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Review: Vuorensaku Custom Pickups S. Kamiina set

Vuorensaku Pickups Package

Not all custom pickups are created equal.

Most custom winders seem to be on the hunt for the “ultimate vintage experience”, whatever that really means. Those makers try to source the most vintage-correct materials and try to zone in on the right way to bring their pickups to the desired authentic NOS specifications. For a Fender Stratocaster this could mean either going for a dry and woody Fifties-style tone or for a juicier and grittier Sixties version.

Vuorensaku’s Saku Vuori fearlessly approaches the subject of custom pickups from a different angle. The result is a pickup set with a refreshingly personal sound that isn’t frantically trying to reclaim past glories.

The Vuorensaku S. Kamiina set’s (prices starting at around 200 €) is based on thicker magnet wire, compared to what an original Fender pickup uses. The S. Kamiina set is wound using 40 AWG gauged wire, while most classic Fender creations use 42 AWG wire (except the Telecaster’s neck pickup, which is wound with a thinner 43 AWG wire). The thicker wire in the S. Kamiina set is complemented with Alnico II magnets, which are a milder type of magnet than Fender’s preferred Alnico V variety.

Vuorensaku’s set includes a reverse wound/reverse polarity middle pickup, resulting in hum-cancelling switch positions two and five. The set’s bridge pickup has received a few extra windings for a little bit of extra output.

In terms of its electronic values the Vuorensaku set clearly differs from your traditional Strat pickups:

The resistance of a regular Stratocaster singlecoil lies in the ballpark of around six kilo-ohms, with a typical inductance of  2,3-2,4 henries. The pickups in the S. Kamiina set read 2,2 kΩ for resistance (bridge pickup: 2,3 kΩ) with an inductance of two henries.

Judging by these numbers only, we can surmise that the Vuorensaku pickup set will probably sound brighter than a traditional vintage Strat set, while also having a slightly lower output.

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Vuorensaku Custom Pickups S. Kamiina Set

Saku Vuori was kind enough to provide a S. Kamiina-equipped Classic Series Fender 70s Stratocaster for this review. The guitar has an ash body, as well as a maple neck with a maple fingerboard. For comparisons I used my own Fender Japan Stratocaster with one-piece maple neck and an alder body.

I was right in expecting the  Vuorensaku set to sound brighter than most vintage-style Stratocaster pickups, but the supposed drop in output level is of a more theoretical nature than of real practical importance. The S. Kamiina set imbues the 70s Reissue with a very cool Gretsch- or Rickenbacker-type jangly tone and grit. The Vuorensaku pickups also feature a cleaner lower mid-range, when compared to traditional Stratocaster pickups.

For comparison purposes the first (neck pickup) and last (bridge pickup) phrases of the sound clip have been played using my own vintage-style Strat, while the five phrases in between have been recorded with the S. Kamiina set (starting with the neck pickup):

The presence lift in the Vuorensaku set is also easy to spot in distorted sounds. The S. Kamiina’s delivery is a bit more aggressive and in-yer-face, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

For comparison purposes the first (neck pickup) and last (bridge pickup) phrases of the sound clip have been played using my own vintage-style Strat, while the five phrases in between have been recorded with the S. Kamiina set (starting with the neck pickup):

The demo song contains four guitar tracks:

• two rhythm guitar parts – left channel: neck and middle pickup; right channel: neck pickups

• a mystically floating backing guitar: middle and bridge pickup

• lead guitar: neck pickup with the tone control turned halfway down

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Turenki Tonefest 2015 002

If you’re an stickler for authentic vintage specs, the Vuorensaku S. Kamiina set probably isn’t what you’re looking for – these pickups are no mere vintage clones.

If you’re after a brighter tone, though, especially if you dislike the neutrality of many active pickups, the S. Kamiina set is definitely one to check out! Vuorensaku’s pickups will breathe life into a dark-sounding guitar, while also giving your controls a wider tonal range to work with. These are pickups that won’t mush up.

By the way:

Saku Vuori applies his “low output principle” to other Vuorensaku pickups, too, like the Telecaster- and P-90-style pickups he uses in his handcrafted Vuorensaku T. Family guitar models.

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Vuorensaku Custom Pickups S. Kamiina set

Stratocaster sets start from 200 €

Additional options: pickup cover, relicing

Contact: Vuorensaku

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Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ original sound, no vintage copies

+ rw/rp middle pickup

Review: Tokai TST-50 + Seymour Duncan Little ’59

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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Finnish importer and retailer Musamaailma offer an in-house customising service, which is still a rather rare thing over here. For a fair price you can order your guitar with your choice of EMG- or Seymour Duncan -pickups. Musamaailma employ their own luthiers, so all this work is done professionally and in-house.

Kitarablogi got to try out the brand-new Tokai TST-50 -model (current price in Finland: 699 €), which is an addition to the brand’s high-quality Japanese line-up.

In our case the Tokai TST-50’s stock, singlecoil bridge pickup has been swapped for a humbucking Seymour Duncan Little ’59 (current price in Finland: 84,60 €), which promises authentic PAF-type tones from a Strat-sized unit.

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Tokai’s TST-50 gives more than a passing nod to traditional S-style guitars in an early Sixties vein:

The alder body has all the characteristic flowing curves and deep body chamfers, and it has been…

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Review: Tokai AJB-55BB + Basslines SJB-3

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

AJB-55BB? Is this bass Tokai’s Big Brother -special edition? No!
The BB stands for “big blocks”.

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The Tokai AJB-55BB is a special edition run of the company’s Jazz Bass -inspired model with block inlays instead of the usual small dots. Finnish importer Musamaailma has equipped the test sample with a pair of Seymour Duncan Basslines SJB-3s, which promise a hotter-than-vintage output. As supplied, the whole package would set you back about 888 € here in Finland.

This Japanese bass is a streamlined beauty with a maple fingerboard and a tortie-type scratchplate (sometimes this model also comes with a three-ply black pickguard).

Even though the large block inlays invoke a Seventies-look, the Tokai’s deep body chamfers talke you back all the way to the Sixties-period Fender Jazz.

Tokai uses Gotoh-tuners with smaller diameter tuning posts on the AJB-55BB, compared to the usual Kluson- or Schaller-types on many other…

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Review: Tanglewood TW28-CLN + TW1000HSRE + Seymour Duncan Woody

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Kitarablogi.com – Finland's premier Guitar and Bass blog

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The UK’s favourite brand of acoustic guitars – Tanglewood – is steadily growing a devoted following in Finland, too, thanks to their wide variety of different models, as well as the company’s knack for providing fantastic value for money.

This time Kitarablogi.com takes a closer look at two guitars from opposing ends of Tanglewood’s price range:

Tanglewood TW28-CLN + Woody – body angle

The Tanglewood TW28-CLN is one of the brand’s most affordable instruments, and is part of the Evolution-series.

Tanglewood’s Finnish distributor – Musamaailma – has equipped the test sample with a Seymour Duncan soundhole pickup, the humbucking Woody  (SA-3 HC).

Tanglewood TW1000HSRE – body angle

Tanglewood’s TW1000HSRE is the top model of the Heritage-series, and comes factory-equipped with a Fishman-pickup and Sonitone-preamp.

Kyser Lifeguard humidifier

By the way, Musamaailma throws in a nifty Kyser Lifeguard humidifier for free with the purchase of any Tanglewood acoustic guitar, so you can be sure that your new instrument won’t suffer the detrimental effects…

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