Ironstone pickups

MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
Hi everyone, I'm just a recent joiner of the forum. But wanting to ask if anyone here has any experience with Ironstone pickups: Ironstone pickups . The price seems almost ridiculously cheap to me, but then it's easy to make subjective claims about the sound/quality of pickups, so I wonder if they are really any good. Probably worth a punt given the price, but does anyone already have some in a guitar? Cheers!

Comments

  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Posts: 355Member
    At that price, they're going to be made in the far east somewhere, but they are at least built properly, with individual polepieces (most cheap strat pickups use a bar magnet under the coil). That gives them half a chance of being decent!

    To be honest, I don't know!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    That's pretty much what I thought too, but who knows, maybe they really are a bargain. Wish I had a strat to put a set in, but I do need one strat type single coil for a guitar build I'm embarking on, so I might just buy a set anyway. I agree they just can't be made over here though at the price.
  • The TiggsThe Tiggs Posts: 333Member
    Let us know how you get on - at that price they might be just the thing to beef up my pacifica.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
     Originally Posted By: The Tiggs
    Let us know how you get on - at that price they might be just the thing to beef up my pacifica.
    In the end I bought a set of Voltage pickups Voltage Pickups so spent a bit more - they seem pretty nice, though have yet to hear what they sound like. So don't know about the Ironstones I'm afraid - but I still might get a set in given the price, will let you know if I do, cheers.
  • The TiggsThe Tiggs Posts: 333Member
    Those Voltage pick ups should be excellent at that price - let us know / hear them when you have fitted them.
    I think the whole pickup market is over-priced for what is a coil of wire round a magnet - hardly hi-tech is it?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
     Originally Posted By: The Tiggs
    Those Voltage pick ups should be excellent at that price - let us know / hear them when you have fitted them.
    I think the whole pickup market is over-priced for what is a coil of wire round a magnet - hardly hi-tech is it?
    Sssh! but I did not pay the price listed on the Voltage website - have a look on ebay hint hint. When it comes to price, I guess you make your choice and pay your money - probably some pickups are indeed overpriced, I think there is a paying for the name effect going on with some of them. But also a few bargains to be had for those prepared to look around.
  • AdesmittyAdesmitty Posts: 38Member
    Hadn't heard the name before but after reading this thread (and as I was looking to replace a set in my Warmoth anyway), I've ordered and fitted a set of Golds. Sounds pretty good and very quick delivery, compared to the Standard pickups in my US Standard Strat (2005) sound pretty simliar to me (and I think a bargain at £24.99). Just to provide a bit of comparison I've also order a set of Irongear Pig Irons so we'll see.

    Adrian.
  • OldjonoOldjono Posts: 608Member
    A hand wound pick up will usually be inherently different from a machine wound one. That's what seems to be the main focus on boutique or high-end pups.

    It's like the argument between Ceramic and Alnico magnets. Ceramic bar magnets are usually fitted to budget guitars like Squier and far eastern manufactured ones. However, Mexican built Fenders also have Ceramic magnets in them and to a novice player they would not really know the difference.

    The other issue with pups is the resistance factors. On a budget guitar they usually just plonk two or three of the same pups into a guitar aside from the actual width 50s for the neck and 52s for the bridge etc. As a rule, the three pups on a Strat style guitar are all resistance different too. The pups resistance is lower for the neck, slightly higher for the middle and higher for the bridge say for example 5.4 x 5.8 x 6.5. Whilst there are no rules the differences are because of the string vibrations. With Ceramic magnet fitted pups the resistances can be higher because the steel poles act as the conductor from the string to the bar magnet on the bottom of the pup, as opposed to the poles that are Alnico magnet type themselves. Also there is a big divide between those who prefer staggered poles and flat level poles.

    Ceramic magnets are supposed to produce a higher output and a more toppy tone whereas the Alnico type produce a softer more rounded tone.

    Are high-end pups inherently better than the budget variety? Give David Gilmore any Strat and he will sound like he does regardless of the guitar, because half of his tone is the way he plays it.

    The old adage is... Ya pays ya money...
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Cheers OJ - I think you have some similar thoughts to mine. Yes, a handwound pickup is different, but does that necessarily equate to better? Well, it may well do for many people, but beauty is in the eye/ear of the beholder, so it would seem to me that it is perfectly possible to actually prefer the sound of a machine-wound pickup.

    Another example is the ceramic magnets you mention - some people might actually like the sharper, toppier sound they give (maybe for some types of blues? who knows) - fair enough I would say.

    I don't suppose Gilmore uses budget pickups on his guitars, but I do agree with your point - probably at least half (or more I would think) of his tone is in his fingers, so I'm sure that's true.

    I got a Voltage pickup set on ebay for a very good price for hand-wound, British made (I won't say what) but they now seem to have removed the ads - so that avenue is closed (a shame, I was thinking of getting another set in for a future project) They still have them through their website though. So anyway, now I'm looking at the Ironstones again with interest, especially after Adesmitty's positive review above.
  • AdesmittyAdesmitty Posts: 38Member
    I just knocked these up if you're interested, 'scuse the playing.

    Ironstone Golds http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/warmoth-ironstone-blues

    USA Standard Strat
    http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/us-strat-blues

    Sorry I forgot how to embed links!

    Adrian.
  • OldjonoOldjono Posts: 608Member
    As it happens I am stuck between which set to get. The ironstone chap recommended the gold set to me but I'm closer to getting the Platinum set. It seems that at the prices charged they are low enough to swop around anyway.

    For an eighty-five quid Squier strat with ceramics fitted it's hardly breaking the bank. As it happens the Squier sounds reasonable okay through a fender 15 watts amp anyway.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
     Originally Posted By: Adesmitty
    I just knocked these up if you're interested, 'scuse the playing.

    Ironstone Golds http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/warmoth-ironstone-blues

    USA Standard Strat
    http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/us-strat-blues

    Sorry I forgot how to embed links!

    Adrian.
    Nice one Adrian, play those blues! Actually you get full marks from me for a really useful comparison, thank you for including a totally clean sound in your comparisons - I personally find it a bit hard to compare pickups when there is any element of overdrive used, so that was really good. There really does seem to be an appreciable difference, and obviously its a matter of taste, but I really did prefer the sound of the Ironstones - fuller bodied and richer to my ears, while still very much a classic Strat sound. The stock Fenders sound a bit thin and weedy by comparison.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
     Originally Posted By: Oldjono
    As it happens I am stuck between which set to get. The ironstone chap recommended the gold set to me but I'm closer to getting the Platinum set. It seems that at the prices charged they are low enough to swop around anyway.

    For an eighty-five quid Squier strat with ceramics fitted it's hardly breaking the bank. As it happens the Squier sounds reasonable okay through a fender 15 watts amp anyway.
    I have the same dilema Oldjono, somehow I'm drawn to the Platinums too. As you say though, cheap enough that you can afford to take a gamble either way. If you do get some Platinums, please let us know what you think, cheers.
  • alan1302alan1302 Posts: 25Member
     Originally Posted By: Adesmitty
    I just knocked these up if you're interested, 'scuse the playing.

    Ironstone Golds http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/warmoth-ironstone-blues

    USA Standard Strat
    http://soundcloud.com/pudsum/us-strat-blues

    Sorry I forgot how to embed links!

    Adrian.


    Cheers for that - very useful and the Ironstone ones do certainly sound better.

    How have you found them with a rockier, heavier distortion sound?
  • AdesmittyAdesmitty Posts: 38Member
    Have to say I agree with you, Fender pickups are a bit thin and did need a volume boost to get to the same level but to be fair the Warmoth does have the Mid boot board from Fender, it was set to 0 but it does provide a little bit of gain even on this setting so I guess may also be doing some EQ as well.
    The old clean/dirty thing on pickup tests is a pet peeve of mine, I want to hear both and preferable things pretty much played the same/ same amps etc., I have to say Seynour Duncan are not bad for this whereas Dimarzio are useless.

    Adrian.
  • AdesmittyAdesmitty Posts: 38Member
    Haven't given them that chance yet, been off working for the past couple of days.

    Adrian.
  • OldjonoOldjono Posts: 608Member
    Have just taken delivery of these...
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Xmas-Alnico-V-...=item6fc4f42c1e

    When the new soldering iron arrives they'll be installed and then we'll see (hear) any difference.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    Will be very interested to hear your impressions OJ - I've nearly bought a set of Ironstones on several occasions - I keep going back to their website as well.
  • swallowswallow Posts: 1Member
    I have recently choosen ironstone pick ups to supply my own limited run guitars, I have tried the platinums and golds and they really sound great without losing that shimmery strat sound!! The platinums are really great for that driven dirty 70s strat sound and the golds sound very clean and love being pushed through sustain and delay effects, really love the sound of these for u2 'where the streets have no name'. I will be putting some vids of my mex strat fitted with platinums and ch guitar 12 ohm twin hotrail in the bridge position with gilmour 7 wat switch supplied by p&d on ebay, I will keep you updated on the vids.
  • Ape09090Ape09090 Posts: 2,744Member
    I have a set of the Platinums and they're great!
  • Pete_BPete_B Posts: 28Member
    Wow, an old thread ;\)
  • AlidoreAlidore Posts: 528Member
    Wow, an old thread ;\)
    Pete.

    “There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.”
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    So, Megi the Recent Joiner, I know this is an old thread, but did you end up buying any Rhine stone, I mean Iron Stone pickups?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member

    So, Megi the Recent Joiner, I know this is an old thread, but did you end up buying any Rhine stone, I mean Iron Stone pickups?

    Erm, no! I was considering it for my current strat build, but the proprietor had run out of black covers. He was kind enough to message me two weeks later when he got fresh supplies in, but by then I'd bought a set from Vanson Guitars on ebay. The Ironstone chap is certainly a nice bloke, and believes in his product. He gets the coils wound to his specs somewhere, and then installs the magnets and finishes the job.

    Incidentally, in the end I didn't think much of the Voltage set I was waffling on about - more down to inconsistency of construction and build quality than anything. For one thing the fibre-board used for the bobbins kind of had a curve to it, I think down to how the wire had been put on, which made them a bit of an awkward fit in the covers.

    But in general, I think the issue I have with any set of £30 to £50-ish strat pickups is that for not that much more, you can get into the hand wound, authentic construction type stuff - they will often even make to spec if you message them - for example, there are a couple of Croatian sellers on evilbay:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Stratocaster-A5-Super-Twang-Custom-Strat-Pickups-SET-Vintage-HandWound-Q/112286677654?hash=item1a24ceba96:g:cNwAAOSwA3dYZsys

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Stratocaster-Single-Coil-pickup-set-Hand-Wound-by-e-dis-pickups-AlNiCo-V/163106058535?hash=item25f9e0f127:g:VQUAAOSwSgJXNfat

    - both look like very well-made stuff - I keep thinking of getting some, even though I've already got the Vanson set. Also there's a Russian chap who's pickups are cheaper still, and quite a few others out there.


  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    Thanks for the update, G. I had a closer look at the bobbins he uses and they look like molded plastic. Ugh. And if he’s buying the bobbins elsewhere and adding magnets, those bobbins have to have plastic between the coils and the magnets. More ugh. Surely Vansons will be better than that?
    You’re right, there are better deals out there. I have some Alexander Pribora pickups, which sound great. The ones I have are quite bright, but have lots of character.
    Actually, I just bought a set of Tonerider City Limits from eBay for £45. Can’t wait to try em!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member

    Thanks for the update, G. I had a closer look at the bobbins he uses and they look like molded plastic. Ugh. And if he’s buying the bobbins elsewhere and adding magnets, those bobbins have to have plastic between the coils and the magnets. More ugh. Surely Vansons will be better than that?
    You’re right, there are better deals out there. I have some Alexander Pribora pickups, which sound great. The ones I have are quite bright, but have lots of character.
    Actually, I just bought a set of Tonerider City Limits from eBay for £45. Can’t wait to try em!

    I guess I don't have quite the same "ugh" reaction to plastic bobbins - yes, there will be a gap from magnets to windings, which may alter the sound a tad, and maybe that can be adjusted for with a change to the winding amount or something. But as long as they sound good really. Did Fender themselves not use plastic bobbins for a period in the 70's?

    But I've now bought a hand wound set, as you may have read in my strat build thread, and there seems to me something inevitable about that, with hindsight. I was trying to be good and keep the costs down, but I just seem unable to resist that bit of mojo and mystique that comes with a hand wound set - available, as I said before, for not that much more of a financial outlay. I should really have known I would always want to do this ultimately. Maybe I'll try the Vanson set I got out briefly, just so I know what they're like.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 833Member
    I think my main problem with the plastic is the ugly recess in the bottom. They just looked cheap. Things like that can just turn you off something, then they’ll never sound good!

    Sometimes I think I can hear the differences with handwound pickups, but then sometimes I love Irongear pickups. Go figure..
    I’d be interested to know how the Vansons are. :)
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,009Member
    We'll never know re the Vansons I'm afraid - they're winging their way to be part of someone else's build as we speak... My guess is pretty good, but maybe on the beefier end of the strat sound spectrum - i.e. fuller sounding, without the so-called hollow mids. Since my plan is to use a circuit that can combine pickup pairs in series to get a fuller tone, I began to feel the Vansons were less than ideal for me - better to have the vintage kind of low wind, to really nail those Knopfler etc. stratty tones, bring out detail and then I can use the series options if I want something thicker in tone.

    I don't feel its automatically the case that hand wound is better - a hand winder can perhaps put more scatter on the wind, which they say increases the high frequency response (i.e. the pickup produces a brighter tone). But I do like the individual attention to detail, ability to discuss the specs - wind strength, wire type, magnet type, etc., and just the feeling that someone has made something a bit different, specially for my guitar, and that not everyone will have. Edis seems to use a rounded shape to the coil on his pickups too, which appears deliberate, and carefully done - I suspect this has some impact on the tone also. But as I say - mojo and mystique - very indefinable qualities... :D

    I guess I do understand you "looking cheap" point - it may not translate into a "cheap" sound, but might make me perceive a lack of the aforementioned mojo. So daft perhaps, but these things matter to me all the same. :)
Sign In or Register to comment.