Rose Pickups

Sunday, August 1, 2010| by Will Chen

With so many pickup makers today, the choices can be downright overwhelming. It seems every day there a new boutique hand winder popping up. Fortunately, there are a handful of companies which are also providing affordable options. Enter Rose Pickups.

Rose Pickups was founded by brothers Kevin and Kenneth Currie and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. There business model centers around a custom built winding machine (check out the Rose website for more info on their custom winding machine) for handwound pickups as well as their Mariposa single coil pickups which are made to spec overseas. Ken at Rose was kind enough to provide a Mariposa set ($29.99 for set of 3) and a limited run Day Breaker humbucker set ($69.99 each) for review.

I must admit initially being skeptical of a set of strat pickups costing $30, though the specs look great: Alnico V rod magnets, 42 gauge wire, wax potting, with a vintage output around the 6K mark. Unboxing them for the first time the workman ship is top notch and each pickup’s specs are hand labeled on the bottom to keep things organized as well. I opted to install them in my trusty SX SST57 Stop Tail, a guitar which I had become intimately familiar with. The SX actually sounded decent stock, but I wanted to address a slightly thin nature of the bridge and a slightly nasal sounding middle pickup. Just a note on installation, the pickups covers were a touch too wide for the middle and neck positions of the SX and I had to open them up just a hair using a Dremel tool. I’m not saying this is an issue with Rose, but more likely my import’s specs being shy on the Fender spec on which the Rose’s are based.

Post install, the pups totally addressed the issues I had with the axe. Previously the bridge pup didn’t see much action but post install, I can’t get enough. The middle still has that quack but without the nasally nature and the neck pup is smooth as butter yet retains nice snap and articulation. Just amazing, a bit unbelievable for the price.

The Day Breakers went in another SX, and SJM57. Unlike the SST, the stock pickups in this one were ho-hum lacking definition. The Day Breakers were again a perfect fit greatly extending the high end response and pick articulation without ever sounding harsh as well as cutting the muddy nature of the stock pups. As with the Mariposas, the construction was top notch and like the SST install, I had to mod the guitar slightly as the stock pickup routes were a bit shallow for the replacements. Again, not an issue with Rose, just a note on the unforeseen challenges on upgrading guitars…

If you’re in the market for a vintage output Strat set, you really ought to start your journey with a set of Mariposa’s. With a price under $30 for the set, even if they’re not exactly what you’re looking (though I can’t imagine why) you won’t have broke the bank experimenting. And the Day Breakers prove their limited run sets are worthier checking out as well. Rose has had some supply issues in the past Rose has had some supply issues in the past but has reportedly signed a new contract with a supplier. As with many things in life good things come to those who wait…

Price: Starting at $29.99 Direct
Pros: Great tone at incredibly low price points
Cons: Slightly limited availability

Filed Under: Rose Pickups, Reviews