IntroductionDavid Allen is a top notch Boutique Pickups maker. His pickups have a lot of interest for many reasons but, without any doubt, the most I like is that they deliver outstanding tone with an affordable price (if you compare them to other boutiquers).
My contact with DA pickups was just casual, because one of my Wiring Design Service's customer (now a good friend of mine) wanted to pay my work with a set of DA pickups, which I didn't know at that time.
Things went like good things go and, step by step, DA was sending me some pickups to test and, asked me if I knew of a good Music Store in Spain to distribute his pickups. He was really picky and, didn't wanted a store that just distributes (that moves boxes). He wanted a good Store with knowledgeable people that could give support to customers and, to help them to make their best decision.
Thinking on it, there was just one Spanish Music Store that I was 100% sure that would fit the requirements and, that was Auvisa (http://www.auvisa.com). I had a very good friend of mine that lived close to Auvisa and, that had a lot of contact with them so, I was introduced to Auvisa people and, went there with a couple of guitars, loaded with two different Strato single coil sets (StratCats and Dovers).
We did a short demo, with some backing tracks and, leaved to Rafa (awesome player, full of techniques but, also full of feeling) to test the pickups. He instantaneously understood the goodness of such pickups and, wanted to check commercial conditions.
My role there was just to put both parts in contact and, this should be clear from the beginning: WITH NO COMMERCIAL INTEREST FROM MY SIDE. I've received absolutely not a cent!!!.
I'm just a guitar enthusiasts that loves to share with others what I find specially interesting.
It took a while to have everything sorted and, a bit more to have the opportunity to record some demo video but, everything starts at some point and, this is the official kick off for DA Pickups in Europe!.
This blog's entry is just to let you know that DA Pickups are available in Europe. What means for you?: less lead delivery time, less money (you don't need to pay Customs fees), less shipping fees.
A nice friendship was born after all and, we were always willing to record some demo videos to let the people to get the particular tone of each pickups set. To be honest, my impression is that Rafa (your contact in Auvisa for David Allen Pickups and, anything else related to guitar's world) is able to demo anything at anytime, with attitude and that, I cannot add anything else of value but, He insisted in involve me in video demos and, well, I do anything for friends.
To start, you will find here the review and demo video of one of DA's humbuckers sets, the AlleyCats.
Making of's tales
To doesn't interrupt the regular business, we were forced to make the videos during lunch time. Rafa can be free just that time, while not interrupted by store's customers.
Rafa did choose a Victory The Earl (50W EL34) amp to do the demos of DA AlleyCats pickups.
Auvisa prepared three guitars, with three different sets of DA pickups: a Chinese Tokai loaded with AlleyCats (which sounded gorgeous); a Squier Strato with Voodoo Blues and, I honestly doesn't remember the last one, since we didn't tested it.
I also carried on with my American Charvel SoCal Type 1 loaded with HellCats and, my Luthier and Bassist friend Alex came with his American Fender Precision loaded with a P-Bass and a J-Bass pickups.
Even that we were trying everything, just the first hours were productive and, therefore, we are just going to introduce, as the very first video, those AlleyCats in a Tokai.
To record the event, we used two cams. First is a Zoom Q2HD device (because its sound recording) and a Sony HandyCam (to get a different visual point of view).
To edit the video, we used Sony Vegas 12 Pro software and, only two audio plugins were used for the sound, IK Multimedia's Classic Compressor and Brickwall Limiter. The idea was to bring back the loudness heard in the room but, without compressing the original sound and, avoiding overlay audio events, to provide the sound as close as possible to the one you would hear in the room.
There is no further audio post-processing. No EQ, Exciter or any other kind of outboard or in-a-box plugin.
Also no Noise-Gate. If the amp was hissing, the hiss is there. If pickups were hauling, the haul is there.
This is how I approach every video, trying to be accurate to the original sound in the room, with its good and bad things.
David Allen AlleyCats
Well, in this video you will hear AlleyCats under drive situations. You would usually expect to hear them in clean and, to be honest, we missed this important part of the demo but, for you to be quite, every DA Pickup sounds awesome in clean and, AlleyCats aren't an exception. I'm quite sure you will find some other videos that will let you hear AlleyCats that way.
My personal impression is that AlleyCats can be classified under the title of Vintage-Hot PAF pickups.
Neck pickup is wooffier than a Vintage PAF. It sounds very guttural and vocalish. with a darker nature than the bridge pickup. Basses are fat and rich but, well defined.
Bridge pickup has an awesome bite, with well represented middle and high frequencies but, never going harsh or ice-picky, a very fair bridge pickup.
Both pickups complement really good and, you don't need to alter your amp's EQ to prioritize one over the other. Both take gain with ease and have a nice sustain,while maintaining note-to-note definition. But, the amount of gain they can take is limited. Beginning at certain spot of gain, they can start to squeal.
I don't see these pickups ready for Hi Gain territory, because of the squealing issues but, those completely cover anything, from Vintage to Medium Gain and, sound awesome in Blues, Rock and Hard Rock applications. In LPs they are just perfect.
Well. Stop talking. Just hear the video below and judge by yourself. Enjoy it (well, what Rafa does, forget myself).