- Design Process
***Due to limited parts, there is a limit of 3 Virgil Arlo Humbucker Sets Per Customer***
Virgil Arlo 1959 P.A.F. Humbuckers are the secret weapon of many professional guitarists. They swear by them & most would agree that the Virgil Arlo 1959's are the best Humbuckers ever made. Any time one of these pros adds a new or vintage guitar to their stable of working instruments, this is the first upgrade they perform. Its pretty well known among session players, touring guitarists & recording engineers that these amazing pickups are instruments themselves & take any guitar to the next level.
If you consider yourself to be a serious guitarist or a serious connoisseur of tone, then these pickups are an absolute must. Any decent guitarist knows the circuitry of your amplifier actually starts in your guitar, precisely at the location of your pickups. Anything less than the best only subtracts from the overall dynamics, response and quality of your tone.
The winder known as "Virgil Arlo" has been responsible for crafting pickups that are considered by many to be superior to vintage pickups. They are an irreplaceable part of so many elite musicians signal chain. When Mr. Arlo retired from winding pickups back in 2019, it left a huge void in the industry. Prices for used sets of his P.A.F. Humbucker skyrocketed to around $3,000.
There is a small supply of old Virgil Arlo parts remaining. It's our great honor to lend our hands in continuing the great legacy of Virgil Arlo Pickups using these parts. Starting in January 2021, we have reached an agreement to make these amazing pickups until the limited supply of parts is depleted. We suspect the supply of parts will last between 6 and 12 months.
We've spared no expense in the building process of these gems. We've mastered the various Virgil Arlo techniques, each of which are time consuming and necessary to achieve top-flight tone & response. None of this process is cheap, fast or easy. If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing these amazing pickups, then you know they are worth the wait & every penny.
The Virgil Arlo Collection of Guitar Pickups from Tone Specific are physically and sonically identical to the original Virgil Arlo Pickups made by the man himself.
There will certainly be folks who only want to use the original "White Label Arlo's" in their guitars. That's great if you can find them & even better if you can afford them. For everyone else, we are proud to present the Virgil Arlo Pickup Collection by Tone Specific. Everyone that has played them has loved them. We know you will too.
How to Buy/Pricing
Get them while you can. We'll be making these until the remaining supply of Virgil Arlo parts is depleted.
***Limit 3 Humbucker Sets Per Customer***
The price set is $1863 - Made by hand right here in the USA using the same materials and techniques as the original Virgil Arlo Humbuckers. Due to a high-level of demand, the current wait is about 2-3 months. To order click the "Add to Cart" at the top of the page.
Our pickups are Handwound one at a time. Using several unique processes and the finest materials available, we are able to create Amazing Vintage Voiced Pickups. We slightly tweak the voicing of these Vintage Style Pickups to nail a desired tone.
Sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel. If you've realized this, then you've arrived & we can't wait to make the last set of pickups for your best guitar. The feel of a pickup is much more relevant than this specs, pro's understand this & Joe Cocker's former guitarist explains this phenomenon in the video below.
All of our pickups are equipped with Alnico Magnets. We use different types of magnets for the various styles. For some designs we use more than one type of magnet. We have a special process that makes these modern Alnico's sound very vintage. During beta testing, many of the top Pro's we work with could not tell the difference between their vintage pickups and our freshly-wound gems.
All of our pickups are made with coated magnet Wire that are of Vintage Specs. The style of pickup and desired tone will dictate which type of wire is used.
All of our pickups are potted to avoid unwanted feedback or the hated squeal. We use several different vintage based potting methods. The style of pickup and desired tone will dictate which type of potting materials and potting methods we use. Some pickups that really need to breathe are very lightly potted, while other in other pickups we employ different methods to help achieve certain tone and functionalities.
Bobbins, Covers & Other Materials
We use vintage style bobbins and metal cover materials as well as other materials. Vintage pickups sound great for a reason and we try to recreate our pickups to be as historically correct as possible. We have made various improvements in an effort to eliminate the dreaded pickup failure assoiciated with the pickups from the vintage era.
We don't disclose Ohm reading for several reasons. The most important reason is that an Ohm reading will tell you very little about the tone of the pickup. The tone of a pickup is partially determined by the collective materials along with the various techniques employed by the builder of the pickup.
The other reason we don't disclose Ohm reading is due to the fact that over time, and even from batch to batch, the composition of materials can slightly change. We buy large quantities of everything but when we open a new batch of anything, we have to go back to the drawing board. The tweaks are typically very minor. The important thing is the tone stays the same as the result of our constant attention to tone. Any pickup winder that has rigid specs on a pickup design is very likely to make pickups that sound different from one another even though they have the same name and basic measured specs. We go the extra mile to ensure the tone of our pickups is consistent from batch to batch and year to year.
Bottom line, sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel and the reading on a multimeter has no place in a legitimate conversation about tone.
Huge Tone. Huge Sweet Spot.
Our pickups are designed to sound great in the guitar in which they are installed. Whether you like to put them closer to the strings our further away, your tone will remain dynamic, warm and touch-sensitive. These pickups let the sounds in your head shine through the speaker with sweet tone and singing sustain.
They make a good guitar sound great and a great guitar sound amazing. More than a few top pro's have reported a huge improvement by dropping these into their vintage guitars.
A set of pickups that capture every nuance of your playing style is rare find these days. Most pickups are made by big corporations in factories. Our pickups are made by guitar players for other guitar players. We care about your tone.
These pickups are designed to musically respond to you. They are directly between you and your amp and interact in a very musical way. You can produce an endless amount of tone by changing your pick-attack and picking location. Adjusting your volume and tone knobs opens up all kinds of doors in exploring the tonal pallet of these pickups. There is no need for tricky wiring gimmicks when you have a set of pickups of this caliber.
Our Pickups are made by hand, one at a time, right here in the U.S.A. Our goal is to make the most Dynamic, Warm & Sweetest sounding pickups in the world.
Now every Guitarist can experience the joy of having vintage voiced pickups tailored for their preferred tonal style without breaking the bank. Unlike the rest of the herd of boutique winders that just wrap wire around a bobbin to achieve a certain Ohm reading, we've taken painstaking path to tonal perfection. We welcome you to join us on this path. If you are thinking about Great Jazzy Tones………….Think Tone Specific!
The Difference - Amazing Tone
When comparing our pickups to other pickups, the great players hear the difference right away. It seems the better the player, the more excited they get after hearing our pickups in their guitar.
This is why you rarely see a used set of our pickups for sale on an auction site. This is the same reason so many pro's equipped all of their guitars with our pickups. Many of these guys even ditch their vintage pickups in favor of our pickups.
Sound is something you hear. Tone is something you feel. This knowledge drives everything we do. If you realize this, then you've arrived & you'll be blown away by our work. Marty5150 explains this phenomenon in the video below.
Demand for our pickups from Pro Players & Luthiers/Builders is enough to sustain us as a company. In an effort to reduce stress we've considered only taking orders from Pro's & Luthiers but a big part of the joy of comes from sharing great tone with the next wave of Pro's & other appreciative tone seekers from all around the globe.
A lot of companies offer more models than you can imagine. We think it is counter-productive to have more than handful of different flavors for each type of pickup. At some point some of the models are going to start sounding the same. Our pickup designs all sound different and are voiced in a way to help solve real-world musical problems.
If you are trying to sell a million sets of pickups a year, then it probably makes sense to have dozens models. Our focus is on making musical pickups that will agree with your musical vision for many years to come.
Some players have an idea of what their guitar needs to sound it’s best, others need a little help in deciding. To help you make an informed decision we’ve posted video’s that show the different models pickups being played by the same guitarist using one amp. This will help you hear the differences between the models.
Tonal Perfection is the Goal.
If you are like most Guitarists, then your Pickup Drawer is probably full. This is due to many failed attempts over the years to nail your desired tone. At some point in time, you probably came to the uneasy realization that “Close enough would have to be good enough”. Not having the perfect pickups for your style can be extremely frustrating. This frustration can limit your ability to create the tones and the music you’ve been hearing in your head.
Here at Tone Specific Guitar Pickups we feel your pain. We too have spent much of our lives chasing tones. In our quest for perfect tone our Pickup Drawers filled up too. Many of our friends had the same issue too. Fed up with over-hyped guitar pickups, we decided to take matters into our own hands.
The Art of Tone Perfected
We took the time to learn and master the art of hand-winding fantastic guitar pickups. This included working with top Professional Guitarists along with legendary luthiers, pickup winders and amp builders. To get it just right we had to really understand each part of the chain of tone and how each part interacted with the other parts. Taking this extra step enabled us to create pickups that sound great with vintage tube amps, modern tube amps, pedals, solid state amps, digital devices and even software.
During the learning process, we dumped our pickup drawers and started to reverse-engineering everything. There were some original vintage electric guitar pickups from the 50’s and 60’s as well as dozens of sets from the most prolific boutique winders. We learned the secrets of the stellar vintage guitar pickups and how to replicate them down to every tonal detail and nuance.
Tone over Hype.
During our research, the boutique pickups for the most part fell way short of the hype. Fearful of repeating the same mistakes of other winders, we took the time to find out why some of those pickups were so lifeless. There are few boutique winders doing some very special work, but what we've found is most of the big names are just wrapping wire around magnets as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Better Than Vintage?
That's what our customers are saying. It humbling but that was always the goal. Being just average was never a consideration. Our challenge was to build a line of incredible sounding Hand wound Electric Guitar Pickups made right here in the USA. These Hand Wound Guitar Pickups would at least need to have tone on par with the best guitar pickups ever made from the vintage era with enhanced dynamic and modern reliability. Now that’s a noble idea! An idea that sounds great on paper, but how do you get there? The answers were found in our study of the original vintage pickups from the 50’s & 60’s. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the Vintage Guitar Pickups were great, but there were a few very special examples. We dissected these special pickups and unlocked their secrets. We put this knowledge to use in every set we make.
After we identified what made certain guitar pickups great, we had to figure out how to replicate this greatness. It was a very difficult process that took years to master. Sometimes it seemed like a road without an end. Our conviction never softened and we continued to push forward. After we figured out how to make guitar pickups tonally equal to the best pickups vintage pickups, our work still wasn’t finished…
Now the guitar pickups had to be dialed to nail Specific Tones. Some of the tonal answers were easy because of the special designs we uncovered in our study of vintage pickups. Most tonal solutions were quite elusive and required a serious amount of trial and error. In the end, with the help of our friends and Beta testers, we got there!
Now every Guitarist can experience the joy of having vintage voiced pickups tailored for their preferred tonal style without paying crazy prices for inconsistent vintage pickups. Unlike the rest of the herd of boutique winders that just wrap wire around a bobbin to achieve a certain Ohm reading, we've taken painstaking path to tonal perfection. We welcome you to join us on this path. If you are thinking about tone………….Think Tone Specific!