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Unread 01-31-2012, 10:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Dragonfire Pickups

Hi Everyone

So, being that I'm as broke as can be, I decided to take a chance and install the Dragonfire Power Rail pickups. Picked up a set of them for $40 on Ebay. Figured at $20 a pickup (as compared to $80 for the DiMarzio brand name of the same pickup) it was worth a chance.

Now that I have them installed, I can honestly say that I'm very happy with them. Not having experience with the brand name pickup, I can't really say that they are better or worse, but they are a huge improvement over the stock Epiphone pickup that came with the Epi Les Paul.

First thing I noticed straight away was that they are loud, much louder than my stock pups. I also was impressed with their clarity, very little muddy sound even with lots of gain. I'm sure I will fiddle with pickup height a bit until I'm perfectly happy with them.

Negatively, one of the pickups does seem to be louder than the other (the neck pickup is the loudest.) Fiddling with the pickup height should correct this to a degree, and it may not matter all that much. But if you're looking for a balanced volume between the two, then you may have a bit more work cut out for you. Personally, I don't mind the difference as it gives me more choices in sound, and I know a lot of players like one pickup to be louder. A lot of this will come down to personal preference.

Tons of sustain out of these pups as well.

So if you are on a real tight budget and want to upgrade the pickups in your guitar, I would give Dragonfire a go. There are also similar pickups sold by GHS (guitarfetish.com) for $40 a piece. I suspect the quality control may be a bit tighter with the brand name pickups, but $140 difference in price is huge, especially in this economy.
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Unread 02-01-2012, 09:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Dragonfire Pickups

Turns out I had a wiring problem with the bridge pickup. A single strand of the wire had crossed from the tab of the volume pot and was barely touching the tab next to it for the tone control. Realized there was an issue when the tone wasn't working. Corrected the problem and the volume of the bridge pickup increased to it's normal level.

Very easy to balance both out.

Very happy with these pickups, especially at that price point.
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Unread 02-01-2012, 09:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Dragonfire Pickups

I put one of the active 81's in my budget Partscaster and I love it. For $30-$40ish (it's been a year or two, don't remember for sure) it was exactly what I wanted. Something with a little more bite than the original. My only gripe, if you can really call it one, was the wiring instructions or lack there of. Granted it was pretty straight forward, but it would have been nice to have.
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Unread 02-01-2012, 02:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Dragonfire Pickups

On the box that came with mine was the North/South Start/End codes. Fortunately I found a very good wiring diagram on guitarelectronics.com that used the specific North/South wires. Made it easy to figure out what went where.

I would be curious to know how they compare to the DiMarzio, but considering it was $40 for the pair instead of $160 for the brand name...

I'm also not a serious musician, just someone who likes to mess around to kill time at home. Can't imagine that the DiMarzio's are so much better that they are worth an extra $120.

Sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes you are paying for the name. Not to mention that DiMarzio has to pay out all their endorsements and advertising. That's money a no-name pickup doesn't have to invest.

In the end, is there really such a big difference in the quality of plastic and wire, assuming they are constructed the same?

I suspect that the plant in Korea is just reverse-engineering the brand name pickups with dirt cheap labor and minimal overhead.

All I know is that they look great and sound a ton better than my stock pups ever could on their best day.
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