Grosh Guitars ’60s Fat Stratocaster Set Ardmore OK
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Del City, OK
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Lone Grove, OK
Guitars & Fretted Instruments
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Ponca City, OK
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Grosh Guitars ’60s Fat Stratocaster Set
Does the world really need yet another revamped take on the pre-CBS Stratocaster pickup? According to high-end guitar maker Grosh Guitars, the short answer is “yes." After fitting its guitars for years with pickups made by other reputable manufacturers, this company has decided to wind its own, a process that began with a quest to nail down something that founder Don Grosh and his team still weren’t hearing from a host of successful off-the-shelf and custom-order units already on the market.
Grosh’s first release in its new Handcrafted Pickups line is the’60s Vintage Stratocaster Set (retail $240/street N/A, for three pickups), available in Standard, ’60s Fat (as reviewed), or ’60s V/V/F (with a Fat in the bridge position; $10 extra for base plate on bridge pickup, as in our test set). Of course, these lauded “vintage pickups” we’re constantly raving about vary so much in tone and performance that makers aren’t seeking to reproduce just any vintage pickups, but the best vintage pickups. Grosh had a great launch pad for this part of the puzzle: a late-1964 Fender Stratocaster with particularly lively sounding, early plain enamel-wire-wound pickups. Working from there, Grosh and the rest of the team built iteration upon iteration of prototypes in order to add that extra dash of magic to make an already great vintage pickup into a player’s dream.
“What I was looking for was more midrange for overdrive, because a lot of Strats just get lost,” Grosh tells us, “But I still wanted that tight, clean sound, with the big lows and crisp highs.” The road to achieving this involved a considerable amount of R&D in the form of sourcing desirable components, gauging and achieving the ideal magnetic gauss (strength), and winding the coils the old-fashioned way first, on hand-guided winders, then translating that to high-tech CNC winders. In the world of boutique pickup manufacturing “hand wound” still rides in on the white horse while “machine wound” is tying the girl to the railroad tracks, but viewing the process from this limited perspective can be misleading. The computer-controlled aspect of Grosh’s coil winding is a boon to consistency rather than speed, the means of letting them replicate the “best” modified-vintage pickup time after time, rather than just a random and variable vintage-styled pickup. “Those old pickups are all over the map,” Grosh says, “but we have dialed these in and can do it this way every time. We have a CNC winding machine that even controls the tension, and we measure each batch of wire—because the wire varies quite a bit—to calculate how to wind them to make them consistent every time.”
The Grosh Handcrafted Pickups are beautifully packaged in a textured black box with inlay card, wrapped much like the necklace that you should have given your wife or girlfriend on valentine’s day. The attention to detail in this presentation lets you know that this is something the company is proud of and wants you to enjoy from the v...