View Full Version : Don Mare Super Sport Strat Pickups Review...

02-13-2012, 09:51 AM
I picked up a set of Don Mare “Supersport” strat pickups (with non-RW/RP middle) and put them in my guitar this past Friday. After letting the guitar “settle-back” in and adjust the pickup heights, I’m really loving these pickups! My review below….

What I was looking for…
So I’ve tried so many of the boutique brands out there and have not been completely satisfied. For whatever reason, I’ve had to compromise. For example – “great neck pickup, but not enough quack in the neck/middle”….“two usable positions (neck and neck/middle) the rest are too bright”, etc.

I consider myself a decent player. Mostly playing at home these days, but after almost 30 years I have a good appreciation for tone and what sounds good. I’m also at a point where I’m tired of the gear search. At one point I had a ton of guitars and amps, but now I just have one great guitar and one great amp. I was honestly skeptical when ordering from Don and figured I had 1 or 2 “last shots” in my pickup quest before stopping and settling (just don’t have the finances or energy anymore with 3 growing kidsJ).

I don’t know about you, but I run through my cliché set of guitar riffs when I test pickups as a benchmarkJ Ex - When I play “Lenny” does it have enough chime and sweetness? When I play Voodoo Chile, does that low-E thump and have that piano like sound? When I play that Wind Cries Mary 12th to 14th fret hammer-on does it shimmer and have that bell-like quality? Silly I know, but the Don Mare’s passed with flying colors and more. Overdriven sounds were awesome as well with my Blackverb.

What set the Don Mare pickups apart IMHO…
· Balance – Amazing string to string balance and between pickups. Barre across at the 3rd fret and strum, and then again at the 12th fret….the volume is even and no string dominates. Balance between pickups is great with nothing too “pushed” sounding or bright in comparison.
· Low end Thump with Sweet Highs – Not sure how he did this, but the low end is tight and piano like and the highs are sweet and shimmer (with just the right amount of compression). Other pickups have had a tight low end but were aggressively so and the high strings were harsh as a result.
· Responseness – Great strat pickups respond depending on pickup attack and these are no exception. More responsive than any pickup I’ve tried. Hit the strings hard and you get a nice treble-burst…but not harsh. Vibrato at the 15th fret on the high B string without picking and you can actually start a note…

Equipment Used
K-Line Strat with rosewood board plugged straight into a Redplate Blackverb combo with a 10’ Evidence Audio Lyric HG cable.

Wait Time/Customer Service
Don quoted 2-3 weeks and the pickups arrive within that timeframe. Good email and phone contact – no issues!

In any case, hope this review helps. I’m also of the mindset to never say “this blows away that!” or “these are the best!”. I believe there’s an application for most everything and it’s the combination of the entire signal chain that lead to great tone. That being said, I love the Don Mare SuperSports and they fulfilled exactly what I was looking for.

Joe Perry
02-13-2012, 10:10 AM
Thanks for the nice review. I agree, playing cliche' riffs is a good way to test out gear. You immediately know if the "base" tone you're looking for is there or not. There is no best, just what works for you. For me, I've settled on Suhrs and WCR SR's. What other sets have you gone through?

Anthony Gring
02-13-2012, 10:22 AM
Considering Mares ( among a few others ) for strat pup replacement. Thanks for your review. I'll also ask, what other strat pups have you tried ?

Thanks !

02-13-2012, 10:30 AM
Thanks guys...I've tried quite a few pickups (see below). All were very good, but just not exactly what I was looking for in terms of my guitar and setup. Also, to be fair some of those pickups were tried in other guitars (not in my current K-Line which is awesome :) ).

Fralin Vintage Hots and Blues Specials
Fender Texas Specials and 57/62's
Duncan Antiquity Surfers
Lollar Blonds and Tweeds
Suhr ML
Klein S-5s

MT Buckaroo
02-13-2012, 10:45 AM
I've got a neck and middle Super Sport pickups that should show up in the mail today. Will confirm DC resistance then call Don to have him make a bridge pickup to fill out the set.

Nice review, Crow; gets me pretty excited to hear these pickups. Mine are slated to replace some Lollar blackfaces in a '62 style Strat that are nice, but a bit too polite.

Anthony Gring
02-13-2012, 10:50 AM
Does he offer the SS with RWRP middle ?

I play in places w/ bad 60 cycle and the RWRP is pretty much a necessity for me.

02-13-2012, 10:54 AM
Don Mare is the man. Not only are his products the top-of-the-heap, his customer service is without equal.

02-13-2012, 10:56 AM
Super Sport vs. Josie winds...what is the differences?

Trebor Renkluaf
02-13-2012, 12:17 PM
Does he offer the SS with RWRP middle ?

I play in places w/ bad 60 cycle and the RWRP is pretty much a necessity for me.
From his website - yes.

02-13-2012, 12:25 PM
i have Don's Hayride pickups in my pine tele, and they positively blow me away. perfect sensitivity/microphonics, great play with tone knobs, even volume string to string.

02-13-2012, 12:30 PM
The Super Sports are the same as the Josie/Vaughan set but with a hotter bridge pickup (7.3K vs 6.5K).

Super Sport vs. Josie winds...what is the differences?

02-13-2012, 01:28 PM
Great review! I'm just getting to settle in with a set of Mare pickups in my Tele too. Also playing thru a RP Blackverb! They are an El Black Crow bridge and an S-Tele neck. Very sweet and balanced. And that middle position is a revalation!

02-13-2012, 02:30 PM
I have a USACG maple/swamp ash Strat with Don's SS pickups, just plain terrific! I did also try them on my rosewood/alder strat, but felt that for me, they worked best with a maple neck. YMMV.

Joe Perry
02-13-2012, 02:49 PM
From his website - yes.

Ya, I believe Non-RWRP is the default and RWRP has to be specifically asked for when ordered.

gillman royce
02-13-2012, 02:58 PM
I love my Mare ' Keef ' tele bridge pup - can't remember anyone posting a disappointment about Don's pups

02-13-2012, 03:21 PM
Don makes em right!

02-13-2012, 03:32 PM
Don is very good at what he does. I have the nightflyers in my strat and really like them. And it was great to talk to the man himself and explain what I was wanting. Great experience all around. Couldnt be happier!