The following reviews appeared in trade publications:
Guitar Player magazine 1994 "Pickup Shootout" excerpt
"Another satisfying take on righteous strat tone comes courtesy of Rio Grande single coils. Their vintage nonstaggered (tallboy) got us all excited in head-to-head comparisons with fralin and a few other faves. The term "piano-like" emerged as we listened. The Rios sounded particularly juicy through the Marshall. These pickups cover a wide frequency spectrum with style. They seemed slightly attenuated in the mids, with more emphasis on the bottom and a glassy upper end. " Big feet, skinny legs" commented one tester. When we compared the rios directly to a stock '65 strat, they came amazingly close, though we got a saucier treble hit from the grandes. They've got a tad more wrangle-you know, texas twang. we'd recommend these to vintage-eared players who want to add some tooth to a naturally dark strat or lay some more spank on a rosewood fretboard instrument. one tester hailed the rios non-staggered magnets citing hassles he has dragging his pick across traditional staggered polepieces. The Grandes coil comes cloaked in a handsome cloth protective wrap. "ripping, very alive." "deep plus tinkle." "embellished treble." "plenty of complexity." bright, beefy bottom."
For another take on muscular single-coils we turned to a set of Rio Grandes "muy grandes" for Strat. The muys bushwack each note, displaying lunge, not finesse. though this model has more strat tone than the schecters, it lacks the froth and jangle of the vintage tallboys. If your amp suffers from grunt defiency--yet you don't want to stray too far from the stinging south-of-the border tone of the standard rios,texas hots, or texas specials, --the muys will get the bowels going. Like a good salsa, these suckers are hot! where the monstertones are rockers, the muys dwell on the blues side of the tracks--but just barely. At the same amp settings that made the vintage tallboys sound so wrangly, the muys were dark. they could be just the thing to bruise a Marshall major, big ol' Sound City, or 400 Hiwatt head. "not the prettiest, but lots of timbral variation." "big bump in the low mids." "loud yet still quacky." "blus rockers." chosen as one of the "best buys of 1994" guitar player magazine
Positively Vintage - reprinted from the Vintage Guitar magazine
product reviews New from those delightful folks at rio grande pickups in texas is the sparkle series, gauranteed to make your guitar happy (or at least look happy). Available in six hot colors, these are the same Rio Grande pickups that have recieved rave reviews for their tonal brilliance, but have a shiny colored sparkle finish on the face, ranging from hot red, (my favorite, tested on our tele texas special), blue, gold ,green, purple, and silver sparkle. To snazz up a plain guitar, or to make a glitzy instrument even more over the top, these are just the ticket. the tele set supplied to us by good ol' boy Dave Wintz had a resonant shine and depth to the finish, looked great onstage and off, and sounded...well, just as good as the other rio grandes we've tried, which is pretty damn good. Rio Grande Tele replacement pickups capture the characteristic Telecaster twang in the bridge position, have better articulation and definition in the neck position than standard tele pickups, and just a tad more volume than the competition. Very impressive, and available through Rio Grande dealers nationwide.
From Vintage Guitar magazine's product reviews "Vintage Tallboy Strat Set in white pearl" - by Stephen Patt
Rio Grande pickups are the perfect example of what's right with america. They come in a variety of colors, there's an amazing spectrum of sounds and applications, and the quality is there from winding on down to the packaging. Originated by veteran pickup winder Bart Wittrock in 1993, these capture the tone and feel of the vintage pickups we know and love, from strat to tele, up to Humbucking, but with the option of more beef (definition, gain, and grind) and tonal qualities. what initially caught my eye was, however, not the tone, but the appearance. (it's true, i'm shallow and vain, just like Gary Busey.) The retroshell series has all the guts of the Rio Grande single coil, but a dazzling white pearloid or tortoiseshell covering. yow! also available is the new "sparkle series" pickups, as seen on display at the new york guitar show, available in incandascent blue, silver, green, etc. As Marshall Crenshaw said with a grin, "they look great, which is 95% of what matters..." one assumes he's half joking, but would you buy something that sounded good but looked like crap? i'd prefer to stick with high quality all around and get a Rio Grande (pricing is quite competetive) whose looks are so good they bring a smile to my face, and whose sound blows me away. Our white pearloid test set included a reverse wound/reverse polarity pickup slated for the middle position, allowing humcancelling operation in the #2 and #4 positions on the test strats five-way switch. In comparing the Rio Grande white pearloid set directly with stock Fender strat pickups and the less expensive high impedance EMG's, the Rio Grandes were quieter than the Fenders, (sorry guys) ballsier than the Fenders, and uh...blew away the Fenders. What can i say? the tone was still pristine and clearly classic strat, but just more of it, if that makes sense. Which leads me to a thank you to Rio Grande, and the warm feeling i get inside when i say that the white pearloid beauties have become our standard set of pickups for the vintage guitar magazine test strat and now other pickups will be judged against them...well, you get the idea.