Guitar Gear Review: Guitar Fetish Earl Slick “Old School” Humbucker Pickup Set

Howdy folks! Since I couldn’t find any other reviews for this humbucker set I figured I should do my civic duty and provide a thorough as a review as I can.

Here’s a brief overview of the pickups from the GFS website.

“Slick Brand “Old School” pickups are hand aged humbuckers that recreate the look, feel and sound of vintage pickups…with a little bit of the Slick power and aggressiveness dialed in. Bridge pickups are wound slightly hotter than vintage at 9.6K, neck pickups to a firm 8.0K.

We’ve made these from the right stuff. German Silver baseplates and covers (On covered models), delrin bobins, Heavy Formvar coil wire, 5-wire leads for coil tapping and high quality Alnico V magnets.

Each Slick pickup is hand aged to recreate exactly the look and vibe of a 60 year old guitar pickup. We’ve also dialed in the little bit of “sag” that an older, slightly demagnetized magnet can give you.”

Also, the bridge pickup is rated at 9.2k instead of 9.6k.

Starting with the bridge pickup, you can imagine what the tone is like just based off of the Alnico V magnet that it uses. Tight bass, slightly scooped mids, and a “kerrangy” high end. This thing does have some punch to it, which was kind of what I was looking for in the bridge. It’s kind of aggressive, but it doesn’t have a harsh high end.It has some pretty decent harmonic content for a more “vintage” styled pickup, though I wish it kind of had more. It has good clarity, and has a bit of a snappy character to it because of the A5 mag. Tonally I’d say its fairly similar to an old PAT-No pickup, or maybe a T-Top that has a little more “oomph” to it. Its a fairly versatile pickup, running on the drive channel with no pedals it brings out a very classic rock kind of vibe. When I add the treble booster I get those classic Priest and Sabbath type tones that really cut and sing. When I boosted with the BBE Green Screamer I got some pretty good Gary Moore-esque type of tones, but it didn’t quite have the balls or fullness for any more 80’s metal type tones.

The Neck pickup on the other hand is a different sounding beast. It still has some of the same characteristics of the bridge pickup because of the A5 mag, but this pickup isn’t aggressive. I was worried that the output of this pickup and the combination of the A5 mag would give me a boomy/woofy sounding neck ‘bucker (neck humbuckers have always been a bit of a problem in my les paul), but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s got good clarity to it, but it has this kind of “smoky” and “bluesy” character to it that I really like. It’s a fairly mellow sounding pickup, but it still has some good cut and just the right amount of power to keep it from sounding weak. Add just a little bit of drive to it and it can moan and sing.

In the middle position the tone is very hollow and honky, kind of single-coily but with some added fullness to it. Great for cleans with a full and chimey persuasion.

I will note one odd thing about these pickups. Whenever I roll off the volume pot to get more clean tones the roll-off isn’t gradual. Its like positions 1-7 on the volume knob are quiet and then WHAM all of sudden its full on. I dunno if its just me, but I just thought I should put that out there.

All in all I am happy with these pickups, especially the neck humbucker, which is probably the best pickup I’ve put in there to date. I wish the bridge had a little more mids, but that can be amended with a magnet swap (I actually have an A8 magnet laying around that I’m most likely going to throw in there….). But hey, for roughly 80 bucks? You can’t really go wrong.

The Guitar Fetish Earl Slick “Old School” Humbucker Set was reviewed using:  an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, Peavey Classic 30 with WGS Green Beret speaker, BBE Green Screamer and a Lenahan “Red Queen” Treble Booster

Special thanks to guest contributor Ryan Laing for this post.