by Lincoln Smith
Playing an instrument requires a number of moving parts working together in perfect harmony, not only in the musician but in the instrument itself. The smallest change in construction or composition can have a massive impact on your tone. When you finally find the perfect instrument for you, it’s easy to take these small details for granted.
Today, we’re going to go through some of the most common pickups found in Eastwood instruments and discuss what makes each one unique in its production of tone.
Valco VVSC (Vintage-Voiced Single Coil)
Off the bat, we’ll discuss one of the most popular pickups that Eastwood uses. You’ll find this pickup in the Airline ‘59 series of instruments.
The VVSC was modeled to directly replicate the single-coil pickups found in the Airline Res-O-Glas models of the late ‘50s and ‘60s. You’ve likely heard the original in use in the very capable hands of Jack White.
Photo: Airline '59 2P
Just like the original, this is a single-coil in the housing of a standard, PAF-style humbucker. It magnetically picks up a wide range of the vibrating string, resulting in a richer, more bass-focused tone than a thinner single coil. For an example of tone, think JM-style pickups rather than Strat-style pickups. It’s still more melodic and percussive than your typical humbucker, but has its own vintage charm, ready to be played quiet and clean, or driven over the top with a maxed-out gain section.
Video: Airline '59 3p DLX Demo - RJ Ronquillo
Valco VVDC (Vintage-Voiced Dual Coil)
The VVDC is (you guessed it!) a humbucking, two coil version of the VVSC. It retains the vintage Valco inspiration while cancelling 60-cycle hum. It’s naturally a hotter and bassier output, which comes naturally with humbuckers. It's perfect for players looking to combine a vintage voice with a tried and true response when pulling off soaring lead lines on stage.
Photo: Leon Bridges with his Airline Map DLX
Video: Airline Map DLX Demo featuring RJ Ronquillo
The Valco Argyle will ring a bell for Eastwood fans and anyone familiar with American-made ‘pawn shop’ instruments of the ‘60s. The appearance and tone of the Valco Argyle was obsessively matched to that of the DeArmond gold foil pickup, frequently used for vintage misfit instruments that have surged in popularity in the past 15 years.
The DeArmond gold foil was used by bargain brands such as Harmony, Airline, Silvertone, Kay, Supro, and more. Because of its unique tone, it has been chased by players (particularly indie musicians) and vintage collectors alike.
Video: Airline Bighorn demo by "Anyone Can Play Guitar"
The Valco Argyle is a faithful recreation of the bar-magnet design, perfect for lo-fi clean tones, or a crunchy high-gain response that fills a room and turns heads. It’s a tone that has helped defined the sounds of artists such as St. Vincent and Blake Mills.
The EoC M-90 was created out of necessity. When first designing the Sidejack Pro DLX, the most faithful tribute to the ‘60s Mosrite Ventures model to-date, the folks at Eastwood needed a pickup that was finely engineered to match the tone and response of the original.
The M-90 knocks it out of the park, with a blisteringly hot output that made the original Mosrites famous and defined the sound of surf rock for generations.
Photo: Sidejack Pro DLX
The M-90 is the size of a standard "soapbar" P-90 pickup, and will fit in any modern P-90 pickup cavity. It’s the perfect “missing ingredient” to push your P-90 equipped instrument into new territory.
Video: Sidejack Pro DLX Demo - RJ Ronquillo
The Valco “String-Thru” is a recent addition and one that has driven creativity in both players and the minds at Eastwood. Originally, the String-Thru was designed solely for the Airline Lap Steel Pro: a high-end recreation of Valco lap steels from the 1950s and ‘60s.
The tone is a unique blend of single coil and humbucker characteristics. It’s bright and percussive, while cancelling hum and displaying extraordinary sustain. All pole pieces are individually adjustable, allowing a player to dial it in perfectly to the instrument.
Photo: Warren Ellis CDR with String-Thru Pickup
While it works beautifully as a melodic lap steel pickup, Eastwood fans were quick to point out another famous use for this pickup: it’s an essential ingredient in building a “Coodercaster,” or a recreation of Ry Cooder’s famous guitar.
Because Eastwood loves catering to public opinion, the Warren Ellis CDR was announced shortly after. The CDR is a spin on the original concept of a Coodercaster, applying the familiar pickup layout to our Warren Ellis body shape.
The String-Thru is available for individual purchase for customers who may be interested in building their own Coodercasters.
Video: Airline Lap Steel Pro Demo - Chris T Eaton
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Check out all of the individually available pickups on the Eastwood site, or pick up that Eastwood instrument that you’ve been eyeing and play it for yourself! There’s a whole world of tonal options in the Eastwood catalogue, so don’t miss out!