GASlite 61 and Legend 59 PE sets review at German G&B magazine

Udo Pipper, the German expert for vintage oriented gear, has tested our GASite 61 Plus Belltone set and the Legend 59 PE (non waxed) set!

Here is his verdict (translated in English), as presented on July 2024 Gitarre & Bass magazine:

"I'm done with pickups!" I've said that a thousand times, thought about that and acted like that too. I just like old Gibson PAFs and the pre-CBS Strat PUs. Period!

Every time I get new pickups with a vintage feel, they have to let things be measured against my preferences. Why else should pickup manufacturers emulate exactly these models? And to be honest, I also avoid the complicated tests of new products and those that tend to search desperately for linguistic terms. Because such new products are usually so close to each other, that you can hardly tell any difference just by listening. For example, I have a pair of PAFs from around 1960, and they sound completely different to a Kloppmann’s “Peter Weihe” '59 set. So what should a pickup manufacturer look for? That's why there will be soon almost countless variations from every manufacturer to meet every need. And then things get difficult for the customer. Which set should he buy? And sometimes I just found it nicer to take a guitar off the wall and just play. Finally, there is more to consider than just the pickups. So you adjust the tone control of the amp a little and then it's fine. But I would also be lying if I didn't keep letting myself be tempted to test more pickups.

This is what happened at the last Guitar Summit in Mannheim. There, a Greek man named Yannis Papadantonakis spoke to me very politely. He was making pickups and he was presenting them on a small booth. “Oh no,” I replied at first, “not some PAF- and Stratocaster-pickup replicas again.” "Not quite," he replied: They are rather modern interpretations of old models, designed for modern guitars. He also had the experience that old pickups often don't work as well on new guitars as they do in old wood.

A few weeks after the show he wrote to me asking if he could send me two sets. And I never say “no” because everyone should have a chance. And somehow I was curious again, even though we are already pretty well served here in Germany with Kloppmann, Amber and Häussel, for example.

A few days later, the pickup sets flew into the house. A humbucker set (59 PE non waxed legend set) and a Stratocaster set (GASlite 61+ Bell-tone) that he had chosen “according to my supposed taste”. The humbuckers had a nice aging look and both sets were very well assembled. The front pickups are each wound a little hotter, but still have an overall low output, just as vintage fans love. At the time I had just two loaded original '63 Stratocaster pickguards and two sets of PAFs here at home. These were perfect references.

I tested the Statocaster set first, and to make it fair, in one of the 63 Strats. “Then it can’t be the wood,” I thought to myself. I immediately noticed that Yannis sets the magnet poles on his single coils exactly the same way I set the pole pieces on my Les Pauls. From the low E to the D side it rises slightly, then the G side goes down again, the B side is the same height and the high E is a little lower again. This is how I avoid an overly loud G-side on humbuckers, which is sometimes quite annoying with old sets and many replicas. I thought that was good.

The set was surprisingly convincing on the amp because the sound was really new to me. There were similarities to the old Fender pickups, but the GAS Pickups, as Yannis calls his products, sounded more balanced and even. This means that the volume of the individual strings was very evenly distributed. The pickups also had a very nice “bell-tone” in the upper treble range, which was particularly impressive on the front pickup. I was able to easily tame the bridge pickup, which I always connect to the second tone pot, using the tone pot. And then you just play and look for the sweet spots. And I found it when I tried to play a few Jeff Beck melodies. I immediately thought, even though I don't sound anything like Jeff Beck, that the late guitar hero would have liked these pickups. His preference was not to set so many mids, but rather more highs and then reducing them using the tone pot. And that's exactly what I did, and it fit right away. Modern aftermarket Strat pickups often tend to overemphasize the high mids, making it impossible to form a nice tone with overdrive pedals from the Tubescreamer family, because they do exactly the same thing. And then sometimes it gets disgustingly nasal. The GAS set can handle this and seems to have a small "hole" exactly in the frequency area where modern pedals boost, so that it sounds wonderfully suitable when combined.

Sometimes I sounded a bit like Chris Rea, which I've never managed before. Gilmour fans will also enjoy them, as they are dynamic enough to handle compressors. They also have that openness of the Fender sets from the late '60s. I have now installed this set in a prepared custom shop Stratocaster, where it has been doing excellent work for weeks, precisely because it doesn't sound so typically “vintage” at all. In this respect, these pickups have become a real inspiration for me.

Let's get to the humbuckers. Here it is exactly the opposite. They actually sound even more open than the old PAFs and have a beautiful midrange nose that makes you want to emulate the recently deceased Dickey Betts. The clarity of these pickups is really enormous. Although some of the tones of the old models are missing in the low mids, I was now able to play the Les Paul with the same amp setting that was perfect for the Stratocaster. Perfect! They also offer that “string-ed” early Santana tone from that band's first albums that I've always loved. Santana once told me that on 'Abraxas' he played a Les Paul Custom with T-top pickups. Likewise on 'Caravansarai'. I especially love these two albums. And, during testing, it sometimes even led to me not liking the PAFs with their fat, deep mids anymore. Then you play ZZ-Top riffs, and that's almost it. You can't get Clapton's leaner SG sounds on 'Disraeli Gears' that well. But with the GAS 59 humbuckers you are absolutely in the ballpark!

Sure, these are all just guidelines, but I'm giving these examples so that you can get an idea of ​​what they mean. My sound description vocabulary will also run out at some point. I just thought that my unbiased tinkering might be better suited than “looking for the finally authentic PAF sound”. Only PAFs have that. But Yannis proves with his sets that he has put some thought into it and is certainly clever at getting out of this apparently unsolvable task. And that's exactly why I'm presenting the sets here. They are fun, inspiring, sound clear and open and have their own character. And it can also get me, a sometimes tired test warrior, carried away again. So kudos to Greece here!

Even if it seems a bit complicated due to the distance, anyone who is open to new things should give it a listen.

The humbucker set costs around 350 euros and the Strat set around 300 euros.

By the way, Yannis was born in 1964, so he still has the founding years of rock'n'roll in his blood, studied in Germany, therefore speaks excellent German and also gives perfect advice, as he now has numerous sets on offer, most of which require an explanation.

There is more information on his well-made homepage.

Dummy coil for noiseless operation on S Singles

We've been working quite some time on this feature. Following requests from customers for a noiseless single coil pickup, we wanted to avoid the typical stacked design, in order to retain the full sound and dynamics of a GAS S Single!

On a stacked bobbin design, each bobbin tries to degrade the other bobbin's output signal due to a huge value of their mutual Inductance M. As a result, the signal of a stacked pickup is lower than a typical single coil pickup, be it overwound or not. The solution here is to place the dummy coil, which will work as a humbucking coil, not underneath the main bobbin (where M gets its largest value), but a few cm away. We used the dependence of M on the geometry here.

For people that mostly use their neck and bridge pickups (a'la Back & More, Yngwie, etc.), a good solution is to use the dummy coil in place of the middle pickup. But, also for full SSS Singles sets it is possible to place the dummy coil underneath the pickguard, given that sufficient place is foreseen. We have already made a research on designing one dummy coil for pickups with different output signals, and the results are really outstanding. Pictured on the image above are some '67s and '71-RBs on the row above and two of our dummy coils on the low below, left one with the white cover is for different output pickups, right one (black) is for balanced pickups.

Ask us for more on this highly useful feature. 

New High Gain bucker: Meet the GASbomb!!!

Do you want to transform your 6-string, regular scale, standard-E tuned guitar to a monstrous, roaring baritone axe? Then, check out our new High Gainer, the GASbomb, 'cause it might be the right weapon for you!