High Output Humbucker

FEBRUARY 12, 2016 • BY DARTH PHINEAS

Lindy Fralin is considered to be up there at the top of the pyramid with the handful of really good pickup winders. When it comes to PAF style humbuckers, even the most discriminating tone-sniffer knows they came to the right place when it comes to Fralin.

For today’s purpose, we’re going to be looking at the High Output Humbucker. In all fairness, I understand a lot of players will look at something called “High Output” and expect a face-searing devastator… something generally considered to be tightly compressed and more about the output than the tone. Well, then, let’s just ease on up there, pardner. This thoroughbred is from a different herd. How about we go ahead and take a peek at what’s under the hood to get an idea of where we’re headed:

Series – 12.32k
Split north – 6.17k
Split south – 6.15k
Parallel – 3.08k
Alnico 4 magnet

My experimentation with magnets has revealed the Alnico 4 to be pretty well-balanced, and that’s the case here. Lows are big and full and on the verge of punchy, but not loose or muddy. The spread across the mids allow an even presence for some roar in the low mids and some snap in the high mids. The high end has bite and edge and tinkers with the idea of being sharp, but eases up before going too far. There is clearly some power there, but I don’t think it should be confused with anything in the bone-crushing genre.

The High Output Humbucker, to my ears, seems to live more comfortably in the dirty amp channel. Riffing and chugging and big open anthem-inspired chords are all right on target. I even had a little fun and wired it to be out of phase with a random neck pickup I used for the test, and that was a hoot. The bluesy and rock type of lead work and pinched squeals were a breeze. A few of the tapped squeals got off well out of the gate, but you might need a bit more gain at the amp if you’re thinking of doing any Dime tricks. Easing down on the guitar volume knob and it delivered nice options for edgy and plinky vibes.

Over on the clean amp setting side of things, I found that it seemed to work really well for me when rolled back to about 3/4 volume. I wired the High Output Humbucker to switch from series to split to parallel, and the full volume could be a little quick to break up throughout those switching options. Taking it further down to about 1/2 way and it cleaned up even more while still maintaining a workable presence.

Tone definitely trumps all when it comes to the Fralin High Output Humbucker. The vintage classic PAF players can throw some horns and the harder-edged players can unleash a little more tone into their rig. The 12.5k-13.5k DC resistance range being addressed here is a bit of a open territory that not many pickups find their way in to. It’s a bit of a sweet spot where pickups can have a little more push and still be open-sounding. It’d be fun to see it explored more. It’d also be fun to see Mr. Fralin infuse his tone into maybe a few more aggressive humbucker options.

Fralin P-92

2014 Gear of the Year: Vintage Guitar Magazine

DECEMBER 17, 2013 • BY JOE GORE

"No longtime PG reader will be surprised to see Lindy Fralin among this year's award winners. Fralin's have been among the Cadillacs of aftermarket pickups since the '90s. In the form of these humbucker-sized neck and bridge pickups, though, Joe Gore heard an extraordinary dynamic and harmonically rich P-90 tone that excelled even by Fralin standards. The Fralin P-92 also earned a Premier Guitar award, largely for a rich, larger than life tone with super-storn fundamentals that gave Gore the sensation he was playing a long-scale Les Paul.”

Split Blade (Blues Output)

CCM Magazine

JULY 2013 • BY DUSTIN KIRKENDALL

“These days it's rare to pick up the phone and call a company with world renown status for being at the top of their field, and have the owner of that company be the one to answer. When you call Fralin Pickups, not only will Lindy Fralin most likely answer the phone personally, but when he does, you’ll be treated to one of the kindest, humblest and most knowledgeable conversationalists around. Lindy Fralin loves his job, he loves guitars and he and his team are obsessed with perfecting the thing that makes electric guitars sound the way they do: pickups. Over the last few decades more and more players have been shying away from mass-produced guitars and even “hot rodding” their factory guitars with boutique bridges, pick-guards, etc. Fralin Pickups have long been at the top of the list for aftermarket pickups—arguably the most impactful change you can make to an electric guitar.”

Fralin Standard Humbucker®

Vintage Guitar Magazine

PAF SHOOTOUT 2005 • BY TONY NOBLES

“This is a medium-/high-output pickup. Fat and Loud, but not messy. [It] has almost no quack and retains mid peak when pushed hard. Has good bass and slightly reduced treble. Not excessively dark, and mids are great. Has a really cool texture - fuzzy without being bright or losing bass. Texture is complex and the pickup is responsive. Compresses very well and harmonics are swirly and thick. Harmonic overtones are distinct, and do not wash out each other. Bottom Line: Rocking, big, fat, and a little swirly.”

Vintage Hot Strat Set

Guitar Player Magazine

APRIL 1994 • BY ANDY WIDDERS ELLIS

“...If you took the traditional sound of Fender's '57 & '62 and sprinkled magic dust on it, you'd hear something resembling Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot single-coils. They've got everything--nuts, ring, shimmer, detail--in sensational balance. They're slightly hotter than stock Fenders, but not as potent as the Texas Specials.

Consequently, the Fralins allow more chimey harmonics to bloom in the upper frequencies. These pickups put a lovely grind on our 50-watt Marshall. Still, it's evident Fralin doesn't mind sacrificing output for top and clarity. These hand wound babies are for connoisseurs and priced accordingly.

In our opinion, they'll enhance the inherent character of a Strat through, say, a nice blackface Super Reverb or an old Marshall head without imposing any foreign artifacts. You can sense string windings, fretboard wood, and tremolo springs through the Fralins beautifully sweet, slightly meaty voice. We especially enjoyed the ringing fat bridge pickup-typically a Strat's Achilles heel. Features hand-bevelled staggered pole piece magnets, cloth covered wire, potted coils, a reverse-wound middle pickup, detailed installation instructions and diagram, and a ten-year (!) warranty. "Cops the balls-with-clarity award." "Refined, not loud" "No harshness, no broken glass shards." "Complex and satisfying " "Dig that lower midrange push"...”

Fralin P-90s

Vintage Guitar Magazine

JUNE 2001 • BY VINTAGE GUITAR PRODUCT COUNCIL

“The Fralin P-90s played through the '70s Marshall half-stack, delivered a tight, chunky sound with great note definition in the bridge position - smooth and loaded with sustain in the neck position, and great bluesy tone with high-end spit in the middle position...”

Fralin Jazz Bass

Bass Player Magazine

FEBRUARY 1996 • BY JIM ROBERTS

“About fifteen years ago, a guitarist named Lindy Fralin dropped some Seymour Duncan replacement pickups in his Strat (™). Intrigued by the change in sound, he began to investigate the art of pickup making. Thanks to a friend who had a spool of copper wire and a pickup winder powered by the motor from a dentist's drill, Fralin started to wind vintage style pickups. Before long, he had his own winder and was devoting much of his free time to trial and error experiments. " It took me about five years to get a pickup I liked," Lindy says, "but I kept at it. Eventually, I was making pickups for some of my friends, and it slowly grew into a business from there."

Today, Fralin's shop specializes in vintage reproduction pickups and coil rewinding. Most of the pickups he makes are for guitars, but Lindy recently added Jazz Bass(™) pickups to his line. We tried out a pair in our trusty old '65 Jazz Bass, doing before and after listening tests in the Bass Player sound lab. Fralin always asks for customer input before making or rewinding a pickup, but all we told him was that we wanted the classic tone of a vintage Jazz Bass. He sent us a pair of his pickups along with a note that said they were "made just like early 60's Fenders(™)...(and) handwound as loud as we can make them without losing clarity or high end."

We got the Jazz Bass ready for our test by slapping on a fresh set of Trace Elliot stainless steel round wounds (.040-.100) and plugging it into our reference rig with everything set flat. The original pickups, while exhibiting plenty of punch and growl for which Jazz Basses are noted, left something to be desired in the low end, requiring an EQ boost to round out the sound. And they were microphonic. With the Fralin pickups, the change in the tone of the bass was striking--and entirely positive. The Fralin's had all of the mid-range punch of the stock set, but they provided considerably more warmth on the bottom, more clarity and "sparkle" in the high end, and more output. They were evenly balanced across the strings---and they weren't microphonic. In short, with the Fralin pickups the '65 Jazz Bass retained it's vintage character but became even more lively and musical.

We encountered one minor installation problem: The plastic cover of the bridge pickup didn't quite fit into the rout. Since we didn't want to modify the bass, we simply removed the Fralin pickup from it's cover, slipped it into the original cover, and installed it. Done. ( Lindy cautions that this may not work with every Jazz Bass, because of variations in the size and pole piece spacing of Fender pickups made in different years. He says the covers he uses are standard parts purchased from other suppliers, which limits his options. Should you have an installation problem, he will work with you to find a solution that is right for your bass.)

Lindy will custom wind these pickups to suit your needs. (And if you are not happy, he'll swap them.) He will also rewind other styles of pickups and try to find the sound you are looking for. That's pretty refreshing in a world where most gear is offered only in off the shelf versions in a take it or leave it fashion. Also it's refreshing to hear pickups that sound as good as the ones Fralin makes.”

Fralin Jazz Bass

Bass Gear

MAY 2003 • BY DAVE STARNS

“My Fretless Jazz bass is hardly a Fender anymore. It has a custom fretless neck (from Performance Guitars in Hollywood), a Leo Quann Badass Bridge, and Lindy Fralin pickups (the body is still Fender!). When I bought the bass (used, in 1983) it had Dimarzios in it, which sounded a little dark. I wanted more of a growly, midrangy, Jacoesque tone. I read a review of these in Bass Player which praised them up and down, so I ordered a set. I made the right decision. They're amazing pickups, responsive and clear without sounding thin or biting at all....”

•Clarity: 98%
•Service: 100%
•Value: 98%
•Overall: 98%