With this post, we’re breaking away from our norms for reviews. Adam from Mayes Pickups was kind enough to send me a set of Trinity pickups to replace Fender Stratocaster pickups. As you know, we normally do pedal demos/reviews , so this was fun to do something a little different.
First, let’s talk about the Trinity pickups by Maye’s Pickups (http://www.mayespickups.com/). It’s a innovative new design (patent pending) tricoil system. I guess in my layman terms, it’s three magnets creating three mini coils. Normally a single coil has six magnets with a single coil wrapping them all. The traditional single coil has the common hum issues, but this tricoil virtually eliminates this. This pickup is also a low resistant pickup. They measure in around 3K in resistance. Initially, I was concerned about volume with this lower resistance (my stock single coils came in around 7K), but those were quickly answered. I also go into this further in the review. His pickups are hand made and hand wound.
When it comes to pickups it is incredibly difficult to demo them since you normally cannot A/B them easily. For this demo, we used a American Fender Strat with stock pickups, into a Matchless DC-30 through a Marshall 4×12 cabinet. We wanted to keep settings the same throughout the demo, so the amp, cab and mic placement was not touched during the process. We dialed the amp for the American Standard Strat with stock pickups, so that needs to be considered, since pickup changes will often need some slight tweaks to the settings of the amp.
Just like the other EffectsBay.com demos, I enlisted the help of Jimmy Rolle on guitar.
For our review we thought we would shoot three videos. The first video is a my American Standard Strat (light weight body, rosewood fingerboard) with stock pickups. The second video is Jimmy’s American Standard Strat (heavier body with maple fingerboard). His Strat has Texas Special at the neck, stock pickup in the middle and a Rio Grande Mui Grande at the bridge. Finally, the third video is my Strat again, but with the Mayes Pickups (Fat Kid in the neck, Standard in the middle and Super Model at the bridge).
For the review, we wanted to demonstrate a few things, and replicate them across the different videos. Basically, clean picking across all the strings, with each pickup combination, then chords, then some rockier lead stuff. For the demo we included a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 for the lead in the end, but was only engaged at that point. The audio was recorded with a Shure SM57 and AKG Solidtube microphones. Below each video, there is a SoundCloud clip of a high quality MP3 version of each video.
So let’s get this started.
Stock Fender Pickups
Texas Special/Rio Grande Pickups
Trinity Mayes Pickups
Overall, the pickups sounded really good and clear, with a heavier bottom end. The tricoils definitely add more meat to the signal. The 3K resistance of the Mayes was equal or louder than the stock pickups at 7K. The Standard pickup(what was recommended for the middle) sounded the most balanced. Now, I wish we had time to try that in the neck position. I’m not the biggest fan of the stock bridge pickup, so this was a improvement in my opinion, but I definitely understand people liking the bright/thin sound of the stock pickup as well, so it’s really dependent on your application.
For this review, I thought it would be cool to include a short Q/A with Adam Mayes about his pickups:
– What were you going for with this pickups? Was there a particular sound/style/niche you were trying to improve upon?
I bought a Squier Affinity Tele. It was a mistake, but I needed an electric quick for a week and didn’t want to borrow one. What I got were two of the loudest, worst sounding pickups I’d ever heard. My initial goal was to produce something quiet and passive to go in my Tele-wannabe.
I wasn’t going for any particular style. The electric guitar pickup had been invented several decades ago and while there had been improvements (humbuckers, Lace Sensor, etc.), it just seemed like there was something else to be done.
What I ended up with was a tri-coil pickup with a much better sound than what came with my Tele (which wasn’t too hard) but also something as quiet as a humbucker.
– What would be the best application for these pickups (jazz? blues? rock?, etc)
I think these pickups span the spectrum of music. My personal leanings go from jazz to blues to rock; I’ll play whatever. I’ll even do some chicken-pickin’ if I’m around the right guys, which is why I made these pickups with the idea that anyone could put these in their guitar and, while it may not give them a completely unique sound, it will give a greater depth of tone, more sustain and clarity than they would have otherwise.
For me, it’s like stepping up to a song with a box of 244 crayons instead of 8; you just have more to work with.
– Can you explain the low resistance pickups. I think this would be good to go into, since I’m sure there are a lot of dudes like me that translate.. low resistance to low gain/volume.
This is my favorite question. Pickup companies are somewhat misleading when they imply that greater resistance equals more volume. The truth is that the more turns of the coil equal more volume. The more turns also equal more resistance, but the greater resistance itself does not equal more volume.
Resistance is best thought of as a measure of how much of the signal will be lost. With the three individual coils in a Trinity there is only about 3k-ohm resistance, about half a standard single coil. That is why there is such depth to the sound of a Trinity; there is that much more signal.
As far as volume goes, we wind our pickups to be slightly louder than a normal pickup.
– How does these pickups reduce hum?
I believe it has to do with the physical shape of the coils.
In a normal single coil, the coil cuts through a decent volume of space. That space has all sorts of RF from radio waves to appliances to whatever. The volume of space my three little coils cut through is far, far less.
– You have various models (Fat Kid, Standard and Super Model) for the strat, are there any particular recommendations and applications for each pickup.. if so.. why.
Only general recommendations. First is to remember that we build each pickup so that it can go in any slot for a Strat. If you buy a Fat Kid and want it in your bridge, that’s fine, but it can go in the mid or neck position, too.
Secondly, the Fat Kid has the greatest bass presence of the three. The Super Model has the highest treble presence with the Standard in the middle. All three should be used according to taste. My initial work with the Trinity was to have a Fat Kid, Standard, Super Model arrangement (neck to bridge) because I like a bassy neck pup for blues and jazz and a thin pup at the bridge for a gritty rock sound.
Lately, I have switched to Standard, Super Model, Fat Kid (neck to bridge) and found that setup to be pleasing in a whole different way. I still have a fair amount of bass for my solos and my distortion has a little more depth to it.
It’s all up to personal taste. That’s what I love. If you don’t like the Super Model in the mid, put it in the neck. Try it out–and let me know what combinations you use. I have one customer who bought thee Super Models and he loves it. The prototype work had three Fat Kids and I loved that too. You can do whatever you want.
– How long has Mayes Pickups been in business?
This is brand new venture, not quite a year old. The Trinity is a patent pending product. You can’t (or shouldn’t be able) to find anything like this anywhere else on the market.
Mayes Pickups also make a Tele-Style pickup as well. If you’re liking how these sound, and want to check them out, please visit MayesPickups.com. At the time of this post, they could be purchased direct from their website. Strat style pickups go for $89.99 ea. He has a 30 day money-back guarantee as well.
Also, he’s doing a cool thing.. he’s giving away a free pickup every month! Go here for details on the Trinity give-away.
Disclosure: the Mayes Trinity Pickups used in this review were not returned after the review.