Paul’s 408 TCI vs Fralin Unbucker’s

Andrew Paul

The cat's meow
Joined
May 25, 2017
Messages
3,126
Location
New York
So, by now everyone who knows me on the Forum knows that I absolutely love the 408 TCI pickups in my Paul’s and my Modern Eagle V.

Recently, I purchased a used Gibson, Les Paul Standard, I know not a PRS but over 90% of my guitars are PRS. Anyway, I decided I didn’t care for the stock pickups and I’ve been a fan of Lindy Fralin‘s pickups for quite some time now so I decided to change the electronics and give his Unbuckers a try. I love the sweet, single coil tones I get from my Paul’s Guitar, so I wanted to achieve something similar and after speaking to Lindy, he explained how his Unbucker pups are made and how good they sound split. They really achieve a nice glassy single coil sound. I was able to get zebra coils as you can see them in the Les Paul.

I’ve decided to share this with a link to a lengthy sound file on SoundCloud, comparing the pickups, clean tones only. Only effects is some compression into a Fender Princeton Reverb amp, the photo shows the settings. I apologize apparently I think I had a little too much reverb on it, but I’m not gonna do it again since the sound clip is 17+ minutes and it took me some time going back-and-forth between the two guitars. Nothing fancy just recorded on my iPhone near the amp with some narration. I played some chord shapes up and down the fretboard and some single notes up and down the fretboard so you can get a good idea how both sets of pickups sound.

I still love the 408 TCI pickups the most in my Paul’s and MEV but, these Unbuckers really sparkle. Check them out.


OCXMkOy.jpg


Y6J1VdU.jpg
 
Andy, you are SO the man! It's always great to hear a clip, as opposed to a description. I mean, descriptions are OK, but clips give you the real lowdown.

Gotta say, I love the Paul's Guitar tones, especially the neck pickup split; I really like the way the treble frequencies sound. Not that the Gibby is bad at all...it's a little darker, as one might expect from a wider pickup, but it's very nice, and would definitely work well in the right context. Say, with a Marshall style amp.

I think the Gibson's split bridge pickup sounds particularly great. Again, might work a little better with a more Marshall sound, but that's of course a mere preference with a Gibson. The upper harmonics generated by a Plexi have always been great with a Gibby.

There are tracks I would use that kind of tone on. In my semi-humble opinion, they're both winners.

And both guitars are drop-dead gorgeous. So...yeah! Great job! And you played the samples well!
 
Andy, you are SO the man! It's always great to hear a clip, as opposed to a description. I mean, descriptions are OK, but clips give you the real lowdown.

Gotta say, I love the Paul's Guitar tones, especially the neck pickup split; I really like the way the treble frequencies sound. Not that the Gibby is bad at all...it's a little darker, as one might expect from a wider pickup, but it's very nice, and would definitely work well in the right context. Say, with a Marshall style amp.

I think the Gibson's split bridge pickup sounds particularly great. Again, might work a little better with a more Marshall sound, but that's of course a mere preference with a Gibson. The upper harmonics generated by a Plexi have always been great with a Gibby.

There are tracks I would use that kind of tone on. In my semi-humble opinion, they're both winners.

And both guitars are drop-dead gorgeous. So...yeah! Great job! And you played the samples well!

Thank you so much Les. I tried to keep things basic for both guitars to hear them "as they are". Did not change amp or eq setting for either, just a "middle of the road" setting. I'm sure I could get a better sound EQ-ing each individual guitar but wanted to keep things the same for the comparison. The Gibson is also a little louder in volume. I thought both displayed a lovely split or single coil tones. PRS found a way to switch it into an actual single coil versus split or tap (according to PRS). Fralin Unbucker splits and uses the "over-wound" coil (black coil with screw poles), the second coil of the humbucker is under wound (cream coil).

For my sounds I like to achieve a very clean ambient sound with a lot of headroom. Dirty sounds I use drive pedals in-front of the Princeton. For any other amp sounds I'll use my Fractal AX8 through FRFR. I will experiment with the Plexi sounds of the Fractal when I get a chance. Thanks for checking it out.
 
Last edited:
Great share Andy. For me the Paul’s neck split was the sound for me. Definition in the tonality where it needs to be for my liking.
Thanks for listening. Yes I do agree that the neck split is fantastic on the Paul’s. I like those 408 TCI pickups for a all-in-one best of both worlds guitar. MEV takes it to the next level.

Unbuckers in the Les Paul are different, but still sweet, sounding for an all-in-one guitar.
 
On a Les Paul note, I find myself always quickly going back to PRS varieties. Always thought custom shop was the ticket to get that tone that gets raved about but it’s eluded me after a few Les Paul Customs.

I find the PRS guitars to be much more musical and consistently so. I wish my experiences had been better with the Les Paul after chasing them for long enough and putting more than enough dollars into it.
 
On a Les Paul note, I find myself always quickly going back to PRS varieties. Always thought custom shop was the ticket to get that tone that gets raved about but it’s eluded me after a few Les Paul Customs.

I find the PRS guitars to be much more musical and consistently so. I wish my experiences had been better with the Les Paul after chasing them for long enough and putting more than enough dollars into it.
I have to agree with you 100%. Having this Les Paul was not a necessity it was something I wanted to revisit. I’ve been playing PRS since 1990 and never looked back. Build quality is consistent. Just the best Guitars out there.

So why did I buy this Les Paul? My first one was in high school somewhere in 1981/82 and I believe and sold it in 2000 because it sat in the case after playing my multiple PRS guitars. Funny because even though I got this 2021 LP Standard for a good price, you end up pumping money into it. Didn’t have to but I like locking tuners so I bought Grover locking tuners, then didn’t care for the pickups, so I put in these Lindy Fralin pickups which are not cheap. The finish quality is nowhere near a PRS and the binding is definitely not done as well as a PRS. Maybe I should’ve just bought another Paul’s guitar. Lol

BTW on Monday I’ll do a part two thread with dirty sounds.
 
I've considered Fralin pickups for my SE ZM, but the 245S pickups aren't as bad as I thought... so still considering. Thanks for the tone comparison! I'm with everyone else, prefer the TCI ;) .
 
Nice comparison. Another pickup to consider in this category is the El Rayo by Lollar. I looked at all these kinds of pickups and ended up getting the El Rayo's for my PRS Standard-22 with stop tailpiece which came with Dragon II's. They sound fantastic, like very big singlecoils in humbucker mode and slightly more airy and bright when split. The neck in particular is very articulate with bite to spare.
 
Last edited:
Nice comparison. Another pickup to consider in this category is the El Rayo by Lollar. I looked at all these kinds of pickups and ended up getting the El Rayo's for my PRS Standard-22 with stop tailpiece which came with Dragon II's. They sound fantastic, like very big singlecoils in humbucker mode and slightly more airy and bright when split. The neck in particular is very articulate with bite to spare.
Thanks for replying, I will look into those Lollar’s. Maybe I can find some sound examples on YouTube or SoundCloud. I’m always chasing tone. ;)
 
man I agree. The PG sounds amazing split. I would say yes it sounds better than the fralin's, but its really splitting hairs and in a live setting I doubt audible much to a crowd. Fralin's unbucker sound great split; probably one of the best boutique I've heard split. Is there considerable volume drop when splitting the unbucker? Is its technology much like 24-08 tech where one side is overwound to achieve better single coil sound and minimize volume drop? I wonder how good they sound in humbucker mode.
 
man I agree. The PG sounds amazing split. I would say yes it sounds better than the fralin's, but its really splitting hairs and in a live setting I doubt audible much to a crowd. Fralin's unbucker sound great split; probably one of the best boutique I've heard split. Is there considerable volume drop when splitting the unbucker? Is its technology much like 24-08 tech where one side is overwound to achieve better single coil sound and minimize volume drop? I wonder how good they sound in humbucker mode.
Thanks for listing and reply. 408 TCI split is amazing and have slight volume loss, Fralin Unbucker has about the same. In the audio recordings amp settings and effects chain eq settings are the exact same. im sure I could adjust the eq on the Unbucker and get it sounding the same. Yes, Fralin Unbucker splits and uses the "over-wound" coil (black coil with screw poles for single coil split), the second coil of the humbucker is under wound (cream coil). Humbucker sounds great. I believe I included in sound comparison. Just need to do a "dirty" example. After these holidays are over. In the end it's just fun playing with these pickups. I didn't like the pickups the Les Paul had so I tried something to give me a similar sound to the Paul's guitar. In the end.... Paul's guitar and Modern Eagle V are just the best.
 
So the Unbucker would be compatible with the 24-08 SE and S2 guitars to minimize volume loss?! Certainly a reasonable upgrade if so for those that may not love the 85/15s sound.
 
So the Unbucker would be compatible with the 24-08 SE and S2 guitars to minimize volume loss?! Certainly a reasonable upgrade if so for those that may not love the 85/15s sound.
I wouldn’t hesitate to try them. You could also talk to Lindy Fralin regarding what you want to achieve with your tone, he may modify the amount of winds for the coils. May discuss Treble bleed cap and resistor, things like that, etc. On my Les Paul it’s just bare bones. There’s no treble bleeding on volume no added resistors to ground on the split tone pot. He’s very helpful. If he’s busy, he will get back to you. I’m not trying to push his products on a PRS form, but I use his pickups with PRS GUITAR’s. I also use the Fralin Pure PAF pickups on my Hollowbody II/Piezo, and High-Output humbuckers on a Custom 24.
 
Oh I’ve used plenty of fralins before. Very familiar with his work. Fralins and Bareknuckles are prob some of my fav boutique pickups. I have no problem promoting them in PRS, especially for non core guitars!
 
Back
Top