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Fret King Vs Tonerider - Part 1

The Iron Gear pickups I added to my Strat were a great success. I was very impressed that Chinese made budget pickups could make a big improvement to a vintage US Strat but indeed they did. There was quite a bit of debate on the sound clips on Music Radar. I preferred the new pickups from the get go but a tweak to the heights and they now sound amazing. I’m never going to go back to spending twice or three times the price on Seymour Duncans. 

Since installing the Iron Gears my beloved Fret King has started to sound somewhat ordinary in comparison so I started planning my next pickup upgrade project. Lots of great advice was forthcoming on the thread I started on Music Radar.

I was torn between getting another set of Iron Gears which I already knew were excellent and trying out the pickups made by Tonerider which had glowing recommendations from a number of people. I already have a Tonerider British Distortion pedal which was great value for money and puts a big grin on my face when ever I use it (seriously check out the clips) so I had no worries about using them or their distributors Dangeberry Music. 

To help me decide I sent an e-mail to both companies asking what they would recommend. Both companies replied within a day which is seriously good customer service in my book. Iron Gear recommended the Rolling Mill and Tonerider suggested either the Alnico IV or the Rock Song.

I’m sure I can’t go wrong whoever I choose, but as I’d already put some business Iron Gear’s way I thought I would take a punt on the Toneriders and ordered an Alnico IV from Dangleberry as I liked the clips on the site bit more.

As they sell them individually I went for just a bridge to see if I like it. Rather than sticking to the nickel covers it came with I’ve gone for the rather more gauche zebra coils. 

As with last time I’ll record some before and after sound clips for your delectation and comment. 

Published 13 Jun 2011

Engineer & Musician
Nick Long on Twitter