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View Full Version : Tom Holmes pickups- any cheaper alternative?


Noah
07-19-2007, 08:53 AM
I recently got a nice Les Paul that has a set of Tom Holmes pickups (I believe a 450/455 SET) and they are the best sounding PUs I've ever heard in my life. I play high energy rock type music, and these pickups just sing on both rhythm and leads. They seem to be pretty high output. I've tried different pickups before, but had no idea pickups could make such a huge difference in tone like these do.

I'd like to replace the pickups on my other guitars with them also, but there's no way I can afford to, even if I could find some.

Can anyone recommend a fairly high output humbucker that might get me close tonewise to these Holmes pickups? It's time to replace the Duncan JBs! Thanks.

Greentone
07-19-2007, 10:22 AM
Jim Rolph's pickups are great too. Very similar to Holmes in terms of tone and quality.

Alpedra
07-19-2007, 10:24 AM
Lollar Imperials are amazing PAFs.. though maybe not so suited for high energy rock or metal..

Jim Rolph“s are great... and so are Bareknuckles...

Chrissy
07-19-2007, 10:50 AM
Hi Noah,

I have that same set in my LP. I can tell you some of the PAF-like pickups I've tried that were different to the Holmes and how - that might prevent you from going through dozens just to find they are a different flavour.

Please note - this doesn't mean the others sound bad... all the PAFs at this level have their merits... I'm just answering the original poster as best I can.

Lollar Imperials were a bit brighter, chirpier, sizzlier.
WCR Crossroads neck / Darkburst bridge: neck not as chunky as the Holmes, but maybe clearer. Bridge more slimmed down as opposed to fat.
Timbuckers: neck clearer yet less complex, bridge less chunky.
SD Antiquities: more hollow sounding, less of the "sing" you mentioned

Hope that helps!
Chris

fast ricky love
07-19-2007, 08:30 PM
I'd say Chris' comments are bang on. I'd recommend a set of T60's, I thought they were the closest I played, but they aren't quite the same. The Holmes have their own thing going on.

jzucker
07-19-2007, 08:55 PM
Dimarzio PAF. Seriously. I have them in my Sadowsky Semi and they are unbelievable. You don't need to spend $500 to get a great humbucker.

Noah
07-19-2007, 09:16 PM
Thanks for the responses. I have WCR Darkbursts in my Hamer that I got from Scott Peterson, and they sound great, but they seem to be a little tame compared to the Holmes PUs.
I couldn't find any link for the Jim Rolphs. I guess they are defunct?
For the price, I might just try the Dimarzio PAFs on a guitar first and see how they stack up.

trucks
07-19-2007, 09:23 PM
If you want an overwound paf, look into the Wolfetone Marshallheads!

ford
07-19-2007, 09:24 PM
Check out Pete Biltoft's pickups at vintagevibeguitars (http://www.vintagevibeguitars.com)

His prices are very reasonable and he can tune his pickups however you like them. He's even going to make me a custom set of humbuckers to fit my G&L Asat Junior without any routing. Just another company to check into!

rock

bford

Trandy
07-19-2007, 10:03 PM
You can also buy Japanese-made Holmes pickups. These are licensed by Tom Holmes and cost about $100.00 per pair less. They're available in a number of configurations.

http://www.rakuten.co.jp/ikebe/443917/602262/

brianf
07-19-2007, 10:31 PM
. I have WCR Darkbursts in my Hamer that I got from Scott Peterson, and they sound great, but they seem to be a little tame compared to the Holmes PUs.
.

Then you need the WCR Fillmores. I found the same thing with the darkbursts in my 2003 R7. The Fillmores have more output and brought the R7 to life.

Give them a try.

brianf

Masa
07-19-2007, 11:21 PM
I have 7 x Tom Holmes pickups. All my humbuckers are Holmes. I tried WCR Fillmores on my Hamer which had Tom Holmes. They sound very different. I like Holmes better. It's a lot more open sounding. I'll put Holmes back to the Hamer, when I have time.

BTW, I can't belive he's charging so much for his pickups. I paid $120 ~ $140 per pickup about 10 years ago. I was mainly a single coil guy, until I found Holmes.

Masa

Highway Jones
07-20-2007, 06:15 AM
www.highorderpickups.com (http://www.highorderpickups.com)

Noah
07-20-2007, 06:44 AM
I have 7 x Tom Holmes pickups. All my humbuckers are Holmes. I tried WCR Fillmores on my Hamer which had Tom Holmes. They sound very different. I like Holmes better. It's a lot more open sounding. I'll put Holmes back to the Hamer, when I have time.

BTW, I can't belive he's charging so much for his pickups. I paid $120 ~ $140 per pickup about 10 years ago. I was mainly a single coil guy, until I found Holmes.

Masa

Sounds like you have too many. :) Care to share the wealth?:BEER

Droptop
07-20-2007, 07:06 AM
Peter Florence's '59 Voodoo Pickups are also amazing.

gkelm
07-20-2007, 10:42 AM
You can also buy Japanese-made Holmes pickups. These are licensed by Tom Holmes and cost about $100.00 per pair less. They're available in a number of configurations.

http://www.rakuten.co.jp/ikebe/443917/602262/

Cool! :D

Noah
07-20-2007, 10:45 AM
I went to that Japanese website, but I can't figure out how to order at all... :(

leofenderbender
07-20-2007, 11:06 AM
I've tried most of the recommendations here and the Holmes are just better. With the exception of the price, the formula he uses for those pickups is perfection in my ears.

Holmes 450/455s are balanced, open sounding, hi fidelity, tight bass, dig in perfectly. I wish I didn't sell them.

Voodoo '59s have a twangy bridge and a muddy neck. The bridge pickup is great, the neck pickup never did it for me - gone.

Lollar Imperials are bright, have decent fidelity but are boring. Glad I sold them.

Dimarzio PAFs are crisp, well balanced, overdrive well, definitely worth the price. Nice on a jazz axe - still have these.

Suhr DSVs - well balanced, open sounding, nice balance of highs & lows, dig in well, closest to Holmes but without some of the mojo. I've had these for years and they are the real deal too.

swankmotee
07-20-2007, 12:46 PM
I sold my Holmes 455T's and replaced them with Wolfetone "Marshallheads" and will never, ever look back!!!!!!! The Holmes were excellent but lacked the vintage bloom and sag at clean settings and the MH's make my 03'R9 sound just like Pearly Gates!! If you play high octane,heavy rock these are the Shite Muslim of PAF higher ohm pups! :dude:dude:dude:dude:dude:dude:dude:dude

LZ_69
07-20-2007, 10:28 PM
If your interested in a set of Rolphs, just give him a call at (859)448-9463 but be prepared to answer questions and generally bs for a good half hour.

weirdbeardgear
07-18-2009, 10:56 AM
Noah
The Tokyo Japan Holmes pickups are excellent and a superior way to achieve that true PAF sound that your looking for. But they are generally impossible to locate unless you happen to have a Japan made Holmes guitar. The only way you'd be disappointed with them is if theres something wrong with your amp. I believe they are not sold in boxes and only come mounted in a guitar. I have a set of these (for 1/2) the price if you'd be interested.
Weirdbeard

big tuna
11-17-2009, 04:02 PM
About cheaper alternatives, Wierdbeardgear.com does somehow seem to have the Tokyo and American made 450 / 455 pickups. The Tokyo models are very good and similar to the Holy Grail of pickups, the American made, but much less expensive. More like a cross between a Holmes and a classic 57 to my ear. Try this link======= http://www.weirdbeardgear.com/tom_holmes_pickups__guitars_for_sale

rburkard
11-17-2009, 05:32 PM
I put a pair of Tom Holmes unpotted pickups into a Gibson R9 that was aged by RS in Kentucky. Not that I am a fan of paying more for a beat up looking guitar, but this is how I bought it from another musician. The guitar came with RS/Fralin True 60th and I thought they were actually pretty good. Well, the Tom Holmes pickups sounded better.
The fact that I owned an original vintage 58 and 60 Les Paul Standard however always left me unsatisfied with newer guitars and pickups. I experimented a lot with different pickups and used a set of RS/Fralin Psychobilly pickups. They sounded better to me than the True 60th. Since Tom's pickups are considered by many to be the very best "good sounding" PAF clones on the market I thought that the reason I was not quite happy had to do with the guitar itself. After installing a set of Skatterbrane pickups I have to confess that these are more convincing as PAF clones. They have it all, shimmer, balls, character, dynamics, harmonics, you name it. They are not too hot and I specified them to be at around 8Kohms at the bridge pickup and at around 7.7 at the neck. All of a sudden this particular guitar sounds awesome. I ordered another set of Skatterbranes and put them in my 61 SG/Les Paul RI. This guitar too became a much better instrument and is in another league now. It is all there in perfect balance and harmony. Warm and fat but not too dark or muddy like the Fralins or too harsh like the Gibsons. More personality and feel than the Tom Holmes and way less expensive. This is where it ends for me in regards of PAF clones.
Rene

clay49
11-17-2009, 08:02 PM
I just sold the second set of Tom Holmes 450/455 pickups that I have purchased in the last three years. I am now on the backside of my tone-search, so I'll share a few thoughts on the subject.

I've been playing, recording, performing now for 30+ years. I'm no touring musician, but I play a good bit and have owned many wonderful guitars, amps, effects, cabs, speakers and pickups. First thing I'd like to say about your opening comment about wanting something a little more powerful or as powerful as the Holmes is a misconception because those pups are low-winds...bridge only clocks in around 8.4, neck around 8.0k...so definitely not high-powered in the least.

What have I owned,played in recent years? Motor City Blackbelts, Jon Moore Tres Hombres, Tim White Timbuckers, WCR Godwood, WCR Darkburst, WCR Crossroads, WCR Fillmore, Wolfetone Marshallhead, Wolfetone Dr. Vintage, Wolfetone Legend, Tom Holmes 450/455 (twice), High-Order, SD Antiquities, SD Seth Love, SD 59's, SD AlNiCo II Pro, SD JB, SD Pearly Gates/Jazz, DiMarzio Virtual PAF, BareKnuckle Mule, BareKnuckle Rebel Yell, Gibson '57 Classics, 500T/496R, Burstbuckers, Rio Grande BBQ, Sheptone A/B Customs, and probably a few more that I have forgotten over these last few years.

Which brings me to my 2-cents for this thread, and the last two pickups that I'll mention: BG Buckers and DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAFs. BG Buckers (www.bgpickups.com) are hand-wound by a fellow G-Pager, Bryan Gunsher. They cost $140 FOR A SET. They sound every bit as good as the Tom Holmes PAF...that's why they are in one of my guitars that, until two weeks ago, housed the $750 Holmes set. A VERY CLOSE second is the DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAF...once again, $140 for the set.

I'm telling you, if money is the issue, get one of these two that I have mentioned, and you will not hear a $550 difference....heck, you won't hear a nickel's worth of difference. I can say that...I can afford the Holmes, but I'd rather put that extra money into other more important gear that WILL make a difference in my sound.

Just a few words from a player that's been around the block now for nearly five decades...hope it helps!:cool: