Ah… the fabled Gold Foil pickup. Or, the hooker with a heart of gold—and by hooker, I don’t mean the derogatory term for a desperate person trying to earn a buck. I mean hooker in the sense that once one lays his or her ears on the sparkling, harmonically rich, clear brilliance of a Gold Foil pickup, they will be hooked enough to start carving and shimming their beloved instruments to accommodate these “cheap” ‘60s tone generators. Well, here is some good news. The good folks at Mojotone have not only resurrected the original Gold Foil pickup in exacting detail, they can mount it onto a P-90 harness for drop-in tonal gold. This is exactly what I did to my favorite little single bridge pickup rock ‘n’ roll machine, the rare Reverend Hotshot Jr.
This turned out to be a match made in Heaven, both aesthetically and tonally. I opted for the silver foil (instead of traditional gold option) to match my ’69 lime green machine’s knobs, bridge and armguard. When I plugged her in and hit the first chord, I was rewarded with an alight sparkler shower of shimmering harmonic chime. This was exactly what I hoped to achieve, because P-90 clean tones can sound a bit bleary and squinted in the bridge position. This was like a big, fat dollop of Visine to wet the dry-tone-eye for an all-seeing of frequencies.
Rubberized and re-baptized
The original Teisco Gold Foil pickups employed a rubberized magnet (yes, like the ones on the refrigerator) in an effort to cut production costs. This combined with 44-gauge wire and screws on top of the coils make for a bridge pickup that hears more string speak in both the higher and lower registers. This is why the Gold Foil is a good candidate for bridge pickup replacement in Stratocasters—it weeds the reedy thin tones out with some expanded magnetic field work.
It’s not all about cleans though; this Mojotone Gold Foil speaks just as clearly when overdriven. The clear top end magnifies complex chords’ note interplay even with a generous portion of gain administered. Rolling back the tone knob and working the volume control really makes a difference with this pickup and leads can sing and sizzle (almost like a mini humbucker) without ever getting muddy. Dave Shepherd is a lord of the current production Gold Foil…I shall not want…another pickup for my Reverend.
What we like: Slide players looking to build a vintage-spec “Coodercaster” and players looking for a uniquely brilliant clear tone can now rejoice. The days of hunting and paying dearly for dwindling supplies of gold foil pickups are over. Dave Shepherd and Mojotone have spared no expense in providing the authentic Gold Foil experience with custom machined hardware, 44-gauge wire, extreme attention to detail and modern consistency standards. Welcome modern upgrades include P-90 mounting options and two-conductor wire to avoid phasing issues with other pickups. This pickup will add sharp visual and tonal vintage vibe to any axe.
Concerns: Because this pickup is true to exact vintage specification, higher gain settings will reveal some of the microphonic attributes inherent to the original design. This is simply nature of the beast. This shouldn’t be of much concern, because it is highly unlikely that this pickup is going to appeal to shredders or guitarists looking to bring the “brootz.” The upside to this slight microphony is the ability to cast many shades of musical feedback around a tune like a cranked tube amp conductor. The nature of this beastly scenario is pure Crazy Horse-mounted Neil Young. This pickup excels in this application and many others.