Vaughn Skow Pickups?

TommyChung71

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Jun 24, 2021
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Replacing the pickups in a S2 22 Custom. I saw the Wampler YouTube video where he says they’re great.

I was thinking of going with BKP Mule and Riff Raff, but I wonder about these Vaughn Skow pickups.

Anyone have experience with them?
 

NBW

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Mar 25, 2019
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461
I have BKP Stormy Mondays, which I love. The BKs are nice and also very pricey. I also bought some pickups from https://www.manliusguitar.com/ they are very nice and reasonably priced. I bought the low wind PAFs for my hollowbody and they gave me the jazz box sound I was looking for.

I am also interested in hearing folks experiences with the VS pickups.
 

CrimesAgainstMusic

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Feb 18, 2021
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409
I had the Skow's installed in a SE CU24, and as advertised, they do everything the 85/15S (when "praised" in some reviews) are supposed to do. They preserve the look of the guitar with the reverse zebra coils, and sound like what the 85/15S is supposed to sound like (Pronounced Highs and Bass clear , articulate) . , I think they do everything the 85/15S is supposed to do but does not quite get there .... It would be interesting to see how they compare to 85/15's.. (both sets American made)

I think my impressions of the stock 85/15S is "split" between a set that came in a Indo made guitar, and a Korean G&B set. I replaced the Indo set with the Skows. The G&B Korean set is still hanging in there, but they do not match the Skow's .The BUILD difference between the guitars is nothing. The Indo is finished as well as the highly praised Korean. But the pickups ? Not sure whether G&B makes the pickups in the Indo guitars.

As for what is best of the brands you mention ? I'm sure any of the types you have looked will be an improvement. I was thinking SD 59' Neck / 59 Custom/Hybrid' Bridge too ...

The differences between the stock & the Skow's are most apparent when coil cut. The Skow's do not get "weak" or "thin" whereas the stock 85/15S are wanting on that front. I was going nutz wanting a set of SE TCI's ... When I realized my Skow's already had the coil cut thing covered. ...

I recently went crazier and started researching a Baritone guitar. In the SE 277, PRS aside from killing the hot Tobacco Sunburst model, has 85/15S's installed in them. And in all the YouTube demos, the pickups that cried out the most for replacement were the 85/15S . And as Cheap / Moderate priced Baritones go , the 277 is the most expensive.

So one would pay $800 for the 277 (anticipating a price increase when they come back into stock) and still have to chuck out $250-$300 to upgrade the pickups. I'm thinking the Skows would be killer in the SE277

Only problem is you are now talking about an $1100 guitar, where the Brand F Cheapie Squire is killin it at $450 ...

But I could get sucked into a Dark Cherry Burst SE277 ,where I popped for Skows ...

if I don't go completely insane, and try a "SubZero" (not a 'fridge !) $400 insane , 30" scale Baritone instead (where the stock pickups are not all that bad), but Bare Knuckles has some Baritone models (Impulse) that whomp them

Figure about $700 total package once installed , and a monstrous 30" scale length tuned to an octave below standard E tuning (I'm talking myself into this ) :oops:
 

SinSir

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Sep 7, 2020
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2,115
Has anyone else noticed often it's newer users that come to sites asking about VS pickups but otherwise not really talked about? I've heard of them but only due to speaker research. There are already so many good winders out there I don't know if I have room for another. Reading the above reinforces that.
 

CrimesAgainstMusic

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Feb 18, 2021
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409
Has anyone else noticed often it's newer users that come to sites asking about VS pickups but otherwise not really talked about? I've heard of them but only due to speaker research. There are already so many good winders out there I don't know if I have room for another. Reading the above reinforces that.

Well, I'd say the VS are good pickups, and I would recommend them to anyone looking to upgrade from stock. 85/15S .

We have to remember however not to lose sight that the guitars the 85/15S are installed in ... are designed to be "good" but not crazy expensive ($250 +++) Adding a Bare Knuckles/ Lambertones/ VS set as original equipment, would make your "budget " SE CU24, a $1100 guitar. Going aftermarket ... gives one the "installment plan" option.

But in agreeing with what you said above, I guess we are in a "Banquet" period of choices where good pickups are widely available . Unfortunately, market forces will cull the herd, but we can at least enjoy all of them for now ...
 

SinSir

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Sep 7, 2020
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2,115
Well, I'd say the VS are good pickups, and I would recommend them to anyone looking to upgrade from stock. 85/15S .

We have to remember however not to lose sight that the guitars the 85/15S are installed in ... are designed to be "good" but not crazy expensive ($250 +++) Adding a Bare Knuckles/ Lambertones/ VS set as original equipment, would make your "budget " SE CU24, a $1100 guitar. Going aftermarket ... gives one the "installment plan" option.

But in agreeing with what you said above, I guess we are in a "Banquet" period of choices where good pickups are widely available . Unfortunately, market forces will cull the herd, but we can at least enjoy all of them for now ...

I'm sure they are, WGS have a good speaker reputation. It only makes sense.

85/15s to me isn't much of a barometer though. They are probably my least favorite S pickups so far. Not true, I don't really care for the HFS 's'. I think the VBs is ok. I didn't use too but these days I put electronics upgrade before pickups. I would still consider an upgraded $1kish SE a helluva bargin. I know mine, that's been tweaked to the end, is a fantastic guitar that holds its own in tone and playability to about anything out there.

I guess I'm saying when upgrading pickups my goal isn't to be on par or a notch above S pickups. My goal is to get closer to core or the likes. I don't know if VS can or not but for the money I'm staying with what I know.
 

CrimesAgainstMusic

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Feb 18, 2021
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409
In general, I don't buy products that pushes negatives about the original product while hyping how their products are far superior. Step right up folks. :)

Well Yeah ... There is that... But we are talking 85/15S here ... (hey I still use a G&B made set)

But then what is said ...pans out . Yes you pay $ 239 for 'em ,and SD stuff that may be as good or better is generally cheaper (available for a discount through dealers) . But I found what Wampler (an unrelated manufacturer ? ) said , to pretty much bear out. Then I do have my first hand experience ... My only question is do I want to duplicate the VS in my other SE, or try the SD combo 59 Neck /59 Hybrid Bridge > I cannot be sure how they will sound in my SE CU 24

See, in doing "You Tube" evaluations, ( and SD stuff is highly produced but general ) I could actually hear how the pickup would sound in my guitar. Wampler's "before", sounded typical of 85/15S performance. And his "after" does too. So there is that ... :cool:
 
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