Monday, December 22, 2014

Humbucker Sized P90's by Iconix Pickups,... Review

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer 
Street Price: $140 USD + tax & shipping.

Iconix Pickups is an American manufacturer of hand-wound guitar pickups by Don Smith. All Iconix pickups are scatter-wound and feature custom charged magnets, spacers from hand-cut maple and nickel/silver baseplates and covers. 

This review was conducted using a CR Alsip SCDT wired using 2 500kΩ pots with a 0.001 capacitor/150K resistor parallel volume mod on a 3-way toggle.

I took my time as I always do and from start to finish it was 20 minutes /1 beers and 1 shot. Please note that you should have a luthier from your local music store put pickups in for you unless you really know what you are doing. It is normally a 1- 2 hour charge + bench fee to have a set of pickups installed. The total investment will be well worth it.

Amps used:
Indigo McD 1x12 20
1972 Fender Bassman 50

Cable Used: 

Strings Used: 

Dark Horse 10-46

Pick Used: 

Gravity Sunrise mini 1.3 wave

Pickups Used:

Neck: Humbucker sized P90 (8.14K Alinco 2)
Bridge:Humbucker sized P90 (10K Alinco 5)

Somewhere between a Strat neck and a P90, just without all the "mud-bark" you get from a traditional P90. A very usable neck tone that can take you from jazz to Texas blues to rock and beyond.   

An even balance between the neck and bridge with Strat like undertones.    

Leslie West's Mississippi Queen lead tone (just hotter) with hints of a humbucker. A very usable lead tone for all styles of play.

Other Tone Notes: 

Incredibly touch sensitive and reacted like vintage pickups. I was able to control the "dirt" by using the volume knob. 

Reliability & Durability: 
They are well constructed and should last the life of the guitar.

A few months back Don Smith, CEO and Founder of Iconix Pickups was the weekly guest on Gear Guys Radio (a music gear talk show I co-host), and I was impressed with his approach on making boutique guitar pickups on a working musician's budget -- so I ordered a set. What we went with was a set of humbucher sized P90's, but I wanted the neck to sound more Strat like than P90ish and the bridge to be slightly hotter with a fat bottom -- because hot with a fat bottom is just sexy. From the day I spoke with Don about what I was looking to achieve tonally from the set, it only took three weeks for my new handwound custom pickups to arrive. Now, if any one reading this has ever ordered a set of custom shop pickups, you know that it takes at least a month -- and you are going to pay "out-your-a*s" for something that is not from the winders stock catalogue. So when they arrived just three weeks latter (knowing that the cost was less than half of what other winders would charge) -- I was not expecting a great tone.

After installing them, I plugged in and was floored. The pickups sounded and reacted not only the way I was told they would (how I ordered them), but felt like they had some age on them. Right there, I knew that Don "knew-his-sh*t". There was zero "glassy" harsh tones -- every note was round, warm and within its appropriate tonal frequency spectrum. I was able to clean up my tone by using the guitars volume knob in conjunction with my pick attack to go from clean to full on dirty without messing with my amps settings. This is a characteristic I typically have only found with vintage, vintage inspired or vintage reproduction pickups and it is a quality that I truly enjoy -- but usually have to "break-the-bank" or whore myself out to afford.  

Overall I was impressed with these pickups and will be ordering more Iconix Pickups from Don Smith in the near future. 

My advice:
Pickups are are a very personal product and dramatically alter the tone/voice of your instrument. When it comes to buying pickups it is important to choose a winder that knows what they are doing. So my advice is -- contact Don, tell him what you want, and he will wind you the pickups at an amazing price. 

Iconix Pickups
Don Smith

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Posted 12/2014
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