Pros: Adjustable Pole Pieces!
Longtime readers of Just Jazz Guitar will remember my article in the May 2008 issue (Number 55) on amplifying the Gypsy jazz guitar. At that time the only magnetic pickups available were the vintage Stimer pickups and the Stimer reissues made by Dupont Guitars of Cognac France. While in theory a magnetic pickup is the most gig friendly and least guitar invasive choice, those 2008 choices had issues. They were unbalanced (the B string was particularly hot), expensive for Americans due to the dollar/euro exchange rate and did not fit on many Gypsy jazz guitars due to insufficient clearance between the top and the strings. Since 2008 a few European makers (Miller of Switzerland, etc.) have solved the balance problem by using separate magnets for each string, but the expense and clearance issues have remained. That has now changed! A true testament to American ingenuity, Jason Krivo Flores has developed two magnetic pickups for Gypsy jazz guitars that are affordable, fit almost all Gypsy jazz guitars out there and sound great. Krivo felt the cost of the European pickups was prohibitive for a working musician such as himself (they cost $350 plus) and decided to make his own. By the time he came up with one that worked for his needs, he had invested $500 (oops) and so he decided to build them for others to recoup his investment. Over the last few years, he has built and marketed several different models, always using feedback from the musicians that bought his pickups to refine his models. His is a one person operation. To date he has sold hundreds of pickups. Today he markets three pickups, one for acoustic bass and two for the Gypsy jazz guitar, the Nuevo a single coil model and the Djangobucker the only humbucking pickup made for the Gypsy jazz guitar. Both models are attached to guitars top with finish friendly putty (supplied with each pickup, along with very detailed instructions on how to mount and use them). Both models have attached cables with standard guitar jacks. He uses the best components, Neodymium magnets, Switchcraft connectors, single forvmar magnet wire instead of the typical poly-nylon and super high quality Mogami cable. The pickups are covered with an attractive wood finish. To keep as much acoustic tone as possible, he does not pot the pickups so they are slightly microphonic. This way soundboard vibrations are added to the string vibrations in the amplified sound. His work is guaranteed (for one year) and he offers a no questions money back refund. How do they sound and how do they work in the real world of the gig I tested both pickups on a variety of Gypsy jazz guitars, both oval hole models and D hole models. Clearance on the Nuevo is superb. I doubt there is a Gypsy Jazz guitar out there that this pickup wont fit. The Djangobucker is a bit thicker. It is slimmer than the European pickups, but may not fit on a few Gypsy jazz guitars, especially some of the Asian imports that have a low neck angle. Both pickups have excellent gain and are capable of providing feedback free performance in most situations where one would gig with a Gypsy jazz guitar. There is some noise in certain rooms with the single coil Nuevo (all single coil pickups have this occasional flaw), but in my experience gigging with the Nuevo it is a rare occurrence. Sonically, the Nuevo has a P-90 sound (The European pickups have a more Dearmond sound). The Djangobucker is a warmer sound (it is a humbucker for sure!) and has the added benefit of adjustable polepieces. If your Gypsy jazz guitar is dark, you will prefer the Nuevo, if your guitar is bright, the Djangobucker will take off the harsh edge. I like them both, and while I do prefer the sound of the Djangobucker, I will keep a Nuevo for those venues where a bit of brightness is called for (some rooms are just plain muddy sounding, no matter how much you EQ the amp). These pickups work well with tube amps, solid state amps and dedicated Acoustic" amps. All in all, these pickups are a great product at a great price and are highly recommended. (Some may want to modify these pickups with volume knobs or removable cables, doing so should be easy and inexpensive.) The author of this review is the founder and bandleader of Hot Club Pacific (www.hotclubpacific.com), one of the longest running Gypsy Jazz ensembles in North America.
Submitted by: Marc Schwartz on 07/31/2014 12:54:44 PM