On-Line Reviews

The following unsolicited comments were discovered online....

Rio Grande Muy Grande for ASAT 
Slightly hotter than original, which are pretty damn hot. I give 'em a 10Tone: bridge: balanced, with upper-mid spike. neck: scooped, strat-like. Another 10, here.
Sonic evaluation: The bridge position is perfect for feeding a hungry Marshall or Hiwatt. If you want Live at Leeds tone, here it is! The neck position achieves a ruthless, Richards-esque grind with ease. Also excells at SRV style tones, although more headroom is needed from the amp, due to the high output. These are reverse-wound, reverse-polarity, so they get an excellent out of phase tone in the middle position. Again, very SRV-like. Definitely a 10.

For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: These pickups could be used for just about anything, with the right amp. If you want clean tones, it's best to use an amp with a lot of headroom, as these are even hotter than standard ASAT pickups. I give 'em a 7 for versatility. Overall Rating Comments: I'm having a second set installed on my backup ASAT. These are great looking, fabulous sounding,

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 9 
Submitted by: Cary

Rio Grande Bluesbar 
Sound Perceived output level: HOT, real dang hot. Singe the hairs off a Javelina at 500 yards! Tone: Middly, very gutsy sound. Lots of grind, just the thing to fatten up the bridge on a somewhat thin sounding guitar. 
Sonic evaluation: Installed in the Bridge position of a Gibson ES135, replacing the original. Used with classic, non-master volume tube combos, Deluxe Reverb, *real* vintage 59 Bassman. This pickup really screams through the Bassman, it really sounded damn good. Has a great, gut-pounding tone through a nearly dimed Deluxe Reverb. This pickup in the bridge makes a natural mate for the Rio Grande Jazzbar in the neck position. The Jazzbar is not wound nearly so hot, and is reverse wrapped/polarity so that you can get a hum-cancelling effect with both pickups switched on. The pickup is made with alnico magnets, vintage style materials, wax potted, adjustable screws pole pieces and is an exact fit P90. For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: For electric blues, it's a great match. It gets a really hot tone, with lots of grit and grind that cut the mix.

Overall Rating Comments: I would go with this pickup again.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 9 
Submitted by: Dr. Nuketopia

Rio Grande Muy Grande Humbucking 
Sound Perceived output level: Very hot, about 8 of 10. Tone: EXTREMELY well balanced. A very impressive pickup! 
Sonic evaluation: I play fairly heavy rock, but because of session work I need versatility. I have different guitars for different sounds, and different amps as well. One thing I really liked about this pickup (which came stock in my Robin guitar) was that it was hot enough to give me any amount of drive I needed, yet was very articulate and did not lose the individual string sound. Neither bright nor dark, this pickup is full of tone. Harmonics scream when called for, yet I can back off to a gritty blues tone when needed. If you play distorted rock of any sort, or want a fat ballsy blues sound, I highly recommend this pickup for your bridge position. For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: moderately heavy rock. Recommend for bridge position. Unknown for neck.

Overall Rating Comments: Again, I highly recommend this pickup in a specific situation: Hot distortion with the ability to back off, and using it in the bridge position. Thats where I have it, thats where I love it. It gives me all the squealing screech I want, yet backs off nicely to a fat, full sound. I would buy another in a flash. I am considering this pickup for a retrofit on 2 of my other guitars. I give it a 9 for overall rating 10 for tone, though!

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 9 
Submitted by: Todd Rector

Barbeque Bucker
Sound Perceived output level: output seems to be about 25% more than stock pickups but very controllable and without "excess" distortion. the extra power appears as "punch" instead of gain. cool. Tone: the tone is brighter than the original and the bbq has much more punch and a mid boost i think. this pick up is really neat. it is certainly more sonically interesting than your average replacement pick up. 
Sonic evaluation: i use a '97 Hamer sunburst archtop with a Line 6 Flextone and no effects. this combo is hot. you have some real sonic flexibility with this amp. when you combine it with the BBQ humbucker you can dial up just about any type of sound that you desire. this set up can really run the gamut of music styles. For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: for the type of music i play, classic rock, rock and alternative, this pick up is great. it gives me the punch i need on clean sounds and the power i need for rhythm and leads.

Overall Rating Comments: i would buy this pick up again and i am thinking about replacing the neck pickup with another rio grande h.b. i am not sure which one though. i have been playing for about twenty years and have changed a lot of pickups and this rio grande pickup is cool. it is available as a two lead or four lead h.b. so you should specify if you want to be able to tap a coil (i did not need this capability). their web site is informative and they do answer their e-mails so that is cool.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value
Submitted by: craig schneider

Barbeque & Genuine Texas Humbuckers 
Sound Perceived output level: The BBQ is a take on a vintage humbuck with a litttle more horse power, not more distortion, just like the maker (Bart) says.

Tone: very well balanced,I can actually use my vol. control to get a degree of sustain and tone,bring it down just a bit and you get beautiful full rythm, crank it and I can play hendrix or put in middle for SRV,shared w/ the genuine TX in the neck. For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: I play all styles,rock,country,blues,I will use the bridge (BBQ)for the majority of my leads for rock,middle position (BBQ & GEN.TX) vol down a touch for chicken pickin, cranked for blues, and front for other Blues solos, these work with the amplifier (tubes) very well.

Overall Rating Comments: I have been playing for 18 years now, have tried mjany pickups, love to experiment. These pickups will do what you want, but like a good tube amp, you have to work it, no just plug in and go. Betwwen the amp and the guitar controls, I can dial in some great "Kick Butt" tones...love it and would buy it again.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value
Submitted by: Todd Miller

Rio Grande Muy Grande Set For Strat 
Sound Perceived output level: slightly more output Tone: bass w/o fart, great low mids, slightly less glass on top, very fat and balanced Sonic evaluation: If you are basically a keeper of "Fender" tone but need to kick it in the ass with more low, low mids and a bit less dog screaming highs, this is your pickup! It has the fat twang you know you want, chords are more balanced and single notes are ringing and sweet. It's an improvement on the classic Fender in all the right ways.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value

Vintage Tallboy For Telecaster 
Sound Perceived output level: Slighly more than stock. Tone: Very balanced and articulated- 
Sonic evaluation: I have a pile of guitars but for evaluation a Yamaha Pacifica tele - several amps (Carvin, Peavey and Marshall) The best combination out of my gear for putting out articulated singy blues lead stuff is The Peavey Classic fifty with the Carvin 4x12 cab. Primarily because the Peavey is very quiet, usable tone, ant the Carvins are detailed. and hence is a good match for the RWRP setup on the Vintage Tallboys. The Pacifica is a great guitar to get and upgrade - they have very good necks and general craftmanship.

Want to try this with an old JBL 12 however.

For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: Probably not what you want for metal - I play Hellecaster, Police, Alternative

Comments: I've been playing for 30 years and have turned into a tone junkie. I have eleven guitars and these pickups are as good as I've had. Great tonal range and very responsive. I've had 54 Custom Shop strat pickups, Texas Specials and played all range of Seymour Duncans (which are also very good pickups). I have not "head to headed" the Rio Grande Vintage Tallboys against other [replacement] Tele setups at home but I will say that these pickups put you in that magic state where your hands speak.

You can play 'em for hours. Dynamically, pick soft or hard and with pretty much any tone or pickup variation and get a good sound once you find the tone hole from your amp. Its hard to translate some of the sonic stuff about these pickups. (I never did know what glassy meant) but they are just so damn expressive. I recorded a piece with the Peavey/Carvin combo with a SM57 into an ADAT (was surprised about how well the ADAT did on the recording) and the tone was finally, after years of trying, exactly what I wanted. Very detailed ( I do a lot of pick stuff on the string with these stainless steel picks), steely, singing tele sound - and it all comes through - the sonic equivalent of a something nasty whispered in yer ear in the dead of night. No mistakin what's been said.

If there is a shortcoming it may be that the pickups are so on the edge that once in a while they touch on being peaky. If you run them through just a touch of compression - no problem or you can just back off somewhere on the amp EQ.

I am putting Rio Grande pickups in two other guitars, A Big Bottom Strat set in a Strat I'm building with a warmoth neck and a Fishman Power Bridge and another Tele for a friend. If the Big Bottom set performs as well as the Vintage Tele I'll replace the humbuckers in my 335 with Rio Grandes.

This is the first time I have been satisfied with a pickup set and have the feeling last for six months. The only thing I can say succinctly about these pickups was said by another reviewer who compared Rio Grande strat pickups against some other pickups "They sound like someone took the cotton out of your ears"

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value 
Submitted by: Leonard Czajka

The stock pickups on my '75 Fender P were getting a little midrangy and muddy (I guess that happens with age)so it was time for a change. I considered the usual suspects for vintage tone replacement ie: Bartolini (which I have on my Jazz - great pickups), Seymour Duncan, Fender etc. Just when I had picked Barts (again) somebody whose opinion I value recommended Rio Grande Vintage P replacement.Hmmm.... I'm very familiar with the Rios from my guitar side but Bass???? Anyway I took the chance..they're not cheap. Since putting them in last week I have had one gig, one rehearsal, and several practice sessions. Here's my take. These things are clear,clear,clear.The clarity cuts right across the traditional P spectrum. Clarity in the huge bottom, clarity in sparkling highs and a nicely subdued but balanced mid-range.Before I got them I was expecting clear lows but at some expense to the output but not so. These are certainly not hot pickups but the output is at least as good as the originals.Oddly enough they sound more P than the P originals. Go figure.You guys who play both will know what I mean. All in all a successful experiment. To my ears the Rio Grande bass pickups live up to the rep that their guitar pickups have had for awhile. - Dave B

The Bone Soundhole Pickup

Perceived output level: Less than a Fishman or a Highlander
Tone: Well balanced
Sonic evaluation: I ran this in a Taylor 412 that has a Fishman built into it, through a Fender Acoustasonic Jr. This pickup isn't as strong as the Fishman or the Highlander in my Taylor 714, but tonally is is very similar and well balanced. It can be moved to either side of the soundhole to accentuate either bass or treble as needed for a specific guitar. It takes only a few seconds to install it. I went this route after looking at the Fishman and the K&K Pure Western installation instructions. Drills and routers for pickup installations may make for stronger signal, but the actual tone of this pickups plays in that league. This was less than half the price of either a Fishman or a K&K and probably 20% of a Highlander's price plus installation. The Bone wins the Bang for the Buck contest, hands down.

Overall Rating 10! I'd buy another one in a heartbeat. I've been playing for almost 30 years and I have owned dozens of guitars and amps. I love the simplicity of this pickup. It would be nice to run this thing through a preamp with EQ, tone and some volume control.

Big Bottom Set

I had just purchased this new strat and the stock pickups didn't cut it. I was already familiar with the fender texas specials and the fralin pickups, and the review in the 1994 guitar player was enthusiastic, to say the least. But i couldn't make up my mind between the tallboy (vintage) and the muy grande (hot) sets. When i contacted Rio Grande for their catalog, there was listed a third set, the Big Bottom set, with a Muy Grande pickup for the bridge position, and two tallboys for the neck and middle positions. sold! I installed them in my strat and plugged into my amp. For tone the Rios are brighter than the other sets i compared them to, essentially confirming the guitar player review (hot damn, a review that actually tells you something useful.) These pickups were bright and punchy with a pinched midrange as in the review. Candid sonic evaluation: after listening to four strats in a row the Rio Grandes were the brightest and were an excellent choice for upgrading. the Rio Grandes have that "oh, yeah" sound. I guess in this league you definately get your moneys worth from this product. These pickups are what is needed to tell everyone exactly what a strat is all about anyway. On a scale of 1 to 11, i give the pickup an 11. satisfaction? oh yeah!