a recipe we like. We make at least four or five sets of Fender Stratocaster pickups and so do most of the other pickup manufacturers just about. You're trying to get what your customers are looking for.
Any New Advancements from Fralin?
I've always liked when I'm trying to make a hum-cancelling pickup split left and right. First were the old lap steels done by Valco and then the Fender Precision Bass. Because you get hum-canceling without compromising the tone at all. We have made split Stratocaster and the twangmaster, I've split Fender Jazz Bass 4 strings, The Fender '51 Style P Bass, we also split blades for Fender Stratocasters and Fender Telecasters. Our NEWEST one that is coming out anytime is a split 5 string. It'll fit a standard 5 string Fender rout with hum-cancelling while still maintaining the pure single coil sound.
Lindy Fralin wants to talk to you on the phone, give him a call and talk pickups. He has a headset and talks to customers on the phone all day. He will find you your sound, we can order them in the shop, install them and get you sounding the way you want.