Lindy Fralin is known as a pickup guru. People flock to him for historic repairs and his unique spin traditional tone. Lindy Fralin’s pickups evoke certain words when described. Terms resembling clarity, musical, articulate and balance are typical descriptors. With the release of Fralin’s new Metal SHO (Super High Output) pickups, words akin to grind, crushing, and searing will need to be added to that lexicon.
Fralin has already dipped his toe in the high output pool with his High Output Humbucker (read the review here). With the release of the Metal SHO pickups Lindy Fralin is diving head first into the dark waters of high gain.
If you placed the Metal SHO in a pickup aficionado’s hand they would never look at it and guess it was a Fralin. The Metal SHO is a double black coiled pickup with black screws in both coils. Upon further inspection it is easy to see the Metal SHO has taller bobbins than the average P.A.F. allowing additional turns of pickup wire. When playing this pickup you soon realize it is 100% Fralin. The Metal SHO has an alnico 6 magnet giving it plenty of punch and power while retaining the warmth, articulation and balance we expect from Fralin pickups.
The Metal SHO can be ordered in a set or in singles. Let’s talk about the neck pickup first. The Metal SHO neck reads at 6.5K making it a perfect companion for any bruising bridge pickup. The neck is so clear and clean you feel as if you are playing a piezo. It lends itself to great acoustic guitar tones. I have never hear a pickup allow so much of the guitar’s acoustics and resonance to shine through the way the Metal SHO does.
When pushed with a bit of gain the Metal SHO neck starts to sing. I have yet to use a neck pickup that delivered such a range of useable dirty tones. I was able to replicate some early Aerosmith, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin tones with the neck. When banging out a bit of Whole Lotta Love the pickup delivered crunchy power chords and articulate ringing leads.
The Metal SHO bridge is a different animal, a 13.5K animal. The bridge has all of the earlier mentioned classic Fralin characteristics – clarity, musical, articulate and balance. The bridge also allows a lot of the guitar to shine through in its tone. The biggest difference being, the bridge is filthy, in a good way. This is a hot pickup without a boost it will break up your amp.
For most of this review I tested the pickups through my 100 watt Marshall combo. I had to hear the Metal SHO bridge through my 13 watt Fender Excelsior. The Excelsior is designed to break up very easily creating beautiful natural overdrive. With the Metal SHO bridge kicking this little amp I could have sworn there was a MXR Distortion + plugged into the Excelsior.
Heading back to the Marshall it was game on. The Metal SHO bridge ripped molten metal. Perfectly articulate runs were accented by screaming harmonics. Sweeps were clean and fluent as the Metal SHO delivered phenomenal string separation. The pickup is very balanced therefore it responds to eq settings very well. I ran the pickup through a myriad of metal settings. No matter what I threw at the pickup it delivered. It sounded great with scooped mids, flat eg and with the gain and bass cranked. I dialed in a fairly close Zakk Wylde and started playing Crazy Train. The low register riffs barked while the delicate m7 chords over the verse were clear and sparkling.
No matter what I threw at these pickups they handled it with ease. All the time retaining that Fralin vibe. The Metal SHO set works so well together despite the large gap in output, the pickups are very balance together.
You can learn more about Lindy Fralin Pickups and the man behind these sonic monsters on fralinpickups.com or on Lindy Fralin Pickup’s Facebook page which is full of videos, demos and sound samples. Lindy Fralin Pickups are available direct from the company, at music stores worldwide and from all of the major online music retailers.