It Was Bugging Me…
Once I get a little voice in my head it won’t go away until I address the issues it brings up. This time it was the question of whether or not the new wiring scheme in my Vintage Modified 70s Strat would sound better with my Tonerider Alnico II Blues instead of the stock Seymour Duncan SC101s.
Well I answered the burning question and here is that answer…
I tried out the Toneriders and the verdict is that they do sound better. Here’s why:
The sound from the SC101s was really very good and if I didn’t have any other pickups to hand I would have been totally satisfied and not even thinking about replacing them. They are, as I have stated before and stand by that statement, very nice pickups, which in my opinion are worthy of comparison to any brand of Strat pickups on the market.
However, there is a little factor at play here called “Personal Preference”. The Tonerider Alnico II Blues (TRS4) in my Classic Vibe Strat sounded so nice the other day at rehearsal that I couldn’t ignore the set that were now sitting in a box in my studio. I put them in the Black Strat and here are my reasons for keeping them there in favour of the SC101s.
The Toneriders, compared to the Sc101s seem more flat and even in frequency response throughout the frequency spectrum. That is to say that they sound more present because in comparison the Sc101s sound like more midrange is scooped out of the tone.
This mid-scoop is partly the reason that these SC101s are so well received in the stock Squier Strats because they sound very authentically Strat-like. That’s not to say the Toneriders don’t sound Strat-like, but they definitely suit the style and the playing situations I, myself play in.
For a direct comparison, in words. The SC101s seem to sound like they have more low frequency output and a smooth high end. The Alnico II Blues seem to have less bottom end, but after careful listening it is apparent that these differences are because of the very different midrange characteristics of each pickup set.
The Tonerider TRS4s have less of a mid scoop, so give the impression of less bass and add to the impression of being brighter because there are more apparent mids. It’s possible that the Toneriders actually output as much low end as the SC101s, but because of the obvious difference in the frequency response curve of each pickup set, the resulting sound is that the Toneriders will cut through the mix better on stage and be easier to dial in a killer tone when playing live, which I have already found before.
It seems that even with 500k pots and this series wiring setup I have employed in my Black Strat, the Tonerider Alnico II Blues (TRS4) work for me and my application better than any pickup types I have tried before. This Tonerider set definitely works very well for my needs!