Lace Alumitone Pickups

Jun18

Time for a change (finally) in pickups. For decades, electric guitar pickups have all been built along the same principles. Basically, running long lengths of copper wire around a magnet. To reduce noise, you’d add another pickup, invert it’s polarization and have a double-coil, or humbucker. This has been the standard since the electric guitar was invented and it’s what you have on your axe.

Lace have changed all this. They’ve been making conventional pickups for 25 years; Eric Clapton uses Lace pickups on his strat. But it’s time for something else.

The Alumitone pickup is a radical departure in pickup making. Conventional pickups are voltage designed, meaning it’s the voltage in the current that makes them work. The Alumitone is current-driven instead. What this means is a much more fluid system which allows smoother operation.

Also, the Alumitone is aluminium-based rather than copper-based. Aluminium is a much better conductor than copper. This gives you less resistance and higher output.

Overall, the Alumitone has a single coil of wire and, although it does use copper wire, it uses 90% less than a conventional pickup.

Lace Alumitones Guitar Pickups

The design is noiseless and picks up so much that it eliminates the need for humbuckers. But they do make humbuckers anyway (and Tele designs) for a simple reason: if you have humbuckers on your guitar, placing a single-coil will look a bit foolish. The humbucker doesn’t do anything more than the single-coil, but it does look nice.

Mike Van Stiphout of Audio Nova in Montreal lent me a Lace Huntington guitar with Alumitone pickups. Since the guitar itself is a bottom-line one, you can’t expect the results you’d get from a high-end guitar. The model is Strat-type with three single coils. But when you plug it in and play, it’s a jaw-dropping experience. It actually sounds like an expensive guitar because of what’s happening with those pickups.

You get a lot more high and bass sounds coming out of the guitar than with conventional pickups. I don’t mean that you have to have a specialist’s trained ear to hear the difference. It’s so obvious that anyone, even a non-musician, will hear the difference immediately.

Although it’s less noticeable, you also get more mids than with conventional pickups and overall, a lot more volume. Believe me when I say the difference is amazing. This is not like comparing two regular brand-name pickups, it’s much more than that.

The sound is of course, very clean. Maybe you wouldn’t want these for a dirty blues sound or heavy metal, but then again, I remember that plugging a very dirty fuzz into a clean Jazz Chorus 120 years ago gave me loads of pleasure and a great sound too. I’m thinking, heavy metal-wise, that these pickups capture so much sound that if you ran them into a dirty distortion pedal, you’d probably end up with something quite nice indeed. Certainly a much bigger sound.

The Alumitones will fit onto any guitar, but take note that the pickguard (if you have one) requires a slight alteration; the cuts have to be rectangular rather than rounded. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a minor adjustment that can easily be done and won’t alter your sound.

And these pickups look so cool (they also make them in black!). Once you try them you’ll want them.

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About A-J Charron

Between 2000 to 2005 A-J wrote over 300 articles and reviews for Guitar Noise. Many of them have been translated into other languages. A-J is a singer and songwriter from Montréal, Québec. In 2005, A-J left to begin his own music media website.

Comments [2]

  1. “Aluminium is a much better conductor than copper. This gives you less resistance and higher output”

    wrong explanation, nice try.

  2. Wrong explanation is right:
    http://metals.about.com/od/properties/a/Electrical-Conductivity-In-Metals.htm
    Copper is a better conductor. Also, Alumitone “Humbuckers” are not really humbuckers in the following way: the North Finish and South Start are electrically connected (with resistance between), so you can’t split coils, you can only tap one coil off in the middle for lower impedance and less turns.You absolutely cannot put two coils in series because there is only one coil (as far as I can tell with an ohm meter.) The green wire is either a dummy or just shielding: not electrically connected to the one coil.
    That said, these pickups sound great to me. They don’t deliver any vintage tones, just some very good modern tones. From Jerry Garcia-ish to Satriani-like, but different. My cup of tea for sure. With such a great product, you would hope Lace would give customers accurate information. Here’s Lace implying that aluminum has less resistance than copper, and that these might be humbuckers:
    http://www.lacemusic.com/Alumitone_Humbucker.php
    Only a few customers would figure that out, yes, but honesty is golden, which has a conductance and resistivity somewhere between copper and aluminum.

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