Lindy Fralin is considered to be up there at the top of the pyramid with the handful of really good pickup winders. When it comes to PAF style humbuckers, even the most discriminating tone-sniffer knows they came to the right place when it comes to Fralin. For today’s purpose, we’re going to be looking at the High Output Humbucker.
In all fairness, I understand a lot of players will look at something called “High Output” and expect a face-searing devastator… something generally considered to be tightly compressed and more about the output than the tone. Well, then, let’s just ease on up there, pardner. This thoroughbred is from a different herd. How about we go ahead and take a peek at what’s under the hood to get an idea of where we’re headed
Series – 12.32k
Split north – 6.17k
Split south – 6.15k
Parallel – 3.08k
Alnico 4 magnet
My experimentation with magnets has revealed the Alnico 4 to be pretty well-balanced, and that’s the case here. Lows are big and full and on the verge of punchy, but not loose or muddy. The spread across the mids allow an even presence for some roar in the low mids and some snap in the high mids. The high end has bite and edge and tinkers with the idea of being sharp, but eases up before going too far. There is clearly some power there, but I don’t think it should be confused with anything in the bone-crushing genre.
The High Output Humbucker, to my ears, seems to live more comfortably in the dirty amp channel. Riffing and chugging and big open anthem-inspired chords are all right on target. I even had a little fun and wired it to be out of phase with a random neck pickup I used for the test, and that was a hoot. The bluesy and rock type of lead work and pinched squeals were a breeze. A few of the tapped squeals got off well out of the gate, but you might need a bit more gain at the amp if you’re thinking of doing any Dime tricks. Easing down on the guitar volume knob and it delivered nice options for edgy and plinky vibes.
Over on the clean amp setting side of things, I found that it seemed to work really well for me when rolled back to about 3/4 volume. I wired the High Output Humbucker to switch from series to split to parallel, and the full volume could be a little quick to break up throughout those switching options. Taking it further down to about 1/2 way and it cleaned up even more while still maintaining a workable presence.
Tone definitely trumps all when it comes to the Fralin High Output Humbucker. The vintage classic PAF players can throw some horns and the harder-edged players can unleash a little more tone into their rig. The 12.5k-13.5k DC resistance range being addressed here is a bit of a open territory that not many pickups find their way in to. It’s a bit of a sweet spot where pickups can have a little more push and still be open-sounding. It’d be fun to see it explored more. It’d also be fun to see Mr. Fralin infuse his tone into maybe a few more aggressive humbucker options.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com